2022 NLC Convention Speakers
Errin Haines – editor at large and a founding mother of The 19th
Errin Haines is editor at large and a founding mother of The 19th, a nonprofit, independent newsroom focused on the intersection of gender, politics and policy. She is also an MSNBC Contributor. Prior to joining The 19th, Errin was national writer on race and ethnicity for The Associated Press. She has also worked at The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and Orlando Sentinel. Errin’s expertise on issues of race, gender and politics make her a sought-after voice and thought leader in her industry. She has taught classes on race, gender and the 2020 election at the Georgetown University Institute of Politics and Princeton University. Errin is currently writing her first book, TWICE AS GOOD, exploring the growth of Black women’s power and leadership through Vice President Kamala Harris’ historic ascent and the rise of other notable trailblazers boldly asserting their roles in American democracy and society. A native of Atlanta, Errin is based in Philadelphia.
Rep. Andy Kim – Congressman, New Jersey District 3
Congressman Andy Kim represents the Third Congressional District of New Jersey. and has dedicated his life to serving the country. He has worked as a career public servant under both Democrats and Republicans, having served at USAID, the Pentagon, the State Department, the White House National Security Council, and in Afghanistan as an advisor to Generals Petraeus and Allen. In the House of Representatives, Congressman Kim is working on an agenda to bring this country together and strengthen its national and economic security. He supports strong measures that boost our economy by investing in small businesses and innovation, creating fairness and opportunities for working families, and honoring America’s promises to military families and veterans.
Rebecca Rhynhart – City Controller of Philadelphia
Rebecca Rhynhart made history when she was sworn in as the first woman elected City Controller for the City of Philadelphia in 2018. She brings private sector experience and nearly a decade of government service to the role of chief auditor and financial watchdog for the City of Philadelphia.
Since taking office, Controller Rhynhart has pressed the City to strengthen its financial management through annual audits of internal controls over financial reporting and City departments. She has been vocal on important issues affecting Philadelphia, like gun violence, the City’s response to civil unrest, the impact of COVID-19, sexual misconduct, and the diversity of the City’s workforce. Under her leadership, the office is committed to transparency and regularly releases data sets about City spending, as well as analyses of City finances and public policy. In 2020, she was selected to join the Accelerator for America Advisory Council.
Rebecca has a Master of Public Administration from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts from Middlebury College.
Priscilla Sims Brown – President and CEO of Amalgamated Bank
Priscilla Sims Brown is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Amalgamated Bank. Ms. Brown is a multi-national board director and C-suite executive with 30 years of financial services experience. Prior to joining Amalgamated Bank she was the Group Executive for Marketing and Corporate Affairs at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, where she focused on rebuilding trust and pride in the bank with direct responsibility for end-to-end marketing, branding, stakeholder insights, government and public affairs, and environment and social policy.
Prior to Commonwealth Bank, Ms. Brown held senior positions at AXA Financial, Inc., Sun Life Financial, and Lincoln Financial Group. She has advised several digital startups and served as the Chief Executive Officer of Emerge.me, a digital health insurance broker.
She was a member of the AXA Financial US Executive Committee, serving as Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), where she directed all aspects of US marketing and led global digital marketing initiatives. Prior to AXA Financial, Ms. Brown served as CMO at AmeriHealth/Caritas, where she developed a new go-to-market strategy for the largest Blue Cross/Blue Shield Medicaid company in response to the Affordable Care Act. At Sun Life, Ms. Brown served as CMO and Chief Strategist, where she negotiated and managed Sun Life Stadium naming rights, Pro Bowl, Super Bowl and other major events with the Miami Dolphins NFL football team.
During her 18-year tenure at Lincoln Financial Group, Ms. Brown held numerous leadership positions where she integrated acquired companies, established new businesses and led the consumer brand. She established the firm’s first investment management profit center, targeting midsized insurance companies. She also started and chaired Lincoln’s first family of standalone mutual funds and served as president of the broker-dealer. Ms. Brown also led the investor relations function, before expanding her responsibilities to include corporate and strategic marketing.
For the past three years, she served as a member of the Board of Trustees of Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (‘TIAA’), a US Fortune 100 financial services firm with over $1.2 trillion in assets under management. She served on the TIAA Investment, Nominating and Governance, and Corporate Governance and Social Responsibility committees, as well as Trustee and CEO selection subcommittees.
