Speaker Bios are continuously updated so be sure to check in for the latest additions to our panels!
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in Nigeria. Her most recent novel Americanah was named one of the New York Times Ten Best Books of the year and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her novel Half of a Yellow Sun won the Orange Prize, and her novel Purple Hibiscus won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. The Thing Around Your Neck, her collection of stories, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book in Africa. The recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, she was named one of the twenty most important fiction writers today under 40 years old by The New Yorker.
Dr. Jedidah Isler is a native of Virginia Beach, VA and a lifetime lover of the night sky. A graduate of the Dozoretz National Institute for Mathematics and Applied Sciences (DNIMAS) program at Norfolk State University, Dr. Isler later received a Masters in Physics as part of the initial cohort in the Fisk-Vanderbilt Masters to Ph.D. Bridge Program, a pioneering effort to expand access to advanced STEM degrees for students of color. Dr. Isler continued her educational pursuits at Yale University, where her research in astrophysics was supported by nationally competitive fellowships from NASA, the National Science Foundation and the Ford Foundation. At Yale she also served as the co-Chairwoman of the Black Graduate Network, was a fellow for the Office for Diversity and Equal Opportunity, and was inducted into the Edward Bouchet Honors Society. In 2014, Dr. Isler became the first African-American woman to receive a Ph.D. in Astronomy from Yale, completing an award-winning study that examines the physics of particle jets emanating from supermassive black holes at the centers of distant galaxies. She presently holds a dual appointment as a Visiting Research Fellow with Harvard University's Center for Astrophysics and as the Chancellor's Faculty Fellow in Physics at Syracuse University.
Throughout her career, Dr. Isler has remained a fierce advocate for the inclusion and empowerment of students from underrepresented backgrounds in the sciences. She has worked with numerous museums, libraries, observatories, and schools across the country on outreach and engagement efforts designed to inspire a new generation of STEM leaders and has established herself as an inspirational voice championing access in the field of Astrophysics and in science education.
Jonathan Holloway is Dean of Yale College and Professor of African American Studies, History and American Studies. He specializes in post-emancipation United States history with a focus on social and intellectual history. He is the author of Confronting the Veil: Abram Harris Jr., E. Franklin Frazier, and Ralph Bunche, 1919-1941 (2002) and Jim Crow Wisdom: Memory and Identity in Black America Since 1940 (2013), both with the University of North Carolina Press. He edited Ralph Bunche's A Brief and Tentative Analysis of Negro Leadership (NYU Press, 2005) and co-edited Black Scholars on the Line: Race, Social Science, and American Thought in the 20th Century (Notre Dame University Press, 2007). He has written an introduction for a new edition of W.E.B. Du Bois’s Souls of Black Folk, to be published by Yale University Press in 2015.
Holloway won the William Clyde DeVane Award for Distinguished Scholarship and Teaching in Yale College in 2009. He served as the master of Calhoun College from 2005-2014, and was Chair of the Council of Masters from 2009-2013. He began a three-year term as Chair of the Department of African American Studies in 2013. That term was abbreviated when he was named Dean of Yale College beginning in July 2014.
He has held fellowships from the W.E.B. Du Bois Research Institute at Harvard University, the Stanford Humanities Center, and the Ford Foundation. He was an Alphonse Fletcher Sr. Fellow in 2011-2012. Currently, he is a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians.
Rachel Nyaradzo Adams is leadership practitioner, speaker and activist for education and leadership development for Africa's emerging leaders. She has experience managing and developing leadership programs for top tier organizations. She is very committed to her role as coach, sponsor and mentor for talented Africans who are looking to make a relevant contribution to the continent's development. She is also committed to organizations who can add value to Africa's growth story.
Rachel is invested in helping her clients understand that the only way in which they will make a relevant contribution to their environments is by leading through their strengths and living in their purpose. Her work aims to help people recommit to their true purpose and to tap into the strengths that will help them realise that purpose. This is based on her personal conviction that Africa's success will be dependent on strengths-driven individuals and communities. She is fiercely activist about Africans waking up to their responsibilities and opportunities within a competitive global context.
Her current role is with Yale University where she is the Associate Director for Africa. In this role she is responsible for supporting the university’s Africa efforts by working with faculty to develop partnerships between Yale and African institutions, supporting admissions recruitment in Africa, building Yale’s alumni networks, and expanding press and social media coverage on the continent.
Her previous roles were with McKinsey and Company as Head of the McKinsey Leadership Program (MLP) and with the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation as Regional Program Manager, Gauteng Region.
Rachel is a Mandela Rhodes Scholar, a Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellow, a Mellon Mays Fellow and a Felix Scholar. She read for her Masters in African Studies at Oxford University and her Bachelor of Social Science in Social Anthropology and Media at the University of Cape Town. She also writes on various topics including race, culture, education and leadership and speaks at numerous leadership events.
Wendell Adjetey obtained an Honours BA in International Relations and History in 2008 and an MA in Political Science in 2009 from the University of Toronto.
Prior to starting a Joint PhD in African American Studies and History in 2012, Wendell founded and ran a non-profit for marginalized youth and later worked as a case manager in a youth gang intervention strategy in Toronto.
He is interested in unearthing the antecedents that have shaped the civic participation and economic well-being of African North Americans, that is African Canadians and African Americans in the inter- and post-war years. His doctoral research looks at how organized labour and the pursuit of civil rights allowed African North Americans to forge transnational freedom linkages.
Born in venerable Teshie in Accra, Ghana, Wendell proudly hails from the Gã people. His patrilineal and matrilineal ancestral clans are Atrékor Wé and Nii Ablorh Adjei Wé, respectively. After emigrating Ghana, he spent most of his childhood and young adulthood first in Montréal and then in Toronto.
Richard Albert, a graduate of Yale, Oxford and Harvard, is a constitutional law professor at Boston College Law School, where he received the Anthony P. Farley Excellence in Teaching Award in 2013 and 2014. In his first year of teaching in 2009, he earned the Hessel Yntema Prize, given annually to a scholar under the age of 40 to recognize "the most outstanding article" on comparative law. He is a member of the Governing Council of the International Society of Public Law, a Distinguished Academic Associate at the Centre for Law and Religion at Cardiff Law School, and a Senior Research Fellow at the Council for Canadian Democracy. In 2013, he was named to the 50 Under 50 list honoring the most influential minority law professors in the United States under 50 years of age. He has remained active in the Yale community, serving as an At-Large Delegate to the Assembly of the Association of Yale Alumni, on the Board of Directors of the Yale Alumni Fund, and as a founding member of the National Board of Directors of the Yale Black Alumni Association.
Diahann Billings-Burford recently joined the Time Warner Inc. family as Executive Director, Corporate Responsibility. In this newly created role, Diahann serves as a senior member of the Corporate Responsibility management team and has have primary responsibility for the strategic direction and implementation of our company-wide college internship program, the programs and resources we provide to stimulate and support employee community engagement, and our community investments in New York City.
For five years as Chief Service Officer for the City of New York, Diahann headed NYC Service, a division of the Mayor’s Office with the mission of tapping the power of the people to meet pressing challenges. NYC Service met the Mayor’s State of the City pledge for New York City to lead the way in answering President Obama’s nationwide call to service. The NYC Service program had three main goals: help more New Yorkers connect to service opportunities more easily, target volunteers to address the city’s greatest needs, and promote service as a core part of what it means to be a citizen in the greatest City in the world. NYC Service implemented 25 initiatives to meet these goals. NYC Service initiatives targeted six impact areas: strengthening communities, helping neighbors in need, education, environment, health, and emergency preparedness. Since its inception in April of 2009, NYC Service had engaged over 1.3 million New Yorkers in a wide range of volunteer activities, from beautifying neighborhood blocks, to providing tax assistance to low-income families, to volunteering to teach fitness classes at City recreation centers, to coating rooftops with reflective white paint to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Prior to this appointment, Diahann served as Deputy Executive Director of External Affairs for City Year New York, a nonprofit organization. In that position, Diahann established and maintained relationships with politicians, community leaders and stakeholders and oversaw recruitment and communications.
Diahann is a very proud Brooklyn native and currently lives there with her husband and their two children. She serves as a board member for buildOn and the New York City Housing Authority.
Jongnic Bontemps has had the privilege to lend his compositional and technical talent to some of the biggest names in film and game scoring which include Marco Beltrami, Michael Giacchino, Christophe Beck, Theodore Shapiro, Chris Lennertz and Bruce Broughton.
Jongnic worked on over 50 projects in film, TV and video games that span epic drama to romantic comedy. Many of these productions have been showcased at film festivals such as Cannes, Pan African Film Festival, American Black Film Festival and many regional festivals around the world.
His educational highlights include being selected as a fellow for the Sundance Music and Sound Design Lab at SkyWalker Ranch in 2013, completing to the Society of Composer’s and Lyricists Mentor Program in 2012 and graduating from USC’s Scoring for Motion Picture and Television program in 2012.
Jongnic's professional credits include scoring several episodes for the Disney's Kickin 'It, additional music for the 2013 theatrical release of Carrie, and scoring the winner of the 2013 HBO Short Film Competition A Different Tree, Huffington Post’s 2013 Breakout Artist Finalist Daughter of Fortune.
Ruth Botsio, BA '09, is a Lawyer called to the Bar England and Wales, currently pursuing her Ghana Bar qualification. As a passionate advocate of educational and career opportunities for young Africans, Ruth moved back to Ghana in 2013 and founded Zion Rising: a career, leadership, and educational guidance consultancy for young Ghanaians.
Truly a product of opportunity, Ruth was born and raised in Ghana where she attended the SOS-Hermann Gmeiner International College. She then gained admission to Yale where she majored in Political Science and African Studies, whilst serving in various leadership positions including President of the Yale African Students Association, Ethnic Freshman Counselor, World Fellows Liaison, Student Recruitment Coordinator for Undergraduate Admissions, African Affairs Intern at the Yale Office of International Affairs, and Outreach Co- Chair of the Women's Leadership Initiative.
Ruth is very passionate about Africa and has worked hard to develop opportunities for Yale students to work and volunteer on the continent. She led the first ever 'Reach Out' Community Service Trip to Africa (Ghana) in July 2007 and in the same year, helped to introduce the Bulldogs internship program to Ghana. She also established Africa Week as an annual campus-wide celebration of Africa, and studied Swahili and Zulu as part of her courses at Yale. Ruth is a three-times recipient of the Yale University Afro-American Cultural Center Exceptional Leadership and Excellence Award and won first place in the Yale Undergraduate Public Speaking Competition in 2008.
