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Grayson Alexander

Grayson Alexander is a student advocate from Springfield, Illinois. His work with Equality Illinois, the state’s LGBT legislative advocacy group, has led to more inclusive vital record laws for transgender Illinoisans.

His advocacy work began when he was denied bathroom access at school in 2013. Grayson became involved with the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, an organization that aims to promote the safety, support and healthy development of LGBT right to use the restrooms that align with their gender identity within the local school district and for local youth to take an active role in policy creation.

 He was honored to serve as Illinois’ first transgender State Senate Page in 2017. Grayson currently studies political science, history, and statistics at Loyola University Chicago and remains dedicated to promoting social justice and self-advocacy. 

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Camille Allen

Camille Allen is a sophomore at Barnard College of Columbia University studying Sociology with a minor in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Originally from Evanston, Illinois Camille found her start as a student leader and activist at Evanston Township High School, where she served on the leadership board of Students Organized Against Racism (SOAR). A student-led equity group dedicated to anti-racism and challenging oppressive institutional practices, Camille acted as a facilitator for courageous conversations at SOAR’s conferences, held for two days every semester and attended by over a hundred of her peers. During her senior year of high school, Camille served as Student Representative to the District 202 Board of Education, where she amplified student voice and advocated for student agency. Currently, Camille acts as Class of 2020 Representative on Barnard’s Council for Diversity and Inclusion, expanding campus dialogue about diversity, inclusion, and equity. Camille also works as Resident Assistant of the Social Justice House, where she implements social justice programming and facilitates weekly discussions about privilege, oppression, and power. Recently, she began an internship as an Intern Investigator with the Legal Aid Society, an organization of public defenders. Camille is passionate about Black feminism, community building, and social change. In the future, she plans to pursue a career in public policy and civil rights law.

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Mia Birdsong

Mia Birdsong is a family and community visionary who has spent more than 20 years fighting for the self-determination, and pointing out the brilliant adaptations, of everyday people. She’s currently working on How We Show Up, a book about the ways people build expansive and supportive family and community. She is a Senior Fellow at the Economic Security Project, where she is expanding the current guaranteed income movement to include perspectives and leadership from communities experiencing economic and racial injustice. Previously, Mia was Co-Director of Family Story, where she worked to update this nation’s outdated, narrow idea of the family in America. Before that, she was Vice President of the Family Independence Initiative, an organization that leverages the power of data and stories to illuminate and accelerate the initiative low-income families take to improve their lives.

Mia’s 2015 TED talk, “The Story We Tell About Poverty Isn’t True,” has been viewed over 1.6 million times already. She speaks at universities and conferences across the country. She lives and dreams big in Oakland, California.

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Marla Blow

Marla Blow is the Founder and CEO of FS Card, a startup credit card company, and serves as a Partner with Fenway Summer. In February 2018, Ms. Blow joined the Board of Directors of, the world's largest online marketplace for finding and managing family care. 

Previously, she was part of the Implementation Team to stand up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and ultimately served as the Assistant Director for Card and Payment Markets, where she shaped the CFPB’s regulatory priorities in these markets.

Prior to joining the CFPB, Marla spent seven years in a variety of functions at Capital One in the credit card business.  Ms. Blow is a Henry Crown Fellow and is a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network as well as a member of the US Capital Chapter of YPO.  She previously served on the Board of Directors of FactorTrust, a provider of underbanked consumer data, analytics and risk scoring solutions.  Marla holds an MBA from Stanford University and an undergraduate degree from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Ray Boshara

Ray Boshara is senior adviser and director of the Center for Household Financial Stability at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. The center conducts research on family balance sheets and how they matter for strengthening families and the economy. Boshara is also a senior fellow in the Financial Security Program at the Aspen Institute, where his work focuses on the future of building wealth. Before joining the Fed in 2011, Boshara was vice president of New America, a think tank in Washington, D.C., where he launched and directed several domestic and international policy programs. He has also worked at CFED, a UN agency in Rome, the U.S. Congress, and Ernst & Young. Over the past 25 years, he has advised presidential candidates as well as the George W. Bush, Clinton and Obama administrations. He has testified before the U.S. Congress several times. Boshara has written for The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Democracy, among other publications, and his media appearances include National Public Radio, CNBC, C-SPAN, and Bloomberg News. He serves on many local and national boards and commissions related to financial security, community development, and peace and justice. His book, The Next Progressive Era, co-authored with Phillip Longman, was published in 2009. Boshara is a graduate of The Ohio State University, Yale Divinity School and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

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Laphonza Butler

Laphonza Butler is the President of SEIU Local 2015 – the recently formed statewide long term care union that has united the voices of more than 325,000 SEIU nursing home and home care workers throughout California. SEIU Local 2015 is the largest union in California and the largest long term care local in the country.

Since the formation of Local 2015 on June 2, 2015, its members have celebrated historic victories at the local, state, and federal levels - including the passage of the nation’s first $15 statewide minimum wage – a victory that will improve the lives of over 6 million Californians and for which Butler’s leadership was honored by the White House. 

