Marie Wilson, Advisory Board Member – New York, NY
An advocate of women’s leadership for more than 40 years, Marie Wilson was president of the Ms. Foundation for Women for 22 years, creator of Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work ® Day and author of Closing the Leadership Gap: Why Women Can and Must Help Run the World (Viking 2004).
In 1998, Wilson founded The White House Project in order to build a richly diverse, genuinely representative democracy. During its tenure, The White House Project was a pioneer in advancing women’s leadership in every sphere—political and social, cultural and economic. Under Wilson’s stewardship, innovative research and programming initiatives have been hallmarks including groundbreaking research such as “Benchmarking Women’s Leadership”, the launch of SheSource.org, a database with over 330 women experts, two national leadership summits, and “Vote, Run, Lead,” a training program that has given more than 15,000 women the tools they need to run for office.
An innovator and change-maker, Wilson’s ultimate goal is to transform American culture so that the number of women leaders in all sectors achieves a critical mass. Wilson has been profiled in The New York Times “Public Lives” column, and has appeared on The Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, CNN, National Public Radio and other national programs.
Jimmie Briggs, Advisory Board Member – New York, NY
Over the past two decades, Jimmie Briggs has earned a reputation as one of the most respected human rights advocates in the field of journalism. Through extensive travels to countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, the St. Louis, Missouri-native and graduate of Morehouse College has produced seminal reporting on the lives of war-affected youth and children soldiers, as well as survivors of sexual violence. A National Magazine Award finalist and recipient of honors from the Open Society Institute, National Association of Black Journalists and the Carter Center for Mental Health Journalism, his book on child soldiers and war-affected children Innocents Lost: When Child Soldiers Go To War won him accolades in 2005, and took readers into the personal journeys of war-affected youth. Further, Briggs has served as an adjunct professor of investigative journalism at the New School for Social Research, and was a George A. Miller Visiting Professor in the Department of African and African-American Studies at the University of Illinois: Champaign-Urbana. His upcoming book The Wars Women Fight: Dispatches from A Father to His Daughter, narratively examines violence against women and girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan and the United States. Most recently, Jimmie Briggs conceived of and founded the Man Up Campaign, a global initiative for mobilizing young people to stop violence against women and girls through the arts, sports and technology. It formally launched during a Young Leaders Summit at the University of Johannesburg during 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, bringing youth together from 25 countries throughout the world, many from Sub-Saharan Africa. For his work with Man Up Campaign and the issue of violence against women, Briggs was selected as the winner of the 2010 GQ Magazine “Better Men Better World” Search, as well as one of Women’s eNews’ 21 Leaders for the 21st Century. Man Up is a global campaign to activate youth to stop violence against women and girls. Harnessing the universal power of music, sport and technology, Man Up provides innovative training, resources and support to young women and men and the organizations with whom they collaborate. The Man Up Campaign formally launched during the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, bringing together a diverse group of up to +100 women and men (ages 18 to 30 years) from 25 countries. Occurring at the University of Johannesburg, this international forum was the first of its kind to develop capacity and technical expertise among young people of both genders, who are committed to stopping violence against women and girls.
Keya Dannenbaum, Advisory Board Member – Greater New York City Area
Keya Dannenbaum is the founder and CEO at Versa, an award-wining company on a mission to keep the press strong and the public informed and engaged. Her passion for public affairs and undying pursuit of meaningful work has taken her on a far-ranging journey, through myriad disciplines and around the world. She has studied and worked in public and international affairs as an undergraduate at Stanford and a doctoral candidate at Princeton; internationally as a Fulbright Scholar in Colombia and a Melman Fellow in India; nationally in the 2008 Presidential election; and locally as campaign manager for the Mayor of New Haven, CT. Along the way she also picked up some computer science (C), a bit of statistics (R), (formerly) fluent Spanish and half a Wharton MBA, which she left to found Versa. She speaks widely on startups, entrepreneurship, women in business and politics, and the role of meaning in work. Follow her on Twitter @keyajay and on her Tumblog at keyadannenbaum.com.
