Janai S. Nelson, President and Director-Counsel, NAACP LDF
Janai S. Nelson is Associate Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF). As an organizational thought-leader at LDF, Nelson works with the President and Director-Counsel to determine and execute LDF’s strategic vision and oversee the operation of its programs, including having served as interim director of LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute. She is also a member of LDF’s litigation and policy teams and was one of the lead counsel in Veasey v. Abbott (2018), a federal challenge to Texas’s voter ID law. She has testified before Congress on voter suppression, algorithmic bias, and in support of the Voting Rights Advancement Act. Prior to joining LDF in June 2014, Nelson was Associate Dean for Faculty Scholarship and Associate Director of the Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development at St. John’s University School of Law where she was also a full professor of law. Nelson’s most recent scholarly publication, Counting Change: Ensuring an Inclusive Census for Communities of Color, 119 Colum. L. Rev. 1399 (2019), advances a theory of representational equality in which all U.S. residents “are to be counted — and served — as constituents” and that centers the Census and the accurate count of the country’s most vulnerable populations in the functioning of our democracy.
David S. Rose is an Inc. 500 CEO, serial entrepreneur, financial technology executive and early stage investor who has founded or funded over 100 pioneering companies. He has been described by Forbes as “New York’s Archangel”, by BusinessWeek as a “world conquering entrepreneur”, by Crain’s New York Business as “the father of angel investing in New York” and by Red Herring magazine as “patriarch of Silicon Alley”. He is the New York Times best-selling author of both Angel Investing: The Gust Guide to Making Money & Having Fun Investing in Startups, and The Startup Checklist: 25 Steps to a Scalable, High-Growth Business.
David is the Founder and Chairman Emeritus of New York Angels; Managing Director of Rose Tech Ventures; and Co-Founder and Managing Director of the AREA PropTech venture accelerator. He is Associate Founder and Founding Track Chair for Finance and Entrepreneurship of Singularity University and chairs the Real Property Database committee of the Real Estate Board of NY. As an entrepreneurial executive, David is the Founder and CEO of the US Real Estate Market, an innovative capital markets platform for institutional investment in commercial real estate. He is also the Founder and Executive Chairman of Gust, which operates the world’s largest online platform and community for entrepreneurs and early stage investors. David was the initial investor in, and Chairman of Boards of, JUMP Bikes, acquired by Uber; Comixology, acquired by Amazon; Pond5, acquired by Accel; and Panjiva, acquired by S&P Global. He currently serves as a board director of cybersecurity developer KoolSpan and digital banking pioneer Moven.
He is known in the venture community for discovering and mentoring high-potential entrepreneurs and has been profiled by BusinessWeek as “The Pitch Coach” for his ability to help CEOs perfect their fundraising skills. He is a regular speaker at the TED conferences, and his TEDtalk on How to Pitch a VC has been viewed over a million times. He lectures at business schools including Yale, Harvard, Columbia, and Stevens, and was named Mentor of the Year by NYU’s Stern School of Business. As one of the most-followed Top Writers on the international knowledge platform Quora, David has answered over 10,000 questions about startups, early stage investing and eal estate, and curates The Founder Journey forum.
A native New Yorker, David has a BA in Urban Affairs from Yale University, an MBA in Real Estate Finance from Columbia Business School and a D. Eng. (hc) from Stevens Institute of Technology. He is a graduate of the New York City public school system and Horace Mann High School. He is an Associate Fellow of Pierson College at Yale University and a member of the Entrepreneurship Advisory Boards of Columbia Business School and Yale University. David can be found online at davidsrose.com and followed @davidsrose.
Shanti is a partner at Incandescent – a NYC-based strategy consulting and venture advisory firm. Shanti’s work with her clients spans sectors. With corporate and venture clients, her work is often focused on critical issues of people, culture and talent. In the social sector, she works with foundation and non-profit leaders to shape strategy for complex systems change issues, on projects ranging from stemming the tide of youth unemployment, to strengthening a culture of national service in the US. Over the course of her career, Shanti has built and led teams across sectors. Before joining Incandescent, Shanti served as the Chief Operating Officer for the New York Office of the Attorney General. Prior to her time at the AG’s office, Shanti was the COO of the Roosevelt Institute, a progressive policy think-tank. Earlier in her career, Shanti spent seven years at the consulting firm Katzenbach Partners – where she served as the firm’s Chief People Officer, and as a member of the firm’s management team. She currently serves as a member of the board of NationSwell. Shanti earned an A.B. from Smith College and an M.P.P. from the Kennedy School at Harvard. She loves exploring the wild & green places within and beyond New York City, tinkering endlessly in her Brooklyn kitchen, and having all manner of adventures with her two daughters.