Prior to leading SEIU Local 2015, Butler served for seven years as President of SEIU United Long Term Care Workers (ULTCW), a local that successfully improved the lives of its 180,000 long term care workers and those they care for by fighting for better wages and benefits, protecting funding for long term care programs, and passing legislation that restored vital hours of care to seniors and people with disabilities and brought dignity to the work of caregivers.

Butler has also served as SEIU’s Property Services Division Director in which she was responsible for the strategic direction of the more than 250,000 janitors, security officers, window cleaners, and food service workers across the country. She was instrumental in
reaching collective bargaining agreements on behalf of 20,000 security officers in nine major cities across the United States and played a key role in the uniting of 25,000 foodservice workers in a virtually non-union industry. Through these positions, Butler has acquired years of experience in working to improve the lives of working families by successfully running strategic organizing campaigns, forming alliances with community and political allies, and partnering with other unions to build worker strength. 

In addition to her role as President of SEIU Local 2015, Butler serves as an SEIU International Vice President and President of the SEIU California State Council. Other committees and commissions include Chair of the University of California African American Advisory Council; Board Member for the National Children’s Defense Fund, Board Member for the New World Foundation, Fellow for the MIT Community Innovators Lab, Young Leader Fellow for the French American Foundation, Board Member for the Fair Shake Commission, and Member of LA24 – the Olympic Organizing Committee for the City of Los Angeles. She has also served as a Director for the Board of Governors of the Los Angeles branch of the Federal Reserve System and was appointed by Senator Harry Reid to President Obama’s Long Term Care Commission. 

A proud native of the south, Butler is a graduate of Jackson State University, in Jackson, MS.

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Ángel Cabrera

Ángel Cabrera is the president of George Mason University, Virginia’s largest public research university. Established in Fairfax in 1972, Mason today operates several campuses across the Washington, D.C., metropolitan region and in Incheon, South Korea. Since 2016, Mason is one of the 115 universities in the United States selected for the highest research category of the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

Before becoming Mason’s president in 2012, Cabrera led IE Business School in Madrid, and Thunderbird School of Global Management, now affiliated with Arizona State University. Cabrera is the first native of Spain to have served as president of an American university.

As a business educator, Cabrera played a key role in advancing professional ethics, internationalization, and corporate social responsibility. As a senior advisor to the United Nations Global Compact, he was the lead author of the Principles of Responsible Management Education, now adopted by more than 500 business schools around the world. In partnership with the World Economic Forum and leading Harvard Business School faculty, he co-founded The Oath Project, an international initiative to establish a code of conduct for business leaders. In 2004, Businessweek named him one of 25 “Stars of Europe” and the Financial Times in 2011 recognized him as one of the top 20 business school leaders in the world.

The World Economic Forum named Cabrera a “Global Leader for Tomorrow” in 2002, a “Young Global Leader” in 2005, and chair of the Global Agenda Council for entrepreneurship in 2008. He was an Aspen Institute Henry Crown Fellow in 2008 and a Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting topic leader in 2010.

Cabrera chairs the Commission on International Initiatives for the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, and serves on the advisory boards of the National Science Foundation (Education and Human Resources Directorate), the Council for the International Exchange of Scholars (Fulbright Program), Georgia Institute of Technology, and ITESM in Monterrey, Mexico. He serves on the boards of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, the Bankinter Foundation of Innovation in Madrid, and other civic organizations. He has served on the corporate boards of three public companies: eFunds, PetSmart and, currently, Inovio Pharmaceuticals.

Cabrera has written numerous papers in leading academic journals. His papers in knowledge sharing have been cited more than 2,500 times. His most recent book, Being Global: How to Think, Act, and Lead in a Transformed World, was published by Harvard Business Review in 2012. His views on global leadership, higher education, and corporate citizenship have been quoted by leading global media, including The Economist, BBC, CNN, CNBC, El País, Forbes, the International Herald Tribune, the Washington Post, and the New York Times.

Cabrera holds BS and MS degrees in engineering from Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and MS and PhD degrees in psychology and cognitive science from Georgia Tech, which he attended as a Fulbright Scholar.

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Marcia Chatelain

Marcia Chatelain is Associate Professor of History and African American Studies at Georgetown University.  The author of South Side Girls: Growing up in the Great Migration from Duke University Press, she teaches about women’s and girls’ history, as well as the history of black capitalism.  She is currently working on the book From Sit-In to Drive Thru: Black America and Fast Food in an Age of Crisis, which is under contract with Liveright Publishing, a division of Norton and Company.  Chatelain’s book will examine the intricate relationship among African American politicians, civil rights organizations, communities, and the fast food industry.  Chatelain has published pieces in TheAtlantic.ComThe Washington Post, and The Chronicle of Higher Education.  She has also contributed to the popular podcast, “Undisclosed,” serving as the resident historian on a narrative arc about the 2015 killing of Freddie Gray by members of the Baltimore Police Department.  In 2016, the Chronicle of Higher Education named her a Top Influencer in academia.  During the 2017-2018 academic year, she will be on leave from Georgetown with support from a National Endowment for the Humanities Faculty Fellowship.

