Speaker Bios - 2012 Opportunity Nation Summit
Speakers are being confirmed and added daily, please check back often for more information. We are also gathering Twitter handles for speakers, which can be found below each speaker bio, or you can follow all involved with the Summit by following the OppNation Summit Twitter List and join the conversation by using the #OppSummit hashtag.
Melody Barnes, Former Director of Domestic Policy Council, President Barack Obama
Melody Barnes is CEO of Melody Barnes Solutions LLC, a domestic strategy firm, and Vice Provost for Global Student Leadership Initiatives and Senior Fellow at the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University. Ms. Barnes also serves as a Senior Director at the Albright Stonebridge Group, a global strategy firm; Chair of the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions; and on the Board of Directors of the Marguerite Casey Foundation. From January 2009 until January 2012, she was Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.
As Director of the Domestic Policy Council, Ms. Barnes provided strategic advice to President Obama and worked closely with members of the Cabinet coordinating the domestic policy agenda across the Administration. Under her leadership, innovative new policies, practices and partnerships were initiated to address significant national challenges, including education, health care and the federal government’s relationship with local governments and communities. Until July 2008, Ms. Barnes was the Executive Vice President for Policy at the Center for American Progress, a progressive research institute and think tank. From December 1995 until March 2003, Ms. Barnes worked for Senator Edward M. Kennedy on the Senate Judiciary Committee; she served as his chief counsel from 1998 until she left the Committee in 2003. Barnes’ experience also includes an appointment as Director of Legislative Affairs for the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and serving as a Principal at the D.C.-based consulting firm, The Raben Group. Ms. Barnes began her career as an attorney with Shearman & Sterling in New York City.
Ms. Barnes received her law degree from the University of Michigan in 1989. In 1986, she received her bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she graduated with honors in history. Ms. Barnes’ media appearances include This Week with George Stephanopoulos, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Charlie Rose, Morning Joe and NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. She currently resides in Washington, DC with her husband, Marland Buckner.
Peter Beard, United Way Worldwide
Peter Beard serves as the Senior Vice President for Impact Priorities at United Way Worldwide - a nonprofit network consisting of 45 countries and more than 1,300 local organizations worldwide. Peter leads a team of dedicated professionals that are responsible for the development and delivery of key strategic goals and practices that will allow the United Way network to work collaboratively with community stakeholders to achieve meaningful social change. This group also leads the way to establishing national & international partnerships aligned with the organizations strategic focus areas in education, income and health.
Prior to joining United Way, Peter served at the Fannie Mae Foundation for 14 years. During that tenure he was the executive director during the wind-down of its operations and senior vice president for communications, strategy and information where he oversaw the development of the collaborative web-based portals, www.KnowledgePlex.org and www.DataPlace.org. Prior to joining the Fannie Mae Foundation, Peter served for five years as the general counsel at Habitat for Humanity International in Americus, Georgia. He was also in private legal practice at Semmes, Bowen & Semmes in Baltimore, Maryland.
Andrea Vaghy Benyola, Managing Director of Career and Education Services, The Door - A Center of Alternatives
Andrea Vaghy Benyola is the Managing Director of Career and Education Services at The Door, one of New York City’s premier youth development agencies. Each year The Door serves more than 11,000 New York City at-risk youth with a wide range of services, including career and education, primary and reproductive healthcare, legal services, counseling, arts, recreation and more, all free, confidential and under one roof.
Ms. Vaghy Benyola has been with The Door’s Career and Education department since 2007, helping to shape services for both in-school and out-of-school youth, including This Way Ahead, a unique training and internship program with The Gap, Inc. She has extensive backgroung in employment, job training, and education services, community-based social services, program planning, development, and evaluation. Prior to The Door, Ms. Vaghy Benyola was the Deputy Director of Client Services at Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation, where she worked for eight years. She has also worked at the New York Academy of Medicine as the Project Coordinator of two research initiatives to improve the training of graduate social work students, and at the Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association as the Assistant Coordinator of the Banana Kelly High School, an urban community-based school in the South Bronx and the HANDS project, a demonstrative HIV/AIDS independent living skills program for formerly homeless individuals living with AIDS. In 2008, she was a recipient of the second annual Emerging Social Work Leaders Award from NASW-NYC.
Ms. Vaghy Benyola holds a Masters of Science in Social Work from Columbia University with a focus on social administration and occupational social work and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Communications from the University of Michigan.
Sekou Biddle, Vice President of Advocacy, UNCF
Angela Glover Blackwell, Founder & President of PolicyLink
Angela Glover Blackwell founded PolicyLink in 1999 and continues to drive its mission of advancing economic and social equity. Under Blackwell’s leadership, PolicyLink has become a leading voice in the movement to use public policy to improve access and opportunity for all low-income people and communities of color, particularly in the areas of health, housing, transportation, education, and infrastructure.
Prior to founding PolicyLink, Blackwell served as Senior Vice President at the Rockefeller Foundation, where she oversaw the foundation’s Domestic and Cultural divisions. A lawyer by training, she gained national recognition as founder of the Oakland (CA) Urban Strategies Council, where she pioneered new approaches to neighborhood revitalization. From 1977 to 1987, Blackwell was a partner at Public Advocates, a nationally known public interest law firm. Blackwell earned a bachelor’s degree from Howard University, and a law degree from the University of California at Berkeley.
Stephanie Blank, Chair, GEEARS (Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students)
Stephanie Blank is a longtime champion of children and education. Blank serves on the Georgia State Advisory Council on Early Childhood Education and Care established by Governor Nathan Deal. She is the founding chair of the governing board of GEEARS, the Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students, an independent successor group to the United Way's Early Education Commission, formed in August 2010. Blank served as chair of the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Foundation Board of Trustees until 2010, and is now a member of the CHOA System Board. She chaired the capital campaign for the Imagine It! Children’s Museum of Atlanta and is co-founder of Mothers & Others for Clean Air. She also serves on the Georgia State Advisory Council on Early Childhood Education and Care. Other board memberships and board committees include the Atlanta Falcons Women’s Association. Blank is a well-known community leader and philanthropist and was named 2000 Georgia Philanthropist of the Year by the National Society of Fundraising executives. Blank is a trustee of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation. In 2001, she was a recipient of the Anti-Defamation League’s Abe Goldstein Human Relations Award. Blank received the Girls’ Opportunity for Adventure and Leadership “Going for the GOAL” Award in 2001. Blank was named to the YWCA of Greater Atlanta’s Academy of Women Achievers and, in 2002, was designated their “Woman of the Year.” In 2007, she received the Big Voice Award from Voices for Georgia’s Children and, in 2011, received the Women's Leadership Award for Excellence in Education from the Atlanta Metro United Way. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Interior Design from Appalachian State University. Blank lives in Atlanta and is the proud mother of three children, a son and boy-and-girl twins.
Naila Bolus, President & CEO of Jumpstart
Naila Bolus is President & Chief Executive Officer of Jumpstart, a national early education organization headquartered in Boston, MA. Naila joined Jumpstart in October 2011 after more than 20 years of experience in the non-profit sector.
Previous to Jumpstart, Naila was Executive Director of Ploughshares Fund, the largest grant-making foundation in the United States dedicated exclusively to security and peace funding. There she transformed the organization from a small funder to a national, influential policy player, and helped lead an effort to win Senate ratification of the New START treaty in December, 2010. She pioneered a model of “impact philanthropy” that leveraged the foundation’s convening power, grant-making and operational capacity. While there, Naila led a successful $25 million endowment campaign, and tripled the foundation’s budget and staff.
Prior to Ploughshares Fund, she served as co-director of 20/20 Vision, a grassroots organization that sought to promote democracy through helping members communicate with national decision makers. She also helped found the Women Legislators’ Lobby and served as the organization’s political director, successfully recruiting one third of female state legislators to lobby for environmental protection, human services and peace. Naila graduated from Tufts University in 1987 with a degree in International Relations and is delighted to be living in her home state of Massachusetts with her husband and three daughters after stints in Washington, DC, San Francisco, CA, and Charlottesville, VA.
Shelley Waters Boots, Annie E. Casey Foundation
John Bridgeland, CEO, Civic Enterprises and Former White House Domestic Policy Council Director
John Bridgeland is President & CEO of Civic Enterprises, a public policy firm in Washington, D.C. He also is Vice Chairman of Malaria No More and Senior Advisor to the United Nations Special Envoy for Malaria. Bridgeland was recently appointed by President Obama to the White House Council for Community Solutions.
Formerly, Bridgeland served as Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, where he coordinated policy on more than 100 issues, and then as Assistant to the President of the United States and first Director of the USA Freedom Corps. Bridgeland co-led the Policy Transition for the President in 2000-2001. Bridgeland has also been a Teaching Fellow at the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Bridgeland began his professional career by practicing law in the New York and Paris, France offices of Davis Polk & Wardwell. He also served as Chief of Staff and Counsel to former U.S. Congressman Rob Portman. Bridgeland graduated with honors in government from Harvard University and received his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. He currently serves on 12 non-profit boards, including City Year, Earth Conservation Corps, EARTH University in Costa Rica, Malaria No More, the National Conference on Citizenship and the Partnership for Public Service. He lives with his wife, Maureen, and their three children, Caily, Fallon and Regis in McLean, Virginia.
John Bussey, The Wall Street Journal
John Bussey is the Washington bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal. He is responsible for the team of reporters covering the nation's capital, foreign and domestic policy, regulation, and national politics. Bussey has worked for the Journal since 1983 in positions that included deputy managing editor, foreign editor, economics editor, Tokyo bureau chief and editor in chief of The Far Eastern Economic Review and The Wall Street Journal Asia.
In 2002, The Wall Street Journal was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York, which was across the street from the Journal headquarters. Bussey wrote a front-page, first-person account of the attack that was part of the prizewinning package. During his tenure overseeing foreign coverage, the Journal won three Pulitzer Prizes for international reporting, the first in 1999 for coverage of Russia's financial crisis, the second in 2001 for coverage of China's dissident Falun Gong movement, and the third in 2007 for coverage of the social and environmental consequences of China's rapid economic growth.
Stephanie Byrd, Success by 6
In her role as executive director of Success By 6, Stephanie Byrd directs the Hamilton County Success By 6 strategies to improve school readiness for children ages birth to six years—the number one priority outcome of United Way of Greater Cincinnati. She is responsible for implementing the four point Success By 6 action agenda—to raise community awareness and create demand for quality and progress; to assess readiness prior to and at the beginning of kindergarten; to improve parent and provider capacity to meet the health and education need of young children; and improve services by coordinating the service delivery system and identifying additional resources, as needed to achieve community goals for kindergarten readiness. This work led to a five-year $9.5 million investment in innovative and proven early childhood education strategies. Byrd holds a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Miami University and a Master’s in Health and Hospital Administration from Xavier University. She has three children and resides in Glendale, Ohio.
Dr. Anthony Carnevale, Georgetown
Dr. Carnevale currently serves as Director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Dr. Carnevale has served as Vice President for Public Leadership at the Educational Testing Service (ETS). While at ETS, he was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve on the White House Commission on Technology and Adult Education. Before joining ETS, Dr. Carnevale was Director of Human Resource and Employment Studies at the Committee for Economic Development (CED), the nation’s oldest business-sponsored policy research organization. While at CED, he was appointed by President Bill Clinton to chair the National Commission on Employment Policy.
Dante Chinni, Author & Director of Patchwork Nation
Dante Chinni is co-author of the book “Our Patchwork Nation” and is director of Patchwork Nation, a journalism project housed at the Washington D.C.-based Jefferson Institute. Patchwork Nation is a media collaboration that uses demographics, geography and street-level reporting to study community politics, socio-economics and culture in a time of change. Project partners include the Wall Street Journal, NPR and and WNYC radio. Patchwork Nation won a 2009 Knight Batten Award for journalistic innovation.
Chinni has been covering politics and the media for more than a dozen years. He has worked as a reporter-researcher at Newsweek and a senior associate at the Project for Excellence in Journalism. He has written for publications including The Economist, Columbia Journalism Review, and The Washington Post Magazine. A native of Detroit and graduate of Michigan State University, he lives with his wife, Christina, and their two children.
