National Diversity Committee

Dear Friends of NLC

The United States is more diverse than ever before, and, as such, its emerging leaders must be equipped and prepared to work with a diverse coalition. Accordingly, the NLC National Diversity Committee was founded in 2015 to do 2 things. First, we were charged with building a pipeline of leadership both within NLC and within the larger progressive movement to ensure that both keep pace with the increasingly diverse population of America. Second, we were charged with equipping our fellows and alumni with the skills, knowledge, and awareness to truly act as leaders in the 21st century, an era which will undoubtedly leads us to tackle and address issues of diversity. I am excited to work with the other 11 members of the National Diversity Committee to do just that; and I look forward to working with our larger community to build a better, more inclusive America.


James Woodson Chair, NLC National Diversity Committee

Meet the Diversity Committee


Maurianna Adams

Promoting individual advocacy and community connectedness is the mission of Maurianna Adams, founder and current President of CommUNITY Alliance of Oklahoma. Oklahoma native, she has witnessed the spirit of entrepreneurship revitalize her Sooner State, however grave economic and social disparities continue. In her 7 years of public service, she has served grandparents raising grandchildren, incarcerated women, former foster care youth, Oklahomans with mental illnesses and homeless adults. She has been featured on News 9 and has articles published in The Journal Record, The Oklahoman and various newsletters. Maurianna studied business management, sociology and political science at the University of Oklahoma and received a MPA from the University of Central Oklahoma. In her spare time, she enjoys long walks on the beach (Lake Hefner) and spending time with friends (Golden Girls). Wife of a hunk, mother of a sour patch kid, there is never a dull moment in the life of a woman advocate! Psalm 46:5


Kendall Brown

Kendall works in digital media, specializing in digital advocacy for progressive causes. She is currently the Senior Digital Strategist for Muslim Advocates, fighting anti-Muslim bigotry and legislation following November's election. Prior to joining Muslim Advocates, Kendall was the Deputy Digital Director for the Hillary Clinton campaign in the battleground state of Ohio, where she managed the state's top tier digital content program, leading a team of writers, videographers, and designers to generate content used across the state and nationally. Before joining Hillary for America, Kendall worked as the Digital Community Programs and Platforms Manager for Organizing for Action, managing content and volunteers from across the nation in support of President Obama's progressive platform. She has worked with several other organizations, always with a focus on progressive issues and activism, and her work has taken her across the globe. Kendall's work has been published in several publications, including ThinkProgress, CNN and CNBC, and was featured by the White House in 2013. Her digital work fighting for the Affordable Care Act gained national attention, and was recognized by several publications and groups, including Rolling Stone magazine and then U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. Kendall earned a B.A. in Digital Mass Media from the University of Oklahoma.


Madaline Edison

Madaline Edison works as the founding Executive Director of Educators for Excellence - Minnesota, a nonprofit organization that ensures educators have a leading voice in K-12 policy change through grassroots organizing and advocacy efforts. Prior to that, she was a kindergarten and first grade teacher in St. Paul, Minnesota. She lives with her family in South Minneapolis, where she volunteers in other community engagement efforts such as serving on charter school boards, working on progressive electoral campaigns, and serving on the founding executive board of New Leaders Council - Twin Cities.