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Maureen Conway

Maureen Conway serves as Vice President for Policy Programs at the Aspen Institute and Executive Director of the Institute’s Economic Opportunities Program. Maureen founded EOP’s Workforce Strategies Initiative and has headed up workforce research at the Aspen Institute since 1999. She is a nationally recognized expert in sectoral workforce development and is the author of numerous publications, including co-editing the book Connecting People to Work: Workforce Intermediaries and Sector Strategies. Her current work includes documenting and evaluating promising innovations in strategies that seek to improve job quality for lower-income workers while also helping workers to improve their skills and businesses to thrive. Maureen holds an M.B.A. from Columbia University, where she was a Samuel Bronfman Scholar, a Masters in Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina, and a B.A. in Economics and Mathematics from Holy Cross College.


Michelle Cooper

In September 2008, Michelle Asha Cooper, Ph.D., became the second president of the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP)—one of the nation’s most effective voices in championing access and success.  As a results-oriented, decisive leader with significant experience in the postsecondary education field, Cooper is recognized as a well-respected practitioner, researcher, and policy advocate helping to reaffirm IHEP's role of ensuring equal educational opportunities for all students.

Cooper is responsible for stewardship of the organization’s rich history of addressing the educational needs of today’s students, particularly underserved students, many of whom are low income, students of color, and adults. She raises awareness of the organization by identifying innovative solutions that create real change for students who encounter obstacles as they attempt to access and matriculate through postsecondary education. Cooper also oversees the organization’s expansive research portfolio and the analytic expertise used to inform and shape national, state, local and institutional policy reform.

On behalf of IHEP, Cooper has raised millions to create and maintain strong partnerships with national and international leaders from the postsecondary, policy, philanthropic, business and civic communities. Under Cooper’s leadership, IHEP has developed a policy agenda to align the organization’s future work through four priorities: (1) access and success pathways, (2) college affordability and institutional finance, (3) meaningful data for accountability and transparency, (4) supporting critical communities and critical institutions serving 21st-century students.  Because of IHEP’s nonpartisan, evidence-based approach to advancing postsecondary education, Cooper is often asked to provide advice to Congressional and state legislative staff.  She has provided testimony to the U.S. Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and the U.S. House of Representatives’ Education and the Workforce Committee. 

With a career rooted in the postsecondary community, Cooper also has served as the deputy director for the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance at the U.S. Department of Education. The Advisory Committee was an independent, nonpartisan committee created by Congress to provide advice and counsel to Congress and the Secretary of Education on higher education and student financial aid policy. In this position, she interacted with policymakers, oversaw all policy research activities, and managed day-to-day operations. Before joining the Advisory Committee, Cooper held various leadership positions at the Association of American Colleges and Universities, the Council for Independent Colleges and King’s College.

Cooper is a member of the board of directors for uAspire and the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars. She also serves on several advisory boards, including the National Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islander Research in Education and the African-American Male Initiative. In addition, Cooper is a National Leadership Council member of the Association of American Colleges and Universities' Liberal Education and America’s Promise (also known as LEAP), which is a national initiative that champions the importance of a 21st-century liberal education.

Additionally, Cooper is a “thought leader” and highly sought-after contributor to the national discourse, providing commentary to media outlets such as C-SPAN, FOX News, NPR as well as The Chronicle of Higher Education, Huffington Post, The Hill, Inside Higher Ed, USA Today, and Washington Post.  She has written extensively and co-authored Becoming a Student-Ready College:  A New Culture of Leadership for Student Success(link is external), which reverses the college readiness conversation to offer a new paradigm on institutional value-add in boosting student outcomes.

Cooper is the recipient of several awards recognizing her work in advancing economic and educational opportunities. She has been awarded the prestigious Aspen Institute Presidential Fellowship(link is external)(2016); the Center for Nonprofit Advancement’s EXCEL (Excellence in Chief Executive Leadership) Award (2014), as well as Politic365’s “Game Changer” (2012, 2013) – which recognized her among a distinguished group of bi-partisan, multicultural leaders from across the country whose foresight and active engagement in both the public and private sectors are critical to America’s domestic success and global leadership. In 2012, the Black Women’s Agenda honored Cooper for her outstanding “economic development contributions to advance, secure and protect the rights of Black women and their families.”

In November 2011, Cooper, along with the entire IHEP staff, was recognized by the Association for the Study of Higher Education for showing exemplary leadership to the higher education community. In 2010, ESSENCE magazine selected Cooper as a “powerful visionary,” while celebrating Black women under 40 who are trailblazers. A year earlier, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education magazine also named her “25 to Watch(link is external)” in its special 25th anniversary issue featuring 25 up-and-coming higher education leaders who are carrying the diversity mantle forward in an avowed commitment to progress. In March 2012, Diverse celebrated Cooper in its first-ever “Women’s History Month(link is external)” issue as one of 25 women who stand out for their ability to forge solutions to the unprecedented challenges faced by the nation’s colleges and universities.

A native of Charleston, SC, Cooper received her B.A. from the College of Charleston, an M.P.S. from Cornell University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland, College Park. She also is a member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

A fierce advocate for equity and social justice in higher education, Cooper is well-versed in higher education access and success (domestic and international), with special emphasis on equitable reform of higher education, college affordability and financial aid policy, institutional accountability, diversity and equity, and other national higher education trends and policies.  In addition to be a content expert, Cooper has demonstrated strong leadership skills, marked by proven success in strategic planning, fiscal management and revenue generation. She is politically and business savvy with the ability to build relationships and consensus among diverse constituencies. Cooper has gained worldwide respect and has strong networks both nationally and internationally.