Linda Li, Senior Vice President & General Manager, The New York Times
Linda Li is a dynamic and purpose-driven leader who brings extensive experience in driving growth and innovation in the consumer technology and media sectors. She’s currently Senior Vice President & General Manager of Wirecutter at The New York Times, where she sets the vision and strategy for Wirecutter and directs a diverse and cross-functional team to deliver financial results. Before Wirecutter, she led strategy and launched products in various roles at Facebook, The New York Times, and Lending Club. She began her career in management consulting, where she became chief of staff to the Chairman & Managing Director of McKinsey Asia. Linda has an MBA, Master in Public Policy, and AB with distinction from Harvard University. She serves on the board of directors of Scholastic, Inc.
Jennifer Cohan is a communications innovator, brand strategist and ESG advisor with deep experience advising CEOs, Boards of Directors and leadership teams in the technology, financial services, media, nonprofit and public sectors. Jen is an agile strategist with the ability to navigate stakeholders’ changing expectations of companies and brands; develop effective multi-stakeholder communications strategies and materials; and drive measurable business outcomes.
Jen has served as President/CEO at elite communications and marketing agencies, most recently at Edelman, where she led the principal operating unit within the world’s largest communications, social media, and stakeholder advisory firm. At Edelman, Jen conceived and developed the industry’s first multi-stakeholder ESG offering and authored the inaugural brand companion to Edelman’s respected Trust Barometer. Jennifer has lived and worked internationally, representing multinational clients across Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.
An active member of the New York City community, Jen serves on the Boards of Directors of Friends of Hudson River Park and Partnership to End Homelessness, and as a mentor to the Belfer Center for Innovation and Impact Women in Power leadership program. In 2020, she served as a volunteer policy advisor to the Joe Biden for President campaign.
Jen is a graduate of Kenyon College and received an MA from NYU. She lives in New York City.
Seth Pinsky is CEO of the 92nd St Y, New York. At 92NY, Pinsky is developing an action plan for 92NY heading into its 150th anniversary, which will include a comprehensive upgrade of its Manhattan home. Previously, Pinsky was an EVP at RXR Realty, where he led RXR’s efforts to invest in “emerging opportunities” in the New York region. Earlier, Pinsky oversaw the development of Mayor Bloomberg’s $20 billion plan to protect New York from climate change impacts and, from 2008 to 2013, was President of the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Pinsky started his career as an associate at Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton and analyst at James D. Wolfensohn Inc. He graduated from Columbia College and Harvard Law.
Melissa Kivett is the Managing Director, Head of Prudential’s Enterprise Strategic Relationship Management. She is responsible for strategically catalyzing and deepening relationships with Prudential’s most valued partners and industry associations. She is an Executive Board Member of the Insured Retirement Institute, the leading financial services trade association for the retirement income industry, and Secretary of the Board and member of the Operating Committee for the Alliance for Lifetime Income. Previously, Melissa held multiple leadership roles at Prudential, most recently as Chief Customer Experience & Marketing Officer of Individual Solutions Group. In a prior role as Chief Strategy Officer of Annuities, she led customer-focused digital transformation and redefined the skills and capabilities of the strategy, marketing, customer experience, communications, operations, and business intelligence teams. These efforts resulted in double-digit increases in business growth and team engagement.Prior to joining Prudential, Melissa held diverse global roles at several Fortune 500 financial services companies, including head of strategy, business development, marketing, innovation, and investor relations. Her experience includes taking a Fortune 500 company public (second largest IPO that year next to Google) and leading investor relations during the 2008 financial crisis and SEC investigation. She also launched a global financial services brand, digitized a marketing organization, strategically reimagined a business portfolio for growth, and upskilled small and large 200+ multi-disciplinary teams.A published innovator, Melissa’s work has been recognized by Innovation Leader magazine and the Corporate Executive Board. The Insurance Advisory Board recognized her accomplishment to build a strategic investor relations function as an industry best practice. Institutional Investor magazine named her work as one of the most shareholder-friendly teams in the financial services sector. Kivett received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Massachusetts and a Master of Business Administration from Columbia Business School. She serves as a coach with the 92nd Street Y for Women in Power and is a member of the Financial Woman’s Association and Columbia Women in Business. Previously, Melissa served on the Board of Directors for Assurant’s European Operations, the Advisory Council for the Investor Relations Roundtable, and the New York Stock Exchange Advisory Group.
Komal Bajaj, Chief Quality Officer, NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi/NCB
Dr. Komal Bajaj is a catalyst, advocate and professor based in New York City. She is an innovator in the fields of healthcare quality/safety and simulation. Dr. Bajaj serves as Chief Quality Officer for NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi/NCB (Bronx, NY) and Clinical Director for the system’s Simulation Center. Dr. Bajaj is a Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Women’s Health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and was appointed by the Secretary of HHS to the AHRQ National Advisory Council. She also serves on the Board of Trustees of Harvard’s Center for Medical Simulation and on the External Advisory Board for the Joan H. Marks Graduate Program in Human Genetics of Sarah Lawrence College.