Ms. Brown’s personal and professional experiences have enabled her to reach across cultural boundaries to ensure collaboration among diverse teams and drive successful outcomes for organizations.
Eric E. Brown Jr. – NLC Nashville 2015
Eric E. Brown, Jr. is a politico, community organizer, cultural ethicist, Hip Hop enthusiast, and writer. He is the Principal and CEO of Serpent & Dove Strategies. The company does Political Consultancy, Strategic Partnerships, and Collective Impact. A Nashville native, Eric is a graduate of American Baptist College, Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt Divinity School. The author of Weekend Reflections, Eric writes about complex subjects in a plain speech fashion to detail rare honesty in a politically correct world. When not working, Eric loves to read, write, and enjoy time with friends, family, and his two dogs (Aaliyah, & Phife, “The Dog”).
James Chan – NLC Tampa Bay 2016
James Chan currently serves as the national API Civic Engagement Director at SEIU (Service Employees International Union), an organization of 2-million members united by the belief in the dignity and worth of workers and the services they provide and dedicated to improving the lives of workers and their families and creating a more just and humane society. He most recently served as the Florida State Director at SiX (State Innovation Exchange), where he supported the work of progressive state legislators in messaging and pushing forward progressive policies with grassroots partners. He has worked at the Florida 501c3 Civic Engagement Table, for former Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink at the Florida Next Foundation, as well as Target Corporation’s government affairs team. James is an alumnus of Leadership Florida as well as New Leaders Council.
In 2019, former U.S. Senator and Florida Governor Bob Graham presented James with the Young Floridian of the Year award. James has been named a Rising Star in Florida Politics by INFLUENCE Magazine. He has also been trained through the APAICS National Leadership Academy to run for public office, as well as the Victory Institute Empowerment Fellowship.
James earned his MPP from the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs and his BA in Political Science and Business Administration from the University of Florida.
He has served as a NLC LEAD trainer since 2017, training new Fellows in San Francisco, SW Ohio, Orlando, Denver, and NYC.
Dr. Magdala Chery – NLC New Jersey 2018
Dr. Magdala Chery, is a Board-Certified Internal Medicine Physician and a highly sought after thought leader with over 10 years of speaking experience. She is a former 2020-2021 Commonwealth Fund Fellow in Minority Health Policy at Harvard University, earning a Master in Public Health. Most recently, she was named a National Minority Quality Forum (NMQF) 40 under 40 Leader in Minority Health Awardee for 2021.
Prior to the Harvard fellowship, Dr. Chery served as an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine and was named one of South Jersey Magazine’s Top Docs in 2018 and 2019. She is passionate about expanding the conversation on primary care, mental health, and wellness in minority communities outside of the exam room. Dr. Chery is also the founder and chief operating officer of Not Just a Black Body, Inc. Through the #NotJustABlackBody campaign, she has been lending her voice and platform as a physician, to boldly address racism in the healthcare system. As someone who has directly been impacted by COVID-19, she speaks to the impact the pandemic has had on Black and brown communities.
Recently, Dr. Chery made the decision to transition from her role as an in-home care physician to focus on driving impact in the digital health landscape by joining Google Health as a Health Equity Clinical Specialist. In this role, she joins a team that centers health equity, public health, and social determinants of health (SDoH) across the enterprise to provide evidence-based guidance on reducing health disparities and improving the health of populations and communities.
She also serves as a health equity and clinical operations advisor for Health in Her Hue, a digital health platform connecting Black women and women of color to culturally sensitive health care providers, evidence-based content, and community support. By making the narratives and perspectives of Black women and women of color the focal point, Health in Her Hue is co-creating solutions with their users that reflect what they want for their health and overall wellness.
Dr. Chery received her medical degree from Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine (formerly UMDNJ School of Osteopathic Medicine) in 2014 and completed her internal medicine residency at the University of Connecticut (UCONN) in 2017 with distinction in primary care.
She is a proud Jersey girl with Haitian roots. Her lived experiences shape her passions for culture, food, and community. In her downtime, Dr. Chery is usually immersed in self-care activities, browsing natural hair tutorials, watching basketball, or looking for her next travel destination.
Mayor Paige Gebhardt Cognetti – NLC Philadelphia 2019
Paige Gebhardt Cognetti has served as Mayor of Scranton, Pennsylvania since January 2020. She is the first woman to hold the office. Prior to becoming Mayor, she advised the Pennsylvania Auditor General, the chief fiscal watchdog of the commonwealth, on oversight of public school districts, care for older adults, criminal justice reform and student debt. She previously served as a director on the Scranton School Board, overseeing a $160M budget and helping navigate the district’s dual crises of financial distress and public mistrust.