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Virginia Eubanks

Virginia Eubanks is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University at Albany, SUNY. She is the author of Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the PoorDigital Dead End: Fighting for Social Justice in the Information Age; and co-editor, with Alethia Jones, of Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around: Forty Years of Movement Building with Barbara Smith. Her writing about technology and social justice has appeared in The American ProspectThe NationHarper’s and Wired. For two decades, Eubanks has worked in community technology and economic justice movements. Today, she is a founding member of the Our Data Bodies Project and a Fellow at New America. She lives in Troy, NY.

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Harold Feld

Harold Feld is the Senior Vice President for Public Knowledge, one of the nation’s premier consumer advocacy organizations working at the intersection of copyright, telecommunications and the Internet.  Feld is highly regarded as a thought leader in the areas of spectrum reform, broadband policy and digital consumer protection.  He was previously Senior Vice President at the Media Access Project (MAP), a public interest law firm, where he advanced competition policies in media, telecommunications and technology.  Prior to joining MAP, Feld was an associate at Covington & Burling, and clerked for the DC Court of Appeals.

Feld is a frequent author on technology, broadband access and wireless policies, and his scholarly, legal and opinion pieces have been published in the Los Angeles Times, The Hill, Legal Times, and The San Jose Mercury News.  He also regularly appears as a contributor, through his popular blog Tales of the Sausage Factory (available at  In 2007, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin praised Feld and his blog for “[doing] a lot of great work helping people understand how FCC decisions affect people and communities on the ground.”  He has appeared on Bloomberg, CNBC, and C-Span’s The Communicators, and has regularly testified on a variety of policy issues before the US House and Senate Commerce and Judiciary Committees.

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Elliot Gerson

Elliot Gerson, executive vice president at the Aspen Institute, is responsible for its Policy Programs, its Public Programs and its relations with international partners. The Institute's more than 30 Policy Programs focus on both domestic and international issues. They provide neutral venues, do nonpartisan analysis, foster candid dialogue among leaders, advocate new policy and promote best practices. The Institute's public programs - including the Aspen Ideas Festival and many smaller programs across the country - open the Institute's doors to a broader audience and further both its educational goals and its hopes that thought will lead to action.  The Institute has international partners in Europe, Asia and Latin America. Gerson also administers the US Rhodes Scholarships. He was a Rhodes Scholar, a US Supreme Court clerk, practiced law in government and privately, held executive positions in state and federal government and on a presidential campaign, and before Aspen was president of start-ups in health care and education, and of two leading national insurance and health-care companies.

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Fatima Goss Graves

Ms. Goss Graves has served in numerous roles at the National Women’s Law Center for more than a decade and  has a distinguished track record working across a broad set of issues central to women’s lives—including income security, health and reproductive rights, education access, and workplace justice. Ms. Goss Graves is currently overseeing the Center’s administration of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which connects those who experience sexual misconduct including assault, harassment, abuse and related retaliation in the workplace or in trying to advance their careers with legal and public relations assistance. Prior to becoming CEO and President, she served as the Center’s Senior Vice President for Program, where she led the organization’s broad program agenda. Prior to that, as the Center’s Vice President for Education and Employment, she led the Center’s anti-discrimination initiatives, including work to promote equal pay, and address harassment and violence at work and in school, with a particular focus on outcomes for women and girls of color.

She is widely recognized for her effectiveness in the complex public policy arena at both the state and federal levels, regularly testifies before Congress and federal agencies, and is a frequent speaker at conferences and other public education forums. Ms. Goss Graves appears often in print and on air as a legal expert on issues core to women’s lives, including in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, AP, Chicago Tribune, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, CNN, MSNBC, PBS and NPR.

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Steve Grant

Steve is a founding member of The Innovation Lab for Prudential Workplace Solutions, exploring new models of consumer engagement, and creating new solutions that overcome behavioral and financial obstacles to long-term savings and financial wellness.  He leads the Applied Behavioral and Social Science team at the Lab. The Applied group is a team of behavioral economists, anthropologists, social psychologists and other experts in an interdisciplinary exploration of what drives consumer behavior, financial wellness, and wellbeing. This program gives leading academic researchers  and research institutions the opportunity to work directly with Prudential customers, creating a win-win for everyone: a unique research opportunity, better economic and emotional outcomes for Prudential customers, and positive impact to the firm’s bottom line. Before joining the Lab, Steve had a 20-year career in consumer research, brand strategy, and product development.  His previous clients have included Isuzu, Netjets Europe, Nissan, Infiniti, Jaguar Cars, Chiquita, Procter & Gamble, Duke Medicine, and Nestle.

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Darrick Hamilton

Darrick Hamilton is the director of the doctoral program in public and urban policy, and jointly appointed as professor of economics and urban policy at The Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy and the Department of Economics, The New School for Social Research at The New School in New York.

He is a faculty research fellow at the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at The New School, the immediate past president of the National Economic Association (NEA), an associate director of the Diversity Initiative for Tenure in Economics Program, an associate director of the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University, and co-principal investigator of the National Asset Scorecard in Communities of Color Project (NASCC).

