CIVIC INFLUENCERS BLUE RIBBON COMMITTEE

The Civic Influencers Blue Ribbon Committee meets twice a year to engage our youth Civic Influencers and our Staff, to reflect on the strategy, implementation, challenges and successes of the Youth Democracy Index (YDI™ ©) scorecard and Civic Power Outages Heat Maps. The Committee is carefully selected to promote cross-pollinated thinking through a diversity of backgrounds and industries, to enrich our intersectional pro democracy movement of young people. The Committee is made up of distinguished professionals deeply committed to protecting and expanding democracy for young people. They are creatives, scientists, technologists, business and NGO leaders, and media and political gurus. 

Our innovative YDI scorecard and Civic Power Outages Heat Maps are data-driven, year-round and serve as catalysts for activism, media coverage and youth conversations for the entire youth civic engagement ecosystem. The YDI scores the voting climate for young people, both on- and off-campus, at local and state levels. The Civic Outages Heat Maps, powered by the YDI, identifies in real time where young people face the greatest opportunities and threats to participate in our democracy. 

For Blue Ribbon Committee questions or support, contact Rachael Gambino, Chief of Staff, at RachaelGambino@CivicInfluencers.org.

**All members of the Board of Directors are members of the Blue Ribbon Committee.


Richard Albert

Richard Albert
Constitutional Law Professor, The University of Texas at Austin

Richard Albert is Professor of World Constitutions and Director of Constitutional
Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He has published over twenty books on
democratic reform and constitutional values, including Constitutional Amendments: Making, Breaking, and Changing Constitutions (Oxford University Press 2019). A graduate of Yale, Oxford and Harvard, he is Co-President of the International Society of Public Law and the founding director of the International Forum on the Future of Constitutionalism.


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Rachel Bitecofer, Ph.D.
Political Strategist

Rachel Bitecofer is a political strategist currently working with StrikePAC, a pro-democracy group. Regularly featured in outlets like The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, and MSNBC, Rachel’s spirited style of data-based political analysis turns complex concepts and wonky data into digestible, entertaining narratives political novices not only can follow, but will enjoy.


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Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin
Professor of Journalism, Communications Department, Columbia College Chicago

Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin (she/her/hers) is a Professor of Journalism in the Communication Department at Columbia College Chicago and the creator of Columbia Votes, a program that brings systematic, 50-state voting and voter education to Columbia College Chicago students.

Sharon’s research focuses on how magazine fact-checking practices are changing in the digital age, and on the influence of 20th century magazines on American culture. Her research into 20th century magazines has been published in the Handbook of Magazine Studies (Wiley, 2020) and Curating Culture: How 20th Century Magazines Influenced America (Rowman & Littlefield, 2021). Sharon was co-organizer of the Mapping the Magazine 5, an international conference in Chicago in July 2018, Mapping the Magazine 6, held virtually from Portugal in 2020, and the forthcoming Mapping the Magazine 7, which will be held in Des Moines.
More at https://www.bloyd-peshkin.com/


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Ralph C. Dawson
Lawyer and Advocate

Ralph C. Dawson is a native of Charleston, South Carolina, where he grew up as one of 12 children. At Yale he became a campus leader, participating in the establishment of the first African-American Studies Major at a leading American institution, the Founding of the Afro-American Cultural Center, and as a leader of the Black Student Alliance during the tumultuous period known as “May Day 1970,” during a major murder trial involving the Black Panther Party and a series of protests against the Vietnam War.

Ralph graduated from Columbia University School of Law in 1976, having served as an Editor of its Human Rights Law Review. Ralph has practiced law for 44 years and is a Retired Partner and Of Counsel to the international law firm Norton Rose Fulbright (formerly Fulbright & Jaworski). He specialized in labor and employment law, and a broad range of civil litigation, handling matters in courts and administrative agencies throughout the United States. Ralph has been recognized perennially by his peers as a “Super Lawyer,” and has held leadership positions in important committees of Bar, such as the Disciplinary Committee of the First Judicial Department in New York City.  He also serves as the judicially appointed Receiver to preserve and distribute the recovered assets of Ascot Partners, one of the largest feeder funds involved in the Madoff Ponzi Scheme.

Ralph is politically active, serving as a senior advisor to the Howard Dean for President Campaign and working on Dean’s election as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).  He assisted in the implementation of Dean’s acclaimed “50 State Strategy,” was a Super Delegate to the Democratic National Convention and served as Chair of the African-American Leadership Council of the DNC. As a member of the DNC’s Rules and By-Laws Committee, Ralph played a prominent role in resolving disputes over the effect of primaries held in Florida and Michigan. He has appeared on numerous programs such as the Lehrer News Hour, the CBS Evening News and MSNBC.