Ursula Wynhoven, ITU Representative to the United Nations, New York
Ursula is an international lawyer with 26 years’ experience. She joined the ITU in 2017 as its Representative to the UN. The ITU is the UN’s specialized agency for information & communication technologies with the mission to connect the world. Ursula leads UN relations and represents the agency and its Secretary-General at the UN in NY. She heads the ITU’s UN Liaison Office and works at the intersection of technology and development, promoting digital inclusion and the use of ICTs for sustainable development. Previously, Ursula spent 14 years with the UN Global Compact, the UN’s corporate sustainability initiative. Her last position was Chief, Social Sustainability, Governance & Legal and member of the Executive Committee. Ursula led legal affairs and oversaw policy development & implementation of the UNGC’s integrity measures. She also led the UNGC’s work on human rights & decent work, gender equality, poverty & inequality, peace, anti-corruption & the rule of law. She was responsible for the creation and development of many initiatives including the Women’s Empowerment Principles, Children’s Rights and Business Principles, Guide for General Counsel on Corporate Sustainability, Business for the Rule of Law, and the Foundation for the Global Compact. Ursula began working with the UNGC in 2002 and played an active role in helping to grow the initiative to more than 13,000 signatories in more than 160 countries with a full roster of corporate sustainability workstreams. Ursula’s tenure included a 6 month loan as Senior Advisor, Business & Human Rights to the UN’s Human Rights Office. Prior to joining the UN, Ursula worked in law firms and government human rights agencies in Australia and the US, and for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on the Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the OECD’s corporate responsibility initiative. Ursula has LLMs from Columbia Law School, where she was a Human Rights Fellow, and Monash Law School, and Bachelor’s degrees in Law, Economics, and Letters. She has been admitted to practice law in jurisdictions in the US (NY and CA), Australia, and the UK. Since 2007, Ursula has been an Adjunct Professor in Corporate Sustainability, Business & Human Rights at Fordham Law School and previously taught at Reykjavik University School of Law. Ursula is a Director and the Secretary of the Board of the United Nations Federal Credit Union and a Trustee of the Parker School of Foreign & Comparative Law at Columbia Law School.
Edlynne is a seasoned senior technology executive who has lead large, diverse teams. She specializes in coaching C-suites through technology-enabled change. In addition to her current role leading a revenue team at Meta, she also serves an independent board director for a private equity backed company. She is also talented marketing exec, having launched several new brands and worked on the famous Dove Campaign for Real Beauty.
She’s worked for companies large and small, and has mentored and coached women in the public, non-profit and private sector on topics such as career changes, advocating for yourself, finding your leadership voice and navigating corporate politics.
She is a proud Canadian, and spends her free time reading fiction, eating and enjoying various forms of art.
Raoul Bhavnani is Chief Communications Officer at Betterment, based in New York. At Betterment, he leads all external and internal communications activities and is a member of the firm’s Executive Team. For more than 25 years, he has worked at the intersection of communications, finance and government affairs while living in Asia Pacific, EMEA and the United States. Prior to Betterment, Raoul was Senior Managing Director in the Strategic Communications segment at FTI Consulting, where he worked in New York and London. Raoul began his career on Wall Street, with several years at Morgan Stanley in India and the United States as an investment banker and fixed-income specialist. Raoul also spent time in the political and public sectors, helping to manage the campaigns of high-profile candidates, and engaging in public-policy issues facing New York City. Mr. Bhavnani is a cum laude graduate of Princeton University, and is active in a leadership capacity with a variety of civic and cultural organizations around the world. He is the co-founder and Board President of The India Center Foundation, a non-profit cultural institution focused on India and its relationship with the United States. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two children.
Penny Abeywardena, Former Commissioner for International Affairs NYC
Penny Abeywardena served as New York City Commissioner for International Affairs from 2014 to 2021, working with the largest diplomatic corps in the world. Under Penny’s leadership, New York City implemented a series of award-winning programs with the international community, ranging from youth empowerment to city and local government leadership. These focused on global issues like climate change, sustainable development and rebuilding after the COVID-19 pandemic.
When New York City was the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States, Penny worked with the United Nations and foreign governments to procure necessary medical equipment. Penny’s leadership and relationships led to an historic donation from the United Nations, as well as contributions from dozens of countries.
Prior to her role in government, Penny was the Director of the Women’s program at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI). She advised multinational corporations, philanthropists, NGOs and multilateral institutions on increasing investments in gender-focused development initiatives.
Penny is on the Board of Directors of the Center for Reproductive Rights and the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships, which provides oversight of the UN Foundation. She serves on the advisory councils for the Aspen Institute’s Equity Accelerator and the Belfer Center for Innovation and Social Impact at 92Y. Penny is co-Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Futures Council on Cities of Tomorrow.
French President Emmanuel Macron recently appointed Penny a Knight in France’s National Order of Merit for her global leadership on diplomacy, human rights and sustainability. In December 2020 she was awarded the Golden Helsinki Medal for creating a global sustainable development network of local governments. Penny was also recognized by the French American Foundation as a Young Leader (2017) and named a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader (2016).
She is a graduate of the University of Southern California and completed her Master of International Affairs at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.