Ruth moved to England after graduating from Yale and worked as a paralegal with McAllister Olivarius before commencing her studies for the Bar on part scholarship from The Honourable Society of the Middle Temple. She has also worked with the Africa Justice Foundation, a charity set up by Cherie Blair to promote the development of robust justice systems in Africa, and SEO Africa, a non-profit set up to help train the next generation of African business leaders.
Ruth volunteers actively with the AYA as Delegate-at-Large to the AYA Assembly and Day of Service site coordinator for Accra. She helped to establish the first official Yale Alumni Club in Africa: the Yale Club of Ghana, and plays an active role in Yale programming in Accra. Ruth is also keenly interested in youth mentorship and Christian ministry and serves in various capacities within her church.
Stephen L. Brown is the CEO and President of the Society of Corporate Secretaries and Governance Professionals. The Society is one of the world’s premier corporate governance organizations. The Society is dedicated to being a positive force for responsible corporate governance, providing news, research advocacy and "best practice" advice and providing professional development and education through seminars and conferences.
Prior to joining the Society in the spring of 2014, Mr. Brown managed the corporate governance team and led many of the corporate governance and social responsibility initiatives related to TIAA-CREF's over $550 billion investment portfolio. Mr. Brown also advised management and the boards of the TIAA-CREF group of companies on internal corporate governance matters. Prior to TIAA-CREF, Mr. Brown practiced securities law at Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale & Dorr, LLP and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP, and was a financial analyst with Goldman Sachs.
The National Association of Corporate Directors has named Mr. Brown as one of the 100 most influential people in corporate governance and the boardroom. In 2009, Mr. Brown was named one of 10 Global Rising Stars of Corporate Governance by the Yale School of Management’s Millstein Center for Corporate Governance and Performance.
Mr. Brown has taught in the college seminar program at Yale College and currently teaches in the Skadden Legal Honors Program at the City College of New York. Mr. Brown’s pro bono practice has included advising several education related public entities and economic development organizations. His board service includes serving on boards of the Englewood, N.J. public schools, Queens Economic Development Corporation, Harlem Renaissance Economic Development Corporation, Minority In-House Counsel Association, the Public Interest Law Foundation at Columbia University Law School and the advisory boards of the John L. Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance at University of Delaware and Rutgers Law School Center for Corporate Law & Corporate Governance. Mr. Brown received his B.A. with honors from Yale University and his J.D. from Columbia University Law School where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and an Olin Law & Economics Junior Fellow.
Valentino D. Carlotti is Partner and Head of the Securities Division Institutional Client Group Goldman, Sachs & Co., which is comprised of senior professionals responsible for managing institutional client relationships across the Securities Division. Prior to assuming this role, Mr. Carlotti served as president of the Goldman Sachs Brazil Bank, was a member of the management team within the Securities Division, and was an institutional salesperson in the Equities Division. Mr. Carlotti joined Goldman Sachs in 1994 in the Investment Banking Division, was named managing director in 2001 and partner in 2006. Mr. Carlotti serves as a board member of the Boys Club of New York, the Studio Museum in Harlem, American Ballet Theatre and Prep for Prep. Mr. Carlotti is a member of the Executive Leadership Council and the Advisory Council of the Albert G. Oliver Program. Mr. Carlotti earned a BA from Yale University and a MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business.
Sheryl Carter Negash graduated from Yale College in 1982 with a BA in History. Sheryl has held several positions in the social profit sector, having worked for the Watts Labor Community Action Committee, the Los Angeles Unified School District, the Lynwood Unified School District and the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. She is currently the managing partner of Negash and Associates, a management consulting firm that provides technical assistance to government agencies, faith-based entities and community service organizations. She also manages Chestnut 219 Empowerment, Inc., her own social profit organization.
Sheryl is an Agent of Change, having served in numerous volunteer leadership roles within her community. Sheryl served as a Staff Pastor with a Los Angeles area church for over 10 years, administering a comprehensive education department which provided remedial and enrichment programming for community youth and adults. Within the Yale community, she has served as national president and chair of the Yale Black Alumni Association (YBAA), co-chair of the YBAA National Programming Committee, and leader of the YBAA-Los Angeles Chapter. Sheryl has also served as Regional Director for Southern California for the Yale Day of Service and as an inaugural member of the YaleWomen Council.
She continues to volunteer with Yale as a member of the Alumni Schools Committee, site coordinator for the Yale Day of Service and delegate at-large for the Association of Yale Alumni (AYA). Sheryl was awarded the AYA’s Leadership Award for Volunteer Innovation and Service in 2011.
Dr. Rodney T. Cohen is an Assistant Dean of Yale College and Director of the Afro-American Cultural Center at Yale. He has an earned doctorate in higher education leadership and policy from Vanderbilt University. While at Vanderbilt, he was the recipient of the American Association for Higher Education Graduate Student Award and was selected as a Peabody College Administrative Fellow. At Yale, Dean Cohen oversees the total operation of the Afro-American Cultural Center which includes over 30 student organizations, community collaborations, international initiatives, alumni outreach and academic and cultural programming. He also oversees the Yale summer science research scholars program and the freshmen peer-mentoring program, serves as faculty liaison to the United States Naval Academy Leadership Conference, in addition to serving on the Yale Council on African Studies, several university committees including and chairing the Yale MLK Planning Committee. He has been recognized by the NAACP as one of the ‘100 most influential African Americans in Connecticut’ and a ‘50 most influential’ by the New Haven Living Magazine.
He has served as a faculty fellow at the Washington Center for Academic Seminars and Internships and taught college courses related to social action and urban poverty, black culture in the early twentieth century and select topics of the civil rights movement. His research interest explores select issues of African Americans in higher education including the perceptions, attitudes and giving behaviors of black college alumni and the impact of involving colleges on black student life. His scholarly articles have appeared in such journals as the International Journal of Institutional Advancement, Sociology Compass and the Journal of Urban Education. He has also authored publications highlighting the cultural history of select HBCUs commonly referred to as the black Ivy League. Cohen has lectured and conducted presentations on black life, education and culture for a number of institutions and organizations including the National Council of Negro Women, The UVA Jefferson Society, Davidson College, Washington and Lee, Black Enterprise Magazine, Columbia University, The Darden School of Business, Morehouse College, Furman University, LIU and Brooklyn College. In addition, he has been a guest speaker in London, Ghana and Niger. He has been quoted by a number of publications including The Washington Post and the Houston Press.
Dean Cohen is a member of the Association of Blacks in Higher Education, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History and the National Association of Black Culture Centers where he serves as its national president. He also serves on the Connecticut Board of Teach for America, the Urban League of Southern Connecticut and the Quinnipiac University School of Medicine Health Careers Advisory Council. Cohen is a native of Atlanta where he received his bachelor’s degree from Clark College.
Cora Daniels is an award winning journalist and author. Her most recent book is Impolite Conversations: On Race, Politics, Sex, Money, and Religion. (October, 2014). Her last book Ghettonation received national press attention and acclaim. Daniels was a long time staff writer at Fortune magazine, editor for Working Mother, and is currently a frequent contributor to Essence. Her work has also appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Fast Company magazine, Men's Fitness, O: The Oprah Magazine, and USA Today among others. She is also the author of Black Power Inc. which documents the story of race, economic empowerment, and the post-civil rights generation.
Ralph C. Dawson is a native of Charleston, South Carolina, where he grew up as one of 12 children. At Yale he developed not only his academic interests, but became a campus leader, participating in the establishment of the first African-American Studies Major at a leading American institution. He was also the leader of the Black Student Alliance at Yale during the tumultuous period known as “May Day 1970,” when New Haven, Connecticut and Yale was the site of 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 38 years, and is a Retired Partner and Of Counsel to in the international law firm Norton Rose Fulbright (formerly Fulbright & Jaworski), where he has 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 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 also politically active. He served as a senior advisor to the Howard Dean for President Campaign in the 2004 election cycle, and worked on Dean’s election as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee (“DNC”). He was appointed to the DNC and assisted Dean, his college roommate, in the implementation of Dean’s acclaimed “50 State Strategy” to rebuild the Democratic Party. In 2008, he was a “Super Delegate” to the Democratic National Convention, and appeared on numerous programs such as the Lehrer News Hour, the CBS Evening News, and MSNBC. 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 in violation of Democratic Party Rules. He endorsed Senator Barack Obama for President and served as Chair of the African-American Leadership Council of the Democratic National Committee in the 2008 election cycle.
Ralph serves on the Board of the Abyssinian Development Corporation. Ralph and his family live in New Rochelle.
Drew S. Days III is the Alfred M. Rankin Professor Emeritus of Law and Professorial Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School. He joined the faculty in 1981. At Yale, his teaching and writing have been in the fields of civil procedure, federal jurisdiction, Supreme Court practice, antidiscrimination law, comparative constitutional law (Canada and the United States), and international human rights. He was the founding director of the Orville H. Schell Jr. Center for Human Rights at Yale Law School in 1988 and served as its director until 1993. He has been a staff member of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the Carter Administration, and U.S. Solicitor General in the Clinton Administration. Professor Days is the author of two volumes on United States Supreme Court jurisprudence, practice, and rules: Moore's Federal Practice, Third Edition, and most recently, of 'Feedback Loop': The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Its Progeny. Professor Days is an honors graduate from Hamilton College and received his LL.B. degree from Yale.
Dr. Akosua Barthwell Evans is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Barthwell Group, a Certified Woman-Owned, Minority Business Enterprise. The Barthwell Group is a strategic management consulting firm based in Detroit which has successfully advised corporations, higher education institutions, and the military throughout the United States. Dr. Evans has played a leading role in the firm’s remarkable accomplishments. The Barthwell Group has provided strategic planning, diversity and inclusion, supplier diversity, evaluation, innovation and culture change and training services to prestigious clients throughout the United States. Among them are Lockheed Martin, TIAA-CREF, Indiana University, Wayne State University, and the U.S. Marine Corps. The firm has 12 consultants in seven states and 14 Subject Matter Experts. Prior to launching The Barthwell Group, Dr. Evans was an accomplished banker, lawyer, and management consultant. In addition, throughout her career, Dr. Evans has provided leadership to a variety of not-for-profit organizations throughout the United States through her board service.
Ray Ferrell is EVP - General Counsel & Corporate Secretary at Dex Media, Inc., previously he was Acting EVP- General Counsel & Corporate Secretary at Dex; and prior to that, he was VP Associate General Counsel – Commercial Operations at SuperMedia. In his role, Ray is a member of the Dex Executive Council, and he provides legal services and advice regarding securities compliance, financing, board related matters, M&A, sales and marketing, operations, employment, I.P., corporate compliance, litigation, real estate and public policy. Ray maintains particular focus on digital issues, and works with his business partners to enhance and create high performance digital products and services for advertisers and consumers. He manages a team of internal and external legal professionals.