Ralph and his family live in New Rochelle.


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Antoinette Ellis-Williams
Artist and Professor of Women’s & Gender Studies, New Jersey City University

Dr. Antoinette Ellis-Williams (she/her/hers) is Chair and Professor of Women’s & Gender Studies at New Jersey City University. She is a published author and black feminist scholar. Her one woman play Scarf Diaries premiered at NJPAC in 2017 and at the Reg E. Gaines 2021 Downtown Urban Art Festival in NYC which won Best Play. Antoinette’s documentary Lee Hagan: Connecting Generations (2016) won best short documentary at the Newark Black Film Festival. Her TedX Talk Finding Justice in the Land of the Free (2015) tried to unpack her immigrant status in America.

Antionette is a published author. Some of her writings include Burn: Phase I Origins and Activism Installation Chapbook (2021); Chasing Sunsets of Brick Seas: Healing A’int Easy; Writings of Newark Teens (2019) (Editor); Womb of Violet: An Anthology (2019) Introduction and Contributor; Womb of Violet II Contributor (2021), Black Gardenias: A Collection of Poems, Stories & Sayings From a Woman’s Heart (2014). She has presented at many conferences and seminars, among them the WEB. DuBois Scholars at Princeton University, 63rd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women of the United Nations & The Zonta CSW, Cornell University, Harvard University, Seton Hall University, National Women’s Studies Association Annual Conference; New Jersey Project, Leadership Newark, Association of Black Cultural Centers, The Center for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Leadership at Rutgers University, New Jersey Black Issues Convention, and Harlem Book Fair, to name a few. She has exhibited at Newark Museum, Art in the Atrium, Long Beach Island Foundation’s 23rd Annual National Juried Exhibition, (Juror); Lanka Tattersall, Curator of Drawings and Prints at MoMA, The Museum of Modern Art; Akwaaba Gallery, Newark, NJ; Studio Montclair Gallery, Broad Steps Open-Air Gallery, Corner of Bloomfield Ave. & Broad Street, Bloomfield NJ; ART150 Gallery, Jersey City, NJ; Prizm Art Fair, Miami, Florida, to name a few. Antoinette serves on the board of trustees of New Jersey Institute of Social Justice, and Women@NJPAC. She is a licensed minister. Antoinette earned her Ph.D. in Public Policy & Urban and Regional Planning at Cornell University.
More at https://www.antoinetteelliswilliams.com/


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Michelle Francis
Principal, The Francis Company 

Michelle Francis (she/her/hers) is an experienced intellectual property lawyer with a unique perspective on how IP converges with business strategy to generate value and revenue-generating opportunities. Starting as a litigator in law firms, Michelle then worked in-house handling global IP enforcement for 20th Century Fox Film Corporation (LA), and in 2001, she joined the General Counsel’s office of News Corp (NY) where she expanded and lead the global IP practice, charged with business strategy, management and protection the IP assets of News Corp and its operating/JV companies.

Since 2009, under Michelle’s leadership, The Francis Company partners with businesses and organizations of all sizes in consumer products/services, media, technology, fitness, publishing, fashion, beverage, human resource development, and social entrepreneurship, uniting IP development/management and monetization with business strategy to create a competitive advantage and increase consumer recognition and market share, while ensuring cost-efficient exploitation of the IP assets and related the operations.
More at https://thefranciscompany.com/


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Marybeth Gasman
Samuel DeWitt Proctor Endowed Chair in Education & Distinguished Professor
Executive 
Director, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute for Leadership, Equity, and Justice
Executive Director, 
Rutgers Center for Minority Serving Institutions, Rutgers University

Marybeth Gasman (she/her/hers) is the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Endowed Chair in Education, a Distinguished Professor, and the Associate Dean for Research in the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University. She also serves as the Executive Director of the Samuel DeWitt Proctor Institute for Leadership, Equity & Justice and the Executive Director of the Rutgers Center for Minority Serving Institutions. Marybeth is the Chair of the Rutgers University, New Brunswick Faculty Council.

