Each year, New Leaders Council presents the 40 Under 40 Leadership Awards as a way to honor the work of young, professional leaders who have exemplified our organization’s ideal of political entrepreneurship.
First given in 2008 to outstanding leaders under the age of 40, the awards recognize achievements in four categories: Political Leadership, Media Leadership, Advocacy, and Entrepreneurship.
- Political Leadership Award: Honors a leader who has advanced progressive politics in a particularly innovative way or in a challenging environment.
- Media Leadership Award: Honors a leader who has utilized media in a particularly innovative or effective way.
- Advocacy Award: Honors a leader who has run a particularly effective advocacy campaign or has implemented a new approach to advocacy.
- Entrepreneurship Award: Honors a business, social enterprise or non-profit leader who has created, led, or reformed an organization significantly.
Atlanta | Boston | Charleston | Chicago | Des Moines | Kentucky | Los Angeles | Louisiana | Miami
Missoula | Nashville | New Jersey | New York | Orange County | Philadelphia | Rhode Island Sacramento | San Francisco | Silicon Valley | Washington DC
Our 40 Under 40 honorees are nominated by influential members of the NLC community and selected by our panel of esteemed judges.
This year, we have a couple of new additions to our 40 Under 40 Awards program. We have added four Under 40 National Honorees, one in each award category.
We have also added an optional Community Leadership Award, which can be given to an individual or group in our chapter communities. Award winners are recognized at one of our many 40 Under 40 Awards Receptions held throughout the country.
Under 40 Honorees
Julian Castro (Political Leadership)
A 37-year-old San Antonio native, Mayor Julián Castro is the youngest mayor of a Top 50 American city. First elected on May 9, 2009, Mayor Castro handily won re-election in 2011 with nearly 82 percent of the vote.Throughout his tenure, Mayor Castro has focused on attracting well-paying jobs in 21st century industries, positioning San Antonio to be a leader in the New Energy Economy and raising educational attainment across the spectrum. In 2011, the Milken Institute ranked San Antonio the nation’s top-performing local economy.
Mayor Castro created SA2020, a community-wide visioning effort turned nonprofit that has galvanized thousands of San Antonians around a simple, but powerful vision for San Antonio – to create a brainpower community that is the liveliest city in the nation. Under his leadership, the city in 2010 opened Café College, a one-stop center offering high-quality guidance on college admissions, financial aid and standardized test preparation to any student in the San Antonio area. In its first year, Café College served more than 5,000 area students, spurring an expansion of the facility in 2011.
Mayor Castro also has brought a sense of urgency to revitalizing the city’s urban core, including the under-served East Side of San Antonio, by initiating the “Decade of Downtown” and approving a series of incentives to encourage inner city investment. These efforts have spurred plans for the construction of more than 2,400 housing units in the center city by 2014.
In March 2010, Mayor Castro joined executives from Google and Twitter in being named to the World Economic Forum’s list of Young Global Leaders. Later that year, Time magazine placed him on its “40 under 40” list of rising stars in American politics. Mayor Castro also serves on the board of directors of the National League of Cities, is a member of the Inter-American Dialogue and is an Aspen-Rodel Fellow. In addition to his community service, Mayor Castro has taught courses at The University of Texas at San Antonio, Trinity University, and St. Mary’s University.
Mayor Castro earned his undergraduate degree from Stanford University with honors and distinction in 1996 and a juris doctorate from Harvard Law School in 2000. In 2001, at the age of 26, Castro became the youngest elected city councilman at that time in San Antonio history. He is married to Erica Lira Castro, an elementary school teacher, and they are the proud parents of Carina, born in 2009. Mayor Castro’s brother, Joaquin, serves in the Texas House of Representatives.
Alex Wagner (Media Leadership)
Alex Wagner is the host of MSNBC’s “NOW with Alex Wagner” (weekdays at noon ET). Wagner had been an MSNBC analyst and a frequent MSNBC guest since 2010.
Most recently, Wagner was a reporter with Huffington Post, where she covered innovation in the American economy, investigating the intersection of business, politics and new technology. Prior to this, Wagner served as the White House correspondent for Politics Daily, where she chronicled a number of international and domestic affairs ranging from the BP oil spill to the Egyptian revolution.
Wagner was the Executive Director of Not On Our Watch, an advocacy and grant making non-profit founded by actors George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt and Don Cheadle, from 2007 to 2009. With the goal of stopping and preventing mass atrocities, Wagner traveled to troubled hotspots including Burma, Sudan and Zimbabwe. From 2004 to 2007, she was the Editor in Chief of the Fader Magazine, covering cultural movements around the globe from Brazil to China to South Africa. Prior to this, she served as the Cultural Correspondent for the Washington, DC-based think tank Center for American Progress.
Alex has been widely praised for her thoughtful analysis, easy-going format and ability to fairly moderate political discussions. Politico lauded Wagner’s style of handling pundits, noting that “her ability to facilitate—rather than dominate—the conversation is what makes it feel genuine and organic.” Mediaite deemed Alex’s show, “provocative and informative,” and Capitol File Magazine called her “The newest reason to tune into MSNBC.” Alex has also been profiled by Glamour, Elle and Details, who called her one of the new political pundits to watch. Wagner is a native of Washington, DC and attended Brown University. Follow her on Twitter @alexwagner.
Alexandra Acker-Lyons (Advocacy)
Alexandra Acker-Lyons is the Director of the Youth Engagement Fund, a collaborative project of institutional and individual donors. She is author of the book, The Political Ladder: Insider Tips on Getting a Job in Politics, and is a recognized political commentator who appears regularly on CNN and Fox News. Alexandra also consults for Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign and trains internationally for the National Democratic Institute.
Alexandra’s expertise in youth politics culminated during the 2008 election cycle, when she served as Executive Director of the Young Democrats of America. She also served as the National Youth Outreach Director for John Kerry’s presidential campaign. Alexandra’s previous work includes Democratic GAIN, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY). Alexandra graduated magna cum laude from the State University of New York at Binghamton and now lives in Mountain View, CA.
Adam Edelen (Entrepreneurship)
Adam H. Edelen was sworn in as Kentucky’s 46th Auditor of Public Accounts on Jan. 2, 2012. After successful careers as a high-ranking public official and business executive, Adam takes on one of the most important jobs in the Commonwealth – taxpayer watchdog. Born to a farm family in rural Kentucky, he learned the values of integrity, hard work and common sense – and he has never forgotten them.
Adam also is part of a new generation of leaders who are more focused on outcomes and honest and effective government than partisan politics. Adam has a wife, Melissa, and he has young twin sons. He also is an avid sportsman who loves Kentucky’s one-of-a-kind natural beauty.
After bringing strong strategic and financial management to the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security, Governor Steve Beshear promoted Adam to serve as his Chief of Staff. In this role he made major contributions to the administration’s acclaimed efforts in the areas of children’s health insurance, education policy and the sound fiscal management of the state in a time of historic economic difficulty.
Adam credits his successes in government to the leadership skills he learned in the private sector as an entrepreneur and executive. As a senior executive with both Commerce Lexington and Thomas & King, Inc., Adam became an expert in making businesses and organizations more efficient, profitable and accountable.
A former Chairman of the Board of Kentucky Educational Television, Adam was the driving force behind KET’s “Be Well Kentucky” initiative—an acclaimed effort to address Kentucky’s public health challenges. He also chaired the board of the Lexington Urban League, as well as the United Way of the Bluegrass’ Annual Giving Campaign. Adam was the executive force behind New Century Lexington’s nationally recognized reports on community livability, which used private sector-inspired metrics to assess Lexington’s quality of life. Additionally, he was a member of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, an advocacy organization working to improve education for all Kentuckians.
A nationally recognized leader and public servant, Adam was named the “Outstanding Young Kentuckian” by the Kentucky Jr. Chamber of Commerce in 2008 and one of the “Ten Outstanding Young Americans” by the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce later that year. The latter is arguably the oldest and most prestigious service award in the nation, and previous honorees include presidents Kennedy, Nixon, Ford and Clinton. Adam was also the recipient of the 2002 Lexington Young Professionals Association’s “Rising Star” award and has represented America abroad as both a “Young Leader” with the American-Swiss Foundation and as a United States Marshall Fund fellow.