Ramean Clowney, National Council of Young Leaders
Ramean Clowney was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and resides in the West region of the city of Brotherly Love. He entered the foster care system at 3 months of age. At the age of 10, the foster care system attempted to reunify him with his mother. He thought his life was going to be full of bliss, a fairy tale ending. He ,however, experienced many challenges living with his mother, including violence, exposure to drugs and abuse. Ramean resided with his mother until he was 16. During this time he was forced to grow up fast and support himself, due to his mother’s drug addiction. From ages 16-18, he bounced from house to house. He became involved with the wrong crowd in an attempt to fit in and feel accepted. Though his journey was full of sorrow and misfortune it was never able to break his spirit. He got involved in programs in his school to keep him occupied and became a part of the Philadelphia Youth Network.
He is currently an honors graduate of One Bright Ray Community High School. He will be a freshman at Community College of Philadelphia fall of 2012. He is also a Member of the National Council of Young Leaders
Angela Cobb, New Options
Angela Cobb is Director of Return on Inspiration Labs, a social venture incubator. In this capacity she leads the New Options Project, an investment of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation that connects out-of-school, job seeking young adults with alternative career pathways.
Angela has nearly two decades of experience in the areas of recruiting, diversity, community development, strategic philanthropy and change management. Before joining ROI Labs, she served as Chief Diversity Officer at Teach For America – the country’s national teaching corps. In this capacity, Angela led organization-wide diversity and inclusion efforts and was a member of the Leadership Team. Mrs. Cobb has deep expertise launching and leading new philanthropic, business and programmatic ventures at a variety of organizations, including Allstate, Monster and ATHENA International, a nonprofit focused on women’s leadership development. Angela also spent nearly a decade at Deloitte, an international professional services firm, and served in a variety of capacities including working with leadership to launch and implement firm wide diversity initiatives, leading the firm’s record breaking philanthropic campaigns and supporting clients’ organizational change initiatives as a change management consultant. Angela joined Deloitte in 1993 as an Audit Associate in the Cincinnati office and transitioned to the national recruiting staff 1995.
Angela is a member of the board of Umoja Student Development Corporation and serves on the Advisory Board of the Chicago Children’s Museum.
Mrs. Cobb received her MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and has a B.B.A. in Accounting from the University of Notre Dame.
Sen. Chris Coons, (D-DE)
In his first year and a half as a United States Senator, Chris Coons has worked hard to find bipartisan solutions to the issues confronting Delaware and the nation.
As a member of the Foreign Relations, Judiciary, Energy & Natural Resources, and Budget committees, Senator Coons is uniquely positioned to nurture American innovation and make the United States more competitive in the global market.
He knows that to strengthen our nation’s economic competitiveness, we must invest in the future. This means turning around failing schools, supporting teachers and encouraging family engagement and funding student opportunities in science and technology. Senator Coons is the author of the bipartisan American Dream Accounts Act, which would increase the number of low-income students able to access and complete a college education.
Chris has devoted much of his free time to organizations such as the National Coalition for the Homeless and the education-oriented “I Have a Dream” Foundation. He lives in Wilmington, Delaware with his wife, Annie, and their three children, Michael, Jack, and Maggie.
Stavan Corbett, President, NV State Board of Education
Stavan possesses extensive experience in youth development and as a case manager with youth who have been involved with the juvenile justice system and has managed juvenile re-entry programs providing instruction and mentoring the areas of life skills, workforce development and substance abuse prevention.
Stavan continues to serve as a trained facilitator in multidisciplinary best practices, and adviser for local nonprofits, governmental agencies, law enforcement and local business in areas of capacity building and community-based partnerships.
Other affiliations include; Board of trustees- Latin Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Board of directors (ex officio)- Nevada Public Education foundation, NV Department of Education- Career and Technical Education Advisory committee, Board of Directors- (NALEJ) Nevada Alliance for Latino Educational Justice and hosted from 2010-2012 a local radio talk show (Urban Nation) on KCEP 88.1.
Stavan and his wife Lydia have three children who are students within the public Clark County School District.
Patricia McConnel Cromwell, Director of Economic Development and Integration Initiatives at the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Patrice McConnell Cromwell is the Director of Economic Development and Integration Initiatives at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a private charitable organization dedicated to helping build better futures for disadvantaged children, youth and families in the United States. She is a member of Casey’s Management Committee and has a particular focus on advancing grantmaking and investment strategies that promote youth and adult economic success, including the implementation of education, workforce and job creation strategies. In addition, Patrice served as an ‘executive on loan’ from the Foundation to the State of Maryland as the Deputy Director, Delivery Unit, Office of the Governor from 2009-2010. In that capacity, she worked with the state to help agencies accelerate implementation and quality results in the areas of human services and workforce development.
Prior to joining Casey, Patrice was the Associate Director of the Open Society Institute – Baltimore, a private foundation funded by George Soros. For over five years, Patrice was responsible for shaping and managing the foundation’s workforce and economic development program. In that capacity, Patrice helped launch a $15 million investment from Baltimore institutions in a multi-state community development venture fund managed by The Reinvestment Fund. Prior to her work in the foundation community, Patrice spent ten years creating and running three major economic development non-profit organizations in Baltimore: an employer-driven training agency; a mixed-use shopping and community service center; and a biotech manufacturing facility.
Patrice chairs the Steering Committee of the Elev8 Baltimore Middle Grades Partnership, co-chairs the Workforce Committee of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, and serves on the Baltimore City Workforce Investment Board. In addition, Patrice is a board member of the Baltimore Alliance for Careers in Healthcare and the Job Opportunities Task Force. She is a member of President’s Advisory Council of Stevenson University. She also has served on the adjunct faculty of the University of Baltimore while teaching a course on community economic development and participated on the business plan evaluation team for the Yale/Goldman Sachs Partnership on Non-Profit Ventures at Yale University’s School of Management.
Prior to moving to Baltimore, Patrice worked in the investment banking and consulting industries in New York City. She holds an A.B. in Economics from Princeton University and a M.B.A. from the Yale School of Management.
Ryan Dalton, National Council of Young Leaders
Ryan Dalton grew up in the 8th Ward of New Orleans and lived in poverty throughout his childhood. The 6th of 11 children, Ryan was raised by his mother in a church family. His biological father was not a presence in his life. At age 15, Ryan and his family experienced the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, which forced them to uproot their lives and move to Houston. Though Ryan enrolled in school there, he quickly dropped out and started working full time in order to provide for his family. Realizing that he would never be able to find opportunities without a high school diploma, he moved back to New Orleans by himself in 2007at age 17 in order to finish high school. He earned his high school diploma in 2008 and immediately enrolled in college.In 2009, Ryan’s sister turned his attention to a program called Café Reconcile, which helps disconnected youth develop skills and find employment. After completion of the program, he returned to Café Reconcile, where he accepted a full time position as the Floor Trainer and front house manager for the Café’s culinary training program. He has now been with Reconcile on a full time basis for over two years, and he has personally connected dozens of youth with the program during that time. Ryan serves as an advisory board member for the Chefs Move! Scholarship – an initiative of Chef John Besh to help minority members of the community rise up to management positions in New Orleans’ kitchens. He is also a Member of the National Council of Young Leaders.
Landine Daniels Jr., National Council of Young Leaders
Ladine Daniels Jr. was born in Charleston SC. In his younger years, Ladine had a passion for sports, playing basketball, football, and running track. His junior and senior year of high school, he was the starting quarterback and in 2000, Ladine was awarded Top 100 Players of South Carolina. After high school, he decided to join The United States Marine Corp as an electronic maintenance technician.
In 2004 Ladine's life started to change for the worse as he started making bad choices. He was sent to the brig for 13 months and received a bad conduct discharged from the military for selling marijuana. In 2006 Ladine was sentenced to 7 years for trafficking and second degree burglary. Even though no one wants to go to prison, Ladine felt like it was the best thing that happened for him at that point in his life. He realized that his life was heading in the wrong direction and prison changed him for the better. While incarcerated, Ladine helped other inmates receive there GED by tutoring them. With good behavior, Ladine was released on parole on January 22, 2009.
In may of 2009 Ladine joined the Sustainability Institute Pathways to a Green Economy course and graduated at the top of his class also helping others receive there certificate also. He is currently Crew leader/mentor of the Sustainability Institute Energy Conservation Corp which is apart of Americorp. He is also 2012 Corps Network Member of the Year and recently has been selected to become apart of the National Council of Young Leaders.
Asst. Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier, Office of Vocational and Adult Education
As the first assistant secretary for the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) who is also an adult educator, Darm-Messier leads the Department's efforts in adult education and career and technical education, as Well as efforts supporting community colleges and correctional education. She oversees the administration of all grant programs in these areas, totaling approximately $1.9 billion annually. Dann-Messier is committed to collaboration, both within the Department and across federal agencies, including working with the U.S. Departments of Labor, Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security and Commerce.
OVAE‘s vision is for all youths and adults to have multiple opportunities to obtain lifelong education and training in order to achieve rewarding careers and family lives, participate in their communities, and attain their personal goals. OVAE is devoted to equipping youths and adults with the literacy, numeracy, language and technical skills and the training necessary for success in the 21st century global economy, by expanding capacity, improving quality, and increasing accountability through innovation and collaboration.
Robert Denson, President & CEO of DMACC
Rob Denson was appointed the fourth President of Des Moines Area Community College on November 1, 2003. He grew up on a farm near Homestead, Iowa, south of the Amana Colonies and graduated from high school in Marengo, Iowa. He is the first native born Iowan to be President of DMACC. Rob has a B.S. in Political Science and Economics and a Masters Degree in Higher Education Administration from Iowa State University. He worked for Iowa State as an Assistant Dean for three years before moving to the University of Florida where he served as an Assistant Dean of Students.
Rob graduated from Law School at the University of Florida in 1979 and was an Associate University Attorney for three years before operating his own law practice for 16 years. He is a board certified civil trial lawyer. In 1996, he became Assistant to the President and Dean for Institutional Advancement at Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, Florida. In 1998, Rob returned to Iowa as President of Northeast Iowa Community College in Calmar, Iowa. He is very involved on a state and federal level with programs that deal with workforce development and college access. Rob is also on the national leadership council for Opportunity Nation, a bipartisan initiative to promote opportunity and economic mobility. Rob and his wife, Pat, have two children and four grandchildren.
Emily DeRocco, Senior Advisor, Mitt Romney for President
Emily Stover DeRocco is the former president of the Manufacturing Institute, where she implemented strategies for education reform and workforce development, innovation support and services, and research on behalf of U.S. manufacturers. Under her leadership, the organization developed nationally portable, industry-recognized Manufacturing Skills Certifications now influencing education reform efforts in 36 states. She also served as U.S. assistant secretary of labor for employment and training, creating economic development initiatives in 39 regions. In that role, she also led presidential initiatives to align education, economic development and workforce development investments, and to increase the capacity of the nation's community college systems. Previously DeRocco managed two nonprofits and worked at the Departments of Energy and Interior, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and the Interstate Commerce Commission. A graduate of Pennsylvania State University, she holds a J.D. from Georgetown Law Center.
Dr. Mil Duncan, AGree
Mil Duncan is Research Director of AGree. From 2004-2011 she was Professor of Sociology and founding director of the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute, an interdisciplinary research center focused on vulnerable families and sustainable development in rural America. From 2000-2004 she served as the Ford Foundation’s Director of Community and Resource Development; from 1989-2000 she was a professor of Sociology at the University of New Hampshire. Duncan wrote Worlds Apart: Why Poverty Persists in Rural America (Yale University Press 1999), which won the American Sociological Association’s Robert E. Park Award, numerous articles on poverty and development, and edited Rural Poverty in America. She serves on several regional and national boards related to poverty and development. Mil Duncan received her BA in English from Stanford University, and her MA and Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky.