Prior to Dex Media, Ray was Senior Counsel - VP in the American Express General Counsel’s office for 8 1/2 years, providing primary support for Global Commercial Cards and the Interactive business unit. Prior to joining Amex, Ray worked in private practice in NYC and New Jersey, specializing in corporate securities, technology, e-commerce law and commercial card work.
Over his career, Ray has drafted and negotiated complex agreements, including complex licensing and Internet based agreements. He has also been responsible for capital markets transactions totaling in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Ray has led Amex’s FCPA Compliance Program as well as the global legal newsletter. He makes presentations regarding many issues involving technology, e-commerce and career development - including, PLI’s Advanced Licensing Seminar (“Protection of Marks in a Transactional and Interactive Practice”), the American Conference Institute ("Protecting Brands - Keyword Advertising") and for the National Bar Association and the Center for International Legal Studies (“Key Issues Facing Company Websites”).
Ray is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Las Colinas Medical Center (Irving, TX) and the National Bar Association – Commercial Law Section.
Ray is a graduate of Yale University and Columbia Law School.
Cherise Fisher is the Principal of The Scribe’s Window, a book development company committed to helping both fiction and nonfiction writers realize their publishing goals through developmental editing, coaching and workshops. She began her career in publishing as the assistant to the Editor-in-Chief of Dell Publishing a month after graduating from Yale University. She later moved to Simon & Schuster, where she built a strong list of commercial fiction and non-fiction titles covering a broad spectrum of topics including Christianity and spirituality, relationships, business and career development, sexuality, health and fitness, pop reference and pop culture, illustrated books and commercial African American fiction. Over the course of her eighteen year career, she has worked with scores of new and experienced authors, including Michael Baisden, Pat Croce, Leonard Maltin, Todd Wilbur, Michael Corbett, Nelson George, Paule Marshall, Tony Parsons, George Lopez, and Victoria Christopher Murray. Ms. Fisher was most recently the Editor-in-Chief of Plume, where her extensive trade paperback experience shaped the success of Plume’s publishing program. Plume, a trade paperback division of Penguin USA, is the publisher of many bestselling and award winning authors including Tracy Chevalier, Eckhart Tolle, Jenny McCarthy, Ayn Rand, August Wilson, and Karen Joy Fowler, among others.
Craig Foster is a graduate of Yale University and the New York University School of Law. After beginning his career at the William Morris Agency, he spent twelve years at CBS Sports, the last eight as head of their business affairs department.
In that capacity, Mr. Foster participated in all major negotiations at CBS Sports including the NFL, NBA, NCAA, PGA Tour and Olympics. He joined RLR in 1989. At RLR, Mr. Foster was integrally involved with RLR's Itochu-NBA joint venture in Japan and the development and expansion of PGA of America properties including the PGA Championship and Ryder Cup.
In addition to his work on properties, Mr. Foster has been responsible for servicing RLR broadcast talent, producers and directors. He has worked with RLR's highest profile clients, identifying opportunities for them and negotiating deals at all the major networks and other broadcast entities.
C'Ardiss Gardner Gleser is Alumni Affairs Program Manager at Rainier Scholars, a Seattle based non-profit that supports and cultivates the academic potential of scholars of color from 6th grade to college graduation. She received her BA in African American Studies from Yale College and a M.Ed. in Education Administration from Seattle University. She is the current Chair and President of the Yale Black Alumni Association (YBAA). Ms. Gardner Gleser is passionate about improving educational opportunities and outcomes and is involved with several local and national organizations focused on education, access, and youth mentorship. She is currently involved in many other areas at Yale. In addition to serving on the YBAA Board, she also serves on the AYA’s Board of Governors, as well as the Governing Council of Yale Women. Outside of her Yale volunteering, she is heavily involved in her local community, serving as a Partner with Social Venture Partners, serving as Chair of the K-12 Education Grant Committee, and she also serves as a Trustee for the Charlotte Martin Foundation, a private foundation focused around increasing opportunities for youth, and she currently serves as a Trustee and Parent Association President for the K-12 school her children attend. She currently lives in Seattle with her husband and three children.
Dr. Nadine George-Graves is Professor of Theater and Dance at the University of California, San Diego. Her work is situated at the intersections of African American studies, gender studies, performance studies, theater history, and dance history. She is the author of The Royalty of Negro Vaudeville: The Whitman Sisters and the Negotiation of Race, Gender, and Class in African American Theater, 1900-1940 and Urban Bush Women: Twenty Years of Dance Theater, Community Engagement and Working It Out as well as numerous articles on African American theater and dance. She is currently editing The Oxford Handbook of Dance and Theater. She is also an adapter and director. Her recent creative projects include Suzan-Lori Parks’ Topdog/Underdog, Anansi The Story King, an original dance-theater adaptation of African American folk stories using college students, professionals, and 4th graders, and Architectura, a dance theater piece about the ways we build our lives. She currently serves as president of the Congress on Research in Dance (CORD).
Sheldon Gilbert is Founder and CEO of Proclivity Media, a high-performance cloud-computing technology platform specializing in predictive analytics. Proclivity rapidly integrates and scores petabytes of data to help companies predict and target which consumers are likely to buy, when, and at specific price-points to maximize sales and profits in real-time. Proclivity serves a broad array of major brands across multiple industries including retail, travel, pharmaceuticals, insurance, and sports. Gilbert graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in Molecular Biochemistry & Biophysics and holds multiple patents in self-learning predictive systems.
Kimberly M. Goff-Crews Secretary and Vice President for Student Life, joined the University in August 2012. She serves as Secretary of the Yale Corporation, supports institutional governance, oversees the University Chaplaincy, and ensures the alignment of University-wide policies and procedures to maximize support for all students. She is also responsible for the conduct of official University functions, including Commencement.
After several years in private law practice, Ms. Goff-Crews returned to Yale as Assistant Dean in Yale College and Director of the Afro-American Cultural Center from 1992 through 1998. During that time, she designed and implemented a wide range of programs to support student development, including improvements to Freshmen Orientation, tutoring programs, and the Yale Summer School. She focused in particular on enhancing the African American student experience at Yale and improving retention rates for women and students of color in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields through the creation of the Science, Technology, and Research Scholars (STARS) program.
From Yale she moved to Lesley University in Boston in 1998, where she served as Associate Dean in the Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences and then as Chief of Staff to the President and Director of Planning. In that position she supported senior administrators, trustees, and faculty on faculty development, curricular reform, and strategic planning. From 2003 to 2007, she served as Dean of Students at Wellesley College, where she worked effectively to revise student disciplinary processes and upgrade student services.
Ms. Goff-Crews most recently held the position of Vice President for Campus Life and Dean of Students at the University of Chicago, where she was responsible for the oversight and strategic direction of student services and student life across the university. She represented student interests with numerous university offices and worked very successfully to enhance graduate student life as well as to enhance the campus environment for faculty, students, and staff. Her achievements included the development of an integrated student housing plan and improved access to health and wellness programs.
Ms. Goff-Crews is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School. Recently she served as one of the four alumni on Yale's Advisory Committee on Campus Climate. She is a member of the board of United Educators, an insurance company that serves educational institutions, as well as of the board of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA).
Councilman Lee Harris was elected to the City Council in 2011. Since he joined the Council, Councilman Harris has been an advocate for neighborhoods, parks, public safety, and youth intervention. Among other accomplishments, Councilman Harris was a leader in the fight for a new city-wide non-discrimination ordinance. He helped reform the City’s Development Code to give neighborhoods a right to notice and community meetings in advance of special development projects. He led the charge to preserve and redevelop city museums and historic structures in Victorian Village, one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods. In an effort to expand pedestrian and motorist safety, he has worked to improve streets, sidewalks and bike paths. Finally, with the help of the Memphis Zoo, Councilman Harris has also helped spearhead the creation of a new science program for inner-city school kids. Because of his efforts, Councilman Harris has received several awards. Among other recognitions, Councilman Harris was awarded the 2013 Public Official of the Year Award by the Association of Social Workers, West Tennessee; he was awarded the 2012 Historic Preservation Award; he was named a “Man of Excellence” by the Tri-State Defender newspaper; and he was one of three elected officials in the state of Tennessee selected as a “New Deal Leader.”
Councilman Harris is Chairman of the Budget Committee. In addition, he serves on the Housing and Community Development; Personnel, Intergovernmental & Annexation Committees; Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee, Public Services & Neighborhoods Committee ; and Parks Committee. Councilman Harris is also a member of the Frayser Exchange Club, Salvation Army (ex-officio), and Urban Arts Commission.
Councilman Harris is a tenured professor at the University of Memphis Law School. He is a proud product of the Memphis City Schools (Alcy Elem., John P. Freeman Middle, and Overton High). He earned his undergraduate degree from Morehouse and his law degree from Yale. Lee is married to Prof. Alena Allen. They have two children, Lee Allen Harris (8) and Claudia Harris (5).
Ron Howell graduated with the Class of 1970, Trumbull College. He is currently an Associate Professor at Brooklyn College, teaching reporting, writing and techniques of multimedia journalism. He is working on a book titled Boss of Black Brooklyn, about his maternal grandfather, Bertram Baker, a Caribbean immigrant who in 1948 became the first black elected official in Brooklyn, N.Y. Over the years Howell has reported full-time for various news organizations (Newsday, Associated Press, the Baltimore Evening Sun, Ebony Magazine, the New York Daily News). He has covered Latin America and the Caribbean. He also covered the 1991 Persian Gulf War. In 2011 he wrote a Yale Magazine article titled "Before Their Time," about the relatively high mortality rates of black men from the 1960s era at Yale.
Warrington Hudlin is a veteran producer of motion pictures, television, and online media. His work challenges the false dichotomy between social concerns and popular entertainment. He is best known as the producer of the landmark African American films, HOUSE PARTY, BOOMERANG, and BEBE KIDS, and television specials, UNSTOPPABLE and COSMIC SLOP (which included a cameo appearance by Yale Professor Robert Farris Thompson).
Warrington Hudlin is the Vice Chairman of the Museum of the Moving Image where he serves on the board of trustees and curates two films series: Fist and Sword and Changing the Picture.
Warrington Hudlin grew up in the notorious city of East St. Louis and attended an experimental high school linked to the legendary Katherine Dunham (who helped him get a scholarship that paid his tuition to attend Yale). Hudlin graduated as a Yale Scholar of the House in 1974 and was later mentored by two more legends, Melvin Van Peebles and Harry Belafonte.