40 Under 40 Winners
Regina E. Coley (Advocacy)
Regina E. Coley is the Founder and Executive Director Leading Ladies of Legacy Inc; Atlanta’s unique non-profit for women and girls. Leading Ladies of Legacy Inc. provides leadership training and college and career readiness programs for girls.
She is responsible for the day to day operations of the organization. Prior to founding Leading Ladies of Legacy Inc. Mrs. Coley was a teacher. She decided it was time to expand learning and empowerment beyond the classroom and Leading Ladies of Legacy was created!
A proud alumnus of Howard University were she received her BS in Human Development. She is one class away from her MBA in Project Management from American Continental University. She speaks to girls at Atlanta Public Schools and will continue to advocate for girls rights. Her research and academic interests include improving educational opportunities for all our nations children.
Travis Townsend (Entrepreneurship)
Travis Townsend is a Managing Partner for Townsend & Lockett, LLC, and is a seasoned business attorney. Travis has successfully developed a service-driven practice focused on helping his clients grow and maintain efficient operations, while providing dedicated service to a number of Atlanta-area community organizations.
Travis’ experience includes organizing, financing and growing businesses; representing public and private companies in mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures and reorganizations; and preparing business relationship arrangements such as distribution agreements, employment agreements, consulting agreements, settlement agreements, and noncompetition and nondisclosure agreements.
He has prepared securities offerings, and drafted SEC periodic filings, private placement memorandums, proxy statements, warrants, options and shareholder agreements. Travis has counseled the conduct of annual and special shareholder meetings and acted as corporate governance and corporate action counsel.
Travis’ experience also includes asset-based lending, institutional finance and U.S. Small Business Administration loan counsel. He has negotiated loan agreements, promissory notes, security agreements as well as collateral assignments. Counseling clients through debt management, Travis services businesses and individuals looking to leverage the United States Bankruptcy Laws to reorganize & negotiate payment plans via Chapters 11 and 13 or to liquidate via Chapter 7, allowing them to reset and move forward in their business and personal lives.
Able to provide full-service to business clients, Travis leads the firm’s residential and commercial real estate practice executing closings, performing title and lien searches, negotiating mortgage financing, and lease and purchase arrangements.
When not in the office, Travis is committed to community service. He serves as the President of the Atlanta Urban League Young Professionals, is a member of the 100 Black Men of Dekalb and is Vice President and Board Member of M.E.N.S. Wear, Inc., a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide life skills and employment training to urban men and male youths. Travis has also provided pro bono work for the Georgia Innocence Project.
Travis attended the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and earned his B.A. in Psychology in April 2000. In college, Travis served as the Chapter Secretary and Director of Chapter Intake for Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Epsilon Chapter, Travis is a 2003 graduate of the University of Michigan School of Law, where he served as Executive Notes Editor of the Michigan Journal of Race & Law.
Travis was admitted to the State Bar of Georgia in 2003. He is an active member of both the American Bar Association Business Law Section and the National Bar Association. Travis is also a co-author of When the Cops Come Knockin’: An Illustrated Guide to Criminal Law criminal literacy and crime prevention series, the mission of which is to empower high-risk individuals to live more law-abiding lives with an ultimate goal of decreasing the over-criminalization of individuals in low socio-economic environments.
In his spare time, Travis delivers primers on criminal law to youths and young adults in underserved communities and at college universities.
Chandra Thomas Whitfield (Media Leadership)
Chandra Whitfield is an award-winning multimedia journalist and a 2011 Soros Justice Media Fellow. The former reporter for the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE.org) Website received a 2011 Atlanta Press Club Award for a Hurricane Katrina fifth anniversary series. She produced it as part of the Kiplinger Public Affairs Journalism Fellowship, a multimedia training program at The Ohio State University.
While a staff writer for Atlanta Magazine she was named Journalist of the Year for 2007 by Region III of the National Association of Black Journalists. The award honored a body of work she produced in 2006, including a feature story about Hurricane Katrina victims exiled in Atlanta and the first in-depth account of the controversial Genarlow Wilson teen sex case. The latter helped contribute to a change in Georgia law and Wilson’s early release from prison. The Atlanta Press Club named her Print Journalist of the Year in 2007.
In 2009 she won a Mental Health America feature writing award for a story she completed as part of the Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellowship program. Her freelance work has appeared in Essence, Ebony, People, Newsweek and JET magazines, along with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The American Prospect and Time.com. The proud New Orleans native and Clark Atlanta University graduate has served as an associate producer for Fox 5′s Good Day Atlanta program and a contributor to National Public Radio’s “News & Notes” program and NPR’s Atlanta affiliate.
Her passion is mentoring young people and using her writing talent as a vehicle for telling the stories that are often overlooked and untold. She also aims to use her abilities to raise public awareness about substantive issues that don’t necessarily fit the “info-tainment” mold that pervades in today’s media world.
She gives back to the journalism community by serving as a professional mentor to a wide array of young people – from aspiring student-journalists to young professionals launching their careers. In fact, one of her most coveted mentees recently graduated from the University of Georgia with honors and landed her first journalism job at Chandra’s recommendation. Another mentee is completing graduate school on scholarship in the Oakland, California area. Chandra has returned to her college alma mater every year for more than 13 years to address communications students.
She views journalism as a gift that she sincerely enjoys sharing with the world. This December also marks 10 years since Chandra co-founded TalkBLACK (www.TalkBLACK.net), Atlanta’s premier African-American discussion group.
The organization, which has been featured in The Crisis and Black Enterprise magazines, hosts free monthly forums on issues impacting the black community. In her ever-fleeting free time, she also enjoys traveling and quality time with family, including her husband and infant son, Riley.
Matt O’Malley (Political Leadership)
City Councilor Matt O’Malley was elected as the District 6 Representative to the Boston City Council in a special election on November 16, 2010. His district includes the neighborhoods of West Roxbury and Jamaica Plain and parts of Roslindale and Mission Hill. Councilor O’Malley grew up in Roslindale and today owns a home in Jamaica Plain. He is a graduate of Boston Latin School and George Washington University.
Councilor O’Malley serves as Chair of the City Council’s Environment and Health Committee. He is also Vice Chair the Economic Development and Planning Committee and is a member of the committees on: Ways and Means, Government Operations, Education, and Public Safety. Councilor O’Malley is dedicated to ensuring that all of Boston’s children have access to an excellent public education system. His priorities also include public safety, economic development, and environmental issues.
Prior to his election, Councilor O’Malley was political director for MassEquality and Director of Legislative Affairs for Suffolk County Sherriff Andrea Cabral, where he worked to implement numerous crime prevention initiatives. Councilor O’Malley has also worked on the campaigns of several other Democratic elected officials.
Councilor O’Malley is a member of the Democratic State Committee and the Advisory Committee for Project Hope, an anti-poverty agency in Boston. He also raised funds through the Boston Marathon for Children’s Hospital and Habitat for Humanity./
Jessica Valenti (Advocacy)
Jessica Valenti – called one of the Top 100 Inspiring Women in the world by ‘The Guardian’ – is the author of three books: Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters, He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know and The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women which has been made into a documentary by the Media Education Foundation. She is the editor of the anthology Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape, which was named one ofPublishers Weekly‘s Top 100 Books of 2009.
Jessica is also the founder of Feministing.com, which Columbia Journalism Review calls “head and shoulders above almost any writing on women’s issues in mainstream media.” Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Nation, The Guardian (UK), The American Prospect, Ms.magazine, Salon and Bitch magazine. She has won a Choice USA Generation award and the 2011 Hillman Journalism Prize for her work with Feministing. She has appeared on The Colbert Report and the Today show, among others, and was profiled in The New York Times Magazine under the headline “Fourth Wave Feminism.”
Jessica is also a widely sought-after speaker who gives dozens of speeches at universities and organizations in the U.S. and abroad. She received her Masters degree in Women’s and Gender Studies from Rutgers University.
Bakari Sellers (Political Leadership)
Bakari T. Sellers is a Representative in the South Carolina State House. He was born in 1984 and raised in Denmark, South Carolina. Bakari graduated from theSouth Carolina public school system, and then proceeded to Morehouse College. While at Morehouse, he was elected Student Government Association President and served on the College’s Board of Trustees. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2005.
After graduating from Morehouse College, Bakari attended the University Of South Carolina School Of Law where he graduated in 2008. Bakari has worked for United States Congressman James Clyburn and former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin. He is one of the youngest State Representatives and the youngest black elected official in the United States.