Prior to joining the faculty at Rutgers, Marybeth was the Judy & Howard Berkowitz Endowed Professor in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Her areas of expertise include the history of American higher education, Minority Serving Institutions (with an emphasis on Historically Black Colleges and Universities), racism and diversity, fundraising and philanthropy, and higher education leadership. She is the author or editor of 30 books, including Educating a Diverse Nation (Harvard University Press, 2015 with Clif Conrad), Envisioning Black Colleges (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007), Making Black Scientists (Harvard University Press, 2019 with Thai-Huy Nguyen), and her forthcoming book Doing the Right Thing: How to End Systemic Racism in Faculty Hiring (Princeton University, 2022).

Marybeth has written over 250 peer-reviewed articles, scholarly essays, and book chapters. She has penned over 450 opinion articles for the nation’s newspapers and magazines and is ranked by Education Week as one of the most influential education scholars in the nation. Marybeth has raised over $23 million in grant funding to support her research and that of her students, mentees, and Minority Serving Institution  partners. She has served on the board of trustees of The College Board as well as historically Black colleges – Paul Quinn College, Morris Brown College, and St. Augustine College. She considers her proudest accomplishment to be receiving the University of Pennsylvania’s Provost Award for Distinguished Ph.D. Teaching and Mentoring, serving as the dissertation chair for over 80 doctoral students.
More at https://cmsi.gse.rutgers.edu/content/marybeth-gasman


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Tyler Hallmark
Program Associate, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

Tyler Hallmark (he/him/his), Ph.D., is a first-generation college graduate, former Pell recipient, a Gates Millennium Scholar, and a proud citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. He previously served as a Graduate Research Associate with the Center for Minority Serving Institutions, where he oversaw efforts to understand the role of Minority-serving Institutions and students of color in U.S. elections.

Tyler’s work has identified college campuses that may have significant impacts in U.S. elections, furthered understanding of the barriers facing college students across the country, and advocating for policy changes to increase voter access nationwide. Presently, Tyler serves as a Program Associate with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, where he helps oversee the Foundation’s grantmaking to effectively advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM higher education.
More at https://sloan.org/


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Theresa Hernandez
Assistant Director, First Generation Office, Dartmouth College

As a queer Black Caribbean-Latinx woman and first-generation college graduate, Theresa (she/ella) prides herself at having a personal understanding of the importance of fostering connection and engagement. She has committed her career and life to building strong communities, developing anti-racist consciousness and courage, and creating opportunities for societal transformation and growth. Following her time as an educator and strategist in public schools, Theresa pivoted into work that centered civic and social impact and community in higher education. Her goal is to provide space, care, advocacy, and leadership opportunities for underrepresented peoples. Theresa’s work’s mission is centered in connecting visionaries from many disciplines and backgrounds who are inspired to create change.

In her independent venture as a consultant (to educational institutions, businesses and other organizations) in diversity, equity, and inclusion, Theresa employs intentional activities, discussions, and dialogue among stakeholders in order to uncover and transform structural and institutional culture in areas of race, racism, implicit bias, allyship and patterns of dominance. Growing from her belief that changed people can change systems, Theresa innovates the process which requires an intersectional approach and demonstration of her commitment to promoting cultural, social, and systematic adjustment that seeks authentic action and change. Her belief is that when stakeholders, leaders and teams can operate in more thoughtful and empathetic ways, we (as a society) can begin to inspire our organizations to achieve goals and love what they do, rather than ‘force’ our way to growth and development. Theresa currently serves as the Assistant Director of the newly formed First Generation Office and is a Live-In Fellow at Dartmouth College. Theresa is set to begin her PhD studies in Educational Leadership & Policy next fall of 2022.


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Dennis R. Holmes
Breast Surgeon and Clinical Researcher

Dennis R. Holmes (he/him/his), M.D. is a dedicated breast surgeon specializing in the surgical treatment of breast cancer and non-cancerous breast conditions. He completed his medical education at Tulane University School of Medicine, surgical residency in general surgery at the University of San Francisco, and a fellowship in breast surgery at the University of Southern California.  Dennis is a board-certified Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and recently held the position of Program Chair of the 20th Annual National Meeting of the American Society of Breast Surgeons. He currently serves as medical director of the Breast Program at Adventist Health Glendale in Glendale, California.