Warrington Hudlin and two other Yale alumni, Alric Nembhard (Class of 1973 Yale College) and George Cunningham (PhD 1983 Yale University) founded the Black Filmmaker Foundation (BFF). As president of BFF, Warrington Hudlin has been a pioneering community organizer of the black film movement for over three decades. Hudlin will be coming to this anniversary celebration of the “House” directly from producing and hosting the 18th Annual BFF Summit, a business caucus for the most senior executives of color in Motion Pictures, Television, and Online Media.
Clark Jackson, a graduate of Stanford University and Yale School of Drama, has used his education, training and entrepreneurial spirit to make waves in the world of showbiz and beyond. As an award-winning actor, he most recently appeared in the Broadway show Bronx Bombers, the NBC hit series The Blacklist, and the upcoming film I Smile Back with Sarah Silverman and Josh Charles. Previously, he was on Broadway in All My Sons with John Lithgow, Katie Holmes, Patrick Wilson and Dianne Wiest. Clark has appeared on numerous TV shows including The Good Wife, Gossip Girl, Fringe, Blue Bloods, Law & Order, Do No Harm, Rescue Me, Mother’s Day, The Return of Jezebel James, Wonderland, Guiding Light, Law & Order: SVU and White Collar. His film credits include Reverse Cowgirl, An Affirmative Act, The Arrangement, 6 Things I Never Told You, Humdinger and Rapmatics.
On stage, Clark has also appeared on Broadway in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof alongside Terrence Howard, Anika Noni Rose, James Earl Jones and Phylicia Rashad; portrayed Oscar Charleston in Lee Blessing’s Cobb, performed at the Lucille Lortel Theatre where it was produced by Kevin Spacey and won a Drama Desk Award for Best Ensemble; and has many other NYC stage credits including Le Ménage (La MaMa E.T.C.) and Cuba and the Night (Theatre for the New City). His numerous regional theatre credits include Lobby Hero (Studio Theatre) and Yellowman (Berkeley Rep/Pittsburgh Public Theatre).
As writer and producer, Clark co-wrote, co-produced and appeared in Parallels, a TV pilot set in the world of international finance and corporate intrigue. Parallels was a competitor in the 2013 NBC Voice and Vision Drama Challenge. He also co-wrote Streetcar, a contemporized adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, placing the original characters and events in the context of the Rodney King beating, verdicts and subsequent riots. In 2009, Clark was a guest artist at the Yaddo artists’ colony in Saratoga Springs, NY, which in the past has hosted John Cheever, James Baldwin, Sylvia Plath and Truman Capote among others.
Outside of the entertainment industry, Clark brings his performance skills to bear as a corporate facilitator for ImprovEdge, and as an adjunct professor at Hunter College and St. Francis College in NYC teaching courses on acting and public speaking. Never one to wait for the phone to ring, he continues to develop his own projects for stage, screen and the internet. He was born and raised an ATLien and lives in Brooklyn. To learn more about Clark, please visit his website at www.clarkjacksononline.com.
Caroline Jackson Smith is Professor of Theater and Africana Studies at Oberlin College. She is also a theater director who has directed more than 30 shows at Oberlin College, and has worked professionally in NYC (Signature Theater), Cleveland, Ohio (Karamu House Performing Arts Theater, Cleveland Public Theater, Dobama Theater) as well as Portland Stage (Maine), Triad Theater (Greensboro, NC) and Kuntu Repertory Theater (Pittsburgh, PA). Her recent production of Lynn Nottage’s Ruined at Karamu House was noted in “Best of the Season” in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Last season she directed Knock Me A Kiss at Dobama Theater, and is preparing to direct Dessa Rose at Oberlin College.
Ms . Jackson Smith graduated from Yale University in 1974, and completed coursework in the M.A. program in Afro-American Studies. Before joining the Oberlin faculty in 1989, she was Director of the Afro-American Cultural Center at Yale for 8 years. Prior to that, she taught in the New Haven Public Schools.
Dr. Dominique Kelly is currently a Clinical Research Physician at Pfizer Consumer Healthcare . She is responsible for providing medical insight and guidance in support of Pfizer Consumer Healthcare’s U.S. and global clinical research programs. She also actively supports recruitment of superior minority talent to the broader Pfizer organization.
Prior to joining Pfizer Inc., Dr. Kelly was a Clinical Assistant Professor and Attending Anesthesiologist at NYU Langone Medical Center’s Hospital for Joint Diseases. In addition to her role in providing patient care and supervising medical student and resident education in the operating room at NYU, Dr. Kelly also led transformation of the department by introducing new regional anesthesia and ultrasound-guided techniques for the improvement of physician productivity, patient outcomes and satisfaction.
Dr. Kelly is a board certified and fellowship trained physician in Anesthesiology and Regional Anesthesiology. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Yale College in 1994 and received her Doctor of Medicine from Stanford University.
Mr. Lighten is currently the Managing Partner for Eland Capital (“Eland”) a newly formed division of The Williams Capital Group, L.P. (“WCG”). WCG is one of the leading minority-owned investment banks on Wall Street. Eland’s mandate is to introduce unparalleled advisory, structuring and underwriting expertise in the area of structured finance bonds to institutional issuers and investors.
Prior to founding Eland in 2011, Mr. Lighten was a former Managing Director, Chairman and CEO of Lehman Brothers Bank, FSB, and spent over 23 years on Wall Street. He has been a member of both the Lehman Brothers’ Management Committee and the Fixed Income Operating Committee where he was involved with policy making procedures within the Fixed Income Division. Mr. Lighten was founder and global head of Lehman Brothers Mortgage Capital Division (MCD), where he was responsible for building and consolidating the Firm’s industry leading residential mortgage loan origination franchise with over 6,500 employees globally. Mr. Lighten remained with Lehman Brothers until Feb, 2008.
Prior to being named global head of MCD in 2004, Mr. Lighten was global head of Lehman Brothers Structured Finance, overseeing substantially all structured bonds and securitization businesses within the Fixed Income Division. Collectively, these businesses were charged with advising the world's largest corporations on developing capital-efficient asset-based financial solutions. Mr. Lighten also played a leading role in the build-out of the Firm's robust Asian and European structured finance businesses, rapidly expanding the global footprint and revenue share. Over the course of his Lehman career, Mr. Lighten helped to build one of Wall Street’s leading Structured Finance franchises with over four hundred employees globally and remained as global head of the business for over a decade.
Mr. Lighten joined Lehman Brothers in 1991 and has held a number of other key leadership positions including head of the Global ABS business, co-head of the ABS/MBS Finance business and head of the Global Principal Finance business. His product management experience includes Asset Back Securities, Mortgage Back Securities, Asset Back Commercial Paper, Insurance Receivables Structured Products, Collateralized Debt Obligations, Consumer Whole Loans, Small Balance Commercial Whole Loans, all both domestically and internationally. Prior to joining Lehman Brothers, he worked in the Mortgage Finance and Asset-Backed Securities businesses at Merrill Lynch from 1986 to 1991.
Mr. Lighten has been actively involved in various community organizations and boards including the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Apollo Theater of Harlem, Brightwood Investment LP, New Rochelle Police Foundation, the Foundation of the Westchester Clubmen, an educational enrichment program for young men. Additionally, in June 2006, Mr. Lighten and his family enjoyed the honor of being named ‘Family of the Year’ by Family Services of Westchester in recognition of their contributions and commitment to service and philanthropy in their community. Mr. Lighten has enjoyed many career accolades including ‘Top 25 African Americans on Wall Street’ and ‘Top 50 Players Under 40’ by Black Enterprise magazine and ‘Top 100 Professionals in NYC by Crains’ Magazine.
Mr. Lighten holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Yale University, where he currently serves as a Sterling Fellow and a member of the Yale Development Council. Mr. Lighten resides in the New York City metropolitan area with his four children, Adrienne, Alexis, Christopher and Michael.
Nicholas Roman Lewis - As Senior Director for Shared Interest Groups at the Association of Yale Alumni, Nicholas Roman Lewis engages alumni groups globally with strategic planning, mission discernment, governance, operational sustainability and high level event planning. He has worked with various alumni groups such as the Yale Club of Ghana, Yale in Hollywood, Yale Black Alumni Association, Yale GALA (Gay and Lesbian Alumni), Yale International Alliance, Yale Arab Alumni Association and the Yale Alumni Nonprofit Alliance to name a few. In particular, he has helped several groups launch mission-driven initiatives that address societal needs. In addition to his work with Yale alumni, Nicholas is an entertainment attorney and literary agent in the fields of theater, television, music, film and publishing. He has represented clients on Broadway negotiating contracts for directors, music directors, composers, writers, arrangers, and programmers for both on and off-Broadway productions including Motown, Memphis, The Adams Family, Women on the Verge, Wicked, Bombay Dreams, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Wiz, Spamalot, Sweet Charity and Disney’s Tarzan; films, including PBS documentary Summer Sun Winter Moon; several books, including the award winning GhettoNation, A Love Noire, Darker Still, and the highly anticipated new series from Leanna Renee Hieber, The Eterna Files as well as Cora Daniels and John Jackson’s, Impolite Conversations. Nicholas is currently writing and producing with Kenny Seymour the musical, The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker, based on the popular book.
Mindy A. Marks, Director for Shared Interest Groups at the Association of Yale Alumni, leads alumni organizations in the development and execution of strategic plans. She has worked directly with YaleWomen, the Yale Latino Alumni Association, and various alumni singing groups. Her work provides opportunities for alumni engagement within their local communities and with the University to foster AYA’s leadership pipeline of alumni volunteers around the world. In 2013, Mindy led the strategic planning and execution of the inaugural YaleWomen conference held in Washington, DC, which featured speakers including Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Ariana Huffington, and many others.
Prior to her current position, Mindy worked in the Yale Office of the Secretary as Associate Director for Corporation Affairs & Assistant Secretary, where she provided support for the Yale Corporation and University Council, the Sheffield Scientific School Board of Trustees, and the Henry Fellowship. She received a B.A. from Yale College with a major in psychology and teacher preparation, and an M.S. in school psychology from Southern Connecticut State University. Before coming to the Office of the Secretary, Mindy taught high school in the New Haven public school system. As an undergraduate, she was a member of Black Students at Yale, staff supervisor for Urban Improvement Corp, and team co-captain of Yale Cheerleaders.
Mindy is a native of New Haven and an active member of her church. She is married and has a 10-year old son.
Tim McChristian is a skilled business leader with significant international experience in developing and growing new market opportunities. Tim recently accepted a new position as the Executive Director of the African Leadership Foundation which supports the African Leadership Academy based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Tim retired from IBM in May after a 35 year career with his last assignment as Vice President, IBM Middle East & Africa. During his career he held several global senior executive positions including an assignment based in Tokyo in the Asia Pacific region.