Bakari has had extensive leadership experience working for the Democratic Leadership Council, and Obama for America. He has been a member of the South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus since 2006. Bakari has worked with the Strom Law Firm, LLC since 2007 and currently serves as a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, where he has represented the 90th District since 2006.
Bakari serves as a member of the House Judiciary Committee and Election Laws Committee, a member for 2007-08 Steering Committee, Obama for America. He was also honored by Time Magazine as a 40 Under 40 Recipient, as one of the Grio’s Top 100 Stars and appeared on MSNBC’s Hardball, Morning Joe, Melissa Harris Perry.
Veronica Arreola (Advocacy)
Veronica I. Arreola is an accomplished blogger, women’s rights activist and mother. She is the director of the Center for Research on Women and Gender’s Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. WISE works to support all of UIC’s women students who have career aspirations in science, technology, engineering and mathematics through peer mentoring, seminars, workshops and a social network. Her blog, Viva la Feminista, has been named a top political and advocacy blog by Blogher, Type-A-Mom, Women’s Media Center and Latinos in Social Media.
Veronica’s work on behalf of women and girls has been recognized by her coworkers with a 2007 UIC Woman of the Year award, the community with 2010 Chicago Foundation for Women Impact Award and the White House with an organizational Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. Her writing has been featured in Ms. Magazine, Bitch Magazine, and the Women’s Review of Books.
Veronica has worked with organizations such as Planned Parenthood Illinois, Chicago Abortion Fund, Bitch Media, and Women in Media and News. She is also a volunteer for her daughter’s Girl Scout troop and assistant coach for her soccer team. Veronica is currently working on her PhD in Public Administration with concentrations in gender and public management.
Jarvis Houston (Advocacy)
Jarvis Houston is the Executive Director of The Matrix Project, a National Co-Chair of The Young & Powerful Group and an Obama Victory Fund Trustee. Jarvis worked in the past for Congressman Danny K. Davis, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., Alderman Howard Brookins and many other elected officials throughout the country.
He also served as Special Projects Coordinator for People For the American Way and Executive Director of Project Youth Vote. In addition he has worked with various organizations including Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, Upward Bound, Ceasefire and the DC Committee on Government Operations. Jarvis learned how to develop his organizing skills at Howard University where he served as chief of staff and political action director of student government and chair of the Raise your Vote campaign that registered thousands of students to vote in DC.
His background includes campaign management, national community organizing, new media, fundraising, non-profit political action advocacy and project management. Jarvis has received various awards including The Metro Board Leadership Award and Chicago Greek of the Year Award.
Jarvis is a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Beta Chapter and Pipeline Mentorship Program.
Evanna Hu (Entrepreneurship)
Evanna Hu was born not only with a spirit of entrepreneurship but with an intense
desire to provide the underprivileged with tools to shape their own destinies. Evanna came to the United States from China and Italy as a young girl, where she overcame language and cultural barriers, preparing her in advance with the tenacity to fight adversity in the business world. She started her entrepreneurial journey at 14, when she created a non-profit organization catering to the emergency relief and advocating for the victims of the Darfur
Genocide. During her 2.5 years at the University of Chicago, Evanna continued to develop her social entrepreneurship skills, especially in her the area of education, while dabbling in Chicago politics.
She got an insider’s view of the problems facing the Chicago Public School System in her capacity as a Metcalf fellow and later as an employee of the Academy for Urban School Leadership, an organization dedicated to improving Chicago´s fractured education system through establishing turnaround schools. Her experience there led her to start a for-profit social business called DigiPrint in order to increase young people’s access to information technology so that they can develop into responsible digital citizens.
While she is no longer with the startup, the idea has been picked up by the City of Chicago which is in the process of implementing it in the next two years. Her other significant venture was the launch of the University of Chicago Microfinance Initiative (UCMI) which is now partially managed by the University of Chicago Office of Investment.
As the CEO of UCMI, she oversaw the operations of more than 40 investment and consulting associates, consulted for a variety of social-change organizations, and invested in microfinance institutions in emerging markets. She started this organization because she saw a lack of awareness of social finance both on campus and in the Midwest and saw the organization as the most effective vehicle to motivate high-performing youths to learn more about using finance to do good in the world.
Politics was her other passion and she pursued it on both the campaign and politics fronts. She worked on the David Hoffman for U.S. senate campaign and participated in Toni Preckwinkle’s effort to become the Cook County Board President, the second-most populated county in America.
She also worked as a community organizer as the co- lead of the health education and disparity team for Southsiders United for Unity and Liberation (SOUL). After receiving her B.A. from the University of Chicago, Evanna has been working on a Chicago-based for-profit impact business, g.Maarifa. The organization is an interactive mobile education and training platform designed for the low-cost delivery, evaluation, and management of educational content that tackles the problem of inaccessibility to practical educational material for youths aged 17-30 in developing markets.
While she is testing the technology in Sub-Saharan Africa, specifically East Africa, her eventual goal is to bring the technology to the States and help millions of disadvantaged youths who lack access to practical educational and training material.
At the young age of 21, she has been a pioneer in an industry dominated by financial regulations, conflict and leadership challenges. Evanna is fighting to be the bridge to escape the plight of heavy poverty in emerging markets through educational access equality, not for the glory but because she believes there is a door to prosperity for youths who will make up the world’s next generation of leaders of resources. Evanna´s dedication to social change is not only evident in her past expertise but her passion to be a world leader.
Justine Nagan (Media Leadership)
Justine is Kartemquin Films’ Executive Director as well as an Executive Producer on staff. With Kartemquin, she directed Typeface, an award-winning documentary on American typography and graphic design and the doc short Sacred Transformations. Formerly she worked as the organization’s Director of Communications & Distribution and as the Associate Producer on Kartemquin’s Peabody-Award winning documentary Mapping Stem Cell Research: Terra Incognita, which was broadcast nationally on PBS’ Independent Lens in early 2008.
She is currently Executive Producing several Kartemquin films, most recently including The Interrupters, directed by Steve James, which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.
She is an active volunteer in the community for such organizations as The Glass Slipper Project, the Hyde Park Art Center and WTTW. She is currently on the Advisory Board for Midwest Independent Film Festival, has served on the IFP Chicago Board, as the staff representative on Kartemquin’s Board of Directors, as an elected member of the Badger Herald Newspaper’s Board, and has acted on several other civic and community committees.
Justine received her Bachelor’s Degree in Film and Journalism from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and has been a distinguished young alum: featured in 2012 in their “Forward under 40″ list and in 2010, as recipient of the Ralph O. Nafziger award for “distinguished achievement by an alumnus within 10 years of graduation.” Additionally, was selected to join the 2012 Leadership Greater Chicago class of fellows.
Justine lives in Hyde Park on the south side of Chicago, with her husband Matt and son Rhett.
Ryan Roemerman (Entrepreneurship)
Ryan Roemerman is the co-founder of the Iowa Pride Network (IPN). Ryan graduated from the University of Iowa in 2005 with a BA in Communication Studies.
While in college, Ryan co-founded Iowa Pride Network (IPN) and lead the effort to establish an LGBT Center on campus. Upon graduating from the UI, Ryan took the helm of IPN building it into a nationally recognized state organization.
Under Ryan’s leadership, IPN was instrumental in the passage of Iowa’s Safe School and amended Civil Rights laws, increasing the number of students protected from harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity; and has grown the number of GSA’s from under 20 in 2003 to over 100 today. IPN leadership development programs have gained national attention and serve to create the most politically astute, culturally competent LGBTA youth activists in the nation.
In addition to creating highly successful student programs, Ryan has authored the Iowa School and College Climate Surveys and newly developed “Safe School Certification Program”—a program that seeks to strengthen implementation of Iowa’s Safe Schools Law. The program, supported by the Iowa Department of Education and numerous state and non-profit agencies, is providing the standard framework for similar efforts nationwide.
Ryan was named Champion for Children in 2007 for his advocacy on behalf of Iowa’s children and youth, was named as The Advocate’s “Person to Know” and was recently featured in the University of Iowa’s “Be Remarkable” campaign that seeks to share the achievements of the people who shaped the University’s history.