As a breast surgeon and clinical researcher, Dennis has dedicated his career to breast cancer treatment innovation to reduce the burden of breast cancer care, including pioneering research in intraoperative radiotherapy, cryoablation, and intraoperative margin assessment. He has also been a leader in the field of oncoplastic surgery. In addition to maintaining a surgical practice, Dennis serves as founder and CEO of Auth Express, Inc., a company dedicated to improving the efficiency of cancer care.
More at https://doctors.adventisthealth.org/provider/Dennis+R+Holmes/1339451


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Chantilly Jaggernauth
Vice President of Data Visualization and Training at Lovelytics and Tableau Zen Master

Chantilly Jaggernauth (she/her/hers) has a mission to empower corporations and individuals through the use of data visualizations and data analytics. She is a two-year Tableau Zen Master who specializes in data visualization, data analytics, design, and training.

Currently, Chantilly is the Vice President of Data Visualization and Training at Lovelytics based in Arlington, Virginia. Prior to joining Lovelytics, Chantilly worked for Johnson and Johnson and Comcast. In addition to her day job, Chantilly is the founder and CEO of the non-profit organization Millennials and Data (#MAD). Through #MAD, she works to bridge the data literacy and analytical skills gap by training, mentoring, and preparing millennials to enter a data- driven global environment.
More at https://lovelytics.com/


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Cameron Koffman
Community Activist

Cameron Koffman (he/him/his) is a community leader and voting rights advocate from the East Side of Manhattan. He currently serves as the Campaign Manager for a New York City Council Campaign in District 5 (East Harlem and the Upper East Side). In 2020, he ran for New York State Assembly as a Democrat to represent part of Manhattan. During that campaign, he won a historic case at the New York State First Department Appeals Court establishing precedent that protected the rights of recent college graduates to run for office in New York State. Since then, he has been assisting other young candidates running for office and fighting for expanded ballot access across New York.

Cameron graduated from Yale University in 2019, where he earned a degree in ethics, politics, and economics. Cameron is an active member of his local community by leading multiple congregational groups at Temple Emanu-El, pioneering many initiatives as the Director of Community Engagement for the East 72nd Street Neighborhood Association, and serving on the Board of Trustees at the Allen-Stevenson School.


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Peter Levine
Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship & Public Affairs in Tufts University’s Jonathan Tisch College of Civic Life

Peter Levine (he/him/his) is the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs and Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship & Public Affairs in Tufts University’s Jonathan Tisch College of Civic Life. He graduated from Yale in 1989 with a degree in philosophy. He studied philosophy at Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship, receiving his doctorate in 1992. Before coming to Tufts in 2008, he worked for Common Cause, the Institute for Philosophy & Public Policy at University of Maryland, and the National Commission for Civic Renewal and helped to found and then led CIRCLE, The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, which is now part of Tisch College.

Trained as a moral/political philosopher, Levine has spent most of his career conducting applied empirical research and organizing professional efforts related to civic life in the United States, including sustained work on civic education, voting rights, public deliberation, and social movements. In the domain of civic education, Levine was a co-organizer and co-author of The Civic Mission of Schools (2003), The College, Career & Citizenship Framework for State Social Studies Standards (2013) and The Educating for American Democracy Roadmap (2021). The first two are the sources of the “six promising practices” and the notion of “taking informed action” that are widely found in state and local policies and curricula. The last was released in 2021 and is receiving prominent attention.

Levine is the author of eight books, including most recently We Are the Ones We Have Been Waiting For: The Promise of Civic Renewal in America (Oxford University Press, 2013) and the forthcoming What Should We Do? A Theory of Civic Life (also Oxford University Press). He has served on the boards or steering committees of such civic organizations as AmericaSpeaks, Street Law Inc., the Newspaper Association of America Foundation, the Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools, Discovering Justice, the Charles F. Kettering Foundation, the American Bar Association’s Committee for Public Education, the Paul J. Aicher Foundation, and the Deliberative Democracy Consortium.
More at https://tischcollege.tufts.edu/people/faculty/peter-levine


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Bill McClain
Marketing & Research Director, Clean & Prosperous Washington

Bill has led domestic and international marketing for several major brands, including Clarisonic (acquired by L’Oreal) and Sonicare (acquired by Philips). He co-founded Clean & Prosperous America to amplify the voices of young voters. Bill currently teaches Global Business Strategy and Marketing at the University of Washington, and advises several companies. He earned his BS at West Virginia Wesleyan College and his MBA at the University of Pittsburgh.