Jeff Edmondson, Managing Director of the STRIVE Network
Jeff Edmondson is managing director of the Strive Network, a national cradle-to-career initiative that brings together leaders in Pre-K-12 schools, higher education, business and industry, community organizations, government leaders, parents and other stakeholders who are committed to helping children succeed from birth through careers.
Edmondson most recently served as executive director of the Strive Partnership in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Prior to joining the foundation, Edmondson served as a Program Assistant at the 21st Century School Fund. Edmondson has also worked as the Peaceable Schools Coordinator at Woodrow Wilson Senior High School, the largest public secondary school in Washington, D.C.
Edmondson has a bachelor's of science in biology from University of Richmond and a master's in public policy from Johns Hopkins University. In addition, he served as a volunteer and supervisor for three years in Peace Corps Gabon, Central Africa.
Dr. Diana Elliott, Pew Center on the States
Diana Elliott is research manager for the Economic Mobility Project at the Pew Center on the States. She supports Pew’s efforts to build broad and nonpartisan agreement on the facts and figures related to mobility and to spark an active debate on how best to improve opportunity in America.
Before coming to Pew, Elliott was a family demographer at the U.S. Census Bureau where she conducted research on marriage, divorce, and family living arrangements. She has also worked at the University of Massachusetts - Boston Survey Research Center and at the research firm Belden & Russonello, where she assisted with developing questions and content, managed the progress of surveys in the field, and analyzed survey findings. Elliott completed her Ph.D. in sociology at the University of Maryland - College Park.
Ely Flores, Founder of LEAD Inc. and Communication Officer of YouthBuild National Alumni Council
Ely Flores YouthBuild life started a like many other stories, young, pushed out of school, becoming a young parent, and “adjudicated.” But his story nowhere ended near many stories. At the program he soon learned that he was already a leader; just leading in a negative way. At 17 he ran into a crossroad where he had to make the ultimate choice. Both roads had unknown outcomes but one of them at least had a brighter future. He chose to become an agent of social transformation.
He completed his program as one of the top students and one of the few students to obtain both his High School Diploma and GED. Soon after YouthBuild he embarked on a voyage to fight for social justice. The Youth Justice Coalition offered a way to challenge the massive incarceration of youth of color in California. Public Allies equipped him with the tools necessary to move his talents to a level where he can compete with college graduates and be successful in the non-profit sector. He spend years involved in political campaigns, community organizing efforts, and pushing for positive public policies to be passed. His work has taken him to speak at the White House, State Assembly, Congress, and in front of thousands of people. His passion for social justice even took him to the countries of Israel, Palestine, and Bosnia I Herzegovina to share his vision of non-violent activism and learn strategies from their social movements. He now works for GRID Alternatives where he has helped hundreds of families turn green and equipped them with solar panel systems. This will ensure that their energy cost will remain low and offer them economic help during these hard times. He constantly meets with local elected officials and jurisdictions to urge that they join in California’s effort to transform our energy usage to a more renewable one. He also has worked with the Green Jobs Now to spread the ideas of environmental justice and its importance to have people of color at the forefront.
In 2010, he established Leadership Through Empowerment, Action, and Dialogue Inc to empower more young people not only transform their lives but to also transform their communities to social activism, volunteerism, and pushing themselves to further their education and professional levels. Through all this, he manages to be part of the YouthBuild National Alumni Council, raise two kids, and complete his BA in Organizational Management with an emphasis on Public Administration.
Cherise Flowers, National Council of Young Leaders
Cherise Flowers is a 23 year old Chicago native. She is currently working at Responsys as an Associate Campaign Specialist, where she was earned her position through the Year Up Chicago program.
When Cherise was 17 years old, she dropped out of high school, but immediately after, obtained her GED through a city college program. Shortly after, Cherise was arrested and later charged with a felony, making it harder to seek employment. She knew that living a self-destructive lifestyle was not the life she wanted for her future. She began to change her life and search for options that would lead her to success. She attended multiple job training programs that taught many different job skills. Although some of the programs did not relate to her goals, she stayed committed. Cherise was, and still is, an advocate to her community by sharing the information she found about programs and other opportunities and assisted them with procedures and deadlines.
In 2012, Cherise became a Year Up Alumni. Over the course of a year, she was able to complete the program, gain employment through an internship, and become able to take care of herself. Despite all of the negativity, obstacles, and rejection Cherise dealt with during her tough journey, she was able to show others that staying positive, working hard, and making sacrifices pays off. These objectives continue to be a positive aspect of her life.
“Young Adults where I come from face many hardships. Our challenges consist of unstable homes, inability to find employment, crime, teenage parenting, childcare, transportation, lack of mentorship and positive role models, amongst many other adversities. I feel that if we address the latter, then it will be a step forward, eliminating road blocks that hinders youth from becoming successful. I also believe that we have to find ways to motivate young adults themselves, because if no one believes in them then they may feel a need to not take accountability for their actions. If no one cares about them or their situation then why should they?”
Maria Flynn, JFF
Maria Flynn is Vice President of JFF’s Building Economic Opportunities Group. The group explores ways that adults can develop the skills needed to advance to family-sustaining careers, while enabling employers to build and sustain a productive workforce. Ms. Flynn guides the activities of key JFF projects and partnerships, including the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, Jobs to Careers, and Breaking Through.
Ms. Flynn has over 16 years of experience in the workforce development field. Prior to coming to JFF, she served as the administrator of the Office of Policy Development and Research within the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. She was responsible for overseeing the assessment and development of employment and training policies, managing the design of the agency's research and evaluation strategy, and providing direct support to agency budget and appropriations activities. Her responsibilities also included the coordination of the agency’s legislative, regulatory, and international affairs agendas and outreach to philanthropic organizations. As the agency’s policy director, Ms. Flynn played a key role in the development and implementation of the Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development Initiative—WIRED—and she served as the agency’s liaison to the Kansas City and West Alabama/East Mississippi WIRED regions.
Within the Employment and Training Administration, Ms. Flynn previously served as chief of the Division of One-Stop Operations, where she was responsible for developing the policy and technical assistance framework necessary to enable states and local communities to establish comprehensive One-Stop delivery systems designed to provide quality services to job seekers, workers, and employers. She also served as team leader for the interagency policy group charged with implementing the Workforce Investment Act of 1998.
In the 1990s, Ms. Flynn held key positions in the National School-to-Work Office and with the launch of the Secretaries Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) Initiative.
Ms. Flynn earned her Bachelor’s degree in international relations and economics at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and a Master’s of Government Administration at the University of Pennsylvania.
Rana Foroohar, Assistant Managing Editer, Time Magazine
Rana Foroohar is an assistant managing editor for TIME, overseeing business and economic coverage in print and online. She also writes TIME's Curious Capitalist column. Her most recent cover story was “The Wimpy Recovery,” which she co-wrote with Bill Saporito.
Previously, Foroohar served as the deputy editor in charge of international business and economics coverage for Newsweek. She also spent six years asNewsweek’s European economic correspondent based in London, covering Europe and the Middle East. During this time, she was awarded the German Marshall Fund’s Peter R. Weitz Prize for transatlantic reporting. She has also worked as a general editor at Newsweek, a reporter for Forbes magazine and as a writer and editor at various other national and international publications.
Foroohar graduated in 1992 from Barnard College, Columbia University, with a B.A. in English literature. She is a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Tom Freedman, President of Freedman Consulting, LLC
As President of Freedman Consulting, LLC, Tom Freedman is an advisor to leading political figures, corporations, and non-profit organizations developing policy ideas that become part of an effective strategic message. Mr. Freedman served in the Clinton Administration as Senior Advisor to the President, and prior to that as Special Assistant to the President for policy planning. In the 1996 presidential campaign, Mr. Freedman was Chief of Staff for Strategy, helping to create the policy and communications plan for Clinton/Gore ’96. Previously he was Press Secretary and later Legislative Director to then Congressman Charles E. Schumer (D-NY). He co-founded the non-profit organization the Welfare to Work Partnership, which grew to include more than 20,000 companies that hired more than 1 million Americans off of public assistance. Mr. Freedman served as a member of the 2008 presidential Obama-Biden Transition Project on the Technology, Innovation, and Government Reform Policy Working Group.
Mr. Freedman is an honors graduate of Carleton College, and a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley where he was Editor-in-Chief of the California Law Review. Mr. Freedman was awarded a traveling Watson Fellowship in 1985 and conducted a year long study of the African famine. He is also a senior fellow at the Washington-based Progressive Policy Institute. In 2009, Mr. Freedman authored the chapter of recommendations for the next Domestic Policy Council in the book Change for America: A Progressive Blueprint for the 44th President (Center for American Progress) and wrote a chapter on ending child hunger in America with Joel Berg in the book Memos to the New President (Progressive Policy Institute).
Nicole Gallant, Senior Advisor, Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
Nicole Gallant is Senior Advisor for the Annie E Casey Foundation’s Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. Nicole supports the Campaign’s efforts to engage citizens and align a broad community of private and public funders around the goal of ensuring all children read proficiently by grade three. Prior to joining the Campaign, Nicole was Senior Education Advisor for the federal government’s Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), where she created and oversaw the $350 million education strategy. Prior to her appointment at CNCS, Nicole was a Program Executive at The Atlantic Philanthropies, managing a $115 million domestic Learning portfolio. Her experience also includes a fellowship at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and strategic planning at Knight Securities, a global trading firm. She received her master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Columbia University, and her research appears in the Journal of Negro History.
Ricarda Ganjam, Director, Local Market and People Engagement, Accenture
Ricarda Ganjam manages the Local Market Initiative Program for Metro Washington, DC. The program includes a focus on business development, local image and people engagement. In her career at Accenture, she has managed teams to enable change management; communications strategy and execution; process design and key performance indicators; training strategy, development and delivery; and short and long term support planning to facilitate transformational change within a variety of clients, with a focus on the resources industry. She is also an executive coach working with senior leaders to achieve high performance in their careers and lives. She also sponsors Corporate Citizenship in the community. The portfolio includes and Annual Accenture Day of Service, Corporate Citizenship Council and KIPP Charter School National Partnership.
Francisco Garcia, National Council of Young Leaders
Francisco Garcia, 26, is a professional artist. A student at Rio Hondo College and Art Center College and Design in California, he works as a public muralist in California and Arizona. As a teen he left his hometown of Los Angeles and became involved in illegal graffiti and other activity following his move to Phoenix, Arizona. A life changing event occurred in 2003, when Francisco attended a church-sponsored youth night in Mesa and found his calling as a result of a testimonial rap performance, which he says, led him to evolve from illegal street artist to public muralist focused on social activism.
Since 2009, Francisco has been a mentor to emerging graffiti artists, teaching them the benefits of creating art for the community and for social change. He credits a number of programs, including AmeriCorps, Chicanos Por La Causa, Public Allies and Youth Leadership Institute (YLI), with having a positive influence on his life. It was YLI that facilitated a trip to Washington DC, where he was interviewed by members of Congress about youth jobs and his community art.
Of his art and mentoring he says, “I believe God blessed me with many talents, and one of those talents is being able to paint murals and work with youth at-risk. . . It brings warmth to my heart when I am a witness to youth making a difference in their own community and living their dreams.”
Geoff Garin, Hart Research
Geoffrey Garin is the president of Peter D. Hart Research Associates, one of the nation's leading survey research firms. He became president of Hart Research in 1984, after having worked in the firm since 1978 as a senior analyst and vice president. Mr. Garin has undertaken policy research for many foundations and educational institutions. He has conducted studies on high school reform and global health issues for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as research for the Pew Charitable Trusts on foster care, early education, and consumer credit. He has conducted studies related to higher education for the University of California system, the College Board, and the Association of American Colleges and Universities. Mr. Garin’s work on health care issues includes research for Stanford University’s Center on Longevity, the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. He has undertaken research studies on foreign policy issues for the United Nations Foundation, and the U.S. Center for Global Engagement, and CARE, among others. Additionally, he conducts the direct marketing research for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF and many other donor-based charitable and advocacy organizations, and has led major research projects for major corporations and trade associations in a variety of sectors.
