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.
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.
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.
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.
Deborah Besemer has 30 years of enterprise software industry experience. She was the President and CEO of BrassRing, a leading provider of talent management solutions. Under her leadership, revenues grew from $1 million to $40 million until she oversaw the sale of the company to Kenexa Corp. for $115 million. Prior to joining BrassRing, Deborah spent more than a decade at Lotus Development, where she managed worldwide field operations with revenues of $1.3 billion and over 4,000 employees in 46 countries.
Deborah has served on boards for corporations, educational institutions, and non-profits. She is a former Chairperson of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council and served on the Board of Trustees for 9 years. She has served on the boards of The Center for Humanitarian Health at Johns Hopkins, UMass High Tech Executive Council, The New England Small Business Advisory Council for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Cedar Crest College Board of Trustees, and The Commonwealth Institute. Deborah’s corporate board experience includes Brightcove, Double-Take Software, Bullhorn, My Perfect Gig, Gemvara, BrassRing, Systemsoft, Kubisoft, and Eprise Corporation. Deborah holds an M.B.A. from Rutgers University and a B.A. in French from Cedar Crest College.
Dr. Joshua Boger is the founder of Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated. He retired as Vertex’s CEO in May 2009, after over 20 years with the company. Prior to founding Vertex in 1989, Dr. Boger was Senior Director of Basic Chemistry at Merck, Sharp & Dohme Research Laboratories in Rahway, N.J., where he headed both the Departments of Biophysical Chemistry and Medicinal Chemistry of Immunology & Inflammation. During his ten years at Merck, Dr. Boger developed an international reputation in the application of computer modeling to the chemistry of drug design and was a pioneer in the use of structure-based rational drug design as the basis for drug discovery programs.
Dr. Boger is the author of over 50 scientific publications, holds 32 issued U.S. patents in pharmaceutical discovery and development, and has delivered over 100 invited lectures, in the United States, in Europe and in Asia, on various aspects of drug discovery and development. Dr. Boger was named in 2009 to the Biotech Hall of Fame, received in 2012 the Chemical Heritage Foundation & BIO 13th Annual Biotechnology Heritage Award, in 2018 received the Othmer Gold medal from the Science History Institute and a Doctor of Science honorary degree from Wesleyan University, in addition to numerous other professional awards.
Dr. Boger is Chair of the Board of the Celebrity Series (Boston’s premier performing arts presenter), co-founder and Vice-Chair of the Alliance for Business leadership (a Boston-based, non-partisan coalition of progressive business leaders) and Vice-Chair of the Museum of Science (Boston). He serves on several additional non-profit Boards, including the Board of Fellows of Harvard Medical School (where he is Chair Emeritus), the Science Advisory Council of WGBH (public broadcasting’s leading station, Boston), and the MIT Corporation Visiting Committees to the Institute for Medical Engineering & Science (IMES). He is a former member of the Harvard Board of Overseers, served on the boards of the Hastings Center for Bioethics and the Whitehead Institute (Cambridge, MA), was a founding Director of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, was a Trustee and Chair of the Board of Wesleyan University, was founding Chair of the Board of MassChallenge, and, while a member of the Board of the ACLU of Massachusetts Foundation, co-founded their ongoing Technology for Liberty and Justice for All Projects.
Dr. Boger holds a B.A. in Chemistry and Philosophy from Wesleyan University and an A.M. and Ph.D. in Chemistry from Harvard University.
Alexandra Chandler is a political activist and a former intelligence analyst. She was a 2018 candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives from Massachusetts’s 3rd Congressional District. In that campaign, she made history as the first openly transgender candidate ever to appear on the ballot for Congress in Massachusetts, winning two communities outright in the primary election.
Inspired by living in New York City as a law student through the 9/11 attacks, Alexandra started her national security career in 2004 as an intelligence analyst at the Office of Naval Intelligence, culminating with her service as Division Chief from 2011-2016. In that capacity, she led the Intelligence Community analytic effort against arms smuggling and proliferation of WMD by sea. Alexandra is also on the Board of the Bay State Stonewall Democrats, the Steering Committee of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, a member of the Truman National Security Project Defense Council, and previously served as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of Whitman Walker Health, an LGBT-focused community health center caring for 16,000 patients.
Alexandra is a graduate of Brown University with a B.A. in International Relations, and received her law degree from Brooklyn Law School. She lives in Haverhill, MA.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Susan Friedman is a strategy consultant whose clients have run the gamut from major international corporations to local non-profits, most recently focusing on healthcare and education & training sectors. Having started her career with the Boston Consulting Group and then launching a spinoff of that firm, she later stepped away from formal consulting organizations, allowing her to partner closely with her clients in more creative and flexible ways. She has also been active on boards including Accelerated Cure Project for MS, Boston Ballet, Celebrity Series, Jewish Family and Children’s Services, Lesley University, New England Aquarium and WGBH CAB. In addition, she has helped many non-profits pro bono with their strategic and operational challenges. She was a community organizer before Barack Obama, and worked on several campaigns back in the day. A graduate of Brown University and Harvard Business School, she believes her clients have been the most valuable source of her education.
Katherine M. Gehl is a business leader, entrepreneur, author and speaker. Katherine was president and CEO of Gehl Foods, a $250 Million high-tech food manufacturing company in Wisconsin where she led an aggressive and transformational growth strategy, receiving multiple awards, before selling the company in 2015—in part to dedicate more time to political reform. Her career includes roles in the private and public sectors including at Oracle Corporation, Bernstein Investment Research and Management, Mayor Richard M. Daley’s Office at the City of Chicago, and Chicago Public Schools. In 2011, Katherine was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve on the Board of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. Today, Katherine describes herself as a political innovation activist.