KATHERINE WU BRADY (she/her/hers) is the Chief Operations Officer for Catchafire leading technology, people, and business operations. Catchafire is an online platform that helps philanthropic organizations provide high-impact capacity building support to large numbers of nonprofits. Prior to Catchafire, Kathy has been a senior executive at a number of media, technology and ecommerce organizations in moments of rapid growth and change, including XO Group (now the The Knot Worldwide), vente-privee USA (a joint venture between American Express and vente-privee), AOL, NBC and hulu. She is committed to translating her diverse experience across revenue, technology and operations into catalyzing support and impact for the social good sector.
An award-winning, industry-recognized leader and innovator, Christine specializes in mission-driven marketing, communications and social impact to build, sustain and protect brand equity and enterprise reputation. Christine has directed world-class communications intersecting brand and purpose while in leadership positions at global corporations, PR/Communications agencies, nonprofits and, currently, as the founder and principle of Posit Communications, a strategic communications consultancy. The former head of Marketing Communications for Unilever, she collaborated on launching dozens of new products and hundreds of campaigns for its portfolio of iconic food and personal care brands; led marketing for Project Sunlight, the company’s first consumer marketing initiative to promote its sustainable living mission; and was responsible for Unilever becoming a founding member of #GivingTuesday. In the nonprofit sector, Christine was the Chief Communications Executive for the Girl Scouts of the USA; consulted with the UN and UN Foundation on the Sustainable Development Goals. She’s a founding member and Marketing Communications Committee Chair of Impact 100 NYC, an all-women philanthropic giving circle providing transformation grants to NYC nonprofits. Christine holds a BA from Barnard College and an MA from Columbia University. In 2020, she graduated from the Executive Program in Social Impact from the Center for Social Impact Strategy at the University of Pennsylvania. Christine has been a mentor for the Women In Power Fellowship program since its inception.
Margaret Coady, VP and Head of Sustainability, Prudential Financial, Inc.
A leading practitioner and thought leader on corporate purpose and inclusive capitalism, Margaret has a nearly 25-year track record delivering next-level growth, societal impact, and stakeholder engagement at for-profit and non-profit institutions. Most recently, Margaret served as the first Executive Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Tapestry, Inc., the $6 billion house of fashion brands Coach, Kate Spade, and Stuart Weitzman. Reporting to Tapestry’s CEO, Margaret led the alignment of business and societal goals, driving the first values-forward, non-commercial consumer campaign in the Coach brand’s 77-year history. She transitioned the $97million Coach Foundation to #DreamItReal, a strategic signature mission shared with the brand that has thus far generated 3+ billion media impressions. Simultaneously, Margaret was a leader for Tapestry on ESG and sustainability, working cross-functionally to launch the company’s ambitious 2025 goals in the areas of people, planet, and community as well as Tapestry’s first public website to share progress toward its commitments. Margaret was also a catalyst for Tapestry joining the CEO Action on Diversity & Inclusion pledge, its plans to deliver unconscious bias training globally, and the launch of the company’s first employee council on inclusion and belonging.
Prior to Tapestry, Margaret served as Executive Director of the nonprofit Chief Executives for Corporate Purpose (CECP), founded by the late actor and philanthropist Paul Newman. Margaret was instrumental in doubling the Fortune 500 CEO membership to 200+, and establishing the coalition as the top forum for the world’s leading companies to create a better world through business. In addition to serving as the organization’s spokesperson and setting its research agenda, Margaret advised CEOs across industries on corporate purpose initiatives. Margaret led the ‘Board of Boards’ CEO annual forum, a Forbes-named top three “power player” event, and annual Summit for 300+ corporate purpose professionals.
Margaret has served as an advisor to field-building organizations including Independent Sector and Charity Navigator, and has served on the boards of several nonprofit organizations including the Taproot Foundation and Step Up Women’s Network, including leading the executive search committee during a nonprofit’s CEO transition. Margaret graduated from Williams College with honors and was Valedictorian of her class at Columbia Business School.
Tim Maleeny, President and Chief Strategy Officer, Havas Creative
Tim Maleeny is the Chief Strategy Officer for Havas North America and President of Havas’ New York office, an integrated marketing and communications company. He has held a variety of roles at leading agencies, including Executive Director of Brand Strategy at R/GA, Managing Partner at Deloitte, and North America Head of Strategy for Ogilvy, working with iconic brands across every major product category. Tim is known for pioneering a narrative approach to building brands, which makes sense since he’s also a bestselling author of six novels and multiple award-winning short stories. He’s very active across the marketing community, mentoring and connecting great people wherever he finds them. Tim currently lives in Manhattan with his wife, two daughters, and far too many books for a New York City apartment.
Jennefer Witter, CEO and Founder, The Boreland Group, Inc.
Jennefer Witter is the chief executive officer and founder of The Boreland Group Inc. (TBG – www.theborelandgroup.com), a 20-year-old boutique public relations firm headquartered in New York City. The agency specializes in women-led and minority owned businesses as well as grassroots non-profits. It was selected by TheStreet.com as one of five national, black owned businesses “making a buzz”. Jennefer was named one of the nation’s “10 most successful black CEOS and entrepreneurs” by MadameNoire Magazine, and her company was recognized as one of 12 black-owned businesses to be “loved by its community and beyond” by ThriveGlobal (https://tinyurl.com/y7k4a6hw).