Meg Garlinghouse, LinkedIn
Meg Garlinghouse is head of Social Impact at LinkedIn. In this role, she is responsible for identifying partnerships and programs that leverage the LinkedIn platform to create positive social impact for the world.
Garlinghouse has nearly twenty years of experience working in the technology and philanthropy sector. Prior to joining LinkedIn, Garlinghouse spent almost 10 years building and leading Yahoo!’s global community relations function.
She also has a background in international development, working for the Asia Foundation as special assistant to the president and in the private sector development department of the World Bank. She served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger, West Africa, running projects designed to raise the social and economic status of rural villagers. Garlinghouse received her Bachelor’s degree in public policy studies from Duke University and a Master's in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She currently serves on the Boards of Network for Good and Volunteermatch.
Gail Gershon, Executive Director, Community Leadership, Gap Inc.
Gail Gershon joined Gap Inc. in 1995, and currently serves as Executive Director, Community Leadership, at Gap Inc. The Foundation is the community investment vehicle for all Gap Inc. brands (Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic, Piperlime, and Athleta).
In her current role, Gershon leads Gap Foundation’s youth investment portfolio and global employee engagement programs, which are designed to leverage the time and professional expertise of Gap Inc.’s 130,000 employees around the world. Gap Inc.’s target causes are job readiness for underserved youth (in the developed world); and women’s advancement (in the developing world).
Before joining the Gap Foundation, Gershon worked at the Florence V. Burden Foundation, the Metropolitan Life Foundation, and the New York Regional Association of Grantmakers. She has also served with the Domestic Abuse Awareness Project, the Institute of International Studies at U.C. Berkeley, and as a board member of Materials for the Arts and the TS (tuberous sclerosis) Alliance.
Michael Gerson, The Washington Post
Michael Gerson is a nationally syndicated columnist who appears twice weekly in the Washington Post. He is the author of "Heroic Conservatism" (HarperOne, 2007) and co-author of "City of Man: Religion and Politics in a New Era" (Moody, 2010). Gerson is a Senior Advisor at ONE, a bipartisan organization dedicated to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable diseases. From 2006 to 2009, Gerson was the Roger Hertog Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).
Before joining CFR in 2006, Gerson was a top aide to President George W. Bush as Assistant to the President for Policy and Strategic Planning. He was a key administration advocate for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the President's Malaria Initiative (PMI), the fight against global sex trafficking, and funding for women’s justice and empowerment issues. Prior to that appointment, he served in the White House as Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Presidential Speechwriting and Assistant to the President for Speechwriting and Policy Advisor. Gerson joined Bush's presidential campaign in early 1999 as chief speechwriter and a senior policy adviser.
He was previously a senior editor covering politics at U.S. News and World Report. Gerson was a speechwriter and policy adviser for Jack Kemp and a speechwriter for Bob Dole during the 1996 presidential campaign. He also served Senator Dan Coats of Indiana as Policy Director. Gerson is a graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois. He grew up in the St. Louis area and now lives with his wife and sons in northern Virginia.
Juleanna Glover, Founding Partner of The Ashcroft Group
Juleanna Glover advises major corporate clients with high stakes public and government affairs challenges in a myriad and diverse range of issue areas. Ms. Glover has over twenty years’ experience working on some of the most important government policy debates, high profile political campaigns and corporate controversies in the U.S. and abroad. The New York Times has cited Ms. Glover in 2011 as a “consummate political insider”. She is regularly included in publications’ lists of the most influential and powerful people in the nation’s capital.
Ms. Glover has served on the senior staffs of then President-elect George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Mayor Rudy Giuliani, presidential candidate Steve Forbes, and then Senator John Ashcroft. She advised Senator John McCain in his 2008 bid for the White House, traveling with him throughout the presidential primary season and was a prominent supporter of Governor Jon Huntsman 2012 presidential run. Prior to joining The Ashcroft Group, LLC, she was a director at Clark and Weinstock, one of the most respected public and government affairs firms in the country.
Earlier in her career, Ms. Glover worked for Bill Kristol, Vice President Dan Quayle, former Senator and Energy Secretary Spence Abraham, the Bush-Quayle 1992 campaign, conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, and former Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina. Ms. Glover holds a Masters in Public Administration from George Mason University and Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Marymount University. She was also a Fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.
Aron Goldman, Executive Director of The Springfield Institute
Aron Goldman is the Executive Director of The Springfield Institute, a community-based think tank designed to raise the level of debate--and broaden participation in the debate--about transforming cities. Focus areas include democratic participation, environmental justice, health disparities, and the student achievement gap. In addition to original analysis and commentary, Goldman consults with grassroots, regional, national, and international organizations in the areas of capacity-building and strategy. In his spare time, Goldman manages and advises ground-breaking political campaigns. Goldman has taught public policy and political economy at UMass Amherst and Springfield College. Goldman holds a Masters degree from Princeton Universitys Woodrow Wilson School for Public and International Affairs.
Chris Graves, CEO of Ogilvy PR
After 23 years in business news, Chris Graves joined Ogilvy Public Relations in January 2005 as president and CEO of the Asia Pacific region. He was named Global CEO in December 2009, and shortly thereafter, named to the board of directors of Ogilvy & Mather. Prior to joining Ogilvy PR, he spent 18 years with Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal in three media on three continents, including: serving as head of WSJ-TV; head of news & programming for both CNBC Asia and CNBC Europe. Graves is a contributing author of two recent McKinsey books “Korea 2020,” and the 2011 bestseller “Reimagining Japan.” In 2010, Graves was elected life member to the Council on Foreign Relations, the most influential foreign policy think tank in the US. He serves on the board of directors of Caring for Cambodia, which builds and runs schools there, and serves on the leadership council of Opportunity Nation, the only truly bi-partisan initiative to restore economic opportunity to Americans. Awards include: the Atticus Award (annual WPP thought leadership prize); a Television News & Documentary EMMY nomination. Ogilvy PR has been named regional and global agency of the year during Graves’ tenure.
Dr. Vivian Greentree, Director of Research and Policy, Blue Star Families
Vivian Greentree, Ph.D., is Blue Star Families’ Director of Research and Policy and a co-founder of the organization. A Navy veteran and military spouse, Vivian’s areas of public policy research include civic engagement, public service motivation, and military family community policy. She was recently named a Daily Point of Light by the Points of Light Institute for her volunteer work and has appeared as an expert on panels, conferences, and symposiums around the country.
Fay Hanleybrown, FSG
Fay Hanleybrown established FSG’s West coast presence when she opened the San Francisco office in 2002. She currently leads FSG’s Seattle office and Collective Impact approach area. She has advised a variety of clients, including private foundations, community foundations, private corporations, and nonprofits across a range of critical issues including education, global development, community philanthropy, and corporate social responsibility. Recent clients include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Microsoft, The Ford Family Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and the Community Center for Education Results. She has also led a number of engagements focused on designing and launching cross-sector collaborations. Fay speaks regularly about philanthropic effectiveness, collective impact, and shared measurement.
Prior to FSG, Fay worked for McKinsey & Company, where she consulted to both for-profit and nonprofit organizations and was a member of the Social Sector Practice. While a student at Harvard, she worked with business school professors Michael Porter and Allen Grossman on a research study entitled "Optimizing the Value of Philanthropy" that examined ways to increase foundation impact. Fay began her career at investment bank UBS Warburg in Hong Kong, where she was a Vice President and co-led the regional financial institutions equity research team. Responsible for UBS Warburg's investment strategy for Asian banks, she was ranked by Institutional Investor as one of the best equity research analysts in Asia.
Sen. Tom Harkin, (D-IA)
Tom Harkin was born in Cumming, Iowa (pop. 150) on November 19, 1939, the son of an Iowa coal miner father and a Slovenian immigrant mother. After graduating from Dowling High School in Des Moines, he attended Iowa State University on a Navy ROTC scholarship, earning a degree in government and economics. In 1968, Tom married Ruth Raduenz, the daughter of a farmer and a school teacher from Minnesota. Following graduation, Tom served in the Navy as a jet pilot on active duty from 1962 to 1967. In 1972, Tom and Ruth graduated in the same class at Catholic University of America Law School in Washington, D.C. They returned to Iowa and settled in Ames. Tom worked with Polk County Legal Aid, assisting low-income Iowans who could not afford legal help.
In 1974, Tom was elected to Congress from Iowa's Fifth Congressional District. In November 2008, he made history by becoming the first Iowa Democrat to win a fifth term in the U.S. Senate.As a young senator, Tom was tapped by Senator Ted Kennedy to craft legislation to protect the civil rights of millions of Americans with physical and mental disabilities. What emerged from that process would later become Tom's signature legislative achievement — The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In September 2009, following the death of Senator Ted Kennedy, Tom became chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.
Tom and Ruth have two daughters, Amy and Jenny, and three grandchildren. Ruth Harkin currently serves on the Iowa Board of Regents, responsible for leading Iowa's public universities.
Dr. Ron Haskins, Brookings Institution
Ron Haskins is a senior fellow in the Economic Studies program and co-director of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution and senior consultant at the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore. From February to December of 2002 he was the senior advisor to the president for welfare policy at the White House. Prior to joining Brookings and Casey, he spent 14 years on the staff of the House Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee, first as welfare counsel to the Republican staff, then as the subcommittee’s staff director. From 1981-1985, he was a senior researcher at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center at the University of North Carolina,Chapel Hill. He also taught and lectured on history and education at UNC, Charlotte and developmental psychology at Duke University. He has appeared frequently on radio and television and has written articles and editorials for several newspapers and periodicals including the Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Policy Review, State Government News, American Enterprise,National Review, and the Weekly Standard.
He holds a Bachelor’s degree in History, a Master’s in Education, and a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology, from UNC, Chapel Hill. Haskins, who was a noncommissioned officer in the United States Marine Corps from 1963 to 1966, lives with his wife in Rockville, Maryland and is the father of four grown children.
Denise C. Hebner, Head of Diversity & Inclusion UBS Americas
Denise Hebner is the Head of Diversity & Inclusion for UBS Americas where she is responsible for providing leadership in the development, implementation and assessment of a comprehensive array of programs and initiatives to promote diversity, inclusion and the value of difference. In this role, she delivers programs that drive the firm’s commitment to provide an inclusive work environment where all employees can contribute to meet their full potential, encourages employee engagement through employee networks, and develops partnerships with professional affinity groups.
Joining UBS 2002, Ms. Hebner has worked as a Financial Advisor supporting Women and Minority owned businesses, followed by the Regional Programs Lead for Group Technology where she oversaw talent and diversity initiatives, corporate real estate, contractor recruitment, communication and change management.
Prior to UBS, Denise worked as a Global Marketing Manager responsible for developing and marketing products to consumers in the Americas. Her experience included negotiating pricing agreements with Far East suppliers, business development, product development, and quality control.
Denise is married and has three children. She holds a B.A. in Business Administration from Loyola University Baltimore, and received a Masters of Applied Science from Johns Hopkins University.
Stacy Holland, President, Philadelphia Youth Network
Prior to her work with Philadelphia Youth Network, Ms. Holland served as a part of the leadership team at Philadelphia Works (formerly known as the Philadelphia Workforce Development Corporation). She has also held positions at Delaware Valley College, La Salle University and Marymount Manhattan College, where she designed pre-college and minority retention programs. Ms. Holland holds an undergraduate degree from The College of New Jersey in Marketing and a graduate degree in Student Development from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Engaged both locally and nationally, Ms. Holland serves on the following boards: Wells Fargo Regional Foundation; Community College of Philadelphia (Chair of Student Outcomes Committee); Philadelphia Foundation Fund for Children Advisory Committee; Philadelphia Schools Partnership and The Intermediary Network (Co-Chair). In recognition of her leadership, Ms. Holland was awarded a Philadelphia Business Journal 40 Under 40 Award in 2005 and is a 2012 recipient of the Smart CEO Brava Award.