Morgan McGarvey (Political Leadership)
Morgan McGarvey, Kentucky’s State Senator from the 19th District, formerly served as a Special Assistant Kentucky Attorney General and a staff member for Congressman Ben Chandler. He currently practices law with the firm of Morgan & Pottinger. He and his wife Chris are the new parents of eight-month-old twins, an influencing factor in McGarvey’s decision to run for elected office.
Mr. McGarvey is an excellent communicator and has a sharp sense for understanding a client’s needs. Mr. McGarvey began his career as an associate at the largest law firm in Kentucky. He joined M&P in 2010, serves on the firm’s Marketing Committee and is a member of the Litigation Practice Group.
Mr. McGarvey enjoys skiing, sports, music, politics and a life that is never dull. One of his most interesting experiences includes time spent in Washington D.C. handling Congressman Ben Chandler’s legislation and appropriation requests. Resourceful even at a young age, Mr. McGarvey worked as a skipper on the Walt Disney Jungle Cruise during college, an accomplishment that only few can claim. These occasions fortunately haven’t gone unnoticed. Photojournalist Pam Spaulding has captured much of Mr. McGarvey’s life in a special book project for National Geographic called AN AMERICAN FAMILY: Three Decades with the McGarveys.
Mr. McGarvey is involved with NLC as well as Big Brothers/Big Sisters and is a member of the Prichard Committee on Effectiveness.
Raymond Ivey (Advocacy)
As a Youth College & Career Ambassador for the Brotherhood Crusade, Dr. Ivey teaches daily motivation classes to 18yrs plus ages while helping them to not only cope with their personal struggles, but he also aids in getting them back on track to pursue their educational dreams and goals. Outside of his daily job, Dr. Ivey devotes countless hours to an organization called Kappa League whose sole purpose is to train minority boys to men, grades 6TH – 12TH to grow, receive and become phenomenal leaders, while helping them receive college scholarships, internships, thus pursuing their dreams.
Not only is Dr. Ivey a powerful motivator for our youth, but as an Adjunct Professor for USC’s Educational Masters Program, he teaches and inspires futures educators to become the best roles models and teachers for their students. Dr. Ivey has grown as a leader within the community, while inspiring and changing the lives of others.
Jamil Walker Smith (Media Leadership)
Jamil Smith has been a professional actor since he was 6 years old performing in local theater in his native Los Angeles CA where he was nominated for 2 NAACP Theatre Awards and was selected as a California Arts Scholar.
Jamil attended SUNY PURCHASE University where he majored in Theater Arts. Over the years he has appeared in numerous plays and television series such as NYPD Blue, Cold Case, Touched By An Angel, Medium, and Bones; to name a few.
Jamil was a series regular on the Syfy Network’s Stargate Universe. In addition to his television work Jamil wrote and directed the short film “The Son” which premiered at the Urbanworld Film Festival in New York City where he met Brittany Ballard his partner in “lit-tle plow films”. Most recently Jamil wrote, directed and funded “The American Dream” for which he won Best Director at both Cinequest Film Festival and Urbanworld Film Festival.
Stephen Ortego (Political Leadership)
Stephen Ortego is the youngest serving member of the Louisiana House of Representatives. Ortego was elected in 2011 on a landslide victory campaigning on putting Louisiana Families first through building on the energy and cultural economies and has since set out to build his vision of the new Louisiana.
Within months of being sworn into office, Ortego became a leader in the legislature on the energy and cultural economy initiatives. He has also led the way towards education reform based around the health of the students. His
first session produced legislation such as a pilot program between Lafayette University Medical Center and the Lafayette Parish school system, legislation requiring the state agencies to purchase vehicles that run on natural gas or propane and legislation promoting the use of Louisiana’s native French.
Ortego was raised in Carencro, Louisiana near Lafayette. After graduating from Carencro High School he went on to earn a Bachelor and a Master of Architecture from Tulane University in New Orleans. While at Tulane, Ortego served as a Catholic missionary leader in Honduras where he designed and built homes. He is the co-founder of ecolafayette, a design-build firm specializing in energy-efficent homes in Acadiana.
Currently his design and build projects include single-family, multi-family and office remodels. He has also worked with the Make It Right Foundation, an organization focused on rebuilding the 9th ward in post-Katrina New Orleans.
Jose Javier Rodriguez (Political Leadership)
Jose Javier is a young Cuban-American attorney who ran for public office for the first time and was just elected this November to become State Representative of District 112. He has dedicated his life and career to making better jobs possible for those who need them so that all can have a fair chance at getting ahead in life.
As Jose Javier will tell you, he loves Miami. This community has given him and his family so much. Grateful and proud of his heritage, Jose Javier wants to see Miami thrive and prosper.
José Javier’s father, Guillermo, left communist Cuba when he was fifteen as part of Operation Pedro Pan. After serving in the US Army Corps of Engineers, Guillermo went on to become a successful corporate executive and later small business entrepreneur. From his father José Javier learned hard work and self-reliance in making the most of the opportunities that no other country offers.
Jose Javier’s mother, Joyce, a nurse originally from the rural Midwest, instilled in him strong traditional values and taught him to serve his community. Jose Javier owes his successful career in community service to his mother’s inspiration and example.
A solid work ethic, when combined with a dedication to service, meant Jose Javier would become an Eagle Scout and then after college a volunteer with the U.S. Peace Corps. There he trained small business owners and helped design employment-generating projects in both urban and rural areas.
With the help of scholarships and financial aid Jose Javier received an education at the best schools in the country. After Harvard Law School, Jose Javier turned down lucrative jobs elsewhere to return home and use his education to give back to the community.
Once back in his beloved Miami, Jose Javier has defended the rights of those who cannot afford lawyers and taught as law professor with the Carlos A. Costa clinic at the FIU College of Law. Jose Javier owns a home here in Miami and has been active in the community, serving on several non-profit and governmental boards.
As a Florida Legal Services attorney, Jose Javier has successfully raised working conditions and wages for working families; helped level the playing field for struggling small business owners; kept state and local governments from trampling on the rights of regular people; and enabled homeowners to keep their homes. His experiences even enabled him to draft and amend several good local laws which are now on the books.
Monica Vigues-Pitan (Advocacy)
Monica Vigues-Pitan is a Senior Attorney of the Employment and Economic Security (EES) Unit at Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc. The EES Unit handles public benefits, access to healthcare, special education, tax, limited family law matters and other civil law areas affecting the low-income community of Miami-Dade County. Monica practices mostly in the area of public benefits law, concentrating on Medicaid issues. She has represented clients in the appellate level in both state and federal courts.
For several years, Monica directed the Homeless Legal Advocacy Project and coordinated with community agencies to holistically address the legal needs of the homeless community. She is a graduate of University of Miami Law, a member of the Dade County Bar Association and serves as the President of the Miami Coalition for the Homeless’ Board of Directors.
Kimberly Dudik (Political Leadership)
Kimberly Dudik is a Representative in Montana’s 99th House District. Kimberly grew up in Frenchtown, Montana. She has lived in Missoula for the majority of her life. She and her husband have chosen to raise their two young children in the same communities where Kimberly grew up, enjoying the educational, community, and outdoor opportunities that make Missoula and Montana so wonderful.
Kimberly believes that the decisions we make today define our lives and create the future Montana that we leave for our children and grandchildren to inherit. Kimberly is running for the Legislature to make our government more effective, responsible, and accountable to the people of Montana.
Kimberly will work to create healthier communities, a stronger economy, and a better future for all Montanans. Through her education and experiences, Kimberly has the skills and knowledge it takes to make policies that improve the lives of all Montanans. Kimberly has worked tirelessly for over the past decade to create safer communities and stronger families.
This began with her work as a YWCA domestic violence advocate, then as a registered nurse specializing in neonatal intensive care, as a small business owner, and finally as an attorney. Kimberly worked for over the past three years as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Montana protecting children in abusive family situations.
Kimberly has been involved with legislation that makes our communities safer – working to include sexual assault and stalking as crimes recognized in the interstate enforcement of protective orders and to expand the law related to sexual intercourse without consent so that the law provides more protection for victims.
Kimberly graduated from public school in Frenchtown, Montana. She received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Montana State University, her law degree from the University of Montana School of Law, and her Master of Public Health degree from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Anthony Davis (Entrepreneurship)
Anthony Davis has been a strong leader on the Metro Council in improving schools in the district and showing leadership on progressive issues. As the owner of a small business web-design firm, he often helps contracts with progressive candidates and causes.