Marci Harris, J.D., LL.M, Advisory Board Member – Redwood City, CA
Marci Harris, J.D., LL.M, is the co-founder and CEO of POPVOX — a neutral, nonpartisan civic engagement platform that combines legislative data with individuals’ personal stories in a format optimized for the U.S. Congress. The concept for POPVOX arose from her experience as counsel to the Health Subcommittee Chairman for the House Ways and Means Committee throughout the legislative process for U.S. healthcare system reform. Marci began public service work as Tornado Recovery Coordinator for Jackson, Tenn., working with private and public organizations and state, local and federal agencies to marshal resources and rebuild. Harris was recognized as a “Tech Titan” by Washingtonian magazine, one of “Ten Women to Watch in Legal Tech” by the ABA Journal, a member of the 2013 “FastCase 50,” and named a #13 of the “Top 100 Most Creative People in Business” by Fast Company magazine in 2012. She received a 2012 Tribeca Film Festival award for Disruptive Innovation, presented by Harvard professor and author Dr. Clayton Christensen. She is a mentor at the Code for America Accelerator in San Francisco and “The CO” accelerator in Jackson, TN. Marci has served on the Board of Directors for LaunchTN since 2012, and chairs the Entrepreneurship subcommittee. Marci lives in Redwood City, California, and maintains close ties with both the DC and Tennessee startup communities, where POPVOX team members are based.
Deb Fitzpatrick, Advisory Board Member – Minneapolis, MN
Debra Fitzpatrick directs the Center on Women and Public Policy at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota. She leads a partnership with the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota examining the status of women and girls in Minnesota and leads research and outreach efforts in the areas of women and electoral politics, gender and judging, and women-centered non-profits. As part of this work she conducts successful bi-partisan programming work with women legislators and local elected women. She also led a research project examining the path to office and success rates of male and female Minnesota legislative candidates (between 1998-2008) and partnered with non-profits to collect in-depth, original data from over 200 men and women potential and current candidates and program participants. In prior positions, she led a partnership with the National Governors Association (NGA), working with Governor led teams on K-12 education reform and advance policy changes in several states. As a Committee Administrator with the Minnesota Senate, she conducted policy research and managed legislative agendas.
Heidi Sieck, Advisory Board Member – New York, NY
Heidi Sieck brings 25 years of experience at the intersection of technology and politics, devoting her life to implementing innovations that help women elevate in political leadership. She is the founding Chief Operating Officer of Democracy.com, a new social platform for politics, connecting candidates, political organizations and voters from national to local level. Democracy.com was designed with the first-time woman leader in mind, based on her experience leading women’s advocacy in San Francisco politics and as a graduate of Emerge California and Harvard Square to Oval Office campaign training programs. Heidi led Mayor Gavin Newsom’s award winning 311 Customer Service Center project, a $20 million construction, technology and transformational government service establishing the foundation of the open government movement. She has worked on five presidential campaigns, including the 2012 campaign in Ohio, and countless state and local races from Nebraska to New York City. She served as President of the nonpartisan San Francisco Women’s Political Committee, the largest women’s organization in the City. She also co-founded the San Francisco Women’s Policy Summit and created the San Francisco Women’s Collaborative. A sought after speaker across the political spectrum, Heidi is currently leading a project to build a civic technology community center in New York City. Heidi holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Nebraska and a Masters in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School where she was awarded the prestigious Holly Taylor Sargent Award for Advancement of Women in Leadership.
Rina Shah Bharara, Advisory Board Member – Washington, DC
Rina Shah Bharara is a strategic consultant, media commentator, & millennial entrepreneur based in Washington, DC. Prior to launching Rilax Strategies – a government and public affairs firm –- Rina spent four years on Capitol Hill serving as a senior staffer to Rep. Scott Garrett (NJ-5) and Rep. Jeff B. Miller (FL-1). Her professional background also includes time as a field reporter for a local CBS news station in her native West Virginia, and continues to include regular spots as a contributor and political commentator on PBS, FOX News, Huffington Post Live and One America News.
Since completing studies at the George Washington University and Cornell’s Johnson School of Management, Rina has managed numerous policy campaigns and advised on a wide array of political races – ranging from local school board races to a U.S. Presidential campaign. Her expertise includes building winning strategies for candidates and political campaigns as well as coordinating public affairs efforts for Fortune 500 companies – with a special focus on millennials and the Asian marketplace.
Over the past few years, Rina has been prominently featured in publications such as The Washington Post, Marie Claire magazine, and Süddeutsche Zeitung – Germany’s largest national daily newspaper – for her work. She currently serves as Spokeswoman for NextGen GOP, a 2015 Founder of RightNOW Women PAC, Co-Chair of Concord 51’s DC Chapter, and as an inaugural member of the U.S. House of Representatives Republican Conference’s Indian American Advisory Council.