Bonnie Howard, Director of National Partnerships for the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Bonnie began her career at the Foundation working with the Family Economic Success unit in 2002. In that role, Bonnie had responsibility for "helping create access to economic opportunities for families living in tough neighborhoods, the opportunities that many of us take for granted." She is now a Director in the Office of External Affairs with responsibility for the Foundation’s portfolio of national partners.
Bonnie launched her professional career as a Speech and Language Pathologist in the Boston Public Schools, but transitioned from education to the field of high-tech during the early 1980s. She spent ten years in marketing positions with IBM before moving on to the Houghton Mifflin Company, formulating business plans, national marketing strategies, and negotiating software contracts as a Senior Account Manager. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Speech Pathology/Audiology from Howard University, and earned her Master of Education in Policy, Planning, and Administration from Boston University.
Melinda Hudson, America's Promise Alliance
Melinda Hudson is executive vice president for the America’s Promise Alliance, founded in 1997 by Gen. Colin L. Powell to make children and youth a national priority, urging all Americans to fulfill Five Promises for our nation’s young people: caring adults; safe places; a healthy start; an effective education; and opportunities to help others. With more than 400 national partners, the Alliance is currently leading a ten-year campaign, Grad Nation, mobilizing America to end the dropout.
Before joining America's Promise Alliance, Ms. Hudson was the director of the office of public liaison at the Corporation for National and Community Service during the Clinton Administration. She was a member of the planning team for the Presidents’ Summit for America’s Future that launched America’s Promise in 1997. In the George H.W. Bush administration, Ms. Hudson served as director of communications for the Commission on National and Community Service which developed the national youth policy and programs that served as the basis for the creation of the Corporation and its new programs Learn and Serve and AmeriCorps.
Hudson holds a Master of Business Administration in marketing from Columbia University and a Bachelors of Arts in biology from Vanderbilt University. She is also the former president of the Junior League of Washington and currently serves in a variety of nonprofit boards including the Tutu Center for Prayer and Pilgrimage, Goodwin House, Incorporated, and the DC Promise Neighborhood, Inc..
Arianna Huffington, Huffington Post
Arianna Huffington is the president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group, a nationally syndicated columnist, and author of thirteen books.
In May 2005, she launched The Huffington Post, a news and blog site that quickly became one of the most widely-read, linked to, and frequently-cited media brands on the Internet. In 2012, the site won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. In 2006, and again in 2011, she was named to the Time 100, Time Magazine's list of the world’s 100 most influential people.
Originally from Greece, she moved to England when she was 16 and graduated from Cambridge University with an M.A. in economics. At 21, she became president of the famed debating society, the Cambridge Union.
Shawnice Jackson, National Council of Young Leaders
Shawnice Jackson, 24, is a young professional committed to the advancement of positive youth development through mentoring and advocacy. She currently works as a customer relations specialist at Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Chesapeake (BBBSGC), where she is responsible for the recruitment, screening, and training of volunteers who are matched with at-risk, underserved youth in Baltimore City and surrounding counties.
A native of East Baltimore, Shawnice graduated from Eastern Technical High School and is currently in her senior year at Notre Dame of Maryland University, where she is majoring in criminology and social deviance.
An alumna of Public Allies in Maryland, she has served as a project coordinator for a Baltimore Rising program: Mentoring Children of Incarcerated Parents, and as volunteer and coordinator at BBBSGC. As a volunteer Big Sister at BBBSCG, she continues to give of her time in support of the well-being of young people in her community. A court-appointed special advocate for abused and neglected children with CASA Baltimore City, Shawnice hopes one day to begin her own youth development program and to become a juvenile court master.
Diamond Jimenez, Helpdesk Administrator/Engineer
Diamond Jimenez is an Alumni of Year Up NY Class 8 and a proud supporter in Year Up’s mission of closing the Opportunity Divide that exist. She has led Year Up NY Walks of Opportunity in Manhattan, and Brooklyn which has reached many. She also was Year Up’s representative for Opportunity Nation 2011. Her word of wisdom has reached many, and she continues to try to pass on the opportunity of Year Up to other youth around the nation.
Diamond was hired early at her internship site, Tower Research Capital, as a Helpdesk Administrator. She has been there 2 years now and has been a training manager to other Year Up interns at her site. Her energy and intellect has taken her extremely far. Other students and interns look to her for advice and lessons on things they may be unsure about. Year Up staff members appreciate the extra effort Diamond gives to help out and that makes her a great leader.
In the beginning Diamond was just a college student looking for an opportunity that would help steer her dream train to success. But Diamond earned more than just an opportunity; she gained a career and gave her name an even stronger meaning. She overcame various impediments which only made her strive for the best. Her favorite words are “Year Up is a beginning that has no ending”. Those words are proven by Diamond Jimenez herself every day.
Irv Katz, President & CEO of National Human Services Assembly
Since 2001, Katz has been CEO of the National Human Services Assembly, an association of over eighty of the nation's leading nonprofit human and community development organizations. Most of his previous professional experience was in the United Way movement, at the local level in Indianapolis, and nationally as vice president for community impact at United Way of America. Irv has graduate and undergraduate degrees from Indiana University, is married to Beth Ann, a teacher, and has a daughter and grandson. He serves on several national boards and has been recognized at one the Nonprofit Times Power & Influence 50.
Kathy Krendl, Otterbein University
President Kathy A. Krendl is the 20th president and the first woman to lead Otterbein University, a comprehensive master's institution of 3,000 students founded in 1847 as the first coeducational institution in the country. Since her appointment in 2009, Otterbein has won national recognition for its distinctive undergraduate education, combining curricular and experiential learning. Under her leadership Otterbein continues its historic commitment to community engagement through its award-wining Center for Community Engagement. According to Washington Monthly’s rankings, Otterbein ranks in the top 10 institutions in the nation in student involvement in community service. It also consistently ranks in the top tier of institutions for its commitment to maintaining a student-centered learning environment.
Krendl has launched a number of initiatives related to Women and Leadership during her tenure. She teaches a freshman course on Women and Leadership and has developed the Otterbein Women's Leadership Network, which supports an inter-generational mentoring program linking college students with senior mentors. The Network also serves the central Ohio region offering courses, workshops and conferences focused on emerging opportunities for women. Otterbein also partners with the Institute on Women and Women for Economic and Leadership Development on the publication of the Central Ohio Leadership Census, an annual report monitoring the concentration of women in leadership positions throughout the region.
Krendl serves on a number of boards including the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation, the YWCA Columbus, I Know I Can, and Westerville Area Resource Ministry. She has been awarded the Global Women’s Summit Leadership Award, the Living Faith Award, and Ohio’s Most Powerful and Influential Women Award.
Krendl previously served Indiana University and Ohio University as a faculty member and administrator. She earned her B.A. at Lawrence University, her M.A. at Ohio State University, and her Ph.D. at University of Michigan.
Kristen Lewis, Measure of America
Kristen Lewis is co-director of Measure of America, a project of the Social Science Research Council, and co-author of the Measure of America series of national and state reports. Measure of America provides easy-to-use yet methodologically sound tools for understanding the distribution of well-being and opportunity in America and stimulating fact-based dialogue about issues we all care about: health, education, and living standards. The hallmark of this work is the American Human Development Index, an alternative to GDP and other money metrics that tells the story of how Americans are faring and empowers communities with a tool to track progress over time. The American Human Development Index allows for well-being rankings of states, congressional districts, and neighborhood and county groups within states as well as comparisons by gender, race, and ethnicity.
Kristen previously worked at the United Nations for many years, first with UNIFEM and then in UNDP’s policy bureau, and has served as a consultant for numerous international development organizations. She is co-author, under the leadership of Jeffrey Sachs’ Millennium Project, of Health, Dignity and Development: What will it take? (2005). Kristen holds an M.I.A. from Columbia University.
She is co-author, with Sarah Burd-Shaprs, of the following publications: in The Measure of America Series: Mapping Risks and Resilience 2010-2011 (New York University Press), American Human Development Report 2008-2009 (Columbia University Press); in the State Portrait Series: A Portrait of California (2011), Mississippi (2009), and Louisiana (2009).
Stanley Litow, President, IBM International Foundation
Stanley S. Litow is IBM’s Vice President of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs and President of IBM’s Foundation. Under his leadership, IBM has been widely regarded as the global leader in Corporate Citizenship, and praised for societal and environmental leadership, labor practices, and civic leadership. Under Stan, IBM developed innovative voice recognition technology to help children and adults learn to read, a humanitarian virtual supercomputer to speed research on Cancer and AIDS, and new digital imaging technology to improve water quality. Stan helped devise IBM’s Corporate Service Corps, a corporate version of the Peace Corps, to train and deploy thousands of IBM’s future leaders; P-TECH, a grade 9 through 14 schools initiative to engage companies, colleges, communities and schools to help strengthen America’s economic competitiveness by connecting education to jobs; and IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge, which is helping 100 cities worldwide become more effective.
Lindsey E. Malcolm-Piqueux, Assistant Professor, Higher Education Administration
Lindsey E. Malcom-Piqueux (Ph.D., University of Southern California) is an Assistant Professor of Higher Education Administration. Her research interests center on the relationship between higher education policy and access and success for underrepresented minorities (URM) in the sciences and related (STEM) fields. She is particularly interested in exploring the ways in which institutional and college financing pathways structure opportunity and outcomes for URMs in STEM. Much of Dr. Malcom-Piqueux's research focuses on the role of community colleges as an entry point to postsecondary education for minorities interested in science and related fields.
Reggie McCrimmon, Young Invincibles
Monique Miles, The Aspen Institute
Tariq Muhammad, Bank of America Student Leader
Tariq Muhammad is a recent graduate of John Marshall High School in Richmond, VA. In January he will begin his freshman year at Virginia Commonwealth University where he will begin a pre-med track of studies towards his ultimate goal of becoming a cardiac surgeon. Tariq is passionate about volunteerism and has worked extensively with the Home Again Emergency Shelter and the YMCA of Greater Richmond. He was recently recognized as a 2012 Bank of America Student Leader® for his volunteerism and community leadership. As part of the Student Leaders® program Tariq interned with the YMCA and participated in a weeklong Washington, DC Leadership Summit with 220 of his peer Student Leaders® from across the country.
David C. Nagel, Executive Vice President, BP America Inc.
David Nagel has over 30 years’ experience in the global energy industry, having held executive positions in line operations, finance, and now, government relations. Currently he is Executive Vice President of BP America Inc., responsible for BP’s engagement with the Administration, Congress, federal regulators, trade associations, and other DC and national stakeholders. He took this post in July 2009, and oversaw BP’s Washington operations during the Gulf Oil Spill in 2010.
Nagel’s career began with Amoco International in Chicago. While at Amoco he was Assistant Treasurer for the corporation, was upstream CFO at the business unit (UK), regional (Europe Latin America & Far East) and corporate levels, and held line management responsibilities for international natural gas marketing.
Mr. Nagel joined BP following the merger with Amoco in 1999, and moved to Egypt as the company’s chief representative and business unit leader for natural gas. In 2001 he was appointed President and CEO for BP Algeria, where he worked with Sonatrach and the Ministry of Energy to restructure and expand BP’s business.
In 2005 he moved into BP Group Finance positions in London, where he was Global Head of Mergers and Acquisitions, Controller for Exploration and Production, and VP for Finance Transformation. It was as a result of this last role that he joined with three faculty from Duke Corporate Education to co-author “The New CFOs”, scheduled for publishing by Kogan Page in the spring of 2012.
Nagel is Chair Emeritus of the Advisory Board for the Vice Provost of International Studies at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, which has helped catalyse expansion of global competency for students and global engagement for the University. He is on the executive boards of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering and the National Capital Area Council of the Boy Scouts, and has actively supported rural land preservation for complex projects in Vermont.
Nagel, a native of Wisconsin, was educated at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where he earned a B.S. with honors in Chemistry and an MBA in International Finance. He and his wife Helen, an oil painter who holds a Masters’ degree in East Asian Art History and a diploma in Fine Arts, are based in Washington D.C. They have three adult children.