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Michael Peshkin
Allen K. and Johnnie Cordell Breed Senior Professor of Design, School of Engineering,  Northwestern University

Michael Peshkin (he/him/his) is the Allen K. and Johnnie Cordell Breed Senior Professor of Design, in Northwestern University’s school of engineering.  In 2008 he started what became Northwestern’s record-setting student voting program, on the principles of talking to every student one-on-one, and assuring voting options on-campus or back home.  A third principle, institutionalizing the program to every-year, was accomplished by Northwestern’s Center for Civic Engagement.  Peshkin has founded four spin-off companies, and is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.
More at https://peshkin.mech.northwestern.edu/


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Nadya Ramsaroop
Psychologist, Activist

Nadya Ramsaroop (she/her/hers) is a licensed psychologist in the state of California and her corporate consulting practice focuses on leadership development with a special interest in navigating transitions, growth and creating and curating healthy cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Texas, a Doctorate from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center School of Biomedical Sciences and a Post-Doctoral fellowship from Stanford University all in the specialty area of applied psychology. She is currently a board member for CGRS which provides legal representation, education and policy activism for immigration, refugee and asylum work and she is a board representative for Parent Coalition to enhance parent education in San Francisco. Nadya has been engaging her time and resources towards progressive causes and movements throughout her life and especially in the past 10 years. As an immigrant herself who has lived in three countries, Nadya has a deep appreciation for the value of a healthy functioning democracy and the necessary civic engagement needed for it to thrive. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and two dynamic daughters who add immeasurable meaning to her life and push her to walk her talk on a daily basis. She loves to travel, read, soak in the wonder of the ocean and the stars and chat with anyone willing to engage.

“For our family, we have realized it’s quite simple; all the issues we care about hinge upon mobilizing voting, protecting voting rights and preserving our democracy. With a winnable and strategic focus on young voters, Cvic Influencers not only meaningfully impacts current election cycles, but it creates a scalable path forward for non partisan and fully inclusive civic engagement.  Now more than ever, this work is vital to bolster and ensure we will always have a thriving and healthy democracy.”

“For our family, we have realized it’s quite simple; all the issues we care about hinge upon mobilizing voting, protecting voting rights and preserving our democracy. With a winnable and strategic focus on young voters, Cvic Influencers not only meaningfully impacts current election cycles, but it creates a scalable path forward for non partisan and fully inclusive civic engagement.  Now more than ever, this work is vital to bolster and ensure we will always have a thriving and healthy democracy.”


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Nicholas Roman Lewis
Sr. Director, Shared Interests & Identity Groups and Yale Alumni Association, Yale University

Nicholas Roman Lewis (he/him/his) is a creative entrepreneur on a mission to ignite the creative energy in everyone. As an entertainment attorney and creative strategist, Nicholas has represented clients on Broadway negotiating contracts for productions including Ain’t Too Proud, The Band’s Visit, Something’s Rotten, and Wicked among others; and the development of several books, including the award winning Ghetto Nation, A Love Noire, Darker Still, and Impolite Conversations.

As Senior Director for Shared Interest & Identity Groups at the Yale Alumni Association, Nicholas engages alumni groups globally with strategic planning and high level event execution. He has worked with alumni organizations launching mission driven initiatives throughout the United States and internationally in Hong Kong, London, Berlin, Paris, Venice, Dubai, Qatar, Beirut, and Ghana.

In 2014 he founded Revolutionary Daydreams™, a platform dedicated to spotlighting the work of creatives around the globe and is currently working on a docuseries and short form programming.
More at https://revolutionarydaydreams.com/


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Mateo Romero
Contemporary Cochiti Pueblo Artist

Contemporary Pueblo painter Mateo Romero was born and raised in Berkeley, California. Although his cultural background is an urban one, through his father Santiago Romero and his connection to their Southern Keresan Cochiti people, this experience includes much of the Rio Grande Pueblo world as well. Mateo attended Dartmouth College and studied with acclaimed artists Ben Frank Moss and Varujan Boghosian.

He received an MFA in printmaking from the University of New Mexico. Mateo is an award-winning artist who has exhibited internationally in Canada and in the United States. He is currently a Dubin Fellow in painting at the School of American Research in Santa Fe, NM, and paints in his studio in Santa Fe and lives in Pojoaque Pueblo with his wife, Melissa, and their children Erik, Povi, and Rain.


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Rabbi Jan R. Uhrbach
Director, The JTS Block/Kolker Center for Spiritual Arts

Rabbi Uhrbach is the Director of the Block/Kolker Center for Spiritual Arts at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where she teaches prayer and liturgy and recently served as Interim Dean of the Division of Religious Leadership and the Rabbinical School.   She was the associate editor of Siddur Lev Shalem, the Shabbat and festival prayerbook published by the Rabbinical Assembly in 2015, having served on the editorial committee for Machzor Lev Shalem, and is currently at work as associate editor of the forthcoming prayerbook for weekdays in the same series.