Jeff Johnson, Advisory Board Member – Washington, DC
Jeff Johnson is a Washington, DC based award-winning journalist, social activist and political commentator. From his celebrated conversations with marquee world figures in the political, business and entertainment arenas to his grass-roots trench work to inspire the next generation of leaders; investigative journalist, political correspondent, and activist, Jeff continues to be a trailblazing social entrepreneur and authentic voice for change. Johnson has spent the last decade merging the worlds of politics and popular culture including his work as Senior Advisor for Media and Youth Outreach for People for the American Way, National Director of the Youth & College division of the NAACP, and an appointment by Russell Simmons as the Vice President of the Hip Hop Summit Action Network (HSAN). The only American reporter to receive an exclusive post-inauguration interview with Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected female head of state and Liberia’s first elected female president. Johnson is also one of only two news correspondents to receive an exclusive interview with Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir, who has not granted interviews with American media outlets for thirteen years. Recently, he won a 2008 NABJ Salute to Excellence Award for BET’s “Life & Death in Darfur, Jeff Johnson Reports” series, a source of information quoted in Newsweek, Upscale, LA Times, National Journal and Boston Globe. He regularly contributes commentary and analysis about issues related to race, politics, popular culture and socioeconomics for news broadcasts and publications such as MSNBC’s Dayside and Hardball with Chris Matthews, CNN Headline News, CNN International, Larry King Live, Fox News Channel, Huffington Post, CNN.com, The Root.com, EbonyJet.com, Upscale, J’Adore, N’Digo, Monarch magazine and more. Johnson is one of 30 young leaders, joining together from Europe and America and selected by the British Council to be apart of its Transatlantic 2020 team to begin a new cross-border dialogue to reinvigorate traditional alliances and mend transatlantic rifts. Since August 2008, Johnson has served as managing editor and chief correspondent for The Truth with Jeff Johnson, a hard-hitting, talk show that delivers a varied and vibrant view of the news, while examining issues to engage BET viewers in front of a live studio audience. Recognized for his socio-political influence and media adeptness, Jeff has earned a reputation as the “conscience voice” of BET Networks for his positive force among youth and young adults. Johnson’s commitment to fostering broad-based communication about issues related to race, politics, popular culture and socioeconomics on a national and international level have led to hundreds of speaking requests, as he travels the nation addressing large crowds speaking truth to power Johnson consistently challenges audiences to weigh innovative solutions to resolve historic and systemic social imbalances and inequalities. September 2009, Jeff will release his first book Everything I’m Not Made Me Everything I Am (Smiley Books/Hay House). He is also CEO of Jeff’s Nation, LLC.
Jensine Larsen, Advisory Board Member – Portland, OR
Jensine (Yen-See Nah) Larsen, an award-winning social media entrepreneur and international journalist is the founder of World Pulse. Today World Pulse’s digital communication network is linking tens of thousands of women from more than 190 countries, including those who are speaking out using Internet cafes and cell phones from rural areas and conflict zones -impacting more than 2 million lives. With her finger on the pulse of women’s voices globally, Jensine speaks around the world, appearing in media and on stages from NPR to TED. In his best selling book, “Half the Sky” New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof recommends joining World Pulse as one of the top 4 things you can do in 10 minutes to support women globally.
Jane Swift, Advisory Board Member – Massachusetts
Formerly the Governor of Massachusetts from 2001 to 2003, after having served as Lieutenant Governor as well as a Massachusetts State Senator, Jane has shown a continued commitment to excellence in public education as both an elected official and in the private sector. As a three-term state senator, Jane assisted in crafting the landmark Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993, which introduced accountability, high standards, and innovation into Massachusetts’s public schools. As governor, she implemented many of these reforms, which proved so successful that the U.S. Department of Education declared it a national model for other states.
Jane became CEO of Middlebury Interactive Languages in August 2011. Prior to coming to Middlebury Interactive Languages, Jane served as the Senior Vice President of Government Solutions and Strategy for ConnectEDU, a private education technology company that helps students successfully make college and career transitions; while there she led efforts to secure statewide contracts in Texas, Louisiana, and Hawaii.
Ms. Swift holds a B.A. in American Studies from Trinity College and has received six honorary doctorates and numerous awards. She is currently a Distinguished Lecturer in Leadership Studies at Williams College, a teaching position she has held for three years.