Jennefer is an active public speaker, with presentations to military, trade and academic organizations on implicit bias; inclusive leadership; gender-based workplace conversation; personal branding; inclusive and thought leadership; public speaking; and networking. Venues include: TedX Albany; Tishman Speyer; The Pentagon; The Brookings Institution; Pennsylvania Conference for Women; the Virginia Business Conference; Bel Brands; The Sea Service Leadership Association’s Annual Symposium; Vital Voices Global Ambassadors Program; The Durst Corporation; Columbia Business School; and Columbia, American, Stony Brook and Fordham universities. Jennefer has also presented at York Correctional Facility on personal branding to incarcerated women working on developing businesses that they could start upon release. She is a signed speaker with Never Stop Learning, a New York City-based speakers bureau, where the bulk of her talks have been on unconscious bias.
Jennefer is the author of “The Little Book of Big PR: 100+ Quick Tips to Get Your Small Business Noticed,” published by Amacom/HarperCollins. She has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, MTV News, the Associated Press, Bloomberg Radio, MarketWatch Radio Network and WJLA. Her articles have appeared in Forbes, Business Insider, Medium, HuffPost and numerous small business publications. Previously, she was the public relations expert for Inc.com TV and a contributor to AOL Small Business.
Jennefer is an active member of Ellevate Network, a global networking organization for professional women, and serves as the Chapter Leader for the NYC Chapter. She sits on the advisory board for Women inPower, a 92nd Street Y led venture that seeks to support and promote senior level professional women to C-level positions. In addition, Jennefer serves on the benefit committee for the 92nd Street Y’s “Extraordinary Women’s Awards,” which honors women making significant social contribution through their work. She is a mentor to many women in various professional fields.
Jennefer was formerly a vice president at Ketchum, an award-winning global communications firm. There, she launched a sub-practice that generated one million dollars in revenue in its first year. She represented numerous corporations from Silicon Valley start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, including IBM and FedEx.
Jennefer holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications (Print Journalism) from New York City’s Fordham University. She received a Regents Diploma from Brooklyn Technical High School. Jennefer holds a certificates in DEI and racial equity from, respectively, Cornell and Northwestern universities.
Connect with Jennefer on LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/jenneferwitter/.
Laura A. Clayton McDonnell, President, Corporates, Thomson Reuters
Laura A. Clayton McDonnell is President, Corporates at Thomson Reuters. Previously, Laura was Senior Vice President, Sales – East, Canada and Latin America, at ServiceNow, a cloud-based platform that provides digital solutions that help people do their best work. Prior to that, she was Vice President, New York Region at Microsoft where she provided executive leadership and management of the Microsoft New York Region, with a team of over 230 industry sales, technical and business professionals. She managed executive relationships at the world’s largest companies for Microsoft and represents the company in community initiatives with private and public organizations.
Laura is an executive with extensive sales management and legal experience in the information technology industry. Prior to Microsoft, she was Senior Vice President, North America Sales at Aspect Software. Prior to that role, she was Vice President of Strategic Services at IBM and closed the first $200M+, 5 year long term services transformational deal with a leading insurer/healthcare provider in Spanish South America.
She also was Vice President, Public Sector, West IMT, North America Group leading a $2.2B sales organization which supported the State and Local Government, Education, Healthcare and Life Sciences industries. In that capacity, she generated 11 out of 13 quarters of positive growth, holding or taking market share in all quarters except one. She also led the Smarter Cities/Smarter Planet and the North America Healthcare Growth Initiatives.
Laura’s prior IBM positions included Vice President, Services Business Development, S&D Communications Sector, Director & Senior Client Solutions Executive for Global Technology Services, and Director of Contracts & Negotiations for Global Business Development. Before joining IBM, she was Vice President of Business Development at Rational Software. Prior to Rational, Laura was at Sun Microsystems, Inc. where she held a variety of executive-level positions including Senior Director of Market Development and Strategic Planning, and General Counsel of the Consumer and Embedded Software Division. Prior to joining Sun, she was Managing Attorney for North American Sales at Cisco Systems, Inc. and a Senior Counsel at Apple Computer, Inc. Prior to Apple, Laura was in private corporate and securities law practice at a law firm in San Francisco.
Laura received her Bachelor of Science degree “with distinction” in International Business Administration at San Jose State University, her Masters in Business Administration degree from the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley in Finance and International Business Administration, and her Juris Doctorate from Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California at Berkeley. At Boalt, she was awarded “Best Oral Argument” for First Year Moot Court, and served as Articles Editor for the International Tax and Business Lawyer Journal. She is admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia and the State of California.