She has a background in government oversight, investment management, economic policy, international relations and political campaigns, with broad experience in budget oversight, business development, coalition building and strategic communications. Mayor Cognetti served in the Obama administration from 2009-2012 as a senior advisor to the Under Secretary for International Affairs at the U.S. Treasury Department. She was a fundraiser and project director on numerous political campaigns, including running the out-of-state volunteer program in Pennsylvania for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign.
Mayor Cognetti holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and graduated summa cum laude from the University of Oregon Clark Honors College with a BA in English Literature and Romance Languages. Mayor Cognetti is originally from Beaverton, Oregon, where her parents still reside. She lives in Scranton with her husband, Ryan, and their daughter, Sloane.
Michael Deegan-McCree – NLC Los Angeles 2020
Michael Deegan-McCree currently serves as the Chief of Staff at All Voting is Local. As a Black civil rights & justice reform strategist, he has spent his career expanding access to the democratic process & leading movements to secure freedom for those directly impacted by the criminal legal system. Michael believes that in order to fulfill the promise of the United States we cannot just
open the gates of opportunity to all Americans, but we must give those who have been most impacted by the failures of our past the tools to walk through them. Michael comes to this convention an Alumni of the 2020 NLC Los Angles cohort and a
proud member of the NLC DC chapter.
Lelia Gowland– NLC Louisiana 2015
Gowland started her business as a direct product of NLC and LEAD weekend. There, she realized that people kept coming to her for support in professional negotiations and career decision-making.
Fast forward to today, and she’s a public speaker, coach, and author. She leads communities of folks who identify as women and want to increase their impact and create more fulfilling lives—both professionally and personally. Lelia writes for publications including Forbes, NBC News, and Harper’s Bazaar. As a former teen magazine enthusiast, she was particularly delighted when Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire profiled her for her strengths-based approach to negotiation. With a Master’s in Public Policy and a BA in Sociology, Lelia applies her understanding of political, professional, and cultural systems to all of her frameworks.
Finally, as a New Orleans native and enthusiast, Lelia freely uses the word y’all, has an entire closet dedicated to costuming, and strives to bring the city’s joy to all of her work. Get in touch and find out more at www.leliagowland.com.
Councilmember Christina Henderson – NLC DC 2013
Councilmember Christina Henderson is an At-Large member of the Council of the District of Columbia in Washington, DC. Christina’s career has been guided by the principle that one’s zip code should not determine your opportunity for success, and she is excited to work every day to make this principle a reality for all DC residents.
Prior to her election in 2020, Christina served as a Legislative Assistant for U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), handling education, workforce, postal, and census issues. From 2012 to 2017, she served in various capacities in DC government. While previously working at the Council, Christina crafted and helped advance over 40 pieces of legislation on an array of issues including student discipline, reproductive health, and medical marijuana. Prior to the Council, she worked for DC Public Schools, supporting efforts to improve teacher and school leader quality and effectiveness.
The daughter of an Army veteran and a retired Transport Workers Union Local 100 member, Christina received her BA in Political Science from Furman University in Greenville, SC and her Masters in Public Affairs from Princeton University. She is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and a proud co-founder and board member of the Black Women’s Congressional Alliance.
Christina lives in the Petworth neighborhood of Washington, DC with her husband Nu, their daughters Jordan and Cameron, and rescue dog Langston.
Ray Holloman – NLC Nashville 2019
Ray Holloman is a Black, transgender man that lives in the south. His unique identity gives him the ability to see multiple sides of marginalized communities. Ray currently works doing Disaster Recovery for a large tech company. Ray has a Bachelor of Business Administration from Belmont University, and Masters degrees from Lipscomb University and Tennessee Tech University. Ray is married, with 3ish dogs, 20ish chickens and 9ish quail. In the past, he has worked with groups such as Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition, Trans Empowerment Project, Nashville Technology Council, and other various nonprofits on either a one-time or continuous basis. He currently is the chair of the New Leaders Council Pride Caucus Transgender education subcommittee, Vanderbilt University Medical Center LGBTQ+ Advisory Board, and Chair of the Tennessee Department of Health HIV Prevention Transgender Task Force. Ray enjoys sharing his story to educate the public about transgender and queer people. In his limited spare time, he enjoys farmstrong, quilting, and cooking.