Lulete Mola- Advisory Board Member- Minneapolis, MN
Lulete Mola is the director of Community Impact for the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota. In this position, Lulete leads the implementation and management of the Foundation’s grant making, evaluation, leadership and field building programs that enable large scale systems change. Lulete was active in the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota for several years and original joined the Foundation in 2013 as the Wenda Weekes Moore Intern. In 2014, she became the Reatha Clark King Fellow and program coordinator. Prior to joining the Foundation, she was the Policy and Community Engagement manager with Greater Twin Cities United Way, where she began as a Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellow. She also leads political engagement and professional development initiatives in Minnesota’s East African community and is active in the Movement for Black Lives. She is the recipient of the Humanity in Action Fellowship, Ibrahim Leadership and Dialogue Project Fellowship, and the Scholarly Excellence in Equity and Diversity Award. She is the founder of SHE, a young women’s leadership program that was active for eight years in Minnesota high schools and at the University of Minnesota. In 2017, she was named Young Professional of the Year Finalist by the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota.
Erika Alexander, Advisory Board Member – Los Angeles, CA
Erika Alexander is an actress, writer and political activist best known for her roles as Cousin Pam on the NBC sitcom The Cosby Show, and as Maxine Shaw on the FOX sitcom Living Single for which she won two best actress NAACP awards, and Det. LaToya in the 4x Oscar-nominated movie Get Out. She is also the co-creator of the award-winning graphic novel Concrete Park and has been tapped by Joss Whedon to co-write the next Dark Horse/Buffy the Vampire Slayer spin-off project, “Giles”. Erika currently plays Tess Shoemacher in Free Form’s Beyond, and has roles in Queen Sugar and Bosch. Other acting credits include: The Long Walk Home, Full Frontal, Déjà Vu, Mama Flora’s Family, Street Time, ER, CSI:Miami, House, Last Man Standing, Grey’s Anatomy and more. Born in Winslow, Arizona, Erika grew up in Philadelphia. She served as a national surrogate and actively campaigned for Hillary Clinton in the 2008 and throughout the 2016 primary and general election. In 2016, Erika was Hillary Clinton’s most traveled national surrogate.
Pakou Hang, Co-Founder and Advisory Board Member – St. Paul, MN
Pakou Hang is a seasoned consultant with expertise in strategic planning, and specializes in civic and voter engagement in New American communities. As a lead trainer and frequent speaker, she has inspired thousands of women and men with her story about her run for office. She has served as the Voter Protection Director for the Minnesota Democratic Party, Deputy Vice President of National Field Operations for the Children’s Defense Fund in Washington, D.C., Minnesota Field Director for America Votes, Deputy Political Director for Senator Paul Wellstone’s 2002 re-election campaign, Campaign Manager for State Senator Mee Moua’s historic 2002 special election, and a community and political organizer with Progressive Minnesota. Over the last 13 years, through her immigrant- and women-owned consulting firm, WGH Holdings, she has completed strategic and logistical planning, civic and voter engagement, training and curriculum development, grant writing, and legislative advocacy with immigrant and economic rights groups and national foundations. Pakou graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Masters in Political Science specializing in political psychology and from Yale University with a Bachelor of Arts in 1999 focusing on international and comparative politics. She has conducted extensive research on voting behavior among New Americans and is well-versed in focus groups and statistical and survey data analysis. In 2007, she contributed two essays to the book: Voices of Hope: The Story of the Jane Addams School for Democracy. Pakou is a recipient of the prestigious Hubert H. Humphrey Public Leadership Award, the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, and received a 2011 Bush Leadership Fellowship. Pakou is the Founder and Director of the Hmong American Farmers Association and a member of the advisory board of the New American Leaders Project.