Lauren Footman

LaurenFootmanHeadshot.jpgLauren Footman, is from Yeadon, PA, and graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 2014, with a bachelor's degree in English, and double minors in Political Science and Africana Studies. While at Bryn Mawr College, she chartered a College Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; serving as President until she graduated. Upon graduation, she received the Thomas Prize for Diversity, which recognizes students with a demonstrated lifelong commitment to learning around diversity, advocacy for inclusion, and the ability to inspire others to action. Since graduation, Lauren has continued her advocacy work, and serves as the President of the NAACP PA State Conference Youth and College Division. In this role, she is tasked with implementing the national organization’s agenda in Pennsylvania, advocating for civil rights. Additionally, Lauren serves as member of Generation Progress’ Leadership Council where she advocates for common sense gun laws, through education, workshops and direct action. Besides advocacy work, Lauren is still very involved with her undergraduate institution. She and a fellow alumna, have created a mentoring initiative, Bryn Mawr Students Committed to Opportunities Progress and Empowerment (SCOPE). The group’s objective is to enhance Bryn Mawr’s current initiatives that support students of the African and Latin Diasporas, and aid in retention of students of color. Lauren just recently finished her fellowship with New Leaders Council, where she participated in leadership training, with the intent of creating positive change in Greater Philadelphia, and its surrounding communities. Lauren currently works at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and remains committed to advocating for marginalized populations, and is always looking for ways to strategically create change in her community. Lily Wells strives every day to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of public services through a focus on early childhood prevention programs that advance social and economic justice. Prevention services require foresight to anticipate the ramifications of complex, intersecting systems on generations to come. The literature has demonstrated that life experiences have consequences to gene expression that cross the germ line. It is no longer sufficient to evaluate programs based on five to ten-year outcomes. Leaders must be prepared to create systems that will ensure the well-being of our children's children.


Joseph Kitchen

JosephKitchenBio.jpgBorn in Southern California, Joseph grew up in the Central Valley raised by his mother. When Joseph was in junior high school the country was dealing with a string of school shootings. California was also going through a violent crime wave. With a group of friends, Joseph founded the United Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE) of Fresno City, one of the largest chapters of the National SAVE organization based out of North Carolina. It would be the kick off of a lifelong commitment to organizing and community activism. In 2005 Joseph accepted an offer to come to DC and become a teacher. For the last decade he has worked in communities all over DC and the Maryland suburbs as well as Baltimore to improve the lives of young people. Outside of the classroom Joseph founded the Young Black Educators (YBE), a network of teachers, administrators and other education advocates committed to recruiting and retaining other young people of color to the classroom. Joseph has served as a member of the NAACP’s Executive Committee in California and Prince George’s County, MD. He is a Vice President of the Young Education Professional of DC and in 2009 became the first African American in over a decade and first openly gay person ever to be elected President of the Young Democrats of Maryland. Joseph works as an administrator at a private school in Anacostia and resides in Fairmount Heights, MD. He is a member of the First Baptist Church of Glenarden.


Laksmi Lagares’

Laksmi Lagares’ purpose is to help people realize they are more than their environment or conditions predispose them to be. Laksmi is a Civic Leader, C Level Strategist, owner and Principal Consultant at Lagares Consulting. Her firm supports impact and partnership needs of private and public sector companies, schools/ universities, nonprofit and philanthropic organizations. Her career includes; 15yrs experience in all aspects of Business Development and Public Relations within: Civic Engagement, Tech, Education, Social Justice, Finance, Advertising and Marketing. She is the curator of Application versus Theory workshops, which have been featured at college campuses across the U.S. including Mills College, UC Santa Cruz and Stanford University. She is a subject matter expert in Diversity and Inclusion with an emphasis on race and equity and her communications styling, crosses cultural and socio economic divides; translating needs to create strategy supporting mutual wins. Laksmi is a Hive Global Leader, Co-Director of New Leaders Council Oakland, a key planner of Oakland’s Breaking the Silence Town Hall; an initiative of Dr. Kimberle Crenshaw and the African American Policy Forum, acknowledged by the Obama Administration; and Host Committee member of a three part workshop series facilitated by Dr. Monique Morris, author of Pushout. Currently, Laksmi is a Business Development Manager at Cynergy Professional Systems. At Cynergy, she is building out the Healthcare Technology vertical, in the Public Sector.