Emily Ladau- NLC NYC 2021
Emily Ladau is a passionate disability rights activist, writer, storyteller, and digital communications consultant. She is the author of Demystifying Disability: What to Know, What to Say, and How to be an Ally, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Named one of the best books of 2021 by NPR and a 2021 Booklist Editors’ Choice, Demystifying Disability is an approachable guide to being a thoughtful, informed ally to disabled people, with actionable steps for what to say and do (and what not to do) and how you can help make the world a more inclusive place. Emily’s career began at the age of 10, when she appeared on several episodes of Sesame Street to educate children about her life with a physical disability.
A native of Long Island, New York, Emily graduated with a B.A. in English from Adelphi University in 2013 and now serves on their Board of Trustees. In 2017, she was named as one of Adelphi’s 10 Under 10 Young Alumni. In 2018, she was awarded the Paul G. Hearne Emerging Leader Award from the American Association of People with Disabilities. In 2022, the Jewish Federations of North America and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism honored her with their Disability Advocate of the Year Award.
Emily provides communications and social media strategy consulting as well as editorial services for multiple disability-related organizations and initiatives. She is the Digital Content and Community Manager for the Disability & Philanthropy Forum, an emerging philanthropy-serving organization committed to expanding philanthropic commitment to disability inclusion. Previously, she served as the founding Editor in Chief of the Rooted in Rights Blog, a platform dedicated to amplifying authentic narratives on the disability experience through an intersectional lens. Emily’s writing has been published in outlets including The New York Times, SELF, Salon, Vice, and HuffPost and she has served as a source for outlets including PBS NewsHour,
NPR, Vox, and Washington Post. She has spoken before numerous audiences about disability issues, from Microsoft and Comcast/NBCUniversal, and from the U.S. Department of Education to the United Nations. And, she co-hosts The Accessible Stall Podcast, a show that dives into disability issues. Central to all of Emily’s work is harnessing the power of storytelling as a tool for people to become engaged in disability and social justice issues.
Brandon Mack – NLC Houston 2016
Brandon Mack is the Interim Director of Operations for the International Association for College Admission Counseling. He has been a higher education professional for the past 13 years. He was previously the Associate Director of Admission & Coordinator of Transfer Admission at Rice University.
In addition to his day job, Brandon Mack is a community activist and sociologist dedicated to issues related to the intersections of race, gender, and sexual orientation. He has conducted research on effemiphobia, the negativity related to effeminate gay men. His work has been featured in a GLAAD Media Award-winning article and he has presented his work at national conferences such as the National LGBTQ Task Force: Creating Change and NBJC’s Out on the Hill. He is a lead organizer with Black Lives Matter Houston and on the Screening Committee and Education and Advocacy Chair of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus. He is also the Research Coordinator for the Mayor’s LGBTQ+ Advisory Board.
Mack graduated from Rice University in 2006 with a Bachelors of Arts in Sociology & Political Science. In 2013, Mack earned a Masters of Education in Higher Education Administration & Supervision from the University of Houston. He is currently a Ph.D. student in the Higher Education Leadership & Policy Studies at the University of Houston.
Dr. Alister Martin – NLC Boston 2020
Dr. Alister Martin is a practicing ER physician and former Chief Resident at Massachusetts General Hospital and now dually appointed as an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and as Research Faculty at the Harvard Kennedy School. In 2021, he joined the The White House as a Fellow in the Office of the Vice President/Office of Public Engagement. Alister founded Get Waivered, a program that is converting our nation’s ERs into the front door for opioid addiction treatment. He is also the co-founder of GOTVax, an initiative aimed at leveraging a get-out-the-vote framework to deliver vaccines to vulnerable communities via hyper-targeted vaccine clinics. In 2019, Alister founded Vot-ER with a team of healthcare providers and behavioral science experts to help patients vote like their health depends on it.
Ernest Owens – NLC Philadelphia 2019
Ernest Owens is an award-winning journalist and CEO of Ernest Media Empire, LLC. He is the Editor at Large for Philadelphia Magazine and President of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists. He hosts the hit podcast “Ernestly Speaking!” and is an author of the upcoming book “The Case for Cancel Culture” to be published by St. Martin’s Press, an imprint of Macmillan Publishers, in February 2023.