Piper Perabo, Advisory Board Member- NY & LA
Golden Globe nominated Piper Perabo is one of the most talented and versatile actresses working today. Perabo recently joined Awesomeness Films’ YA sci-fi drama, SPONTANEOUS, from writer/director Brian Duffield, as well as Ric Roman Waugh’s ANGEL HAS FALLON, the third installment to the OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN series, starring opposite Gerard Butler and Morgan Freeman. Perabo most recently appeared opposite Antonio Banderas and Jonathan Rhys Meyers in Lionsgate’s BLACK BUTTERFLY, a remake of French thriller PAPILLON NOIR by Herve Korian. In 2016, Perabo co-starred with Daniel Sunjata in ABC’s legal drama “Notorious.” Prior to that, she starred as Annie Walker in all 5 seasons of USA Network’s spy drama “Covert Affairs,” for which she received a Golden Globe nomination. In May 2009, she made her stage debut in Neil Labute’s controversial play REASONS TO BE PRETTY directed by Terry Kinney. She co-stared alongside Alison Pill, Thomas Sadoski and Pablo Schreiber. In Fall 2015, Perabo returned to the stage in the MCC Theater’s off-Broadway production of LOST GIRLS. Although new to the theater, she is no stranger to the screen. In 2007, she was seen in Christopher Nolan’s THE PRESTIGE with Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale, in BECAUSE I SAID SO with Diane Keaton and Lauren Graham and in FIRST SNOW, a film directed by Mark Fergus, costarring Guy Pearce and Adam Scott. Next, Perabo was seen in John Glenn’s disturbing thriller THE HEAVEN PROJECT with Paul Walker and Disney’s BEVERLY HILLS CHIHUAHUA alongside Jaime Lee Curtis. Perabo was also seen in Paramount Vantage’s CARRIERS in New Mexico. She played the female lead opposite Chris Pine and Lou Taylor Pucci in the post-apocalyptic thriller about four friends trying to escape a viral pandemic. Shortly after, Perabo starred alongside Bruce Willis, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Emily Blunt and Jeff Daniels in the sci-fi action film, LOOPER. Some of her other film credits include Adam Shankman’s CHEAPER BY THE DOZEN 2 in which she reprised her role as the eldest daughter to Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt, along with the romantic comedy IMAGINE ME & YOU with Lena Heady and Matthew Goode and the crime drama 10th & WOLF with an ensemble cast that included James Marsden and Dennis Hopper. Her feature film debut was in the comedy WHITE BOYZ, written by Danny Hoch. She also starred in COYOTE UGLY. Outside of her work on screen and stage, Perabo became an IRC Voice to raise awareness of the refugee crisis in Europe and help those displaced by conflict, religious persecution and political oppression around the globe. Perabo lives in both Los Angeles and New York City
Kathryn Kolbert, Advisory Board Member – New York, NY
In June, 2018, Kathryn Kolbert retired from her position as the Constance Hess Williams ’66 Director of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College, an interdisciplinary center dedicated to the advancement of women’s leadership, which she founded in 2009. She was also a Professor of Leadership Studies and Professor of Professional Practice in the Political Science Department at Barnard and the co-founder of the Athena Film Festival. She is continuing to consult with the Athena Film Festival and on program development and political activism with educational, health care and governmental leaders.
A public-interest attorney, journalist, and executive in the non-profit world, Kolbert has been recognized by The National Law Journal as one of the “100 Most Influential Lawyers in America,” and by The American Lawyer as one of 45 public- interest lawyers “whose vision and commitment are changing lives.” In 1992, Kolbert argued the landmark case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey before the U.S. Supreme Court and has been credited with saving Roe v. Wade with what CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin has called “one of the most audacious litigation strategies in Supreme Court history.” She has been involved in every reproductive rights case considered by the Supreme Court from 1985 to 1998.
Prior to coming to Barnard, Kolbert was the President and CEO of People for the American Way and its Foundation, two of the nation’s premier civil rights organizations. From 1998-2008, she oversaw a program on law and American life at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center where she created and was the executive producer of NPR’s Justice Talking, an award-winning radio program distributed to 125+ stations across the globe and its companion website, JusticeLearning.org.
Munawar Ahmed, Advisory Board Member – New York, NY
Munawar Ahmed is a design and technology consultant. Over the last 18 years, Munawar has helped her clients create forward-thinking digital strategies and build brilliantly productive, healthy teams. Clients range from megacorps to non-profits, including Volkswagen, Verizon, Starbucks, Time Magazine, and Planned Parenthood. Munawar runs a tight ship and has zero tolerance for poor design, convoluted architecture, sloppy documentation, or dead weight. On any given project, she is deeply involved from inception to release, and has been described as the unrelenting force that holds the entire project and its people together. Munawar graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. in Cognitive Science, from USC with an M.S.Ed in Curriculum and Instructional Design, and from Columbia University with professional certification in Systems Analysis and Software Engineering. She currently teaches Leadership, Ethics, and Professional Practice in the MFA program for Interaction Design at the School of Visual Arts (SVA). She lives in New York City with her husband and two children, and enjoys lots of time upstate in beautiful Wassaic.