Laura has held leadership positions in community and business professional organizations. She has served as President of the Barristers Section of the Santa Clara County Bar Association, and President of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the National Black MBA Association. Laura has been a member of the Development Council for the Haas School of Business, and a member of the Board of Directors for the Boalt Hall School of Law Alumni Association. She is a recipient of the 2008 YWCA of Silicon Valley Tribute to Women Award (TWIN). Laura is a member of the Women’s Forum of New York and an Advisory Committee Member of the Belfer Center for Innovation and Social Impact of the 92Y.
Stephanie Kauffman, President and Chief Operating Officer, Melanoma Research Alliance
Stephanie Kauffman is the President and Chief Operating Officer for the Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA), the largest private non-profit funder of melanoma research, where she is responsible for leading MRA’s business and impact operations, communications, digital, development and engagement strategies.
As an accomplished, versatile, and transformative leader, Stephanie is regarded for her proven track record of accelerated revenue generation, breakthrough impact, and leading high-performance teams across global non-profit, health, media, and entertainment sectors.
Prior to joining the Melanoma Research Alliance, Stephanie held senior leadership positions at global health and medical research organizations. Most recently, Stephanie was the head of strategic partnerships for Americares, a leading health equity organization responding to disasters, pandemics and humanitarian crises with life-changing medical aid and health services, driving double digit growth from corporate, foundation and public funding partnerships and alliances.
Stephanie is also the former chief communications and partnerships officer for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF), the largest private funder of breast cancer research in the world. During her BCRF tenure, Stephanie led communications, media, digital, mobile, metaverse, corporate and affiliate partner strategies. She spearheaded BCRF’s brand modernization, thought leadership and digital evolution and at the helm at partnerships, she solidified BCRF’s leadership position with corporate partners, growing BCRF’s partnership revenue by 40%.
Before she pivoted into the global health and cancer research space, she was an entertainment executive at Universal Studios, a division of NBCUniversal. Stephanie held the role of senior vice president, global alliances for Universal’s worldwide film, home entertainment, staged productions, consumer products and theme parks business units responsible for Universal’s corporate partnerships, sponsorships, brand integrations and co-branded marketing campaigns for Universal’s portfolio of global brand partners.
A passionate advocate of women’s issues and leadership development throughout her career, Stephanie co-chairs the board of directors for the International Women’s Media Foundation, an organization that supports women journalists and with a mission of creating gender equity in the global newsroom. She also is also proud to serve as a mentor for the 92Y Women in Power Fellows.
Stephanie holds a B.S. in Marketing Management from Florida Southern College.
Christy Johnson, Founder and CEO, Artemis Connection Inc
Christy Johnson is an entrepreneur, intrapreneur and educator. She is currently building her fourth start-up, Artemis Connection and facilitating courses at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. She also is adjunct faculty at the University of Washington where she teaches entrepreneurship and has built a women in entrepreneurial leadership program. Ultimately, she believes people are an organization’s most important asset and by having a diverse workforce, organizations will have the most innovative solutions and best strategies. She has seven years of experience working in corporate strategy, including 3 ½ years at McKinsey & Co. Before this, Christy was an award-winning economics and mathematics teacher. In 2005, Junior Achievement recognized Christy as its National Teacher of the Year.
Recently Christy successfully led the following efforts:
Served on McKinsey’s “Women Matter” and “Centered Leadership” research team. Synthesized findings and led leadership teams for women in the United States and Europe
Created a talent acquisition and development program for a $24B conglomerate that resulted in bringing in new, young leaders for a Silicon Valley company; resulted in strategic partnerships with top universities
Was VP at Flextronics, a $24B manufacturing company where she led a corporate strategy team’s turn around in order to yield more innovative strategies and pilot new initiatives
Held the VP role at a Warburg Pincus-backed company where she developed and piloted a sales strategy for a new segment and redesigned operations
Recently, Business Insider recognized Christy as a power player in consulting. As University of Michigan Professor Lindred Greer wrote in the nomination, “Christy and her firm stand out in disrupting traditional consulting work by activating talent underemployed or out of the labor market (parents, caring for aging parents, living in nonurban areas, desiring part time work and / or older in age). They work to foster and develop racial, gender and social economically diverse young talent through a fellowship program. They also give back 4.5% of revenue in pro bono consulting. Together, beyond Christy and her firm’s excellence in developing and implementing rigorous strategy for their clients, they stand out from any firm I know in their commitment to the people side of work – both in leveraging it as a competitive advantage as well as a societally important area to contribute toward. She’s built a work-from-home model committed to helping people keep a hand in the labor market while raising three kids.”
Christy holds an MBA from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business with a certificate in public management. She led the personal side of leadership club, was involved with the center for social innovation and co-led the student admissions committee. She also has a Master’s in Education from Stanford’s School of Education. Her undergraduate degree is in Economics from Western Washington University. Christy resides in Mukilteo, Washington with her husband, Kyle Johnson, her daughter and her twin boys.
Liz Squadron is the Executive Vice President for Operations Administration & Business Process Improvement at the 92nd Street Y, New York. In her role, Liz is responsible for overseeing the Community Center programs at 92NY including the Himan Brown Senior Program, the 92NY Residence, and the May Center for Health and Fitness. She is also responsible for improving business processes and operations across 92NY to better serve patrons and improve efficiency for employees.
