Avi Green is the Executive Director of the Scholars Strategy Network, a nationwide group of university-based scholars working to improve public policy and enhance democracy. From 2006 to 2012, Avi was Executive Director of MassVOTE, an organization that works to reduce racial and economic disparities in voting and civic engagement in Massachusetts. Appointed by Governor Deval Patrick, Avi has also served on the Massachusetts State Ballot Law Commission and the Local Election District Review Commission.
Charlotte Golar Richie
Charlotte Golar Richie is a former state legislator, and an experienced leader and government administrator with a particular focus on civil rights, fairness and equality. As a former Commissioner for the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), she handled hundreds of discrimination complaints and led the agency’s efforts to develop a robust language access program for people with limited English proficiency. Charlotte served as a Senior Vice President for Public Policy, Advocacy & Government Relations for YouthBuild USA; the City of Boston’s Housing Chief & Director of the Department of Neighborhood Development; and served as a Massachusetts State Representative, including House Chair of the Joint Committee on Housing & Urban Development.
Charlotte made history in 2013 as Boston’s first African-American woman to run for mayor, garnering third place in a 12-person field. She continued her community activism as a member of the board of directors for YouthBuild USA, Tufts Health Plan, and as Vice Chair of Boston’s Higher Ground, which connects residents in Roxbury and Dorchester with needed services and programs. Charlotte also serves as Vice Chair for the Advisory Board for the Center for Women in Politics & Public Policy at the UMass Boston, and as a board member with the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus, which advances opportunities for women’s leadership in government and policy-making.
Charlotte holds an M.B.A. from Suffolk University, an M.S. in Journalism from Columbia University, and a B.A. in English from Rutgers University.
Cheryl Clyburn Crawford
Cheryl Clyburn Crawford is the Executive Director of MassVOTE. MassVOTE is an organization founded in 2001 to fight for political, racial and economic equality with a mission to increase voter turnout, modernize elections laws and engage the next generation of leaders.
Cheryl is the 1st Vice President of the NAACP-Boston Branch. She is a former Executive Board Chair of Emerge Massachusetts, a political leadership training program. Cheryl sits on the Women's Pipeline for Change’s Oversight and Planning Board. She is an active member of the Order of the Eastern Star; a Prince Hall affiliated organization as well as the Vice President of the Garrison Trotter Neighborhood Association.
Before MassVOTE, Cheryl served as Campaign Manager and then Chief of Staff to State Representative Willie Mae Allen. Born in New York, Cheryl grew up in Boston; and is a graduate of Lesley University.
David Jacoby, President of Boston Strategies International, is an energy industry economist, M&A adviser, and trade policy expert. He has been improving corporate strategy and performance for over 30 years, especially in the oil, gas, and power industries.
He has written five books on energy industry economics and global trade. In addition, he has contributed 250 speeches, articles and webcasts to publications such as Oil and Gas Journal, Supply Chain Management Review, Energy Tribune, and Supply Chain Quarterly.
Formerly, he taught Operations Management at Boston University's graduate school of business, served as a contributing editor at the Economist Intelligence Unit, and consulted to the World Bank. While based in Brazil, Hong Kong and France, he consulted on strategic sourcing, purchasing and outsourcing, shipping, and capital investments.
He holds an MBA from the Wharton School, a Masters in International Business from The Lauder Institute, a Bachelor of Science in Finance and Economics from the University of Pennsylvania, and several industry certifications. At the International Supply Chain Education Alliance (ISCEA), he is a member of its Ptak Prize Selection Committee. Mr. Jacoby is a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers.
Diane Hessan is a successful marketer, entrepreneur, and author. She is the CEO of Salient Ventures, an investment and advisory company with a portfolio of angel investments focused on Boston technology companies. Diane has served as the CEO of Startup Institute, and was the founder and long-time CEO of C Space, a leading consumer collaboration agency that has worked with over 200 major brands in over 96 countries.
Most recently, Diane has personally interviewed nearly 1,000 voters from all states, ages, and ends of the political spectrum, and is now online with them weekly as she looks for trends, shifts, and common ground. She regularly writes up her findings for The Boston Globe.
Diane has spent her 35-year career helping companies become customer-focused—both as a business executive, and as co-author of the book Customer-Centered Growth: Five Strategies for Building Competitive Advantage. The book was a Businessweek best-seller and was published in 11 languages.
Diane serves on the boards of Panera, Eastern Bank, Brightcove, Tufts University, Mass Challenge, CoachUp, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and is Special Advisor to Datapoint Capital, a leading early-stage venture firm. She received her M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and her B.A. in Economics from Tufts University.