In addition Tim has strong community leadership experience thru his ongoing commitment to organizations that provide educational opportunities to underserved communities. He has served on the Board of Directors of the A Better Chance program, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the USC Marshall School of Business, the Student Sponsorship Program based in South Africa and is a member of the Executive Leadership Council.
Tim graduated from Yale University with a BS in Organizational Behavior where he also was a 3 year Division 1 basketball player. He achieved his MBA in Finance at the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California. Tim is Yale class of 1977 and his daughter Andrea is Yale class of 2008.
In January 2008, Daphene R. McFerren became the director of the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change and Associate Research Professor at the University of Memphis. McFerren is responsible for helping to create, manage, and finance the Hooks Institute programs which include faculty research, community service programs, and preserving the history of the Civil Rights Movement. McFerren was the Executive Producer and Producer of The Civil Rights Movement: A Culture Revolution (2014). This documentary explores the impact of the Movement on music, fashion, and culture and is expected to air on a local PBS affiliate later in the year. She was the Executive Producer of Duty of the Hour (2014), a film on the life of the late civil rights icon Dr. Benjamin L. Hooks. Its 2012 initial premiere in Memphis, Tennessee was featured in New York City Times Square. McFerren was also a member of the production team for Freedom’s Front Line: Fayette County, TN (2008). This documentary told the story of the struggle for civil rights by African Americans in Fayette County that began in 1959 when they demanded the right to vote. Freedom’s Front Line has been broadcast on a local PBS affiliate for several years. For more information about these programs, please visit the Hooks Institute’s website at www.memphis.edu/benhooks.
In June 2006, McFerren was a visiting scholar at the Hooks Institute, where she continued her work, initially funded by a summer grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, to compile primary source materials created by Fayette County, TN civil rights activists from 1959 to approximately the late 1970s. This collection is now housed in Special Collections at the University of Memphis and is available to the public. McFerren’s parents, John and Viola McFerren, were two of the primary leaders of the Fayette County Movement. In an article dated October 12, 1969, the New York Times called the Fayette County Movement the “longest sustained civil rights protest in the nation.” Additionally, during her time as a visiting scholar, McFerren worked to complete the copyright review process to enable public broadcast of the documentary, Freedom’s Front Line: Fayette County, TN.
Prior to joining the Hooks Institute, McFerren was in private practice in Washington, DC; was senior counsel in the Office of General Counsel at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission; was counsel to former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno; and was later Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland prosecuting, among other cases, forced labor and involuntary servitude cases involving foreign victims. McFerren is a graduate of Yale College and Harvard Law School.
As a social entrepreneur and trailblazer, Patricia Melton — the Executive Director of New Haven Promise — has increased educational access for communities across a variety of sectors including colleges, traditional public, public charter and independent schools.
In her two years, New Haven Promise, a place-based scholarship and support program, has seen increases in excess of 40 percent in both applications and awards while the rate of Promise-funded minority males has soared 140 percent. She has implemented several new initiatives, including Passport to Promise, the Promise Ambassadors Program - a peer mentoring initiative - and the Promising Leaders Program, a leadership and career development pilot created with Yale’s School of Management. New Haven Promise's social media engagement has increased 12-fold, with a 19-fold jump in Facebook presence alone, giving New Haven Promise the biggest social imprint of any Promise program in the U.S. From November 19-21, New Haven will host 30 Promise programs from across the nation at PromiseNet 2014, to be held at the Omni at Yale.
Prior to joining Promise, Melton lead several small school design teams, which created nine Early College High Schools throughout Ohio and Indiana. She contributed to Vincennes University's early college replication effort, assisting with the startup of four early college sites across Indiana.
Perhaps her most challenging assignment before leading New Haven Promise came as the Chief Academic Officer for the third largest district in Indiana, the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation. The year after she implemented new strategies — using a distributed leadership model — that district met the standards of the No Child Left Behind Adequate Yearly Progress for the first time.
A native of Cleveland, Ohio, she was the first in her family to attend and graduate from college, earning her B.A. from Yale University. That was followed by a M.Ed. (with a focus in business) from Arizona State University, where she was an inaugural member of the federally funded Leadership for Educational Entrepreneurs Fellowship Program. Melton is completing her doctoral program and dissertation at the University of Pennsylvania.
A former U.S. Olympic Trials finalist and All American in track and field, Melton was honored with a career achievement award by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) with a 2007 Silver Anniversary Award that recognizes former student-athletes who have distinguished themselves in their professional field since completing their college athletic careers. In 2013 she was the first African-American female to earn Yale’s George H.W. Bush Award, the most prestigious honor given by her alma mater’s Department of Athletics.
Kevin P. Nelson has more than 25 years of experience in management, policy and business development for health care and humanitarian organizations serving underserved populations. He has a deep commitment to working on behalf of those in need of health care and other support systems, but who are often marginalized within the larger context of our society. Kevin is the Chief Operating Officer for Aetna Better Health of NY (ABHNY). ABHNY is Aetna’s NY-based Managed Long Term Care plan providing a full range of social, personal and medical support services for seniors who qualify for Medicaid and/or Medicare. Prior to joining ABHNY, Kevin was V.P. for Corporate Partnerships for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, where he developed a new business platform for small and medium sized companies to support UNICEF’s mission to save and improve the lives of children around the world. Kevin also served as Executive V.P. and Chief Operating Officer for Hudson Health Plan, a non-profit managed care organization that provides government health insurance programs to low-income children and adults and advocates for health policy changes and improvements on their behalf. Under his leadership, plan membership grew from 1,800 to over 100,000 members. Kevin’s other professional roles include Administrator of the Emergency Units at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, GA and Assistant Director of the Jersey City Medical Centers Family Health Center in NJ.
Kevin earned an MPH in Health Policy and Management from the Yale School of Public Health (YSPH) and a bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Administration from the University of Pittsburgh. Kevin is Immediate Past President of the Association of Yale Alumni in Public Health. Prior to his role as president, Kevin founded and chaired the Emerging Majority Affairs Committee (EMAC) of the Board. Under his leadership, EMAC conducted an independent study of YSPH’s recruitment, retention and promotion practices for underrepresented minority faculty. The report was released in October 2009 and many of its recommendations have been adopted and fully integrated by YSPH. Kevin is also a former member of the Association of Yale Alumni Board of Governors and current member of the Board of Governors Advisory Council. Kevin serves on other boards and commits much of his volunteer time to Spence Chapin Adoption Agency, the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship to Children, YMCA Camp Combe, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.
Kevin is named one of Westchester County’s Top Male Executives by the Westchester County Business Journal. He also received the American College of Healthcare Executives Young Healthcare Executive Award for Eastern New York State and is the recipient of the YSPH’s 2014 Award for Excellence in Public Health.
Doreen Oliver is a producer, writer and performer. During her tenure as producer and Vice President of Development for Lee Daniels Entertainment, she helped transform ideas into independent feature films, including Shadowboxer (Helen Mirren, Cuba Gooding, Jr.), The Woodsman (Kevin Bacon, Mos Def) and the Oscar-winning Precious. She got her start in the film/TV world at HBO's Original Programming department in Los Angeles and in the new media business development division at Fremantle Media (producers of American Idol).
As a writer, her personal essays have appeared in publications such the New York Times, the Washington Post Sunday Magazine, and Brain, Child. This spring she performed her latest essay, BURNED, at Symphony Space in New York as part of the national Listen To Your Mother storytelling showcase series.
Early in her career, she worked in advertising and marketing at Fortune 500 companies, helping develop campaigns that won American Marketing Association awards for their effectiveness. Shortly thereafter, Doreen started her own business producing talent showcases at New York City's famed music club, The Bitter End. Featured on CBS Evening News, the sold-out showcase series, Frustrated Artists in Corporate America, gave up-and-coming artists a platform, including Tony-nominated actress Anika Larsen ("Beautiful: The Carole King Musical") and actor/comedian Demetri Martin, both fellow Yalies.
During her time at Yale, Doreen was active at the Afro-American Cultural Center. She worked there during her senior year, participated in the Gospel Choir and served as musical director and choreographer of Shades a cappella singing group. Her senior thesis in history examined The House's founding, entitled Institutionalizing Blackness. She was also a Freshman Ethnic counselor and studied abroad in Madrid, Spain.
Doreen is a founding board member of the New York City theatre company, Page 73 Productions, and is a supporter of autism-related causes. In addition to her B.A. from Yale, she holds an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business, where she was a Charles Bonini Fellow. She is married with two children.
Dayo Olopade is a Nigerian-American journalist and mediaphile.
Growing up in Chicago, she read enough books to eventually win a prize for collecting them in college. She graduated from Yale College with degrees in Literature and African Studies, then began her writing career in Washington. She covered politics at The New Republic, The Slate Group, and the Daily Beast, and has also written reviews, feature articles and profiles for lots of outlets, including The Atlantic, The American Prospect, Democracy, Foreign Policy, The Guardian, The Nation, The New York Times and The Washington Post.
In 2010, she moved to Nairobi to report a book, as part of a fellowship with the New America Foundation. The Bright Continent: Breaking Rules and Making Change in Modern Africa was released in March 2014.
She is currently completing a JD/MBA at Yale University, as a Knight Law and Media Scholar.
Ivuoma Ngozi Onyeador is a doctoral student in Social Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research centers around how intersectional identities affect person perception and intergroup conflict. She is interested in applying this work to media, education, and corporate contexts.
Ivy was born in Nigeria and raised in southern California. She was in Saybrook College and received a Bachelors of Science in Psychology with distinction in 2011. At Yale she served on the staff of the Afro-American Cultural Center, as the student representative to the Yale Black Alumni Association, and as a leader of the Black Church at Yale and Yale African Students Association. Amongst other honors, she is a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellow and the Vice President, Membership and Chapter Development, for the Yale Black Alumni Association.
In her free time she enjoys sharing thought-provoking articles via social media and daydreaming about how to integrate her copious Facebook activity with her academic career.
William Pickens III was born in Harlem and raised in Brooklyn, where he attended public schools. Growing up in a family of scholars and professionals, he went on to excel at the University of Vermont, class of 1958.
There, he was elected as the first African American President of the Student Body and first African American President of the Senior Men's Honor Society. Bill was also President of his fraternity, again the first African American at UVM to achieve that position and elected to the General "Hap" Arnold Air Society for outstanding achievement in Air Force leadership. He became a Distinguished Military graduate from the ROTC program and was offered a permanent commission. Bill went on to New York University graduate school studying Political Science, concentrating on the Presidency and completing his studies in 1969. In 2009, his alma mater, conferred the degree of "Doctor of Laws," Honoris Causa during commencement exercises where he joined Yale alum, Dr. Howard Dean, who was also honored.