Professor Hamilton is a stratification economist, whose work focuses on the causes, consequences and remedies of racial and ethnic inequality in economic and health outcomes, which includes an examination of the intersection of identity, racism, colorism, and socioeconomic outcomes.  He has authored numerous scholarly articles on socioeconomic stratification in education, marriage, wealth, homeownership, health (including mental health), and labor market outcomes.

He has written many articles/opinion-editorials, which include the translation of his research findings from academic journals to popular press publication, examples include Atlanta Journal Constitution The American Prospect, Axios, the Christian Science Monitor, Dissent Magazine, Jacobin Magazine, the New York Times, theGrio, the Huffington Post, the Washington Monthly, the Washington Post, and Yes! Magazine.

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Shané Harris

Shané Harris serves as vice president of Corporate Giving, where she oversees all cash giving for Prudential’s Corporate Social Responsibility program. Her responsibilities include management of staff, development of program strategy and oversight of the distribution of over $50 million in grants and charitable contributions.

Prior to joining Prudential in 2004, Harris was the director of the New Jersey Nets and Devils Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the New Jersey Nets Professional Basketball Team and the New Jersey Devils Professional Hockey Team. Before that, she was a program director for Communities in Schools of Newark, where she was responsible for brokering community resources to key schools in the Newark Public Schools district.

Harris serves as Chairman of the Corporate Social Responsibility Council at the Conference Board. She is a member of the Board of Directors for JerseyCan, a statewide education advocacy organization and is also Chairman of the Newark Trust for Education, a local education fund.

She has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Columbia University and holds a master’s degree in public administration from the New York University Wagner School of Public Service.

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Gary-Kayi Fletcher

Gary-Kayi Fletcher is an East Coast-based professional stage and screen artist. Recent stage credits include Between Us (Manhattan Repertory Theatre), the world premiere of Marley (Baltimore Center Stage); The Promised Land (Mosaic Theater Company of DC); American Hero (Rep Stage); Ruined and Fences (Everyman Theatre); and an award-winning performance as Lank in Detroit ‘67 (Paul Robeson Theatre). His film and TV credits include work in F.S. Key: After the SongAmerica’s Most WantedThe 6th Degree and the critically acclaimed web series Casters and Mythos. Gary-Kayi is a member of Luna Stage’s Studio Luna Acting Company.

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Patricia A. Keller

Patricia Keller is a Family Court Judge in the Sixth Family Court Circuit (Cabell County), where she presides over domestic relations hearings, including divorce, child custody, visitation, guardianship, domestic violence and support.

In addition to her Family Court duties, Judge Keller has been actively involved in the implementation of both juvenile and adult drug courts in the Sixth Judicial Circuit (Cabell County.) For more than a decade, Judge Keller has worked to establish drug courts in Cabell County. This includes establishing drug courts for both juveniles and adults, as well as adding the Women’s Empowerment and Addiction Recovery (WEAR) Program, a specialized track of the Cabell-Huntington Adult Drug Court that provides services to address the unique needs of drug-addicted women in the sex trade. Today, Judge Keller serves in a supporting role as the back-up judge for drug court. Recently, Judge Keller was one of the women featured in the Oscar-nominated Netflix short documentary Heroin(e), which shows the tireless struggle of those who attempt to fight against drugs by breaking the cycle of addition one life at a time.

Judge Keller is also involved in legal education, both by planning and presenting continuing education for colleagues, and teaching as an adjunct instructor at West Virginia University. Judge Keller has taught graduate classes in the Master of Legal Studies program since 1999; she teaches both Law & Society, as well as Family Law.

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J.D. LaRock

Dr. J.D. LaRock is President and CEO of the Commonwealth Corporation, Massachusetts' public-private corporation dedicated to workforce development, economic development, and youth development. A $55 million organization with employees across the state, Commonwealth Corporation advances Massachusetts' economic leadership through signature partnerships with employers, educational institutions, government agencies, and community-based organizations. 

Previously, J.D. was a member of Northeastern University's senior leadership team, where he was chief of staff to the university's president, among other executive roles. A scholar of education policy, higher education, and the future of work, J.D. is a Professor of the Practice of Law and Policy at Northeastern and a Fellow with the Aspen Institute's Economic Opportunities Program. 

Prior to his academic and university management career, J.D. was senior education adviser to the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, education policy director for Governor Deval L. Patrick of Massachusetts, a senior manager at the Economic Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) in Paris, and a television reporter in New York City. He is the co-editor of Special Education for a New Century (Harvard Education Press, 2005) and editor of the OECD publication Education at a Glance (2012). 

J.D. is a member of the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education and Chair of the Board of Trustees at North Shore Community College. He holds three degrees from Harvard, including a doctorate in education administration, policy, and social planning, and a law degree from Georgetown.

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Annie Lowrey

Annie Lowrey is a contributing editor at The Atlantic and the author of a book on universal basic incomes, to be published by Crown in July.  

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Cathie Mahon

Cathie Mahon is the President\CEO of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions.  The Federation has a 40 year history bringing safe and affordable financial products and services to underserved and untapped markets in the US through community-owned and controlled credit unions.