Prior to joining 92NY, Liz was Vice President for Strategic Initiatives & External Relations at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC). In her role at HUC, Liz was responsible for strategic planning, operations and communications across the four-campus institution.
Liz has also worked extensively in City government, most recently as Director of the Mayor’s Office of Operations under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. As Director of Operations, she was responsible for overseeing performance and project management for 44 City agencies as well as supervising the 311 Customer Service Center.
Liz has a BA in Urban Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master’s degree in Social Policy from the London School of Economics. She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her family.
Elizabeth Leber, Managing Partner, Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners
Liz Leber is dedicated to advancing mission-based institutions through forward-looking architecture and planning projects. Guided by her astute and inquisitive nature, Liz excels at extracting the core objectives of her clients and their stakeholders and translating the collective needs and mission of institutions into creative architectural solutions. She is skilled at facilitating consensus around a cohesive vision, from internal governing boards to outside agencies. Both within and outside the firm, she is recognized for her ability to approach every challenge with a balance of creativity, pragmatism, and unfailing optimism. Liz applies these same skills and energy to her role as Managing Partner of Beyer Blinder Belle. Her position affirms the firm’s successful transition to a third generation of leadership and ensures BBB’s future-looking strategic vision and sustainability. Liz’s clients include leading universities such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, as well as not-for-profit institutions including the New York Public Library and the 92nd Street Y. Liz is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania (B.A., Art History) and Columbia University (M.Arch.) She is a board member of the Urban Green Council. She is a registered architect in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Rhode Island, and is NCARB certified. Liz has been at BBB since 2001.
Christine O’Connell, Executive Director, Riley's Way Foundation
Christine O’Connell, Ph.D., is an expert in the field building empathetic leaders and organizations, and science communication and engagement. She is currently the Executive Director of Riley’s Way Foundation (rileysway.org), an organization whose mission is to empower a youth-led kindness movement, providing young people with the programs, support and inclusive community they need to thrive as changemakers. Previously, she was the founding Associate Director and a professor at the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science (aldacenter.org) at Stony Brook University where she helped create and build the Center and its empathy-based curriculum to international acclaim. Christine has a record of providing strategic direction to grow non-profit and academic organizations, research initiatives, and environmental and community campaigns. She received her B.S. from Cornell University, and Ph.D. at Stony Brook University.
She is a sought-after public speaker and has led workshops and headlined at conferences and institutions around the world including NASA, Google, The National Academies, and Harvard. She was the co-chair of the Advisory Board for 500 Women Scientists, and retains affiliate appointments at Stony Brook University in New York and the Broad Institute in Cambridge, MA. She is a published author and her research focuses on best practices in empathetic communication, novel collaborations in STEM, and communication bias and stereotypes for women in STEM.
Sarah Russo is the founder and CEO of Page One Media, a boutique public relations and marketing firm supporting, author, publishers, and literary start-ups. A publishing professional with over twenty years of experience, Sarah has worked across publicity, communications, traditional marketing, social media marketing, branding, and business development. Sarah has worked in-house for Alfred A. Knopf, Doubleday, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, and Oxford University Press, and as a consultant for National Book Critics Circle, the Association of University Presses, the American Booksellers Association, Scribd, Curtis Brown, Ltd., The Oxford American, New Scientist, Coffee House Press, Europa Editions, International Literary Properties, and with authors too numerous to count. Most recently, Sarah was the Global Head of Audience Engagement, Publicity, and Social Media for Oxford University Press, the largest not-for-profit publisher of trade and academic books in the world. She has been a speaker at Social Media Week, the Association of American Historians and the Organization of American Historians, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Brooklyn Book Festival, the Louisiana Book Festival, Johns Hopkins University, The New School, Adelphi University, Pace University, and many others.
Friederike Schuur, Chief of Data Governance and Strategy, UNICEF
Friederike is the Chief of Data Governance and Strategy at UNICEF where she leads efforts to foster a culture of responsible data use to evolve programmatic efforts and inform policy making across UNICEF’s country offices and governments in service of children. Prior to UNICEF, she was a Senior Programme Officer at UN Global Pulse, the UN Secretary General’s innovation hub. Friederike spent several years in the private sector at technology startups as Director of Data Science at Cityblock Health and a member of Fast Forward Labs (acquired by Cloudera) where she led applied machine learning and AI research initiatives and established a data strategy consulting practice. Friederike was a 2021 Fellow in Digital Ethics at the Jain Family Institute, 2020 Women in Power Fellow, and a 2019 Assembly Fellow at the MIT Media Lab and Harvard Berkman Klein Center. She served on the Data Advisory Board of USA for UNHCR as a member, co-chair, and chair. She earned a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience from University College London. She picked up playing the piano during the pandemic and enjoys playing it with no audience.