Davis is currently the Co-owner and Marketing Director for iDesign Inc., a web and print creative agency based in East Nashville, located on Gallatin Avenue. iDesign was launched in July of 2005 with business partner Brian Hamblen, and currently has eight employees. The company has recently been named to the Nashville Chamber of Commerce’s “Future 50.” Prior to starting iDesign, Anthony served as Regional Sales Manager for the Christie Cookie Company.
Having received his marketing degree from Lambuth University, Anthony is also the co-founder of Greener Nashville, a non-profit organization geared towards providing a sustainability or “green” resource for Middle Tennesseans. Greener Nashville has become a premier online home for green events, news, and happenings in Nashville. This has translated into other sustainability ventures such as serving on the steering committee for the annual Summit for a Sustainable Tennessee, as well as involvement with the TN Environmental Council, USGBC of Middle TN, and other sustainability groups.
In 2008, he received an award from the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce as a Nashville Emerging Leader for the Marketing/Advertising/PR category. Anthony also chaired the Nashville Chamber East for 2009-2010, a local business group dedicated to providing economic development opportunities to East Nashville, and affiliated with the Nashville Area Chamber. Other passions include: Spending time with family, running, tennis, and music.
Carlos Lejnieks (Entrepreneuship)
In late April 2008, Carlos Lejnieks was appointed President & CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson & Union Counties (NJ), a one-to-one, youth mentoring agency based in Newark. Soon thereafter, he was also appointed as Vice Chairman of Big Brothers Big Sisters of New Jersey.
Lejnieks took over an atrophied BBBS agency solely servicing Newark and turned it around while also expanding it to serve a newly constituted three county region. Within less than three years, BBBS went from serving approximately 100 youth to serving well over 1,000. Lejnieks has led the development of an aggressive and thoughtful five year business plan that would see the organization grow to be one of the top five largest mentoring agencies in the country. He has built a solid base of private/public partnerships from a wide range of groups including churches, community-based organizations, universities, corporations, among others. His Advisory Board is Co-Chaired by Gov. Brendan Byrne and Gov. Thomas Kean.
Prior to joining BBBS, starting in 2004, Lejnieks was an administrator for North Star Academy, a nationally recognized public charter school in Newark encompassing four campuses ranging from elementary school through high school. In his time at North Star, every high school graduate went off to college. In addition to his administrative duties which ranged widely from governmental reporting, business matters, community relations and public policy development,
Lejnieks also worked closely with students. Lejnieks initiated a course called Finance 101 teaching students about the stock market, investing options and the world economy. He also led an international service trip to Ecuador where high school students volunteered at a school and senior citizen center.
Prior to North Star, Lejnieks was Vice President of CN Communications International, a boutique business consultancy based in New Jersey. Lejnieks spearheaded CN’s business development and worked for a broad range of clients such as RWE/Thames Water, NJIT and the National Conference of Community and Justice.
Lejnieks went to CN after having served as a Policy Advisor to the Governor of New Jersey where he had particular focus on the State’s post-September 11 recovery efforts, cultural affairs and World Class Economy initiative. In late 2001, the Governor and Secretary of State presented Lejnieks with a New Jersey State Proclamation for “work related to post-September 11 recovery efforts.” Lejnieks was later nominated to New Jersey’s International Trade Committee. Lejnieks has also held positions in the industry of finance with Goldman Sachs and Quick & Reilly.
An engaged community member, Lejnieks recently served on President Barack Obama’s Regional Finance Committee, Governor Chris Christie’s Education Transition Team and Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s Transition Team. In 2009, Lejnieks was elected Chairman of the NJ Charter Schools Association after having led a year long strategic planning process that has given a new direction and focus on the expansion of quality charter schools throughout NJ. He also serves as a Trustee and Co-Founder of Democracy Prep Charter School based in Harlem (NY). In 2006, he received Democracy Prep’s “Change the World” award for helping create the school. In 2010, Lejnieks was appointed to the National Advisory Board of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, replacing US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Lejnieks also serves on the Board of Regents for Saint Peter’s College.
Lejnieks’ work in the community is longstanding. In reaction to area violence while in high school, Lejnieks co-founded a non-profit organization called Serendipity Café. The Café received national media attention for its impact in the community and currently still exists. For his “outstanding citizenship”, Lejnieks was given the New York Times Young Citizens Award in 1995. More recently, in 2010, the Mayor and City Council of Jersey City honored Lejnieks for his
“investment in education” for local youth. In 2009, Lejnieks received the NJBiz “40 under 40” top NJ business people award as well as the Montclair Neighborhood Development Corp’s “Community Award” for his commitment to underserved populations.
A former collegiate varsity wrestler, Lejnieks is President of his graduating class and, in 2006, was appointed to the national Board of Directors of Brown University’s Association of Class Leaders (RI). Lejnieks has an M.Sc. degree from the London School of Economics and B.A. degree in International Relations and Commerce from Brown University.
Alicia Menendez (Media Leadership)
Alicia Menendez is a Host/Producer at HuffPost Live, The Huffington Post’s streaming video network.
She is also a co-host of “Power Play” on SiriusXM Cristina Radio. You can listen to her broadcast every Tuesday and Thursday 4-5pmET.
From Rock the Vote to Democracia USA, Alicia’s work has focused on engaging more Millennials, women and Latinos in the electoral process. You can check out her project to elevate the national discourse around immigration at DefineAmerican.
Alicia is a graduate of Harvard College and is originally from Union City, NJ.
Corey Webster (Advocacy)
Corey Webster is a 2004 graduate of Louisiana State University where he won a national championship title in 2003, and a two-time super bowl champion for the NY Giants. Corey is the owner of Unique Rides, a customization and auto mechanic shop in New Jersey. Realizing how the support and assistance he received contributed to his success, he decided it was time to “pay it forward” in a more impactful manner.
In 2007, Webster established The Corey Webster Foundation as a vehicle to offer support and financial assistance to other community organizations in Louisiana, New York and New Jersey. After much consideration and thought, Corey announced in 2012 that the Corey Webster Foundation would embark on a mission to create hands-on programming that would make a lasting impression on the communities it served.
In the Summer of 2012, The Corey Webster Foundation unveiled Suited For Success to the Baton Rouge community. Suited for Success seeks to motivate, inspire and empower students through an image and character building model built specifically for the program. Suited For Success will empower college students through its signature model to go back into K-12 schools to mentor students. Webster has also partnered with LSU Football Alumni Relations and the Cox Center for Student Athlete Success to encourage former players to return to college and finish getting their degrees.
Most recently, Corey worked with Apostles’ House in Newark, NJ where he held “23 for 23”, a holiday give-back initiative of the foundation. Moving forward into the year, Corey hopes to continue building his foundation to continue motivating, inspiring and empowering the next generation of leaders and volunteers.
Lauren Burke (Advocacy)
Lauren Burke is the executive director and co-founder of Atlas: DIY, Developing
Immigrant Youth, the supervising staff attorney at the New York Asian Women’s
Center, and an adjunct clinical professor at Brooklyn Law School.
Since graduating from NYU School of Law in 2009, Lauren has dedicated her career to empowering immigrants, focusing on youth and survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence. From 2009-2011 Lauren, who is fluent in Mandarin, was a Skadden Fellow at The Door working with child labor trafficking victims from China, many of whom successfully received SIJS. In 2010 Lauren successfully argued Jisun L. v. Young Sun P., and has been involved in the litigation of three other successful SIJS cases before the second department.
Also in 2010 Lauren founded the Immigrant Youth Peer Empowerment Program which later turned into Atlas: DIY, a cooperative empowerment center for immigrant youth and their allies located in Sunset Park Brooklyn. Most recently, Lauren was hired to run the immigrant youth clinic at BLS, where she and her students have primarily been focused on representing young people in DACA proceedings.
Lauren’s work was featured in the recent documentary “Walking Merchandise” and she has published work on immigrant and youth issues in law journals, for foreign embassies located in the US, go and as NGO reports. Atlas’ youtube videos on immigration processes have amassed over 50,000 views.
Lincoln Restler (Entrepreneuship)
Lincoln Restler was born and raised in Brooklyn, and is a proud product of the borough’s schools & community institutions. Growing up in Brooklyn gave Lincoln a firsthand understanding of the importance of community empowerment, which has driven him to become a tireless advocate for his neighbors on issues of social justice, affordable housing, and good government.