Ms. Mahon is former Deputy Commissioner for Financial Empowerment at NYC Department of Consumer Affairs, where she led the Office of Financial Empowerment.  The Office was launched by former Mayor Bloomberg as the first municipal office of its kind in the nation to educate, empower and protect low-income residents in the financial services marketplace.  

Ms. Mahon was a founding director of the Asset Funders Network, a network of grant makers dedicated to helping individuals and families with low incomes build assets. She has worked as a consultant for numerous community development financial institutions, high-profile policy and research organizations and funders such as the Aspen Institute, Annie E. Casey Foundation, City University of NY, NY Community Trust, Pro Mujer, World Council of Credit Unions and many others in the US and abroad.  She has been involved with credit unions and community development financial institutions for more than 20 years. 

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Alondra Nelson

Alondra Nelson is President of the Social Science Research Council and Professor of Sociology at Columbia University, where she served as the inaugural Dean of Social Science. Nelson has published award-winning and widely acclaimed books and articles exploring the junction of science, medicine, and social inequality. She is author most recently of The Social Life of DNA: Race, Reparations, and Reconciliation after the Genome. She has contributed to national policy discussions on inequality and about the social implications of new technologies, including artificial intelligencebig data, and human gene-editing. Nelson serves on the board of directors of the Data & Society Research Institute, on the board for African-American Programs at Monticello, and on the steering committee of the Eric H. Holder Institute for Civil and Political Rights. Her essays, reviews, and commentary have appeared in the Washington Post, Science, the Boston Globe, and on National Public Radio, among other venues. She has served as a member of the World Economic Forum Network on AI, the Internet of Things, and Trust as well as the NSF-sponosred Council on Big Data, Ethics, and Society. Raised in Southern California, Nelson is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of California at San Diego. She earned her PhD from New York University.

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Jay Newton-Small

Jay Newton-Small is founder of MemoryWell, a national network of more than 425 journalists who tell the life stories of those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia in order to improve their care.

Previously, Newton-Small was Washington correspondent for TIME Magazine, where she remains a contributor.  At TIME she covered politics as well as stories on five continents from conflicts in the Middle East to the earthquake in Haiti and the November 2015 Paris terror attacks. She has written nearly a dozen TIME cover stories and interviewed numerous heads of state, including Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

She authored the 2016 best selling book, Broad Influence: How Women Are Changing the Way America Works.

Before TIME, Newton-Small was a reporter for Bloomberg News, where she covered the White House and politics.

Newton-Small received an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University and undergraduate degrees in International Relations and Art History from Tufts University. She is a 2017 Halcyon Incubator fellow, a 2016-2017 New America fellow and a 2015 Harvard Institute of Politics fellow. She is the 2016 winner of the prestigious Dirksen Award for congressional reporting and the 2016 Deadline Club award for community service reporting.

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Michele Norris

Michele Norris is one of the most trusted voices in American journalism. Her voice informed, engaged and enlightend listeners with thoughtful interviews and in depth reporting as one of the hosts of NPR’s flagship afternoon broadcast, All Things Considered. Michele still uses her approachable interviewing style that is at once relaxed and rigorous. She’s interviewed world leaders, Nobel laureates, Oscar winners, American Presidents, military leaders, influential newsmakers and even astronauts traveling in outer space.

In her first book, The Grace of Silence, she turns her formidable interviewing and investigative skills on her own background to unearth long hidden family secrets that raise questions about her racial legacy and shed new light on America’s complicated racial history. Michele started The Race Card Project in 2010 to help foster a candid dialogue about race.

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Franz Paasche

As Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Communications, Franz W. Paasche leads PayPal’s global external and internal communications functions and the company’s global government relations and public policy activities which   contribute to the company’s overall Business Affairs mandate. He also is responsible for leading  PayPal’s Social Innovation efforts to drive positive social impact  and make a difference for consumers, businesses and communities around the world. In this role, Franz brings over 25 years of experience extensive expertise in corporate, communications, government, legal and public affairs domains to PayPal’s expanding global network.

Before joining PayPal, Franz served as Head of External Relations for North America for McKinsey & Company, where he was responsible for external relations, public affairs, strategic communications and reputation risk, and oversaw issues management, thought leadership initiatives, and knowledge relationships across McKinsey’s Americas region. In addition, he served on the firm’s Global Communications and Publishing Executive Committee and provided counsel to McKinsey’s senior leadership and practice leaders.

Prior to McKinsey, Franz was a Senior Partner at Communications Consulting Worldwide, Fleishman Hillard’s multi-disciplinary strategic communications firm. Head of the firm’s leadership communications practice, he provided counsel to a wide range of global and national companies and institutions on reputation management, strategic leadership communications, brand development, public affairs and crisis communications.

In addition, Franz has been a Managing Director of the New York strategic communications firm Clark & Weinstock; General Counsel and Executive Vice President at the real-time financial information and technology company Market Data Corporation; and a litigator with the international law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. He’s a former staff member for Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan and has served as a lecturer on Leadership in Communications at Columbia University’s School of Continuing Education.

Franz graduated from Swarthmore College with High Honors in Political Science, English Literature and American Economic History. He received his law degree from the Columbia University School of Law, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and an editor of the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law. He is a member of the Bar in New York State and in New York City. He also is a member of  the Arthur Page Society and in 2016 was named on the Holmes Report Influence 100 list of the industry’s most influential corporate communications executives.