Diana Natalicio, President of the University of Texas at El Paso
Diana Natalicio was named president of the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) in 1988. During her long and distinguished career with the University, Dr. Natalicio also served as Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dean of Liberal Arts, and Chair of the Modern Languages Department. Dr. Natalicio serves on the board of directors of the American Council on Education and the Council for Aid to Education. She has served on the boards of the U.S.-Mexico Foundation for Science, the Fulbright Commission in Mexico, the Internet2, the NASA Advisory Committee (NAC), and the Sandia Corporation, and was appointed by President George H. W. Bush to the White House Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans. Initially appointed to the National Science Board by President Bill Clinton in 1994, she was re-appointed to a second term in 2000 and served for six years as the board’s vice chair. In addition, she is a member of the board of directors of Trinity Industries and the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering.
In recognition of her success in building strong partnerships between UTEP, the El Paso Community College and school districts in the Paso del Norte region, Dr. Natalicio was awarded the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education in 1997. She was inducted into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame in 1999 and is the recipient of honorary doctoral degrees from Smith College and the Universidad Autonoma de Nuevo Leon.
A graduate of St. Louis University, Dr. Natalicio earned a master’s degree in Portuguese and a doctorate in linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin.
Nakeisha Neal, Executive Director, Public Allies D.C.
Michelle Nunn, CEO of Points of Light, co-founder of HandsOn Network
Michelle Nunn is the CEO of Points of Light, co-founder of HandsOn Network and author of “Be The Change.”
Points of Light inspires, equips and mobilizes people to take action that changes the world. Michelle began her service journey when she helped found HandsOn Atlanta in 1989. What began as a grassroots startup of 12 individuals hoping to get more people involved in volunteer service has grown into the largest volunteer network in the country, working each day to connect 21st century volunteers with their power to create change in their communities. At Points of Light, Michelle leads the organization in engaging millions of volunteers each year to use their time, talent, voice and money to solve the pressing issues of our time. Through Points of Light and its three divisions: Programs, Civic Incubator and Action Networks, which include HandsOn Network, the largest network of 250 local volunteer centers across the country and around the world; generationOn, the youth service movement that ignites the power of kids to make their mark on the world; AmeriCorps Alums, the national service alumni network that activates the next generation of service leaders; and Points of Light Corporate Institute, our enterprise that enables companies to engage their employees and customers in service, individuals, families, and corporate and community groups find meaningful opportunities to give back and create impact.
Michelle has been a leader in the service and nonprofit sector for two decades. She has served on the President’s Council on Service and Civic Engagement and as a co-convener of the Service Nation Coalition and Re-Imagining Service. She has received a variety of awards, including the Fast Company Social Capitalist Award and honorary degrees from Oglethorpe University and Wesleyan College. The NonProfit Times has named Michelle to its annual “Power and Influence Top 50” list of change agents from the nonprofit sector for four consecutive years. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Virginia with a major in history and a minor in religion. She has studied at Oxford University and in India. She was a Kellogg National Fellow and has a master’s degree in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Michelle lives in Atlanta with her husband, Ron Martin, and their two children, Vinson and Elizabeth.
Cheryl Oldham,Vice President, Institute for a Competitive Workforce, US Chamber of Commerce
Cheryl Oldham is vice president of the U.S. Forum for Policy Innovation and vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for a Competitive Workforce (ICW), the education and workforce nonprofit, nonpartisan, 501(c)3 affiliate of the Chamber. Oldham directs and manages the work of ICW whose mission it is to promote the rigorous educational standards and effective job training systems needed to preserve the strength of America's greatest economic resource, its workforce. Through its events, publications, and policy initiatives—and drawing upon the Chamber's extensive network of members—ICW connects the best minds in American business with the most innovative thinkers in American education, helping them work together to ensure the nation's continued prosperity. Oldham has more than 15 years of experience in public policy development and implementation as well as in project management and government relations. Her previous experience includes serving for 8 years in President George W. Bush’s administration. In July 2008, the president designated Oldham to be acting assistant secretary for postsecondary education while also serving as chief of staff to the under secretary of education. The Office of the Under Secretary was responsible for implementing the work of the secretary of education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education as well as developing policies and overseeing programs related to vocational and adult education, postsecondary education, and federal student aid. As chief of staff, Oldham was senior advisor on policy and strategy and managed the coordination of the offices for which the Under Secretary was responsible.
In September 2005, the secretary of education appointed Oldham to be executive director of the Commission on the Future of Higher Education. The commission was the first of its kind to look at needed reforms in higher education related to accessibility, affordability, and accountability. The Commission produced a final report, A Test of Leadership, which has served as a catalyst for more recent attention to these issues within the foundation and higher education communities.
Oldham began her career working in the Texas Office of State-Federal Relations in Washington, D.C., handling policy matters under the umbrella of health and human services. She then served in the White House as deputy associate director in the Office of Presidential Personnel and as associate director in the Office of Cabinet Affairs before moving to the Department of Education as White House Liaison in January 2003.
Oldham received her Juris Doctor from St. Mary’s University School of Law and her Bachelor of Arts from Texas Christian University. She resides in Alexandria, Virginia with her two sons, Jeffrey and Dylan.
Eduardo Padrón, President, Miami Dade College
An American by choice, Eduardo Padrón arrived in the United States as a refugee at age 15. Since 1995, he has served as President of Miami Dade College, a national model of student achievement and the largest institution of higher education in America, with more than 174,000 students.
An economist by training, Dr. Padrón earned his Ph.D. from the University of Florida. In 2009, Time magazine included him among the “10 Best College Presidents” in the U.S. In 2010, Florida Trend magazine named him “Floridian of the Year.” In 2011, The Washington Post named him one of the eight most influential college presidents in the U.S., and the Carnegie Corporation of New York granted him its prestigious Centennial Academic Leadership Award. This year he became the first college president to receive the National Citizen Service Award from Voices for National Service.
Dr. Padrón’s energetic leadership extends to many of the nation’s leading organizations. He is the immediate past chair of the Board of Directors of the American Council on Education and a past Board chair of the Association of American Colleges and Universities. During his career, he has been selected to serve on posts of national prominence by six American Presidents. Most recently, he was named chairman of the White House Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans by President Obama.
Michael Parker, YouthBuild USA Graduate Leader
Michael Parker is a graduate of the first YouthBuild program ever, Youth Action Program & Homes (YAPH) located in New York.
Since his graduation, he has continued to give back to his community by staying on as a Transitional Coordinator, for the past 7 years and due to his hardwork and dedication, he has been asked to MC several large events put on by YouthBuild USA: 30th anniversary; Our America Event and was part of last year's Opportunity Nation town hall summit.
Parker is also a former AmeriCorps member and has completed over 1700 hours of community service.
Gov. Deval Patrick (D-MA)
First elected in 2006 on a platform of hope and change, Governor Patrick was reelected to a second term as Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in November 2010. Despite a challenging economic environment, the Patrick administration maintained or expanded the state’s investment in critical growth sectors while delivering timely budgets and cutting state spending. Governor Patrick funded public education at the highest levels in the history of the Commonwealth and its school reform initiatives earned Massachusetts the top spot in the national Race to the Top competition. Governor Patrick committed the state to renewing its aging and neglected infrastructure and oversaw the expansion of affordable health care insurance to over 98% of Massachusetts residents.
Patrick came to Massachusetts in 1970 at the age of 14. A motivated student despite the difficult circumstances of poor and sometimes violent Chicago schools, he was awarded a scholarship to Milton Academy through A Better Chance, a Boston-based organization. Governor Patrick is a graduate of Harvard College, the first in his family to attend college, and of Harvard Law School. After clerking for a federal judge, he led a successful career in the private sector as an attorney and business executive, rising to senior executive positions at Texaco and Coca-Cola. In 1994, President Clinton appointed Patrick as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, the nation's top civil rights post. Diane and Deval Patrick have been married for more than twenty-five years and have two adult daughters.
Steve Patrick, Gates Foundation
Stephen Patrick is a senior program officer on the Postsecondary Success Team with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. His work at the foundation focuses on student supports and on developing supportive pathways through college for low-income young adults, with a particular emphasis on those young people who do not take a direct path from high school into college. Prior to joining the foundation in 2007, Patrick served as the director of Youth and Emerging Initiatives with the New Mexico Community Foundation. Prior to that, he served as a vice president and director of the Daniels Fund. Before joining the Daniels staff, Patrick co-founded and was the executive director of the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps. He is also the former director of Youth and Indian Child Welfare Act programs for the San Juan Pueblo tribe and has served on a number of boards.
Elizabeth Pauley, Program Director, The Boston Foundation
Elizabeth Pauley joined the Boston Foundation in 2006 as a Senior Program Officer, with a focus on education.
Prior to joining TBF, Elizabeth worked at the Massachusetts Department of Education as Director of Leadership Initiatives in the Commissioner's Office. In that role, she served as the State Director of the State Action for Education Leadership Project; a Wallace Foundation funded initiative to improve school leadership through policy change and program investment related to the recruitment, preparation, and retention of principals and superintendents.
Elizabeth began her career as a Teach For America Corps member, teaching second and third grade in the Washington D.C. Public Schools.
Elizabeth holds a Masters Degree in Education Administration, Policy, and Social Planning from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and an undergraduate degree from Mount Holyoke College.
Norman Pearlstine, Bloomberg
Norman Pearlstine joined Bloomberg L.P. in June 2008 as Chief Content Officer. In this role Pearlstine is charged with seeking growth opportunities for Bloomberg’s television, radio, magazine and online products and to make the most of the company’s existing news operations. He assumed the additional positions of Chairman, Bloomberg Businessweek, following the acquisition of the magazine in December 2009 and Co-Chairman, Bloomberg Government, following the launch of the subscription site earlier this year.
Prior to joining Bloomberg, Pearlstine was a Senior Advisor to The Carlyle Group’s telecommunications and media group in New York. Before joining the private equity firm, Pearlstine had spent nearly four decades working as a reporter and editor.
Pearlstine was editor-in-chief of Time Inc. the magazine division of Time Warner Inc. from 1995 through 2005 before becoming a Senior advisor to Time Warner Inc. in January 2006. He also worked for The Wall Street Journal for 23 years before joining Time Inc., including nine years in which he was responsible for the Journal’s news department, as managing editor and then executive editor.
Andrew Plepler, Bank of America
Andrew D. Plepler is Bank of America’s Global Corporate Social Responsibility Executive and Consumer Policy Executive. In this role, Plepler leads strategic formulation and implementation of Bank of America’s global approach to connect socially responsible business practices with direct investments made to advance the economies of the countries, regions and communities the company serves.
Plepler’s responsibilities include overseeing the company’s philanthropy, community development lending, Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) compliance, employee volunteerism, nonprofit partnerships, arts and culture programs and its environmental business initiative. He also serves as the senior executive responsible for interfacing with consumer and community groups while representing Bank of America’s position on critical consumer issues impacting those organizations and their constituents.
As part of his responsibilities, Plepler and his team manage Bank of America’s ten-year, $1.5 trillion community development lending and investing goal; ten-year, $2 billion philanthropic investment goal; and ten-year, $50 billion environmental business goal. These initiatives demonstrate the company’s global commitment to serving communities and addressing issues that customers, clients and stakeholders care deeply about.
Prior to joining Bank of America, Plepler served as senior vice president of Housing and Community Initiatives with the Fannie Mae Foundation. He oversaw three of the foundation’s primary grant-making departments, as well as its regional offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Pasadena and Philadelphia.
Before joining the Fannie Mae Foundation, Plepler was a trial attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice in the Tax Division and served on Capitol Hill as counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Plepler earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in government from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Miami School of Law in Coral Gables, FL.
Plepler founded and continues to serve on the board of the Washington, DC-based Urban Alliance Foundation, a nonprofit jobs and mentoring program that works with economically disadvantaged high school students. In addition, Plepler serves on the Boards of Charlotte Country Day School, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Living Cities Inc. and Levine Museum of the New South. Plepler, his wife and three children reside in Charlotte, NC.