Lincoln won a grassroots campaign in 2010 to be the State Committeeman of the 50th Assembly District, and has been an outspoken advocate for the residents of Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, and Wallabout. As a strong progressive voice on development, school reform, and mass transit issues, Lincoln has been focused on engaging more neighborhood residents in community affairs.
In 2011, Lincoln took the lead in attracting a new supermarket to a food desert in Fort Greene and coordinated the hiring of residents from the local community. Lincoln has also helped spearhead efforts to realize new green spaces on Commercial Street and Java Street in Greenpoint and on Myrtle Avenue in Clinton Hill.
Having emerged as a key leader in the Brooklyn Reform Movement, Lincoln is leading the effort to clean up Brooklyn politics and build a new progressive Brooklyn Democratic Party. He is actively pursuing reforms to the judicial selection process and is striving to democratize the old Brooklyn Democratic machine. Lincoln is a leader of New Kings Democrats, a progressive organization committed to involving more Brooklynites in local politics and reforming the local political establishment.
Professionally, Lincoln is the Managing Director of the New York City Employment and Training Coalition, which is a citywide coalition of 200 workforce development organizations focused on connecting New Yorkers to training, education, and quality employment. Lincoln holds a bachelors degree in Africana Studies and Latin American Studies from Brown University and resides in Greenpoint.
Jack Schnirman (Political Leadership)
On January 3, 2012, Jack Schnirman was sworn in as City Manager of Long Beach, NY. The City of Long Beach is one of only two cities on Long Island, with a population of approximately 35,000 people, spread across two square miles of land surrounded by water. With the Atlantic Ocean on one side and Reynolds Channel on the other, Long Beach is a beautiful seaside community. Schnirman entered his position with the goal of bringing effective, efficient, honest government to a community looking for change.
In the last 11 months, he has led Long Beach through fiscal crisis and a major natural disaster in Hurricane Sandy. The city is now in recovery and planning to rebuild stronger, smarter and safer.
Previously, Mr. Schnirman was Vice President of Management Consulting at Bowne Management Systems, focused on helping local governments and non-profit organizations improve operations, efficiency, and effectiveness. Prior to joining Bowne, he served as Chief Deputy Supervisor in Brookhaven, New York State’s largest Township. He managed a new municipal administration, aggressively executing an agenda to overhaul a government that had been riddled by decades of corruption and mismanagement. As Chief Deputy Supervisor, he supervised the day-to-day operations of approximately 1200 workers across a government whose total budget approached $300 million.
He implemented innovative reforms including a 311-style non-emergency hotline which enables constituents to dial one phone number for all town services, and ServiceStat, a nationally recognized performance management and accountability initiative that saved over $2 million dollars in its first term while eliminating waste.
In Brookhaven, Mr. Schnirman and his budget team instituted strict internal spending controls and eliminated $15.3 million in inherited deficits, placed the Town on solid fiscal footing, and insured good bond ratings from Wall Street and lower interest payments for taxpayers.
Previously, he has served in the nonprofit sector as part of the founding team of United Leaders, a fellowship which mobilized young people into public service, as Deputy Press Secretary to US Senator John Kerry, as a member of US Senator Frank Lautenberg’s legislative staff, and as a member of the National Environmental Trust’s media team, attending the UN Climate Change negotiations in Bonn, Germany.
Mr. Schnirman serves as a career advisor to the NYU Wagner School of Public Service’s Fellowship for Emerging Leaders in Public Service. He is also a board member of the New York League of Conservation Voters Long Island Chapter, the Achievement First Charter School network, the New Leaders Council, serving as co-chair of the New Leaders Council New York Fellowship’s Curriculum Committee.
He is also a member of the Truman National Security Project’s Partnership Program. Mr. Schnirman holds a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and a BA in International Relations from Tufts University.
Nicholas Anas (Political Leadership)
Nick is an Orange County native raised in La Habra. He became politically active during the 2008 Democratic primaries while attending UC Santa Barbara, where in June 2008 he received a bachelor’s degree in political science with an emphasis on international relations.
After returning to Orange County in September 2008, he volunteered and became a canvass director for the California Democratic Party Coordinated Campaign in Santa Ana. After the election he interned for the Democratic Party of Orange County. He was the assistant campaign manager for the Beth Krom for Congress campaign during the 2010 elections.
Nick was elected the political director of the Orange County Young Democrats (OCYD) in April 2009. He has served as chairman of OCYD from April 2010 to February 2012. Nick was recently elected the regional director of the California Young Democrats for Orange County and the Inland Empire.
From January 2011 to January 2012 he worked for Daily Consulting, a fundraising and political consulting firm based in Los Angeles. He was a fundraiser for Congresswoman Janice Hahn’s 2011 special election. Other clients included California State Controller John Chiang, the California Democratic Party, Rep. Karen Bass, Los Angeles City Councilman Eric Garcetti, Jimmy Gomez for Assembly and others.
Dr. Faisal Qazi (Advocacy)
Dr. Faisal Qazi currently serves as President of Medical Network Devoted to Service (MiNDS), a community development foundation and a charitable network of providers in southern CA area that treat the uninsured patients free of cost.
Dr. Qazi’s main research interest lies in Islamic Biomedical Ethics specifically Neuroethics and he has given a number of presentation on Coma, Brain Death and End of Life care.
He served as the President of the American Muslim Health Professionals, a national Public Health group and was the architect of AMHP’s health policy initiatives as its in 2009. He organized a number of delegations to Washington, DC and Sacramento to advocate for health reform and its subsequent implementation. As a result of such efforts AMHP had the honor of being invited by the to attend the Healthcare reform bill signing celebration in March 2009.
He had the distinct honor to present the works of these institutions at a Congressional briefing in October of 2008 in Washington DC, where he proposed opportunities for safety net clinics in the health reform process.
Dr. Qazi has been practicing Neurology in greater Pomona Valley and the Inland Empire area since 2006. He is the Assistant Professor and lecturer at Western University of Health Sciences, College of Osteopathic Medicine in Pomona, California.
Dr. Qazi’s work has been featured in interviews to NPR, Voice of America, CNN and PBS. He has received the honor of being listed amongst the Best Doctors of Inland Empire.
Audrey Ann Ross (Advocacy)
Audrey Ann Ross is the government and media relations coordinator for Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania, coordinating online advocacy and media outreach for PPSP, along with executing lobbying activities in the 4-county region of southeastern Pennsylvania.
Ross is a leading member of the organization Pennsylvanians for Choice (PFC), a coalition of dozens of women’s health advocacy organizations across the state, and a member of the steering committee for a regional coalition, Raising Women’s Voices of Southeastern Pennsylvania (RWV SEPA). As a part of her coalition work with PFC & RWV SEPA, she oversaw the development and launch of an online campaign to combat the attacks on women’s health. Called “We’ve Had Enough”, the campaign has garnered national media attention.
With ten years of progressively responsible work in community and public relations for both non-profit and political organizations, Ross is a skilled community relations specialist and community organizer. Prior to working at Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania, she was a community organizer for six years in Philadelphia at the Institute for the Study of Civic Values, working on social justice and quality of life issues. Her passion for community organizing has also extended into her volunteer activity. She currently serves as a board member for the Jewish Social Policy Action Network (JSPAN) and is the chair of JSPAN’s Right to Choose Policy Center. Ross also served as 2nd Vice President of the League of Women Voters of Philadelphia from 2005-2008, and remains a member.
In the past, she has served on the board of directors for Best Buddies Philadelphia and the Girard Avenue Coalition. She is also a former member of the WOMEN’S WAY Young Women’s Initiative. Ross came to Philadelphia in 2003 as the Eastern Pennsylvania Organizer for the Million Mom March United with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Ross also worked in Michigan as a field coordinator for David Fink’s congressional campaign. She holds a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science from Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Brian Simms (Political Leadership)
The former Staff Counsel for Policy and Planning at thePhiladelphia Bar Association, Brian Sims recently stepped down as both the President of the Board of Directors of Equality Pennsylvania and as Chairman of GALLOP to represent the neighborhoods of Pennsylvania’s 182nd District in Center City Philadelphia.
During his time at the Bar Association, Sims worked with attorneys, legislators and community organizations on issues ranging from gender and pay inequity to environmental regulation. A member of the National Campaign Board of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund until August 2011, Sims lectures regularly about the policy and legal challenges facing the LGBT civil rights movement and is a regular lecturer at the Center for Progressive Leadership.