Eduardo Porter

Columnist, Economic Scene, The New York Times

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Daniel R. Porterfield

Daniel R. Porterfield, Ph.D, is the president and CEO of the Aspen Institute, effective June 1st. Dan has spent his career working in higher education and government to promote education equity and poverty prevention.

Currently the president of Franklin & Marshall College, Dan crafted a student talent strategy that has become a national model. In recent years, F&M has tripled the percentage of Pell Grant eligible students while strengthening the academic profile, diversity, and selectivity of incoming classes. The College has also reduced student indebtedness by 25% and set records for applications and fundraising.

Dan catalyzed the Aspen Institutes’ American Talent Initiative (ATI),  funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, which has a national goal of 50,000 more Pell Grant recipients enrolled in colleges and universities with 70%+ graduation rates by 2025.

 Prior to leading F&M, Dan served as Senior Vice President and English Professor at Georgetown University, where he led the University’s engagement with Washington, D.C. and won teaching awards for seminars focusing on social justice and civic engagement. Before that, he worked as a Senior Aide to HHS Secretary Donna Shalala and founded programs for newly arrived immigrants, court-supervised youth, and incarcerated adults.

Dan is a leading national voice on higher education issues. He writes frequently in major newspapers. In a recent profile in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Dan said, “If we don’t fight for educational excellence and equity, we’re ultimately not serving our society and our democracy...we should ask ourselves, insistently, What are we doing to invest in today’s young Americans?” The Obama White House named him one of 11 “Champions of Change for College Opportunity” and he has been honored for his work on student access by the KIPP Foundation, I Have A Dream Foundation, and Posse Foundation.

Dan is a graduate of Georgetown and Oxford Universities, and earned his doctorate in English at The City University of New York Graduate Center. He was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship and a Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities. He is married to Karen Herrling, who is a public interest attorney who works with vulnerable populations. They have three children.

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Ida Rademacher

Ida Rademacher is vice president at the Aspen Institute and executive director of Aspen financial security program – a leading national program dedicated to solving the most critical financial challenges facing America’s households and to shaping policies and products that enable all Americans to become more financially stable and secure. Ida combines a passion for creating deeply shared prosperity with a background in consumer insights and policy research. Her expertise on a range of consumer finance, retirement and tax policy topics makes her a frequent resource for journalists and policymakers at all levels of government. Previously, Rademacher served in research and leadership roles with Prosperity Now (formerly CFED), the Center for Applied Behavioral and Evaluation Research at AED, and the Aspen Institute economic opportunities program. She currently serves on the board of Common Cents Lab, EARN and the Financial Clinic.

Amanda Ripley

Amanda Ripley writes books and feature stories for The Atlantic, The New York Times and other outlets. She is the author, most recently, of The Smartest Kids in the World--and How They Got That Way, a New York Times bestseller. Her first book, The Unthinkable, was published in 15 countries and turned into a PBS documentary.

In her writing, Amanda explores the gap between public policy and actual human behavior. For Time and The Atlantic, she has written cover stories on the primacy of sports in American high schools, the college of the future and the science of motivating children. She has visited schools on four continents and interviewed hundreds of kids, teachers and parents. Her work has helped Time win two National Magazine Awards. To discuss her writing, Amanda has appeared on ABC, NBC, CNN, FOX News and NPR.

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John W. Rogers, Jr.

John W. Rogers, Jr. is Founder, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Investment Officer of Ariel Investments. Headquartered in Chicago, the firm offers six no-load mutual funds for individual investors and defined contribution plans as well as separately managed accounts for institutions and high net worth individuals.    

After working for 2½ years as a stockbroker at William Blair & Company, LLC, John founded Ariel Investments in 1983 to focus on undervalued small and medium-sized companies. Patience served as the cornerstone of a disciplined approach that still drives the firm today. 

John’s passion for investing started when he was 12 years old when his father bought him stocks, instead of toys, for every birthday and Christmas. His interest grew while majoring in Economics at Princeton University. In addition to following stocks as a college student, John also played basketball under Hall of Fame coach Pete Carril. He was captain of Princeton’s Varsity Basketball Team his senior year. There, Carril’s courtside lessons on teamwork profoundly shaped his views of entrepreneurship and investing.

Early in his career, John’s investment expertise brought him to the forefront of media attention, including being selected as Co-Mutual Fund Manager of the Year by Sylvia Porter’s Personal Finance magazine as well as an All-Star Mutual Fund Manager by USA TODAY. Furthermore, he has been highlighted alongside legendary investors Warren Buffett, Sir John Templeton and Ben Graham in the distinguished book: The World’s 99 Greatest Investors by Magnus Angenfelt. Today, he is regularly featured and quoted in a wide variety of broadcast and print publications and is a contributing columnist to Forbes.  

Beyond Ariel, John is a board member of Exelon and McDonald’s, and serves as trustee to the University of Chicago. Additionally, he is a trustee of Rush University Medical Center and a life trustee of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Nationally, John is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a director of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.