Christopher Prado, National Council of Young Leaders
Christopher Prado, 22 is a first-generation college graduate. He was the president of his student body in his senior year at California State University, East Bay. A former intercollegiate athlete, he majored in political science and spent the fall semester of his junior year interning for a member of Congress in Washington, DC, through the current US Secretary of Defense, Leon & Sylvia Panetta’s Institute for Public Policy.
Christopher witnessed the struggles that his father faced: leaving high school before obtaining his diploma to help support his family, a move that impeded his ability to move up the socioeconomic ladder. Christopher chose a different path by investing in his education.
Concerned about the economic and social problems of his hometown of Stockton, Christopher returned to Stockton to work on a local city council campaign and as an after-school educator at Aspire Langston Hughes Academy. Armed with a sense of urgency about the need to change conditions in his community (and inspired by Dr. King quote), Christopher says, “We can’t allow the tranquilizing drug of gradualism to stop us from efforts to make change now.”
Amelia Powers, Caterpillar
The youngest of 5 children, reared by a single mother, Amelia started High School like a lot of young people with similar backgrounds. She was a C average student with no plans for college and no idea what her future would hold. Amelia was enrolled in a cabinet making class at the high school where she was introduced to SkillsUSA and Career and Technical Education career clusters. She became involved with SkillsUSA and discovered an interest and natural talent for Automotive Technology. By her junior year, Amelia was enrolled in a vigorous academic schedule as well as an Automotive Career Path. Amelia went on to attend Weber State University where she first received an Associates of Applied Science (AAS) in Automotive Service Technology, receiving several ASE certifications and worked in the Service Department at a local Toyota dealership to pay for school. Amelia went on to receive a BS in Automotive Technology. After graduation, Amelia went to work at Caterpillar where she helped Cat's 56 North American dealerships to recruit heavy equipment and diesel technicians into well paying, skilled careers. Amelia now works for Caterpillar in their On-Highway Truck division as a regional parts manager and is Vice-Chair of the NOCTI Business Solutions board of directors. She has two little boys, ages 6 and 3. Amelia is a full time mom, full time Caterpillar employee and part time hobby farmer.
Dr. Robert D. Putnam, Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy, Harvard University
Robert D. Putnam is the Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard, where he teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses. Professor Putnam is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the British Academy, and past president of the American Political Science Association. In 2006, Putnam received the Skytte Prize, one of the world's highest accolades for a political scientist. Raised in a small town in the Midwest and educated at Swarthmore, Oxford, and Yale, he has served as Dean of the Kennedy School of Government. The London Sunday Times has called him “the most influential academic in the world today."
He has written fourteen books, translated into twenty languages, including the best-selling "Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community," and more recently "Better Together: Restoring the American Community." He consults widely with national leaders, including the last three American presidents, the last three British prime ministers, and the current French president. He founded the Saguaro Seminar, bringing together leading thinkers and practitioners to develop actionable ideas for civic renewal. His earlier work included research on comparative political elites, Italian politics, and globalization. Before coming to Harvard in 1979, he taught at the University of Michigan and served on the staff of the National Security Council.
Dr. Josephine Reed-Taylor, Technical College System of Georgia
Josephine Reed-Taylor is the Assistant Commissioner for the Office of Adult Education at the Technical College System of Georgia. Prior to this position, she served as the Senior Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. For the past 20 years at MCTC, she held a number of administrative positions, including Interim President, vice president for academic affairs, dean of instruction, and dean of students. She holds a doctorate in educational administration from the University of Minnesota, and a bachelor's degree from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. Other educational experiences include the completion of educational management institutes at Bryn Mawr College and Harvard University.
She has been active in the American Council on Education’s Network of Women Administrators since 1987 including serving as Chair of the Executive Board. Josephine is an active member of the network of state directors of adult education and is a member of the Technical Work Group Advisory Board for the National Reporting System for Adult Education. She has served on many boards and commissions in support of access, education, and economic development for those in communities in which she has lived. During the past three years with the Technical College System of Georgia, with the leadership of the practitioners in its local programs and the staff at the central office, the adult education program has increased enrollment, student retention and completion, and GED graduates. She is married to Dr. David Vassar Taylor, is the mother of two sons and four grandchildren.
Sen. Marco Rubio, (R-FL)
When Senator Marco Rubio launched his campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2009, he was considered a long shot and was predicted to lose big. Senator Rubio prevailed on a pledge to stand up to Washington’s reckless spending and its assault on the free enterprise system. Today, he is proud to represent Florida in the U.S. Senate where he’s working to fulfill his promise to restore fiscal discipline and give job creators more certainty and confidence to open new businesses or expand existing ones.
Senator Rubio served in the Florida House of Representatives from 2000 to 2008 and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010. His committee assignments currently include Commerce, Science and Transportation; Foreign Relations; Intelligence; and Small Business and Entrepreneurship. He and his wife, Jeanette, have four young children and live in West Miami, FL.
Dr. Isabel Sawhill, Brookings Institution
Isabel V. Sawhill is a senior fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution. She serves as director of the Budgeting for National Priorities project and co-director of the Center on Children and Families. She holds the Cabot Family Chair. She served as Vice President and Director of the Economic Studies program from 2003 to 2006.
Prior to joining Brookings, Dr. Sawhill was a senior fellow at The Urban Institute. She also served as an associate director at the Office of Management and Budget from 1993 to 1995, where her responsibilities included all of the human resource programs of the federal government, accounting for one third of the federal budget.
In addition, she has authored or edited numerous books and articles, including the recently published volume, Creating an Opportunity Society, co-authored by Ron Haskins. Her research has spanned a wide array of economic and social issues, including fiscal policy, economic growth, poverty and inequality, welfare reform, the well-being of children, and changes in the family. Dr. Sawhill helped to found, and now serves as President of the board of, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. She attended Wellesley College and received her Ph.D. from New York University in 1968.
Rolanda Schand, National Council of Young Leaders
Rolanda Schand, 27, is a junior at Miami Dade College and works as the America Reads coordinator and as a Strong Woman Strong Girl mentor. Earlier this year, she was reelected to serve as student government president. In 2010 and 2011, Rolanda received the gold-level Presidential Volunteer Service Award from Miami Dade, in recognition of her community service as a mentor to learning-disabled children.
Born in Queens, NY, Rolanda has dedicated much of her time to improve the lives of others. She wants change – she wants to speak for the younger generation and advocate for their concerns. She wants to show her fellow students that it’s never too late to take a stand and to make a difference; and while she says that she has experienced a lot, she has worked hard to achieve her goals and to set an example for others.
Rolanda, who frequently serves as a motivational speaker for young adults and who hopes to obtain a doctorate in global leadership, lives by the quote: “You can’t change the world unless you change yourself.”
Jim Scheibel, Executive in Residence, Hamline University, School of Business
Jim Scheibel is Executive in Residence at the School of business at Hamline University. Jim has spend his career working for economic opportunity for all. He served as Mayor and Councilmember in Saint Paul leading initives on food security, addressing homelessnes and welcoming refugees to the city. He served as Chair of the Human Development Committee of the National League of Cities and the U.S. Mayor Task Force on Hunger and Homlessness. Jim was Director of VISTA and the Snior Corps during the Clinton administration. He has been an Executive Director of nonprofits that promote self-sufficiency, and started his career as a youth worker and community organizer. Current board involement inclues the National Youth Leadership Council, National Skills Coalition, Congressional Hunger Center, tpt Public Television, and MicroGrants.
Robert Schwartz, Francis Keppel Professor of Practice and Educational Policy and Administration, Harvard University, Director, Pathways to Prosperity
Robert Schwartz held a wide variety of leadership positions in education and government before joining the HGSE faculty in 1996. From 1997 to 2002, Schwartz also served as president of Achieve, Inc., an independent, bipartisan, nonprofit organization created by governors and corporate leaders to help states improve their schools. From 1990 to 1996, Schwartz directed the education grantmaking program of The Pew Charitable Trusts, one of the nation's largest private philanthropies. In addition to his work at HGSE, Achieve, and The Pew Charitable Trusts, Schwartz has been a high-school English teacher and principal; an education advisor to the mayor of Boston and the governor of Massachusetts; an assistant director of the National Institute of Education; a special assistant to the president of the University of Massachusetts; and executive director of The Boston Compact, a public-private partnership designed to improve access to higher education and employment for urban high-school graduates. Schwartz has written and spoken widely on topics such as standards-based reform, public-private partnerships, and the transition from high school to adulthood.
Roberta Shields, The Ludacris Foundation
Roberta Shields lives by her values. “Love what you do. Have a vision. Set your goals. Create a Plan. Work your Plan. Celebrate your achievements.”
Roberta wears many hats as a mother, philanthropist, mentor, entrepreneur, COO and CFO of Ludacris Enterprises, which includes entities in Music, Real Estate, Aviation, Fashion, Publishing, and Non Profit. Her greatest passion is her role as President of The Ludacris Foundation. She leads the organization in helping young people achieve their dreams by showing them they are the architects of their future.
Established in 2001, The Ludacris Foundation has donated over $750,000 to support grass root organizations that work to help uplift our youth. The programs and support of the foundation have impacted 4,000 lives. In addition, more than 3,500 hours have been invested in hands-on service to our youth. Because of her efforts, major sponsors such as Pepsi®, Anheuser-Busch, and Boost Mobile have joined the ranks in helping The Ludacris Foundation achieve their goals. Roberta has formed strategic partnerships with organizations such as, The Coalition of 100 Black Men and United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) to better service communities at large. Most recently, The Ludacris Foundation led an Atlanta community’s effort to provide food, clothing and shelter to relocating Hurricane Katrina evacuee families. Roberta also sits on a Profit – Nonprofit Board with Pepsi Executives, Dr. Ben Chavis of the National Hip Hop Summit Action Network, and Ellen Haddigan of Rush Philanthropic is allocating $3 million into urban communities.
Outside of The Ludacris Enterprises, Roberta is equally active. She is Founder and President of Strategic Management Consulting. Her firm is focused on helping organizations develop their strategic direction and business plan.
Roberta recently retired with 19 years of experience as an executive at Freddie Mac – a leading Fortune 50 financial institution. Throughout the vast majority of her career, she has focused on developing, motivating, and effectively engaging people to achieve goals.
Born in Springfield, Illinois, Roberta learned valuable lessons at an early age. Roberta believes, “You visualize it - you’ll realize it”, a creed which has proven to be a model of success for Roberta and her son, Chris a.k.a. Ludacris. Advocates for education, her parents promoted a strong foundation. Roberta holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of Illinois, and an MBA from Johns Hopkins University. She is a 2001 graduate of Leadership America, Inc., a national organization for accomplished and diverse women.
Jordin Sparks, Singer, Actress
The then youngest-ever winner of American Idol, Jordin Sparks was just seventeen years old when she won the coveted title. In the four years that have followed, Jordin has released two albums on 19 Recordings/Jive Records. Her self-titled debut went platinum, selling over 2 million copies worldwide, with the first three singles going top 5 and the album’s second single, “No Air” selling 4 million digital downloads.
Sparks has toured with Alicia Keys, The Jonas Brothers, New Kids On The Block/Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears performed for Presidents Bush and Obama, was chosen for a GOT MILK? Ad, won two BET Awards, one American Music Award, one People’s Choice Award and has been nominated for two MTV Awards and one Grammy. In June 2010, Jordin kicked off her first headlining tour, sponsored by Mike and Ike. 2012 is notable as it is the year that Jordin makes her feature film debut as the lead in the upcoming Sony Picture film Sparkle, released August 17th. The film also stars the late Whitney Houston, Cee Lo Green and Mike Epps. The first official single from soundtrack, Sparkle: Music from the Motion Picture, features a duet by Jordin and Whitney Houston.
Jordin is the main spokesperson for the “I’m M.A.D., Are You?” campaign. The acronym stands for “Making A Difference,” with the goal of motivating people to find something they’re passionate about and channeling that energy into helping others.