Prior to his time at the Bar Association he practiced law as a disability attorney representing disabled professionals. He also worked as the Senior Law Clerk at the U.S. Environment Protection Agency’s Washington office where he focused on state and municipal compliance and enforcement.
In 2000, the son of two retired Army Lt. Colonels came out to his football team after helping to lead them to the Division II National Championship game as their captain. He remains the only former NCAA football captain to have ever come out, and is one of the most notable collegiate athletes to do so in any sport.
He has appeared on CurrentTV, “In The Life,” KYW, NPR’s “Radio Times” and World Football Daily and has been profiled at OutSports, The Washington Times, ESPN, Gay.com, The Philadelphia Gay News, Compete Magazine, Philadelphia Weekly and The Daily Local News.
Today he serves on the Board of Directors for both Campus Pride and Ben Cohen’s StandUp Foundation. He also continues to serve on the GLSEN Sports Advisory Council, is a contributor to The Advocate Magazine, and has written for The National Jurist.
Brian holds a Bachelors of Science degree from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania where he was a scholar athlete and a Juris Doctor degree in International & Comparative Law from Michigan State University College of Law.
Jersey Law Journal, The Legal Intelligencer, Law.com, The Philadelphia Bar Reporter, M.D News Magazine, HRC Back Story, OutSports.com, Yahoo Sports and Compete Magazine.
Brett Smiley (Entrepreneuship)
Brett P. Smiley has worked with nearly every level of the United States government and developed relationships with influential, knowledgeable and accomplished elected and appointed officials across the country. He is known and respected by a large network of people for his professionalism and work ethic.
After earning an MBA from DePaul University, Brett began his career working for various national political campaigns, including as Melissa Bean’s campaign manager for her Congressional campaign in the Chicago suburbs in 2004. At the age of 25, he led the campaign which became known to the press as “The House Upset of the Year,” as Bean defeated incumbent Representative Phil Crane, the
longest serving Republican in Congress at the time.
In August of 2007, Brett formed his own company focused on political fundraising and regulatory compliance, and built a team of five full-time staffers that helped elect a new mayor and congressman and managed the finances of over 20 congressional campaigns.
In November of 2011, he established CFO Compliance, working exclusively in accounting and compliance to advise Democratic campaigns PACs, Parties and related entities. He also managed the lobbying and advocacy components of the 2011 effort to pass Rhode Island’s Same Sex Marriage bill. In 2012, he was been hired to manage the public affairs campaign to pass a $50 million affordable housing bond. Brett serves as a national campaign board member of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and supports its candidates nationwide.
He was a trainer for the inaugural class of NLC Rhode Island last year on the topic of political fundraising. He remains very politically active in his hometown of Chicago in addition to his home in New England.
Tiffany Mok (Advocacy)
Tiffany is a lobbyist for the ACLU of California, where she focuses on state immigration, education and governance issues. Despite advocating without the influence of a PAC, her office has been found to be one of the most effective in Sacramento by the Sacramento Bee in 2010.
In 2012, Tiffany spent a large portion of her time promoting the “TRUST Act,” which would have restricted California’s cooperation in a federal immigration program where local police hold undocumented immigrants upon arrest until Immigration and Customs Enforcement picks them up. The bill gained national attention as the “anti-Arizona” approach to state involvement with immigration. Though Gov. Brown ultimately vetoed the bill, he signaled that he would sign it in 2013 with minor changes. Additionally, she spearheaded the state advocacy to strengthen the National Voting Rights Act and guided efforts to improve school discipline policies.
Tiffany is also the founder and current Chair of the Steering Committee of the Sacramento Lawyer Chapter of the American Constitution Society and previously served as president of her ACS law school chapter. She was the 2010 California Young Democrats Woman of the Year after serving as their legislative analyst. Tiffany was an NLC Sacramento Chapter Fellow in 2010 and served as finance director in 2011.
Prior to working for the ACLU she worked for several election law firms and on a 2004 presidential campaign. She holds degrees from the University of San Francisco and Bowdoin College and was named the most improved female bowler in her bowling league in 2011.
Angela Chan (Advocacy)
Angela works to oppose and reform immigration enforcement policies and programs that criminalize immigrant youth and families, including pushing back against Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s deeply flawed Secure Communities Program (“S-Comm”).
Ms. Chan co-authored and co-led efforts to pass the TRUST Act (AB 1081), a state bill which would have reformed California’s response to Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s immigration holds under the mass deportation program “Secure Communities”.
Ms. Chan was instrumental in building a statewide coalition of over 100 civil rights organizations in support of this bill, which was the first of its kind and has inspired many other cities and states to create similar bills.
Colin Mutchler (Media Leadership)
For his entire career, Colin has been exploring how digital media can influence behavior and transform culture. After leading online efforts at Listen Up!, the nation’s premiere youth media organization, Colin completed his MBA at INSEAD in France and Singapore, and then helped lead the global Nokia account for R/GA, Ad Age’s Digital Agency of the Decade.
He is now applying his digital expertise towards promoting social enterprise, through both LoudSauce and his work at brand innovation firm Addis Creson.
Writing and performing since 1999, Colin Mutchler’s spoken word and music have contributed to the growth of open source creativity. He is one of the early Creative Commons success stories, and has been highlighted as a “Featured Commoner.” His acclaimed multimedia “Free Culture Tour” has been featured at colleges and conferences nationwide, including Duke University and SXSW Interactive.
Colin’s voice has inspired more than 150 remixes, and as a result he released “Premixed,” the first album collaboratively (and legally) produced by “the commons” via members of the remix community ccMixter.org.
Billy Parish (Entrepreneurship)
Billy Parish is Co-Founder and President of Mosaic, a solar investment platform, and Co-Author of Making Good: Finding Meaning, Money & Community in a Changing World. In 2002, he dropped out of Yale to found the Energy Action Coalition and grew it into the largest youth advocacy organization in the world working on the climate crisis.
A serial social entrepreneur, Parish has helped launch dozens of clean energy, youth, and green jobs related companies and organizations and has been honored as a Rolling Stone magazine “Climate Hero,” an Utne Reader “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World” was elected as a Fellow by Ashoka, the global association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs. He lives in Oakland, CA, with his wife and two daughters.
Sarah Granger (Media Leadership)
A nationally recognized innovator in new media, Sarah has spent the past decade pioneering digital and social media strategies for politics and social activism. Her efforts have modernized hundreds of campaigns for progressive candidates and causes. Sarah’s firm, PublicEdge – in partnership with the Women’s Campaign Consortium and the Women’s Campaign Fund – advises pro-choice women candidates for political office on the use of the Internet and social media in their campaigns.
She also trains progressive leaders about online outreach, blogging and social media strategy, in association with organizations like Emerge California, Emerge America, the Truman National Security Project, and the New Leaders Council Silicon Valley chapter.
In 2003, Sarah led the launch of what Wired.com called the “first true weblog to be put up by a politician” while directing Internet strategy and operations for Senator Gary Hart’s 2004 presidential exploration. Later from 2008 to 2010, she served as new media director for WomenCount and in 2010 as political director for BlogHer, the women’s blogger network with more than 20 Million readers. To date, Sarah has helped launch over a dozen blogs for progressive political and advocacy organizations. In 2009, Sarah earned a the “New Media Award” from the California Democratic Party, and in 2011, Campaigns & Elections magazine honored her as the recipient of its Democratic “CampaignTech Innovator” award.
A prolific blogger, Sarah has written for more than 25 blogs over the past decade, incuding The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle online and BlogHer, where she regularly wrote on various topics. She has also written for specific political and tech blogs: The Political Voices of Women, WomenCount Blog, Fem 2.0, The Politicus, GovFresh, Mindjack, the Doctrine Blog, Progressive Fix, and MOMocrats, reporting as a credentialed blogger for the Democratic National Convention.
As a professional journalist, Sarah’s publishing credits include Forbes Russia, techPresident, Security Focus, MSNBC.com, and Spectrum magazine, through which she visited The White House as credentialed media. Sarah has been a contributing author for two books about technology and social media, and she has edited five books on technology topics. She is currently working on her first book as a solo author, to be published in late 2013, aiming to educate women on how to use digital media for their personal and professional lives, and for social good.