Douglas Amy is a leading expert on electoral voting systems, including proportional representation, redistricting issues in the United States, and the plight of third party candidacies. His books on this subject include Behind the Ballot Box: A Citizen's Guide to Voting Systems (2000) and Real Choices, New Voices: How Proportional Representation Elections Could Revitalize American Democracy (2002), which won the George H. Hallett Award from the American Political Science Association.
Amy's most recent book is Government Is Good: An Unapologetic Defense of a Vital Institution (2011)—based on his website of the same name. The book and website detail government's crucial role in improving Americans' lives and promoting the public good. Amy also takes on the major criticisms of government put forward by the anti-government movement and shows that most are exaggerated or just plain wrong. He argues that democratic government is one of the main ways we work together to pursue the common good and make the world a better place.
Edwyn Shoemaker is the Civic Engagement Coordinator for two prominent civic organizations in Roxbury. The Madison Park Development Corporation's mission is to foster the social, physical, economic, and cultural renaissance of the Roxbury community. The RoxVote Coalition's mission is to educate, engage and empower Roxbury through civic activities. A former foster child, Edwyn is the acting President of Fostercare Alumni MA and is a National Foster Youth and Alumni Policy Council Member.
Eric Ashman is the COO of Group Nine Media, one of the world’s largest digital-first media companies. Mr. Ashman has served as the Chief Financial Officer at Huffington Post, and previously served as the Global COO / CFO at Text 100 Public Relations.
Eric has a passion for building companies, putting together great teams, and working with entrepreneurs. He’s led multiple fund raise processes of various levels of complexity, and bought and sold companies through a wide variety of M&A transactions. Over his career, Eric has built highly scalable operations teams from the ground up, and has led large technology, product and insights teams through the development of complex systems and tools. He regularly advises early stage companies and mentors entrepreneurs, and in the past has spent time as an adjunct professor at the NYU School of Publishing.
Eric Maskin is a Nobel prize-winning economist and the Adams University Professor at Harvard University. From 2000-2011, he was the Albert O. Hirschman Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Maskin has worked in diverse areas of economic theory, such as game theory, the economics of incentives, and contract theory. His current research projects include comparing different electoral rules, examining the causes of inequality, and studying coalition formation. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Econometric Society, and the European Economic Association, and a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. He was president of the Econometric Society in 2003.
Evan Falchuk is an accomplished healthcare and political entrepreneur and attorney, who believes passionately in causing trouble -- for good causes. In 2014, he founded the United Independent Party and was an independent candidate for Massachusetts Governor, earning over 70,000 votes. In 2015, he led the effort for a statewide ballot initiative to prevent the use of taxpayer money on the proposed Boston 2024 Olympic Games.
From 1994-1999, Falchuk was an attorney in Washington D.C. at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson. From 1999-2013 he was the Vice-Chairman and President of Boston-based Best Doctors, Inc., a medical second opinion company that grew to nearly $200 million in revenue during his tenure and which was recently acquired for $440 million. Today he is the CEO of VillagePlan, Inc., a company that helps families navigate the many challenges of caring for an aging loved one.
Frances Moore Lappé
Frances Moore Lappé is a long-time Massachusetts resident and legendary author. Lappé, author of 19 books, is best known for her 1971 classic Diet for a Small Planet, which The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History describes as “one of the most influential political tracts of the times.' Gourmet Magazine named Frances as one of 25 people (including Thomas Jefferson, Upton Sinclair, and Julia Child), whose work has changed the way America eats.
Though most well known for her food policy work, she has been a longtime champion of democracy reform. She has written multiple books on democracy in America, and has just finished co-authoring her newest book, Daring Democracy: Igniting Power, Meaning, and Connection for the America We Want.
Jay Batson is a technology entrepreneur and founding CEO of Acquia. Having founded two other companies, and worked at several started by others, he's spent the bulk of his career creating value for young companies. From his engineering, product management, industry analyst, or founder/executive roles, he has learned how to help young companies discover product/market-fit, build great teams, acquire key customers to establish value, and raise the capital to accomplish all of this. He is a much-prized mentor with MassChallenge and Techstars and is on the board of several startups. Jay also spends a morning every week listening to pitches as a Sigma Prime fellow at the eponymous venture capital firm.
Kevin Johnson is the founder and Executive Director of Election Reformers Network, a nonpartisan organization leveraging its members’ international election expertise in support of reform in the United States. Since launch in 2017, Election Reformers Network has provided financial and strategic support to initiatives such as ranked choice voting in Maine and redistricting reform in Missouri and Utah.