Bill served his country in the United States Air Force in Japan, as a First Lieutenant more than 50 years ago. There he studied and used the Japanese language, then earned a black belt in karate in 1961.
Bill's maternal family has been in America for more than 300 years. His late grandfather, Dr. William Pickens, Sr. was a Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude graduate of Yale University in 1904 and was the youngest member of WEB Dubois "Niagara Movement" in 1905; he helped to organize and found the NAACP in 1909. Moreover, Bill's Aunt, Harriet I. Pickens, a cum laude Smith graduate became the first African American woman Navy officer in history (1944), serving as a Lieutenant JG during World War II.
Bill was a corporate executive with four major US firms. During his corporate experiences, Bill co-founded the Council of Concerned Executives in the aftermath of the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Then he ran his own international consulting firm for 25 years. Along the way, Bill served as a National Director of the NAACP (1975-81) and he lead a 1992 mission to South Africa and co-lead a 1999 mission to Northern Ireland for the National Committee on American Foreign Policy.
He was one of the three founding trustees of the United States Japan Foundation in 1980, joining fellow Trustee, Ambassador Angier Biddle Duke (Yale '38) in that capacity.
He served as founding President and Trustee of the Paul Robeson Foundation, organized by the late Paul Robeson Jr. to celebrate the centennial of the brilliant scholar, athlete, performer and activist's life. Additionally, Bill served as a Trustee of the Studio Museum in Harlem for 30 years, serving a term as Chairman. One of his longest civic/community involvements was serving as a Director for over 40 years of Boys & Girls Harbor, founded by Anthony Drexel Duke in 1937. He also assisted Mr. Daniel Rose (Yale '51) in shaping and implementing his Harlem Educational Activities Fund. He was a President's Associate at Duke University and received a Presidential Citation from former Yale President, Richard C. Levin in 2002 for the Pickens family's numerous contributions to the Yale family.
He is a neighbor of six Yale Alums in Sag Harbor, Long Island. There he resides with his wife of 50 years, Pat and has three grown progeny Pamela, William IV and John.
Prior to joining Family Wellness Dallas as Executive Director, Lowell Perry served as Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA) Chief Diversity Officer, SVP Corporate & Community Engagement. He was CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee (BBBSMT) and led that agency from 300 kids served in 2005 to set records of 2812 children served and unrestricted revenue of $2.62 million in 2010, and was selected as a Top 5 benchmark MCP (Mentoring Children of Prisoners) agency out of over 400 nationwide in overall performance. Perry, a Big Brothers Big Sisters of America CEO of the Year winner in 2007 served on the Big Brothers Big Sisters Nationwide Leadership Council where he chaired the Leadership & HR Committee and also chartered and chaired the national African-American Advisory Council.
Perry is an experienced business development and marketing executive with an extensive broad-based business background including, team building, fund raising, strategic alliances, start-ups, turnarounds, general management, government relations, and extensive expertise in diversity and minority business development as a viable growth strategy. He has developed a reputation as a visionary business innovator. Lowell created the Strategic Corporate & Community Engagement department at BBBSA to better connect individual resources and opportunities for local board member recruitment of corporate employees of color, as well as better engage community partnerships due to the fact that communities of color represented over 70% of Big Brothers Big Sisters’ business.
Some career highlights include leading a start-up automotive manufacturer from concept to $30 million in three years, developing and implementing marketing strategies for a worldwide consumer products company, introducing a new paradigm in minority business development focusing on the “end-game”, that saves jobs and leads to sustainable growth of disadvantaged businesses, and the creation and implementation of a successful statewide drug education prevention program targeting kids K-6. Developing and cultivating a cutting edge partnership with a direct marketing organization, resulting in $500,000 in revenue in first year, and is on track for $1 million in second year.
A Yale graduate and polished keynote speaker with extensive professional on-camera, radio, and live presenting experience, Perry has been featured in numerous sales and marketing training films, and many commercials. He has also appeared in a number of feature films and television, including Déjà vu, starring Denzel Washington and Nothing but the Truth, featuring Kate Beckinsale, Drop Dead Diva, and most recently on the ABC hit show, Nashville.
His public speaking career began during his tenure as a front office executive with the current NFL champion Seattle Seahawks pro football team, where he negotiated free agent contracts, handled team travel, and served as the team’s primary community liaison. Popular keynote topics have included: “Creating a Meaningful Life”, “Time to Take Action”, “False Leadership,” “A Case for Racial Equity in the Nonprofit Sector,” “In the Arena” and “No Excuses, Play like a Champion”
Perry’s hero and mentor is his father Lowell Sr., who served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force, and as a player and coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers, before embarking on a career that led to stints as the first African-American plant manager of a major US manufacturing company, Chairman of the United States EEOC under President Gerald Ford, and two State of Michigan cabinet level positions, Director of Labor and Director of Urban Programs.
Lowell Perry Jr. is an avid golfer and registered yoga instructor who enjoys acting, gourmet cooking, and spending time with his lovely wife Kathleen and their three beautiful children Trey, Tucker Nichol (Miss Tennessee USA 2010), and Trenton. He also is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., a past board member of the Tennessee Education Lottery Corp, Leadership Nashville Class of 2009, and was named one of Nashville’s 25 Most Beautiful People in 2011.
Kevin Quinn was born in Detroit, MI. He received his B.A. in English from Yale University and has spent his career writing and teaching high school English. His piece "Arlene Tries" was part of the theatrical piece, The Gay Ivy, which engaged perceptions of gay and lesbian culture at Yale, and his most recent essay, "Seeing Your Self," was published in The Feminist Wire in 2014. He is currently finishing a memoir, If I Should Die, about his life as a teenage evangelist. He lives in Hong Kong.
Anthony Reed has been Assistant Professor of English and African American Studies at Yale since 2010. His research interests include the intersections of aesthetics and politics in twentieth century and contemporary poetry and culture. His book Freedom Time: The Petics and Politics of Black Experimental Writing is due Fall 2014 from Johns Hopkins University Press. That book draws attention to a tradition of experimental writing by black authors, which has largely been neglected, and argues that this work, moving beyond issues of representation, offers new ways of thinking about poetry, race, and politics. His current project, tentatively titled "Electric Vernacular: Race, Music, and Phonographic Poetry" explores recorded collaborations between musicians and poets, and teases out the ways both poets and musicians use sound recording to reach--and imagine--new audiences.
Peter Salovey is the 23rd president of Yale University, and the Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology. His presidential term began in July 2013.
Prior to becoming president, Salovey served as the provost of Yale University from 2008 to 2013. As provost, Salovey facilitated strategic planning and initiatives such as: enhancing career development and mentoring opportunities for all Yale faculty members; promoting faculty diversity; creating the Office of Academic Integrity; establishing the University-wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct; developing the West Campus; and overseeing the University’s budget during the global financial crisis.
Other leadership roles at Yale have included: chair of the Department of Psychology from 2000 to 2003; dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 2003 and 2004; and dean of Yale College from 2004 to 2008.
After receiving an A.B. (psychology) and A.M. (sociology) from Stanford University in 1980 with departmental honors and university distinction, Salovey earned three degrees at Yale in psychology: an M.S. (1983), M.Phil. (1984), and Ph.D. (1986). Since joining the Yale faculty in 1986, he has studied the connection between human emotion and health behavior, and played key roles in multiple Yale programs including: the Health, Emotion, and Behavior Laboratory, which Salovey founded and is now called the Center for Emotional Intelligence; the Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS; and the Cancer Prevention and Control Research Program. He currently holds secondary faculty appointments in the Schools of Management and Public Health, the Institution for Social and Policy Studies, and the Sociology Department.
Salovey has authored or edited over a dozen books translated into eleven languages and published hundreds of journal articles and essays, focused primarily on human emotion and health behavior. With John D. Mayer, he developed a broad framework called “Emotional Intelligence,” the theory that just as people have a wide range of intellectual abilities, they also have a wide range of measurable emotional skills that profoundly affect their thinking and action.
In addition to teaching and mentoring scores of graduate students, Salovey has won both the William Clyde DeVane Medal for Distinguished Scholarship and Teaching in Yale College and the Lex Hixon '63 Prize for Teaching Excellence in the Social Sciences. He has received honorary doctorates from the University of Pretoria in South Africa and Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies in 2013.
Salovey and his wife, Marta Elisa Moret, have lived in New Haven since they arrived as graduate students more than 30 years ago. Moret, a 1984 graduate of the Yale School of Public Health, is the president of Urban Policy Strategies, LLC, which provides program evaluation and technical assistance to community-based health organizations. Moret is also active with the Association of Yale Alumni and has served on its board of governors. She previously held positions in the Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy, the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, and the Hispanic Health Council. Moret was the deputy commissioner for the Connecticut Department of Social Services from 1991 to 1994.
Pulin Sanghvi is currently Executive Director of Career Services at Princeton University, and was formerly Assistant Dean and Director of the Career Management Center at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Pulin graduated from Yale in 1992 with a BA summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with Distinction in Economics, and also holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He was formerly a consultant with McKinsey & Company in Palo Alto and an investment banker with Morgan Stanley & Company in New York. He serves on the National Board of Directors of Positive Coaching Alliance, a national non-profit focused on changing the win-at-all-cost culture around youth sports. He serves Yale as an At-Large Delegate to the AYA Assembly, on an advisory council to the AYA Board of Governors, and served for eight years as the Palo Alto Alumni Schools Committee Director.
Ms. Jeannine B. Scott is the President of the U.S. – Angola Chamber of Commerce, Founder & Principal of America to Africa Consulting (A2A), LLC. Ms. Scott brings nearly 30 years of experience in the field of international development, spanning the private, non-profit, multi-lateral agency and US government sectors, both domestically and globally. She has traveled to and/or worked in some 40 countries in Africa, and has collaborated with numerous private and public organizations in Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Previously, Ms. Scott served as Senior Vice President of Africare (2003-2010) where she oversaw operations of over $200 million, in 24 African countries, as well as its offices in Europe and Canada.
Before this Ms. Scott held a political appointment from the U.S. Department of Treasury as Advisor and Alternate U.S. Executive Director to the Board of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) – the largest financial institution on the African continent.
Earlier in her career Ms. Scott was a staff member of the AfDB. She worked on economic programs including: regional economic integration, poverty alleviation, stakeholder participation, gender and the environment. Ms. Scott also served as chief of staff for the Bank’s department charged with operations throughout Southern Africa, overseeing hundreds of millions of dollars in loan portfolios and development assistance programs. Prior to this she worked with Africare in Washington, DC, and as Country Representative to Senegal, (Mauritania, Cape Verde and The Gambia.