A frequent speaker, Sarah has been an organizer, moderator, panelist and facilitator for a wide range of conferences including the Stanford University’s Innovation Journalism, Fem 2.0, South by Southwest Interactive, Exceptional Women in Publishing, and Netroots Nation. She has been featured as a technology and social media expert on CBS News, Good Morning America, RT and NPR.
In December, Sarah will be recognized as one of the “40 Under 40 Rising Stars” by the Silicon Valley Business Journal.
Sarah co-founded the Center for Technology, Media & Society last year to engage in a wide range of technology and media issues. She graduated from the University of Michigan, where she designed her own major, “Technology and Society.” She has traveled to over 35 countries and lives in Silicon Valley.
Matt Huerta (Entrepreneurship)
Matt Huerta was appointed Executive Director of NHSSV in July, 2011. He leads a team of 20 professionals providing Home Ownership and Foreclosure Prevention Counseling, Lending, Realty services, and Community Building and Organizing efforts to support low and moderate income earners in Silicon Valley. Mr. Huerta oversees a $2.2MM annual operating budget and assets totaling over $13MM. Over the past 18 months he has shifted the organization’s business model from homeownership to “neighborhood ownership.” The neighborhood ownership model involves aligning the organization’s unique real estate sales and lending activities with community engagement strategies. The biggest examples of this has been the development of the Responsible Landlords Engagement Initiative, establishing a large scale Neighborhood Development Training Conference, and obtaining full service contracts with more cities and builders to manage their Below Market Rate Programs. After several years of losses, the organization posted a net positive asset gain in 2012 and is on track for continued growth and sustainability.
Mr. Huerta has over 12 years of experience in the Housing and Community Development industry. Prior to joining NHSSV, Mr. Huerta was the Director of Development at South County Housing in Gilroy. He directed staff and a pipeline of over 1200 units of affordable multifamily and single family developments valued at over $360 Million.
As a Project Manager for South County Housing (2005-2009), Matt spearheaded some of the agency’s most challenging developments including the rebuild of a 63-unit apartment complex and community center for very low income families in the farmworker community of Pajaro. The project, Nuevo Amanecer (New Dawn), was a 2009 finalist for the prestigious Terner Prize for affordable housing.
Mr. Huerta was promoted to Senior Project Manager in 2007 and managed a team of project managers while directly overseeing several projects including the redevelopment of the Pleasant Acres Mobile Home Park in Santa Cruz County. Prior to joining South County Housing, Mr. Huerta worked as Project Manager for Community Housing Opportunities Corp. (CHOC) in Davis, CA. His accomplishments include closing permanent financing for a 56-unit rehabilitation project in Fairfield, re-designing and implementing CHOC’s CalHome Mobile Home Repair and Replacement program in Woodland, and managing construction loans and permanent financing for new senior and family housing in Davis and Sacramento.
Prior to working as a project manager, Mr. Huerta was an Associate at Applied Development Economics in Sacramento where he provided assistance to several small cities throughout California to enable them to access and administer California’s State Small Cities CDBG funding.
Mr. Huerta received a BS in Community and Regional Development from UC Davis in 2001 where he was elected President of the Associated Student body representing over 20,000 students. He serves on the Board of the California Coalition for Rural Housing and has served as a Planning Commissioner for the City of Salinas since 2006.
Michael Breen (Political Leadership)
Mike has been a Truman Fellow since 2010, where works closely with the President to set organizational strategy and public direction. He was also one of the original members of Operation Free in 2009.
A former U.S. Army officer, Breen served in tactical and operational assignments in Iraq and Afghanistan. He served in Iraq with 1-6 Infantry, 1st Armored Division (2003-2004), where he coordinated governance and essential services for over 300,000 civilians as acting “mayor” of two Baghdad neighborhoods. In Afghanistan, Breen led paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Kunar Province (2005-2006), taking part in numerous combat operations in the Korengal and Pech valleys. At the operational level, he served as Effects Based Operations Officer for Combined Joint Task Force 76, and Targeting Officer for 1st Armored Division.
After leaving the military, Breen clerked for the Office of White House Counsel, where he focused on homeland and national security issues. He is a founding director of the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project, an international organization that provides safe passage and new beginnings for Iraqi refugees, as well as the Yale Law Foreign Policy Workshop, which provides consulting services on foreign policy and national security issues. He has consulted for government agencies, the United Nations, private foundations, and an international war crimes tribunal.
Breen has testified before Congress, regularly briefs government officials, elected leaders and candidates on security issues, and frequently appears in the media. His commentary and analysis has been featured in numerous national television, radio, and print outlets, including CNN’s The Situation Room and Erin Burnett OutFront, FOX News, FOX & Friends, Time Magazine, The Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, Foreign Policy, National Journal and NPR, as well as academic and military journals. Mike holds a BA in Government from Dartmouth College and a JD from Yale Law School, having studied in Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan.
An avid outdoorsman and former ice climbing instructor, Mike is a proud New Hampshire native and a member of the NH Bar Association. He lives in Washington with his wife, Susannah Stevens.
Kate Chapek (Advocacy)
Kate most recently served as the National Women’s Vote Director for President Barack Obama’s Re-election Campaign. Kate led the campaign’s efforts to engage and inform women of all demographics on the important national issues concerning women from healthcare to the economy. She successfully managed and participated in multiple public events hosting diverse speakers such as the First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to activist Sandra Fluke and actresses Eva Longoria and Natalie Portman.
She developed and instituted national metric based women’s persuasion voter engagement programs in identified key “battle-ground” states as well as coordinated media strategies including paid, earned and new media to educate and engage women to turn out and vote for the President.
An accomplished public speaker and media spokesperson, Kate has made multiple appearances at campaigns and organizational events and appeared in publications from USA TODAY and Roll Call to Glamour magazine and the Des Moines Register. Kate began her career campaigning 12 years ago on candidate and issue campaigns in 24 states including key battle-ground states: CO, IA, MI, NM, NV, OH,PA, and VA.
She has coordinated training and field operations, polling and messaging, managed candidates and ballot initiatives. In addition to candidate campaigns, Kate has extensive organizational experience that includes her work with Emily’s List, America Votes, Communication Workers of America and SEIU Change that Works. Kate, a native of Ventura, California, is a current resident of Washington, D.C.
She earned a Political Science and Broadcast Journalism degree from the Annenberg School of Journalism at the University of Southern California and earned her Master’s Degree in Journalism from Georgetown University. Kate counts among her greatest accomplishments being the mother of her 2 year old daughter, Sinatra.
Jon Favreau (Media Leadership)
Born in Winchester, Massachusetts, Favreau received his BA in political science from the College of the Holy Cross.
He was a Truman Scholar and graduated valedictorian of his class. After graduation, he went to work for the John Kerry Presidential campaign in 2004, working to collect talk radio news for the campaign, and eventually was promoted to the role of Deputy Speechwriter. In 2005, Robert Gibbs recommended Favreau to Obama as an excellent speechwriter.
Favreau was hired as Obama’s speechwriter shortly after Obama’s election to the Senate. In 2009, he was named as a White House staff member, as Director of Speechwriting. Favreau has been named one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World” by Time. He ranked 33rd in the GQ “50 Most Powerful in D.C.” and featured in the Vanity Fair “Next Establishment” list.
Patrick Murphy (Political Leadership)
Congressman Patrick Erin Murphy (D) is the United States Representative for Florida’s 18th congressional district. He is the youngest member of the 113th Congress’s House of Representatives.
Prior to his election to congress Patrick Murphy served as Vice President of Coastal Environmental Services, which specializes in disaster relief and environmental cleanup. In 2010, Patrick spent six months in the Gulf of Mexico leading the company’s efforts to remove oil spilled during the BP disaster. Coastal Environmental is an affiliate of Coastal Construction, one of the leading construction firms in the country, and has been named one of the nation’s top “Green Contractors”.
Patrick was born and raised on the Florida Coast. He spent much of his early life on construction sites and worked as a day laborer while going to college. After earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami in accounting and finance, Patrick joined the respected accounting firm of Deloitte and Touche as a CPA, where he served as an external auditor of Fortune 500 companies. Patrick is also the Co-Chair of Coastal Cares, which guides the firm’s philanthropic work for local and regional charities including the Boys & Girls Club, United Way, Camillus House, and Education Fund/Teach-A-Thon