Mr. Johnson divides his time between Election Reformers Network and Liberty Global Partners, an investment advisory firm focused on venture capital and private equity in emerging markets, which Mr. Johnson co-founded in 2002. Mr. Johnson served on the Board of Common Cause Massachusetts from 2008 to 2018, where he was active in campaigns to improve redistricting, reduce money in elections, and support a national popular vote for president. Mr. Johnson’s interest in elections stems initially from several years spent directing democratization programs overseas for the National Democratic Institute. Mr. Johnson has an MBA from Wharton and a BA in English from Yale University.
Lawrence H. Summers
Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers is one of America’s leading economists. In addition to serving as 71st Secretary of the Treasury in the Clinton Administration, Dr. Summers served as Director of the White House National Economic Council in the Obama Administration, as President of Harvard University, and as the Chief Economist of the World Bank. Dr. Summers’ tenure at the U.S. Treasury coincided with the longest period of sustained economic growth in U.S. history.
Currently, Dr. Summers is the President Emeritus and the Charles W. Eliot University Professor at Harvard University, where he became a full professor at age 28. He directs the University’s Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government. Summers was the first social scientist to receive the National Science Foundation’s Alan Waterman Award for scientific achievement and, in 1993, he was awarded the John Bates Clark Medal, given to the most outstanding economist under 40 in the United States. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2002. He has published more than 150 papers in scholarly journals.
Summers is an advisor to businesses and investors. He is a distinguished senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and co-chaired the Commission on Inclusive Prosperity. He recently launched a Task Force on Fiscal Policy with Mayor Bloomberg and chaired the Commission on Global Health, lauded by the UN Secretary General who noted that it “will bring more than health – it will bring equity, and contribute to a life of dignity for all.” Summers has been recognized as one of the world’s most influential thinkers by publications such as Time, Foreign Policy, Prospect and The Economist.
Malia Lazu serves as the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Epicenter Community, whose mission is to create an urban environment that fosters maximum creative freedom. She has over two decades of experience establishing grassroots involvement in political advocacy and civic engagement, including founding MassVOTE and serving on the board of FairVote.
The passion and success of Malia’s work has earned her a reputation as one of the most insightful and critical organizers of her generation, and caught the attention of MTV, Showtime, ABC-TV’s Chronicle, Fox News, and print publications such as Newsweek, The Boston Globe, and Boston Magazine.
In addition to her extensive work advocating for our youth, Malia has managed campaigns for numerous tastemakers including Grammy Award-winner and famed Civil-Rights Activist Harry Belafonte, American novelist Walter Mosley, and Peter Lewis, philanthropist and Democratic Party donor.
A lifelong Celtics fan and season ticket holder, Michael Zarren is the Celtics’ Assistant General Manager and Team Counsel, after originally starting with the team as an unpaid intern. Mike is widely recognized as one of the leaders in the field of advanced statistical analysis of basketball players and teams. He is the Celtics' salary cap expert and lead in-house counsel, and is also responsible for the development of new technologies for team use, including the team’s best-in-class statistical database and video archive/delivery system.
A graduate of Harvard Law School (where he served as editor-in-chief of the Harvard Journal of Law and Technology) and of the University of Chicago (where he worked with Freakonomics author Steve Levitt), Mike previously served as a law clerk on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He also worked as a management consultant for Fortune 500 firms across a wide variety of industries, and is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of The Waring School.
Mike Alfoni is a former campaign director and a veteran of over 70 political campaigns, ranging from local RCV measures, to statewide ballot measures, to federal races at all levels. His focus has been on contested and challenging races. He has never lost a general election, and he has helped elect several members of the House and Senate and has won dozens of statewide initiatives. Mike transitioned from political management to act as a strategic consultant for organizations ranging from Fortune 500 technology companies to local non-profits. His latest political victory was winning the enactment of RCV in Benton County, Oregon in 2016. He continues to advise ongoing RCV efforts in several US states.
Nadeem Mazen is an engineer, social entrepreneur, and community leader. He has been fortunate to educate and train students, leaders, and entrepreneurs from every background over the past 15 years. Nadeem has served as faculty and Director of Innovation at School of the Museum of Fine Arts, an instructor at the Martin Trust Center for Entrepreneurship at MIT Sloan, a Varsity Head Coach at MIT, and a full time elected City Councillor in Cambridge, the home of Harvard and MIT. Nadeem is an Andover native, and went on to graduate from Phillips Academy and MIT. Nadeem is a serial entrepreneur, having founded successful businesses in education, high-tech job training, software, and media.
Nichole Mossalam is a community and political activist with over a decade of service. She is currently the Administrative Director of the Malden Islamic Center and the Executive Director of the New England Islamic Speaker's Bureau. She also serves as an advisory board member for the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR-MA) and as the co-chair of the board for Our Revolution MA. Most recently, Nichole ran for public office in Malden.