In 2008, John was awarded Princeton University’s highest honor, the Woodrow Wilson Award, presented each year to the alumni whose career embodies a commitment to national service. Following the election of President Barack Obama, he served as co-chair for the Presidential Inaugural Committee 2009, and more recently, he joined the Barack Obama Foundation’s Board of Directors.

We invite you to read John’s personal story to find out how his life experiences have shaped his approach to investing.  Please click here to read “Stocking up for Christmas.”

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Jahari Shelton

Jahari Shelton is a junior at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC, having earned admissions and a scholarship after graduating with distinction from DC Prep Public Charter School. Coming from a family with deep roots in the District of Columbia, he is already showing critical interest in the progression of his community. Even as a student in high school, he is in the process of founding a breakthrough organization that seeks to build the political and social power of youth and young adults. Recently, Jahari was a Fellow at Education Forward, an Intern at Relay Graduate School of Education, and a member of the DC Graduation Requirements Task Force. Currently, he is a board member for North Star College Prep Academy for Boys in D.C. 

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Lara Shock

Lara is responsible for partnering with Walmart’s business leaders to establish the strategic vision for initiatives that will enable the organization to connect great people to great jobs.  Included in this work is a focus on store level workforce planning and talent sourcing, enhancing the hiring and onboarding experience, and augmenting Walmart’s hourly workforce through innovative job design and associate led, customer focused schedule options.

She joined Walmart in 2005 as an hourly associate, and is proud that her career serves as an example of the company’s advancement opportunity. Her background reflects a passion for economic mobility and associate opportunity, and includes leadership roles within Talent Development, HR Strategy, and Small Format Operations.

Lara resides in Bentonville, Arkansas with her husband Josh and 14-year-old twin boys, Beau and Brett. In her free time, she enjoys riding her bike along the trails in Northwest Arkansas, traveling, and wandering around vinyl and antique shops.

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Connie Stewart

For the past 8 years, Connie Stewart has been Executive Director at the California Center for Rural Policy (CCRP) at Humboldt State University, a research center committed to informing policy, building community, and promoting the health and well-being of rural people and environments.

The Center works on a variety of issues including: health and human services access, cost and quality, broadband deployment, adoption and policy; wealth creation and economic development; food systems and food security; and data and evaluation services for community programs. It has a staff of 15 people.

Connie was honored to receive the 2017 Rural County Representatives of California President’s Award, for her work to bring broadband to rural California communities.  She also was honored with the 2014 “Nonprofit Leader Achievement Award” from the Northern California Association of Nonprofits and the 2014 “Innovations in Networking Award for Gigabit/Broadband Applications” from the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California.

Prior to joining CCRP, Connie was a Mayor and a member of the City Council in Arcata, California.

Connie currently a member of Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group’s Rural Development Innovation Group – a leadership group of seasoned rural economic development practitioners from across the country.  She also serves on the Board of Directors of Redwood Acres Fairground, North Coast Health Improvement and Information Network (NCHIIN) and the Open Door Community Health Center’s Board of Directors. She graduated in 1988 with a B.A. in speech communication.

Connie’s personal passions are cooking, gardening, paper crafting and watching sports.  “I have more than 100 cookbooks that I could list as my favorite book. I have 85 different rose bushes in my back yard. I recently turned my spare bedroom into a craft studio and I am a die-hard football fan.”  

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Karen Stout

Dr. Karen A. Stout became president and CEO of Achieving the Dream, Inc., (ATD) in 2015. With her leadership, ATD’s network is growing and innovating with new efforts around scaling advising redesign (iPASS), developing zero textbook degree using open education resources (OER), designing non-cognitive wrap around support systems (Working Student Success Network), and placing teaching and learning at the center of institutional change efforts. Dr. Stout has received national recognition for her accomplishments, including American Association for Women in Community College’s 2017 Woman of the Year, and Washington Monthly’s 16 most innovative higher education leaders (2016).

Karen joined ATD following a more than 14-year tenure as president of Montgomery County Community College (PA). During her tenure, the college distinguished itself as an ATD Leader College, earned the prestigious Leah Meyer Austin Award in 2014 for its college-wide approach to student success, and garnered numerous national awards for innovation in work with Veterans, the development of leading edge academic programs, applications of digital technology, and advancing sustainability.

Karen serves as a member of the College Promise National Advisory Board, the Board of Directors of Campus Compact, and the President’s Advisory Board to the Community College Research Center. She has also served as a Commissioner with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education serving on the Executive Committee (2011-2016), the Board of Directors of the American Association of Community Colleges (2011-2014), and Implementation Steering Committee co-chair of the American Association of Community Colleges’ 21st-Century Commission (2014), working with more than 100 leaders from across the country to develop a framework for the redesign of America’s community colleges.

A frequent speaker and writer, Karen focuses on strategies for enhancing student success and completion, accelerating and scaling innovation, and on launching a new era of community college fundraising.

She holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of Delaware, a master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Baltimore, and a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Delaware.

Photo credit: Anna Carson DeWitt

Photo credit: Anna Carson DeWitt

Margaret Talbot

Margaret Talbot has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2003. She has been a Contributing Writer at The New York Times magazine and executive editor of The New Republic, and her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Slate, and The National Geographic. Her article "The Addicts Next Door" about the opioid crisis in a West Virginia town, was published in The New Yorker in June, 2017.