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Sarah Ogdie

SarahOgdieHeadshot.JPGSarah serves as the Program Director for Community Tampa Bay, a non-profit organization with a vision of ending all forms of discrimination. She has over ten years of extensive experience in cross-cultural dialogue facilitation with diverse groups. Sarah has served as a counselor, advisor and co-director during Community Tampa Bay’s nationally recognized ANYTOWN® program, an intensive experience for high school youth designed to challenge and eliminate stereotypes and prejudice. Her role with ANYTOWN® involves planning and facilitating sessions of over 65 hours of content and skill-building training, managing a diverse session staff of 20-25 youth and adults, and recruiting and engaging delegate classes of over 50 young people each week. She is currently co-writing the ANYTOWN® program curriculum in preparation for a national expansion of the program. Sarah also coordinates and facilitates two Pinellas County Schools District-Wide Youth Leadership Diversity Conferences with collectively over 200 participants, and has overseen the addition of professional education and adult training programs. Internationally, Sarah has also trained ex-child soldiers in Ghana on issues of gender equality, and she selected and trained a team of volunteers to partner with a Rwandan university to create a service-learning program. She received both her Bachelor and Master of Social Work from Florida State University. Sarah was a New Leaders Council Fellow in Tampa Bay in 2014. Since then, she has served as the Co-Recruitment Chair on the local NLC Board, and as a Life Entrepreneurship Trainer nationally. Sarah presented about the power of relationships at the 2014 Pecha Kucha 20x20 Tampa Bay event. She was also a speaker at the 2012 International Baccalaureate pinning ceremony at her high school alma mater, and a diversity and privilege presenter at the 2011 Making Lifelong Connections conference for long-term trainees at Maternal and Child Health Bureau funded agencies. In 2011, Sarah became a certified facilitator of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens curriculum. She recently attending the 2016 Facing Race Conference in Atlanta, in addition to the 2011 National Organization for Women (NOW) Conference in Tampa. Sarah lives life boldly, authentically, interdependently, and full of love. It is this life mission that guides her commitment to social justice. Sarah currently lives in downtown St. Petersburg.


Liz Prisley

LizPrisleyHeadshot.JPGLiz Prisley is currently the Professional Education Manager at Community Tampa Bay, a nonprofit dedicated to ending all forms of discrimination. In her role, Liz plans, manages, and facilitates leadership and diversity trainings for adults in business, nonprofit, and at educational institutions. Additionally, she has served as a volunteer staff member for Community Tampa Bay’s flagship youth program, ANYTOWN®, a nationally recognized, intensive summer residential experience designed to challenge and eliminate stereotypes and prejudice. Liz is also a spoken word poet who performs nationally at high schools and colleges, and competes in regional and international poetry slams. Since 2014 she has served as the Education Director for Heard Em Say Youth Arts Collective, an organization supporting and promoting youth voice through performance arts like spoken word. Through Heard Em Say, Liz develops spoken word curriculum for high school-aged youth aimed at preparing young people to use poetry as a medium for self-expression and literacy development, and as a platform for making positive change in their communities. Liz has also served for the past four years as a co-coach of the Heard Em Say Slam Team where she has led a team of 5-6 high school youth to compete at Brave New Voices, the largest international spoken word festival and poetry slam in the world. Over the past eight years, Liz has taught writing as a Fulbright Scholar in Germany, at Virginia Tech, the University of Tampa, the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, and the Tampa Bay Poetry Workshop Series – a local writing group she co-founded in 2014. She earned her Master of Arts in English Rhetoric and Composition from Virginia Tech in 2010, and her Bachelor of Arts in English Creative Writing from the University of Central Florida in 2008. Liz was a New Leaders Council Fellow in the class of 2016 and now serves on the Tampa Bay NLC chapter board as a Co-Chair for Engagement, cultivating the brand and image of her local chapter. In addition to her passions for writing, speaking, and intersectional feminism, Liz has an insatiable hankering for frozen yogurt, and has likely been to every froyo spot in a 30-mile radius of where she lives in St. Petersburg, FL.


Lily Wells

LilyWellsHeadshot.jpgLily is experienced in grant management, program administration, and inter-agency collaboration. She seeks to foster inquiry and promote integrated solutions that prevent harm and improve the human condition. Lily works on and off the clock to increase scientific literacy, expand professional and public cultural competence; address implicit bias and discrimination; and reduce invisibility experienced by some groups within marginalized communities, especially disability and bisexuality. Lily grounds her professional work and community engagement in expertise gained through personal experiences and disability. She advocates by speaking openly about the strengths and challenges of ADHD, chronic depression, and childhood trauma. She possesses a master's in political science from Florida Atlantic University and in social work from Florida State University. Lily lives in Tallahassee, Florida with her partner, Sean, and her cat. She enjoys mountain biking, camping, board games, and cooking and is a connoisseur of fine puns.