Patricia Stonesifer, Chair, White House Council for Community Solutions
Patricia Stonesifer advises business, nonprofit and government leaders on strategies for reducing inequity. In 2012 she completed a three-year term as Chair of the Smithsonian Institution Board of Regents. In the ten years prior, she was the founding CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She continues to serve on the Smithsonian Board of Regents, as well as on the boards of the Center for Global Development and the Broad Institute. In 2010 President Obama appointed her as Chair of the White House Council on Community Solutions. Other non-profit boards on which Ms. Stonesifer has served include the Seattle Foundation, the GAVI Fund, One.org and the Seattle YWCA.
Before joining the Gates Foundation, Ms. Stonesifer spent two decades working in technology, culminating as Senior Vice President at Microsoft Corp. She is on the corporate boards of Amazon.com and Miraval Resorts, and formerly served on the boards of Alaska Airlines, Kinko's and Viacom.
Ms. Stonesifer served as a member of the US delegation to the United Nations General Assembly Special Sessions on AIDS. She is a graduate of Indiana University, and has received honorary doctorate degrees from Indiana University and Tufts University.
Adam Strong, National Council of Young Leaders
Adam Strong, 21, is a student at the University of Kentucky. He is deeply interested in the medical field and is working towards his B.A. in medical laboratory science.
Raised by his father in an Appalachian community in Jackson, Adam attended his local community college, working as a security guard at a local coal mine at a time when the coal industry was in decline. Soon he found himself unemployed and without options until he was able to gain entry into the YouthBuild Hazard program. At YouthBuild, Adam took part in community service and outreach projects, while receiving a stipend. The experience helped introduce him to new possibilities, opportunities and a new perspective on life.
After gaining admission to the University of Kentucky this year, Adam was selected to serve as a student representative on his college’s presidential search committee, and he was later elected vice president of the student government.
As a full-time AmeriCorps member, serving YouthBuild Hazard as a teacher’s aide, Adam characterizes his experience this way: “It feels great to be able to give back and help youth see their potential and strengths.”
Kerry Sullivan, Bank of America
Kerry Herlihy Sullivan is President of the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, whose mission is to strengthen the economic and social health of communities across the company’s global footprint through $200 million in annual philanthropic investments. In this role, Sullivan leads a team responsible for implementing a broad range of national and international philanthropic programs associated with the company’s corporate social responsibility initiatives.
Sullivan manages strategic relationships with global philanthropic partners addressing pressing issues of education, community development, health and human services, the environment, and the arts. She leads the company’s signature philanthropic programs which recognize the community leadership and service of nonprofit organizations and students in 44 markets across the U.S., with more than $150 million invested since 2004. In addition, Sullivan is responsible for Bank of America Community Volunteers, the company’s global volunteer program open to the company’s more than 280,000 employees. With more than 20 years of experience, Sullivan is recognized as an expert in the field of charitable giving. Prior to joining the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Sullivan managed Philanthropic Management Foundation Advisory Services at the company —a team responsible for distributing more than $200 million in charitable grants on behalf of clients. Under her leadership, the Lloyd G. Balfour Foundation distributed more than $85 million in charitable grants predominantly to organizations aimed at improving access to education for underserved populations.
She currently serves as Chair of the Summer Fund – a donor collaborative that raises annual support for summer programs to benefit Boston’s inner city youth. In addition, she serves on the Year Up Board, the Expanded Learning Time Advisory Board and the Council on Foundations Corporate Committee.
Sullivan has a BA in English from the College of the Holy Cross-Worcester, Massachusetts, and earned her MBA from Boston College, Carroll School of Management. She resides in Sudbury, MA with her husband and two daughters.
Rev. Adam Taylor, World Vision
Reverend Adam Russell Taylor currently serves as the Vice President of Advocacy at World Vision. World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice.
Taylor previously served as a White House Fellow in the White House Office of Cabinet Affairs and Public Engagement. Prior to his time at the White House, Taylor was the Senior Political Director at Sojourners. He has also served as the executive director of Global Justice, an organization that educates and mobilizes students around global human rights and economic justice. Before co-founding Global Justice, he worked as an Associate at the Harvard University Carr Center for Human Rights and as an Urban Fellow in the Department of Housing Preservation and Development in New York City.
Taylor is a graduate of Emory University, the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government, and the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology. Taylor is the author of "Mobilizing Hope: Faith-Inspired Activism for a Post Civil Rights Generation." Taylor is an ordained Minister serving at the First Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., and is married to Sharee Mckenzie Taylor and the proud father of his son Joshua.
Philandrian Tree, National Council of Young Leaders
Philandrian Tree, 26, born in the Edgewater Clan, is a member of the Towering House Clan of the Navajo Nation. She is currently interning as an assistant to the Coconino County District 4 Supervisor, tasked with community relations and communications between her office and tribal communities.
Philandrian served two terms as an AmeriCorps mentor and was selected as The Corps Network’s 2012 Corps Member of the Year. As an AmeriCorps mentor she had a great opportunity to work in her home community on behalf of the Coconino Rural Environment Corps and secured two memoranda of understanding between Coconino County and the Navajo’s Leupp and Tonalea Chapters. This collaboration between the county and Navajo resulted in all 17 Navajo chapters receiving Coconino County weatherization retrofits; and in the process, AmeriCorps members benefitted from on-the-job training with participating local contractors in the Navajo Nation Weatherization Assistance Program.
In addition to her work with Coconino County, Philandrian serves as the chair of the Native American Parent Advisory Committee for Flagstaff Unified School District, where she works with families and the District to support and enhance the quality of education for 2,500 Native K-12 students.
Jamie Turner, National Council of Young Leaders
Jamie Turner is a leader in the YouthBuild movement. Currently, the volunteer treasurer of YouthBuild USA’s National Alumni Council (NAC) and its past president, she also serves full-time as Transitional Coordinator at the YouthBuild Indianapolis program. She is on her way to acquiring her undergraduate degree in social work.
Jamie has overcome deeply personal challenges – homelessness, the struggle to reconnect with her education and to find meaningful work; and the loss of her husband, also a YouthBuild graduate, to cancer. Now a proud homeowner and mother of three, Jamie is a frequent speaker at NAC and YouthBuild USA-sponsored events. A 1997 YouthBuild graduate, she often recalls the impact of the program on her life: “I needed to be on a path of transformation; I needed the love, support, guidance and the family atmosphere that you can truly get from a YouthBuild program.”
Cindy Wallace, Vice Chancellor for Student Development, Appalachian State University
Cindy Wallace is an educator who has served Appalachian State University for 28 years and sought to achieve excellence in the student undergraduate experience through advocacy and practice in student support, instruction, recruitment and program development.
Cindy came to Appalachian in 1984 as coordinator of the federally funded Student Support Services program and worked extensively with federal and state programs designed to increase access to college for disadvantaged students. College readiness, financial burdens, feelings of acceptance, the hard work of retention and graduation are still her daily focus.
Cindy was instrumental in starting the nationally recognized freshman seminar program in 1987 and has been a dedicated faculty member of the course. She co-authored, with Joni Webb Petschauer, ancillary instructor materials associated with The P.O.W.E.R. Learning text written by Robert Feldman since 1999.
Greg Walton, Desktop Support Specialist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Greg graduated from Year Up Boston in January of 2007 and has since been committed to doing more for the communities in the Greater Boston area. He has been working as a Desktop Support Specialist at MIT for almost five years.
Greg will continue his education at the University of Massachusetts Boston this fall after obtaining credits from both Salem State College and Cambridge College. Greg is the first alumnus of Year Up to join its National Board of Directors and is looking to continue to learn and find ways to lead young people to reach their full potential.
Dr. Sara Watson, Executive Vice President, America's Promise Alliance, Director, Ready Nation
Dr. Sara Watson plays two leadership roles at America’s Promise Alliance, where she is the Executive Vice President for National Partnerships and the Director and co-founder of ReadyNation, a collaboration of business leaders, economists and philanthropists that is mobilizing business to advocate for proven investments in young children. Formerly, she was a senior officer at The Pew Charitable Trusts, where she directed Pew’s national campaign to advance high quality early education for all 3 and 4 year olds. With a total budget of over $90 million, she managed 30 national organizations supporting campaigns in more than half the states. State spending on prekindergarten doubled over the life of the campaign. She also designed and launched two other Pew campaigns, to promote home visiting for at-risk families and Results First, which helps states use cost-benefit data to inform policy.
Before joining the Trusts, she was a program manager and the director of the Better Results Group for The Finance Project in Washington, D.C., where she directed multi-site foundation initiatives and wrote publications on financing and results-based accountability. She has worked for the Family Policy Council in Olympia, Washington, supporting a state-wide network of community collaboratives. She was also the manager of the Improved Outcomes Project for the Center for the Study of Social Policy in Washington, D.C., where she consulted with states and cities on reforming family and children’s services. Dr. Watson has published dozens of articles and monographs on family and children’s services reform and disability policy. She was a board member of Grantmakers for Children, Youth and Families, Maryland Advocates for Children and Youth, and Virginia’s Action Alliance for Children and Youth. She has a B.A. (magna cum laude) from Carleton College, and Master of Public Policy and Ph.D. degrees from the Harvard Kennedy School.
Brent Weil, Senior Vice President of the Manufacturing Institute
Brent Weil is Senior Vice President and Treasurer at The Manufacturing Institute, the 501(c)3 affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers. He leads industry engagements and builds partnerships to advance the goal of helping students and workers gain industry-recognized certifications.
Mr. Weil previously managed business partnerships on behalf of the U.S. Department of Labor, forging key relationships at the Employment and Training Administration and the National Office of Job Corps. After leaving the public sector, Mr. Weil became the Vice President of Staffing and Mid-Atlantic Operations for PrimeFlight Aviation Services, a leading service provider for airlines and airports nationwide. He spearheaded and managed a paradigm shift in the company’s recruiting and staffing, putting a focus on proactive staffing, upgraded preemployment screening, on-the-job training, and leadership development.
A former classroom educator, Mr. Weil is a graduate of Stanford University and earned a master’s in education at George Washington University.
Judy Woodruff, TV Anchor & Journalist
Judy Woodruff is Senior Correspondent and Co-Anchor of the PBS Newshour and anchors a monthly program for Bloomberg Television, "Conversations with Judy Woodruff." She has covered politics and other news for more than three decades at CNN, NBC and PBS, including 12 years with CNN as anchor and senior correspondent, anchoring "Inside Politics." In 2007, Woodruff completed an extensive project on the views of young Americans called "Generation Next: Speak Up. Be Heard." In 2011, Woodruff was the principal reporter for the PBS documentary "Nancy Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime."
Judy Woodruff is the recent recipient of the Cine Lifetime Achievement award, a Duke Distinguished Alumni award, the Edward R. Murrow Lifetime Achievement Award in Broadcast Journalism/Television, the University of Southern California Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism, among others.
Woodruff is a founding co-chair of the International Women's Media Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting and encouraging women in communication industries worldwide. She serves on the boards of trustee of the Freedom Forum, the Newseum, and the Urban Institute. She also serves as a member of The Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics and the board of the National Museum of American History. Woodruff is a graduate of Duke University, where she is a trustee emerita.
Sotheara Yem, Special Project Coordinator
Sotheara Yem, 25, is a special projects coordinator at Year Up, where he provides data management support in human resources, and also a community manager at Urban Pioneer, a real estate agency in San Francisco.
During his free time, Sotheara volunteers at the Vietnamese Youth Development Center and supports youth transitioning into independent living, connecting them to jobs and housing services. In 2009, Sotheara lost his sales associate job at Macy’s because of downsizing. His loss of employment dramatically changed his life: he lost his possessions, and soon became homeless. It was during this period that he was introduced to Year Up.
Year Up changed his life as it offered Sotheara job training, providing a paid stipend, and important life skills which prepared him for life on his own. He is grateful to the organizations that supported him at a time when he felt he had nowhere to turn. Regarding his current job and volunteer work, Sotheara says, “I enjoy helping others and I feel like I owe my success to social support organizations like Year Up, because without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”