A seasoned professional in the field of humanitarian and economic development work, Ms. Scott has been called to serve on a number of high level working groups for Inter-Action/UNHCR (Co-chair), the UK-US High Level Working Group on African Women’s Empowerment; and as an advisor to the First and Second African First Ladies Leadership Summits, among others.
Ms. Scott holds an A.B. from Vassar College in Political Science and Africana Studies and a Master’s in International Relations from Yale University. She is fluent in French and proficient in Portuguese.
Notable amongst Ms. Scott’s memberships and affiliations are: The Council on Foreign Relations, Member; Obama Presidential Campaign - Africa Policy Advisory Committee – (2012 & 2008), Member; Yale University, Board of Governors: Association of Yale Alumni (AYA), 2011-2014, Board Member; Houston International Trade Development Council, Inc., Board Member; African Union: a) African Diaspora Health Initiative (ADHI), Vice Chairman; & b) US-Africa Alliance for Trade, Investment and Development (UATID), Founding Committee Member; GB Energie, LLC, EVP; American Friends of Guinea (AFG), Board Member; Shea Yeleen Health and Beauty, Board Member; and African American Unity Caucus, Member.
She also serves on advisory boards for: Howard University Law School, World Food Law Institute; Advocates for Development Assistance (ADA); The Diaspora African Women’s Network (DAWN); The YouthTrade Council; African Diaspora for Change; Homestrings (Diaspora investment fund); Phelps Stokes Fund (Africa Region); Yale University Graduate School Alumni Association Executive Committee; and The New Orleans Afrikan Film and Arts Festival (NOAFEST).
M’Balia “MB” Singley makes music to counteract the anger, depression, fear and isolation that threatens all of us on a daily basis. Whether she’s working with children in a day care; adults at a spiritual retreat; singing and strumming her original music at solo shows, or belting well-loved jazz standards while backed up by a trio, she is always trying to do the same thing: ENGAGE and AWAKEN. Engage and awaken the emotions of the audience, engage and awaken her own heart, engage and awaken the world.
Highlights of her work include:
· Singing background vocals for John Legend’s Grammy-nominated single, “Stay With You”
· Touring and performing with The Dwike Mitchell-Willie Ruff Duo while completing her undergraduate studies at Yale University
· Writing liner notes for Orrin Evans’ “The Band Live at Widener University”
· Playing Los Angeles’ Hotel Cafe; NYC’s The Living Room, Philly’s World Cafe Live, Milkboy, and The Grape Room
Dr. Tania Smith is a solo pediatrician at Prestige Pediatrics, P.C. in Albany, Georgia. She is a 1994 graduate of Yale University, and a 1999 graduate of Morehouse School of Medicine and completed general pediatrics residency at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Oakland, California. While growing up in Oakland, California, she developed her childhood aspiration to become a pediatrician at age 5. Thankful to the A Better Chance program, Dr. Smith went to Cate School, a premier college preparatory boarding school on a full scholarship. She came to Albany, Georgia in 1999 to fulfill her 3 year National Health Service Corps obligation. After working at a local community health center for 5 years, her love for the community pushed her to establish roots in this underserved community.
Throughout her life, Dr. Smith has held Christ, family and community at the heart of her accomplishments. Her favorite job is investing and developing talents of her 15 year old son, Jarrett, Yale University Class of 2021.
Dr. Smith served as the chairperson of Department of Pediatrics for the local hospital, participated and served as secretary for the Griffin-Jordan Medical Society. She is an associate professor for Georgia Regents University Department of Pediatrics. She has also served on Board of Directors for several community projects—Youth Becoming Healthy (2013 Presidential Award recipient from President Barack Obama), Georgia Go Hard (AAU/YBOA travel basketball organization) and Albany Dixie League Baseball. For the past 3 years, she has organized a youth mission trip for her church youth group while serving as Director of the Youth Ministry at Second Mt Zion Baptist Church.
Dr. Smith is a board certified bilingual pediatrician, member of the GA American Academy of Pediatrics, Board of Directors who has committed the last 12 years to practicing standard of care medical excellence and community involvement to the underserved community of Southwest Georgia. She also received the “Making a Difference in the Community” Award from the Griffin-Jordan Medical Society.
Pamela Sutton-Wallace, MPH As of July 2014, Pamela Sutton-Wallace is the Chief Executive Officer for University of Virginia Medical Center. She previously served as Senior Vice President for Hospital Operations of Duke University Hospital where she was responsible for several key operational areas including Perioperative, Emergency/Trauma, Diagnostic, Med-Surg-Critical Care and Facility and Support Services. Ms. Sutton-Wallace joined Duke in 1997 and has held several management positions during her 17 year tenure with Duke University Health System.
Pamela served as the Vice President, Ambulatory Practice Management of Duke University Hospital and Chief Operating Officer for Ambulatory Services for DUHS where she was responsible for the strategic direction and operations of several hospital-based clinics and procedure areas, faculty practices and primary care and urgent care practices with more than one million outpatient visits in 2011.
Pamela has also led Perioperative Services where she directed operations for 46 operating rooms across the hospital platform. From 2004-2006, she served as Chief of Staff for the Chancellor for Health Affairs and President/CEO of Duke University Health System. As Chief of Staff, she worked closely with the Chancellor and the senior executive team of the Health System and Medical Center in the development and implementation of the strategic planning of Duke Medicine among other responsibilities.
In addition to her tenure with Duke University Health System, Sutton-Wallace has a diverse health care background with experience in the pharmaceutical, insurance and health care research industries. She has worked at Pfizer pharmaceutical company in New York, NY, as an Outcomes Research Associate and as an Assistant Underwriter at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.
She received her undergraduate degree in Political Science and African-American Studies from Washington University in St. Louis, MO and she graduated from Yale University with a Master's of Public Health degree, completing her thesis with distinction. In 2007, she was named by Modern Healthcare as a “2007 Up & Comer,” a national recognition of health care executives under the age of 40. She is an active member of several organizations including Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and National Association for Health Services Executives where she enjoys mentoring, motivating and encouraging the next generation of leadership. Pam is married to Maurice O. Wallace PhD, associate professor of English and African-American Studies at Duke University and they are the proud parents of two daughters: Sage (15) and Amaya (13).
Maxim Thorne is a highly sought after speaker and trainer. He is a senior consultant and executive, thought leader, lawyer and philanthropist. He served as Executive Vice President at the Paley Center for Media and taught joint courses in philanthropy, law and management at Yale University. He founded Philanthropy Laboratory Incubator and through his seminar Philanthropy in Action his students at Yale actually awarded more than $100,000 at the end of each semester to selected charities (http://philanthropyinaction.yale.edu). He stresses the importance of private philanthropy in a healthy civil society and capitalist democracy. He founded Philanthropy in Motion that convenes and trains next generation donors in effective philanthropy in China, Nigeria, South Africa, India and Pakistan, and elsewhere. Maxim advises philanthropies and family foundations. He is also the Founder of Weekend Renewing America’s Promise (WRAP), which brings together exceptionally talented leaders from across the globe each year. (WRAP’s theme also became the theme of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado at which Barack Obama was nominated.) Maxim received his B.A. in Economics and Political Science, cum laude honors, from Yale University and a Juris Doctor from Yale Law School.
As Executive Vice President of the Paley Center for Media (formerly the Museum of Television and Radio) Maxim oversaw all philanthropic efforts bridging media’s many stakeholders. He worked closely with the CEOs and C-Suite executives represented on the Paley Center Board to find opportunities to support how media impacts the society, is understood, and shapes the future.
He focuses on best in class philanthropy and has stewarded multimillion dollar gifts including a $1M gift from Tyler Perry, the largest gift ever from an entertainer to a civil rights organization, as well as multi-million and multi-year funding from individuals, corporations and institutional foundations.
Maxim is a featured blogger on the Huffington Post and served on the Yale Board of Governors, the Executive Committee of the Yale Law School, the National Board of Yale Black Alumni Association, the Academic Council for the Motion Picture Association of America, the Advisory Board of Human Rights Watch's LGBT Rights Program, the National Board of GLAAD, and the Advisory Board of the Division of Gender, Sexuality & Health, Columbia University Department of Psychiatry and NYS Psychiatric Institute.
Previously, Maxim served as Senior Vice President and Chief Development and Communications Officer of the NAACP, the Chief Operating Officer and Vice President of Human Rights Campaign and Executive Director of New Jersey Head Start. He successfully represented the NAACP, Head Start and local daycare centers in the famous Abbott v. Burke school funding case in the NJ Supreme Court. One of his significant cases resulted in his client a low-income tenant facing eviction successfully defeating the bank and being awarded clean title to actually own property – in an instance of bank redlining. He helped carve out a unique role for philanthropy and the expansion of human rights in the country’s largest and oldest civil rights organizations. He oversaw the formation and implementation of the first NAACP LGBT Taskforce at the NAACP Centennial Convention in 2009, introduced the keynote speaker Julian Bond at the National Equality March on Washington in 2009.
In addition, Maxim has been a Democratic fundraiser, serving as a bundler for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, and serving on the African American Leadership Council and the LGBT Leadership Council and Finance and Policy Committees.
Weldon L. Tisdale, Sr. of Tulsa, Oklahoma was born in Fort Worth, Texas to the late Rev. Dr. Louis L. Tisdale and Mrs. Deborah Tisdale. He is the brother of the late Wayman L. Tisdale, Sr.
Rev. Tisdale is a 1978 graduate of Booker T. Washington High School in Tulsa, OK. After graduation from Booker T. Washington, he attended Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and Organizational Behavior in 1982. He went on to attend Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas where he received a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. In 2006, he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Oral Roberts University School of Theology.
For the past seventeen years, Rev. Tisdale has served as the Senior Pastor of Friendship Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. During his tenure as Senior Pastor, he has been instrumental in forming the Friendship Resource Center, providing needed assistance, resources, training and information to youth and the elderly within the community. He has also formed People Builder’s Inc., a non-profit 501(c3) corporation providing job training, interviewing skills, resume building, career development for adults and training to high school students for the Oklahoma Promise Scholarship program. Additionally, he has served as part of the Mayor’s five member search and selection committee for the recent Tulsa Chief of Police. He has served and serves on the boards of United Way, Domestic Violence Intervention Services, American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, City of Tulsa Commission and Cornerstone Community Development Center (raising $7 million to fund the project).
Prior to becoming pastor, Rev. Tisdale was employed by The Williams Companies’ Communications Group as Director of Corporate Development with responsibilities including mergers and acquisitions, and corporate planning and development. He has worked as a Representative for professional athletes and entertainers and as a business consultant.
His goal in life is “Renewing Minds - Transforming Lives” for the Kingdom of God and encouraging individuals to “SEEMORE” – seeing beyond their current life circumstances and pursuing their dreams with passion.