His work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, MTV, NBC, NPR, and other prominent media outlets. He’s also a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, the Association of LGBTQ Journalists, and the National Association of Black Journalists. He has earned countless honors, which includes landing on the 2021 City & State PA Philly Power 100 list, the 2021 Most Influential African Americans list by The Philadelphia Tribune, winning the 2020 Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, and other honors from Forbes, American Society of Magazine Editors, National Association of Black Journalists, and the City & Regional Magazine Association.
He can be found on Twitter and other social media platforms at @MrErnestOwens & ernestowens.com.
Veronica Simpkins – NLC San Antonio 2017
Veronica Simpkins is an IBCLC, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner. She has experience with various sexual, reproductive, and maternal health programs as well as worked with high-risk pregnant women in communities. Veronica enjoys working to improve access to reproductive health services for youth while championing the rights of women to access health services through advocacy. She co-founded a nonprofit, Latched Support, which works to increase awareness and support for all San Antonio breastfeeding mothers but with African American women as a priority. Her personal focus is on eliminating stigma from health care providers towards women of color, especially among pregnant women and women of reproductive age, and championing women’s empowerment, rights, and equality.
Dr. Monica Taylor – NLC Philadelphia 2018
Dr. Monica Taylor was elected to Delaware County Council in November of 2019 and sworn in on January 6, 2020 to serve a four-year term. Dr. Taylor was the first person of color elected to serve on County Council and the first person of color to serve as Chair of Delaware County Council. She serves as the liaison for the newly create County Health Department, Human Services, Services for the Aging, Workforce Development, Housing and Community Development, Library Services, and Children and Youth Services.
Dr. Taylor is a tenured professor St. Joesph’s University in Philadelphia. In addition to her teaching, research, and administrative duties, Monica is working on community outreach projects to educate high school students about potential future careers in the health care industry. She spearheaded a project called Early STEAM working in local Philadelphia elementary schools to introduce young students to Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM).
Dr. Taylor resides in Upper Darby with her husband and 3 daughters.
Gabriel Tanglao – NLC New Jersey 2017
Gabriel serves as Associate Director for the Office Human & Civil Rights, Equity and Governance with the New Jersey Education Association, which represents over 200,000 educators across the state. He is focused on transforming public schools through movement-building for racial, social, economic and environmental justice. Advancing educational equity through organized labor enables him to honor a tradition of Filipino ancestors fighting for justice as union leaders.
Grounded as a practitioner, Gabriel has publicly advocated for the respect of professional educators across the country in various leadership roles. As former Chair of the New Leader Council (NLC) National Diversity Committee, member of the NLC National Board of Directors, co-founder of the National Education Association (NEA) Young Professionals Caucus, Northeast Regional Director of the NEA Asian and Pacific Islander Caucus, member of the NEA Foundation Global Learning Fellowship Advisory Council, and more.
Over the past six years, he has facilitated countless leadership training and professional development sessions around issues of racial justice and equity at a variety of local, national, and international conferences. Gabriel earned an MA in Economics Education and Entrepreneurship from the University of Delaware, an MS in Teaching, and BA in Political Science from Pace University.
Rosa Velázquez – NLC Arkansas 2021
Rosa Velázquez is the Director of Programs for The Foundation for Social Impact, and actively organizes and advocates for immigrant’s rights. Since the Federal DREAM Act Campaign in 2010, Rosa has been involved with the youth-led organization United We Dream, where she was elected as National Coordinator for the MidSouth Region of the country. During her time as National Coordinator, Rosa engaged, advocated, empowered, and helped build a national immigrant youth movement that was geared towards student activism and community organizing. Her work ranged from writing and passing local city resolutions that aided immigrant families, passing state laws like in-state tuition equity, and building youth-led immigrant advocacy college and community chapters throughout the country.
In 2012, Rosa helped develop the #Right2Dream Campaign, where she played a vital role in the immigration policy change we now know as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA. With six states under her supervision, she trained and led various teams that helped thousands of dreamers apply for relief under DACA, including about 3,000 Arkansans.During the 2019 Arkansas Legislative Session, Rosa chaired the campaign that assured the passage of the Arkansas State DREAM Act and DACA Nurses, now laws. In the 2021 Legislative Session, she led efforts to help pass DACA Teachers and Professional Licenses for DACA Recipients, which are also now laws in Arkansas.