Rebekah Shrestha, SVP, Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact and Office of Strategic Planning, 92NY
Rebekah Shrestha leads the Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact and the Office of Strategic Planning at 92NY. At the Belfer Center, she oversees the Center’s strategic direction, programming, and team — ensuring the Center meets its mission of creating scalable solutions to society’s most pressing challenges. As the founding Managing Director of the Office of Strategic Planning, she infuses strategic rigor and scalable models across 92NY’s innovative programming.
Rebekah has worked in strategy consulting, movement building, and communications for 20 years, including roles at McKinsey & Company, Purpose, and Obama for America.
Seisei Tatebe-Goddu is the founder and CEO of Tandem Consulting Group, providing strategy and organizational development consulting, coaching, and training across 3 continents. Her career began in conflict resolution, a lens she brings to her work coaching leaders and building high-performing teams. Seisei is also currently the co-founder of a stealth startup, Venture Partner at Republic, coach at The Grand, and a Phillips Exeter Academy General Alumni Association Director. Previously, she taught an MA core curriculum course on complex systems and sustainability and shaped the strategy and operational infrastructure for two major political organizations. She has been profiled in Nasdaq and her work has been featured in The New York Times, the Associated Press, The Washington Post, The Nation, The Atlantic, Vox, Politico, HuffPost, Axios, NPR, and Thrive Global. She serves as a Board Member of Lyric New York and an Advisor to The Bloom. Seisei holds degrees from McGill and Columbia, sings with Coro Mundi, explores the open ocean through free diving, and is mom to a rescue pup named Loki.
Theresa S. Thames, Associate Dean of Religious Life & the Chapel, Princeton University
The Rev. Dr. Theresa S. Thames (she/her/hers) is the Associate Dean of Religious Life and of the Chapel at Princeton University. Born and raised in Biloxi, Mississippi, being a Black woman from the deep south informs her sense of the world. Theresa graduated from Howard University, Duke University Divinity School, and Wesley Theological Seminary. She is passionate about the intersections of theology, gender, organizational development, and social justice. Though an ordained United Methodist pastor, she considers herself more poly-religious regarding her desire to understand God’s depth and breadth. Theresa is a challenging preacher, thoughtful theologian, wife, and devoted friend. She shares her brilliance on platforms such as Netflix, The Moth, Omega Institute, and many others.
She is the founder of Soul Joy Coaching & Yoga LLC, a coaching and yoga service that inspires womxn and folx of color to discover their deepest truths and cultivate joy. She is unapologetically queer and lives a life rooted in activism and liberation theology. Theresa is a music connoisseur, avid reader, certified yoga teacher, Peloton rider, an OG GirlTrekker, and dog mama. She loves the arts so much that she wanted to be an opera singer, florist, and beautician growing up. Most importantly, Theresa believes that freedom is not optional, rest is her strength, and radical joy is her resistance.
Aamina Awan Khan, Chief Partnerships Officer/Senior Advisor, U.S. Department of State
Aamina Awan-Khan is currently serving in the U.S. Department of State. An international affairs leader with 15+ years of experience in cross-functional stakeholder partnerships, project development and management, Aamina has created and led programs in the areas of education, technology, and community engagement. She brings a multi-sectoral perspective, leveraging prior experience working with governments, corporations, academic institutions, and civil partners in the U.S. and abroad.
Prior to joining the government, Aamina began her tri-sectoral career at Credit Suisse. She has also held management roles at the Clinton Foundation and UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.
A 2020 Women inPower Fellow, a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a former U.S. Fulbright to the Kingdom of Bahrain, Aamina holds a BA degree in International Relations and Political Science from Fairfield University and a MSc degree in Gender and International Development from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is a Trustee of Notre Dame Academy in Worcester, Massachusetts, and is part of the 2022 Presidential Leadership Scholars cohort. Aamina also recently joined the Truman National Security Project as a Security Fellow.
Alexsandra Sanford, Chief Operating Officer, Columbia University’s School of International & Public Affairs
Alexsandra Sanford is Chief Operating Officer at Columbia University’s School of International & Public Affairs. In this role, she is a key strategic advisor to the Dean, responsible for helping shape, communicate and implement the ambitious vision for the school. Alex manages SIPA’s student-facing administrative areas, including the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, the Office of Student Affairs, Communications and External Relations, and the Career Advancement Center.
Previously, Sanford was on the executive management team at Eurasia Group and over the course of two decades she played a central role in building the firm’s external profile and overseeing the brand and communications strategy, commercial media strategy, digital communications, and content marketing for the firm’s offices around the world. During that time, she served as Managing Director and Chief Communications Officer, responsible for all communications and marketing for Eurasia Group and worked with key clients to create world-class communications strategies. She was also founding CEO of GZERO Media, a Eurasia Group subsidiary launched in 2017 with Eurasia Group’s Founder and President Ian Bremmer. GZERO is an award-winning multimedia news publisher dedicated to providing the public with intelligent and engaging coverage of global affairs without ideology. Prior to GZERO, Sanford worked for ABC News, producing international and domestic coverage for “World News Tonight with Peter Jennings.”
Sanford holds a bachelor’s degree in English and French literature from Tufts University and a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.