He and his wife, Demetria, have been married for twenty-eight years and have two children, Whitney (27) – Social Media Engagement Consultant with FleishmanHillard PR/Marketing in Dallas, Texas and Weldon, Jr. “Chip” (20) – Sophomore at Tulsa Community College.
Dr. Scyatta A. Wallace is an award winning Psychologist/Teen expert, writer and academic. Her mission is to use research, social commentary and community action to promote health among urban Black youth.
Dr. Wallace is currently an Associate Professor of Psychology at St. John’s University. She graduated with a BA in Psychology from Yale in 1996 and received her PhD from Fordham University in 2002. As a PhD candidate she received a health policy fellowship from the American Psychological Association (APA) where she worked on the first health disparities legislation. She completed a post-doctoral research fellowship at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and in 2002 was named an NIH health disparities scholar.
Dr. Wallace has received over a million dollars in federal and foundation funding for her research focused on how gender, race and culture impact health outcomes among urban Black youth. She is widely published and has held several leadership positions including serving as Chair of the American Psychological Association (APA) Committee on Psychology and AIDS (2011) and as a member of the National Institute on Drug Abuse African American Scholars Working Group. She is currently co-leading a partnership with APA and BET Networks to develop a national HIV awareness campaign targeting youth. In 2012, Dr. Wallace received the Carolyn Payton Early Career Award from the APA Division of Psychology and Women for her health research focused on Black girls.
In addition to her research, Dr. Wallace is an active member of her community. She combines her love for arts and empowering youth as CEO/Founder of Janisaw Company. Janisaw Company is a curriculum design firm specializing in creating leadership development and life skills programs/workshops for teen girls and young women. She is the co-founder of Y-Apply, an organization dedicated to educating high achieving public school students from diverse backgrounds and their families about top-tier colleges.
Dr. Wallace was elected to the Association of Yale Alumni (AYA) Board of Governors (2009-2013) and served as an Executive Officer (2012-2013). She is currently a member of the AYA advisory council.
Amanda Warren, who plays “Lucy Warburton” on HBO’s The Leftovers, was born and raised in New York City. Ms. Warren received her B.F.A. from New York University, Tisch School of the Arts and her M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama. She began her professional career on stage receiving rave reviews for her work in Three Sisters (Classical Theatre of Harlem), Golden Age (world premiere/Kennedy Center) and When I Come to Die (Lincoln Center Theatre receiving an AUDELCO nomination). Appearances in television include: Gossip Girl, The Good Wife, Royal Pains, Detroit 1-8-7, Rubicon, Michael Patrick King's A Mann's World (NBC/WBTV pilot) and a recurring role on the final season of The Closer. In film she was seen in Killer Films’ Deep Powder, Phil Morrison's All Is Bright, The Adjustment Bureau and lastly as the fifth psychopath, “Maggie”, opposite Tom Waits, in Martin McDonagh's Seven Psychopaths.
Shana C. Waterman serves as Senior Vice President, Event Series Development & Production, a newly-created department at Fox Broadcasting Company charged with producing the network’s limited-run programming. She commissions and develops long-form event series including 24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY, small-town, murder mystery, GRACEPOINT, sci-fi, psychological thriller, WAYWARD PINES and upcoming special event, GREASE LIVE.
Before taking on her new role, Ms. Waterman was Senior Vice President of Current Programming where she oversaw several prime-time, scripted television series including HOUSE, FRINGE, RAISING HOPE, THE MINDY PROJECT, AMERICAN DAD, FAMILY GUY and GLEE.
Also while at Fox, Ms. Waterman named and produced Fox’s inaugural “Seizing Opportunities Forum,” spurring dialogue among the company’s creative partners about shifting ethnic audience demographics. She also conceived the Fox Innovators Group (FIG), an internal think tank designed to foster entrepreneurial thinking and innovation among employees. Ms. Waterman was awarded a 2012 FOX Excellence in Innovation Award for her forward-thinking efforts. She was also recently named a 2014 media industry “Next Generation Leader” by the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC). She joined the company as Director, Current Programming in 2006 after serving as Manager of Development at Timberman/Beverly Productions.
Sustaining her ongoing interest in the theater, she currently serves on the Board of the New York Foundation for the Arts and was former Board Chair of Cornerstone Theater Company. Ms. Waterman is also a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School.
Vesla Mae Weaver joined the faculty at Yale University in African American Studies and political science after being on the faculty at the University of Virginia and having received her doctorate in Government and Social Policy at Harvard University. Weaver is broadly interested in understanding racial inequality in the United States, how state policies shape citizenship, and the political causes and consequences of the growth of the criminal justice system in the United States. Her newest book with Amy Lerman, Arresting Citizenship: The Democratic Consequences of American Crime Control, is concerned with the effects of increasing punishment and surveillance in America on democratic inclusion, particularly for the black urban poor. She is also the author of Frontlash: Civil Rights, the Carceral State, and the Transformation of American Politics (under contract with Cambridge), which uncovers a connection between the movement for civil rights and the development of punitive criminal justice. Weaver is also the co-author of Creating a New Racial Order, which explores how multiracialism, immigration, the genomics revolution, and generational changes are reshaping the racial order in the United States (with Professors Jennifer Hochschild and Traci Burch). Weaver’s research has been supported by fellowships from the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Brookings Institution. She is currently regional leader of the Scholars Strategy Network, member of the Executive Session on Community Corrections, and co-leader of SPIRE (the Symposium on the Politics of Immigration, Race, and Ethnicity). She has previously worked for the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Vera F. Wells was a member of Yale’s first undergraduate class to include women and also among the first to enroll in its African American Studies courses in 1969. After graduating in 1971 with a BA in psychology, she studied organization management at Harvard’s Kennedy School. Vera has consulted on education programs and conducted field research in Africa in the 1970s for international development projects, primarily in the southern BLS countries. Most of her career, however, was spent during 20 years as an executive at the National Broadcasting Company in NYC, beginning in promotional research for new TV programs and ending as Director of Corporate and Philanthropic Initiatives.
A former student of Professor Sylvia Ardyn Boone, Vera had proposed Yale’s residential college seminar on Black women that originally recruited Boone to teach it at TD in 1970 and set in motion their organizing the “Chubb Conference on the Black Woman.” She is Director of the Boone Memorial Project, overseeing the donation of Boone’s papers for court-approved archiving so that they can be made available to scholars in the future. Ms. Wells used her own assets to endow both an undergraduate scholarship and a graduate student prize to honor her mentor at Yale, as well as fund her project to secure Boone’s literary estate and intellectual legacy. An active and committed alumna, Vera was the recipient of a 2007 Yale Medal for her volunteer service to the University. She has helped to organize events for women and Black alumni and has championed efforts to raise funds to support the Afro-American Cultural Center, Robert Farris Thompson’s portrait, the Women Faculty Forum and many Yale initiatives that benefit students of color. She was an at-large member of Yale’s University Council for 10 years, where she served on its Theater Review Committee, a member of the Yale Development Board, Yale Tomorrow Campaign, and a preliminary founding committee member for YaleWomen. Vera was a co-founder of Y-Apply in 2007, is active as a fundraiser on its Board of Directors, and still helps to lead the parent workshops. She also serves currently as Co-Chair of the National Advisory Council of the Yale Black Alumni Association, is a TD Fellow and has an office at Timothy Dwight College, where her Boone Project is based.
Bisa Williams is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, with the rank of Minister Counselor, and is currently Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of African Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, responsible for West Africa and African economic policy issues. She served as U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Niger from 2010 to 2013. She was the Coordinator for Cuban Affairs in the Bureau for Western Hemisphere Affairs in the Department from 2007 to 2010 and also served as acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs covering Central America, the Caribbean and Cuba in 2010.
From 2005 to 2007, Ms. Williams served on the White House staff at the National Security Council as Director for International Organizations. Her other postings include Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Port Louis, Mauritius, “Africa Watcher” at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, France, Special Assistant to the Secretary of State, Advisor on African development and economic issues at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York, Special Assistant to the Coordinator of Assistance to the Newly Independent States of the former Soviet Union, deputy country desk officer for Liberia and country desk officer for Sierra Leone and Cape Verde, political officer (twice) in Panama City, Panama, and general services officer in Conakry, Guinea. Ms. Williams speaks French, Spanish, and Portuguese. She is the recipient of five Superior Honor and four Meritorious Honor Awards.
A proud native of Trenton, New Jersey, Ms. Williams holds a Master of Science degree in National Security Strategy from the National War College of the National Defense University in Washington, DC, a Master of Arts degree in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Los Angeles, and she received her Bachelor of Arts degree cum laude in Black Literature of the Americas from Yale.
Associate Justice Wilhelmina M. Wright was appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court by Governor Mark Dayton, where she has served since Sept. 27, 2012.
Justice Wright was previously appointed by Governor Jesse Ventura to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, where she served from Sept. 3, 2002, to Sept. 26, 2012. Previously she served as a trial judge on the Ramsey County District Court in Saint Paul. She has served as a member of the Minnesota Judicial Council, the Minnesota Courts Public Trust and Confidence Work Group, and the MSBA Task Force on the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct.
Justice Wright graduated with honors in Literature from Yale University in 1986. She received her juris doctorate from Harvard Law School in 1989.
Prior to joining the bench, Justice Wright was an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota, where she represented the United States in complex economic fraud cases and violent crime cases in the United States District Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. She was awarded the United States Department of Justice Special Achievement Award in 1997 and the United States Department of Justice Director's Award for Public Service in 2000.
Before joining the U.S. Attorney's office in 1995, Justice Wright practiced with the Washington, DC, law firm of Hogan & Hartson, LLP. In the education and litigation practice groups, she primarily represented school districts across the nation seeking to enhance educational opportunities for public school students. After law school, Justice Wright was a law clerk for the Honorable Damon J. Keith on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
Justice Wright is active in her community, serving on the William Mitchell College of Law Board of Trustees, Saint Paul Academy Board of Trustees, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs Advisory Council, and the Minnesota Lawyer Advisory Board. She has previously served on the Mardag Foundation Board of Directors, the Ramsey County Community Corrections Advisory Committee, the Federal Bar Association of Minnesota Board of Directors, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra Board of Directors, the Girl Scout Council of Saint Croix Valley Board of Directors, the Hamline University Women in Leadership Advisory Council, the Yale Alumni Schools Committee, and the Saint Paul Public Schools Graduate Standards Advisory Committee. Justice Wright is a member of the American Bar Association, the Minnesota State Bar Association, the Ramsey County Bar Association, the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers, the Minnesota Women Lawyers Advisory Committee, and the National Association of Women Judges.