Rabbi Uhrbach is also the founding Rabbi of the Conservative Synagogue of the Hamptons in Bridgehampton, and a distinguished teacher of Torah.  She is a member of the Wexner Heritage faculty, and has taught and served as scholar-in-residence in many synagogues.

Rabbi Uhrbach received her ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary.  She is a graduate of Yale University and Harvard Law School.  Prior to rabbinical school, Rabbi Uhrbach served as Law Clerk to Federal District Judge Kimba M. Wood, and was an associate and then partner of the New York law firm of Satterlee Stephens Burke & Burke LLP.

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Reggie Van Lee
Partner and Chief Transformation Officer, Carlyle

Reggie Van Lee is Partner and Chief Transformation Officer at the Carlyle Group, helping ensure that the firm is maximizing its market competitiveness, driving growth and operating most effectively and efficiently as an institution.

Before joining Carlyle, he spent 32 years at Booz Allen Hamilton, where, before he retired as Executive Vice President, he led numerous business units across multiple industries. Prior to Booz Allen, he served as a research engineer with Exxon’s production research company.

Reggie is a member of the board of directors of Fortitude Re, Gallup Inc, Deep Labs, OmniSpeech, the Women’s Venture Capital Fund II, National CARES Mentoring Movement, the Coalition of African Americans in the Performing Arts, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Blair House Restoration Fund, Studio Museum in Harlem, the Public Theater, and the Juilliard School.  He serves as the Chair of the Washington DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, appointed by Mayor Muriel Bowser.  He also is a co-Chair of the Motown Museum’s National Legacy Council.  Formerly, he served as Chair of the board of Washington Performing Arts and Vice Chair of the board of the Washington Ballet.  He was named one of the top 25 consultants in the world by Consulting Magazine, selected as a Washington Minority Business Leader by the Washington Business Journal and named Black Engineer of the Year by Black Engineer magazine. He holds both a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Civil Engineering from MIT and an MBA from Harvard University.


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Sharon Weil
Author, Speaker, Healing Artist

Sharon Weil (she/her/hers) has long engaged the conversation about courage and change as an author, activist, speaker, and somatic educator. Her gift is to convey the heart and humor in even the most serious of human foibles. Her novel, Donny and Ursula Save the World, brings together her love of romantic mishaps with her concerns about GMOs and the corporate take-over of food.

She is the host of the acclaimed podcast Passing 4 Normal: Conversations About Change. In the podcast, Sharon discusses strategies with her guests: fascinating, everyday heroes actively working with change in a wide array of applications. Her non-fiction books ChangeAbility: How Artists, Activists and Awakeners Navigate Change, and ChangeAbility Playbook, How to Navigate Your Own Change are based upon discoveries gleaned from this podcast.

From 2007 – 2015, Sharon was the president of The Lia Fund, a Bay Area foundation that funded innovative activists and organizations in support of solutions to climate change, community arts, and holistic health and healing—all within the lens of social justice. Her writing and worldview are informed by twenty-five years as a teacher of Continuum, a profound, fluid-based somatic practice that aligns one with a natural state of being through breath and movement.

Before authoring books, Sharon was a screenwriter, director, and producer. She is a film graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Los Angeles.


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Phill Wilson
Founder and President, Black AIDS Institute

Phill Wilson is an activist who founded the Black AIDS Institute in 1999. The Black AIDS Institute is the only national HIV/AIDS think tank focused exclusively on Black people. They work to stop the AIDS pandemic in Black communities by engaging and mobilizing Black institutions and individuals.

In 2010, Phill was appointed by President Barack Obama to the President’s Council on HIV/AIDS. Prior to founding the Institute, Phill served as the AIDS coordinator for the City of Los Angeles, the Director of Policy and Planning at AIDS Project Los Angeles, co-chair of the Los Angeles County HIV Advisory Committee and was an appointee to the HRSA AIDS Advisory Committee. He has been involved in the founding of a number of AIDS service organizations, including the National Black Lesbian & Gay Leadership Forum, National Task Force on AIDS Prevention, Chris Brownlee Hospice, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the National Minority AIDS Council, the Los Angeles Gay Men of Color Consortium and the CAEAR Coalition.

Phill graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Fine Arts from Illinois Wesleyan University. He currently resides in Los Angeles.
More at https://www.law.berkeley.edu/phill-wilson/