Nichole has helped organize many events such as a Fastathon that raised funds to pay off the lunch debt of Malden's public school students, solidarity events that supported the Cook sisters in their right to wear braids at school, and the New England Muslim Festival. She is passionate about advocating for those who have been marginalized and works hard to build bridges of goodwill and understanding in our divided times.
Pam Wilmot is the Executive Director of Common Cause Massachusetts, a post she has held since 2002, as well as from 1989-1993. Pam has been an advocate for government reform and consumer and environmental issues for over 20 years. She is a frequent commentator on Massachusetts public affairs. Pam also has worked for Rhode Island and MASSPIRG, the Massachusetts and Rhode Island Bottle Bill campaigns, Connecticut Citizens Action Group, and the Wisconsin Citizens Utility Board. She is a graduate of Brown University, Northeastern University School of Law, and Smith College School for Social Work.
Rachael V. Cobb
Rachael V. Cobb, Ph.D. is Chair and Associate Professor of Government at Suffolk University. Cobb specializes in U.S. elections, election administration, electoral politics, civic engagement, and political participation. In 2006, Professor Cobb received a grant from the United States Election Assistance Commission to establish the University Pollworkers Project, a nonpartisan program designed to recruit college students as poll workers as a response to reports of an estimated shortage of 500,000 poll workers nationwide. Since 2006, more than 500 students from the Greater Boston area have received training and worked as poll workers. In 2008, Professor Cobb served as co-principal investigator on the Boston Area Colleges Exit Poll, in collaboration with D. James Greiner (Harvard Law School) and Kevin Quinn (Harvard Government Department). Her work as appeared in the Quarterly Journal of Political Science and Studies in American Political Development. Professor Cobb serves on the board of MassVOTE, iVote, and the Boston Election Advisory Committee. She received her Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her AB from Bryn Mawr College.
Renaldo Michael Pearson
Renaldo Michael Pearson serves as the Senior Advisor to the Faculty Deans and Social Engineer-in-Residence at the Winthrop House at Harvard University. Previously, Pearson served as Academic Coordinator, then Interim House Administrator, where he was the youngest administrator at the College. A proud alumnus of Morehouse College (the alma mater of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) and veteran of the criminal justice reform movement, he joined the 140-mile march and sit-ins at the U.S. Capitol that was the beginning of Democracy Spring in 2016. He now serves on the National Coordinating Committee of Democracy Spring, with 8 other millennials, building a movement to end the corruption of big money in politics and end voter suppression in order to improve democracy.
Renée Cooper has worked as a nationally recognized executive coach to c-level clients for over 20 years, in industries including financial services, hi tech, telecommunications, life sciences, bio-tech, non-profits, and executive education.
Current client companies include PwC, Bain Capital, Boston Private Bank, Wellington Management, Tesaro, Sarepta, Eaton Vance, Hewlett Packard, Blue Shield of California, Gartner, and The Broad Institute. She coaches in several Harvard Business School Executive Education programs, including the Advanced Management Program. Renée’s ‘pay it forward’ passion is providing coaching to social impact entrepreneurs through her work with The Gratitude Network (www.gratitude-network.org)
Renée holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Applied Mathematics from Brown University.
Steve Grossman is the Chief Executive Officer of the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, a national nonprofit research and advisory organization and the leading authority on U.S. inner city economies and the businesses that thrive there. Prior to joining ICIC, Steve was elected Treasurer of Massachusetts in 2010 and served in that position from 2011 until 2015. One of his principal achievements in that office was the creation of the Small Business Banking Partnership, which moved almost $400 million of state deposits into community banks that used these funds to make more than 10,000 loans with a value of over $1.6 billion, with a principal focus on businesses owned by women, minorities, immigrants and veterans.
Prior to taking office, Steve served for 35 years as President of Grossman Marketing Group, a fourth-generation marketing communications firm started by his grandfather. Steve has been an active leader in many civic, philanthropic and political organizations. These positions include former board chair of Brandeis University, former national chairman of the Democratic National Committee, former president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), founding board member of MassINC and life trustee of the Museum of Fine Arts.
Susan is the founder of Tech Networks of Boston, a Massachusetts Benefit Corporation employing 40 IT professionals who serve local nonprofit organizations while mentoring and supporting young people from economically-challenged communities. In 2012, Susan co-founded the Climate Action Business Association, a membership organization that elevates the voice of small businesses in the fight against climate change. Susan contributes her time and resources to many nonprofit organizations, including Cambridge Local First and Green Cambridge.