Over the past decade, Katherine has focused on the urgent need for non-partisan political innovation and reform on both state and national levels. Katherine applied traditional tools of business analysis to the industry of politics for the first time, to uncover the root cause of the dysfunction—the unhealthy system of political competition created by and for the benefit of the political industrial complex. In 2016, she invited Michael Porter from Harvard Business School to join her in this work, captured in the Gehl Porter Politics Industry Theory. They co-authored research and analysis in 2017, titled, “Why Competition in the Politics Industry is Failing America: A Strategy for Reinvigorating our Democracy.” This work has been described as a, “brilliant piece of research,” by the Financial Times; “A superb accomplishment,” by Congressman Mike Gallagher; and “A new paradigm,” by Austin Ramirez, CEO of HUSCO International. Katherine continues to write and speak on this work nationally; informing, engaging and motivating businesspeople and leaders from across America in the political innovation movement. Katherine is a leader on two priority structural election reforms: Four Forward primaries and Ranked Choice Voting in general elections.
Katherine is the co-chair of the National Association of Non-Partisan Reformers (NANR), on the Board of Unite America, and the CEO Fiscal Leadership Council for the Campaign to Fix the Debt. In 2018, Katherine co-founded Democracy Found, a Wisconsin-based initiative dedicated to implementation of these two priority reforms through state legislation.
Katherine graduated from the University of Notre Dame and holds an MA from the Catholic University of America and an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.
Rebekah Gewirtz serves as the Executive Director of the National Association of Social Workers, MA Chapter (NASW MA). Prior to this, she served for nine years as their Director of Government Relations and Political Action. Rebekah was a leader in the campaign to raise the minimum wage and co-chair of the Campaign for our Communities. She founded the welfare coalition working for economic justice for the state’s lowest income families. Rebekah has also served as the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Public Health Association (MPHA). In 2015, under Rebekah’s leadership, MPHA was selected through a competitive process as a Social Innovator with the Social Innovation Forum.
Rebekah served her community as Ward 6 Alderman in the City of Somerville from 2005-2015. She was first elected at 27 years old running against an incumbent who had held the seat for 22 years. She was re-elected four times and was elected by her colleagues as president of the board before retiring at the end of her term in 2015.
Rebekah has received many accolades by her peers in advocacy and progressive organizing. She was named Woman to Watch by the political youth group, Democratic Leadership for the 21st Century. Upon graduation from the McCormack Institute of Policy Studies at UMass Boston she received the Outstanding Public Service Award. In November 2013, Rebekah was honored by the Greater Boston Labor Council with their Leadership Award. In 2016, she received the Distinguished Service Award by the Somerville Homeless Coalition in partnership with the family of Tina DeLellis.
Rebekah holds an M.S. in Public Affairs from UMass Boston and a B.A. in Sociology and Art History from University of Rhode Island.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dr. Kerry Healey
Dr. Kerry Healey took office as President of Babson College in July 2013, following nearly three decades of service in academia, government and humanitarian work both in the United States and internationally.
Under her leadership, Babson has strengthened its reputation and position as the recognized global leader in entrepreneurship education, consistently ranked the No. 1 undergraduate school and No. 1 MBA program for entrepreneurship, and No. 1 for international students. Over the past six years, Babson has welcomed the most diverse and well-qualified students in the college’s history, taken unprecedented steps to increase access and affordability, and achieved record-breaking fundraising successes.
Prior to Babson, Healey served with distinction as the 70th lieutenant governor of Massachusetts alongside Governor Mitt Romney. During that time, she introduced, enacted and implemented a wide range of policy and legislative initiatives for the Romney-Healey administration, highlighted by a successful bi-partisan effort to craft first-in-the-nation health care reform legislation. During her term, Massachusetts schools were ranked No. 1 in the nation, Recovery High Schools were established in response to the opioid epidemic, and Melanie’s Law was passed, resulting in a 20% decrease in drunk driving fatalities.
Healey is a trustee of the American University of Afghanistan and a founding member of the Board of Governors for SRM University-Amaravati in Andhra Pradesh, India. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the World Economic Forum expert network. She has served on the advisory boards of the Harvard Kennedy School's Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government and the Taubman Center for State and Local Government, and serves currently on the Belfer Center’s International Council. Healey is also a member of the Advisory Council for Concordia.
Healey’s forthcoming book, The Politics of Dignity: An Agenda to Unify America’s Moderate Majority (Disruption Books) will be released in January 2020.
Healey holds an AB in government from Harvard College and a PhD in political science and law from Trinity College, Dublin.
Segun Idowu is a Boston-based grassroots organizer and civic leader. He currently serves as the Executive Director for the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts (BECMA).
In August 2014, Segun organized the Boston Police Camera Action Team (BPCAT) with his colleague, Shekia Scott. BPACT’s mission was to further accountability and safety in Boston through the mandatory use of police body-worn cameras. As a result of their efforts, Boston began a body-worn camera pilot program and policy in September 2016. In 2018, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced a $2 million investment in a permanent citywide body-worn camera program.
In 2018, Segun was elected to serve as the 1st Vice President for the Boston chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). In this role, Segun managed the research and production of the Equity, Access, and Opportunity Report Card, a comprehensive, 175-page assessment of the city’s efforts and results in addressing systemic racial disparities.
Following his graduation from Boston Latin Academy, Segun earned his Bachelor of Arts in History at Morehouse College.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Bill McKibben is an author and environmentalist who in 2014 was awarded the Right Livelihood Prize, sometimes called the ‘alternative Nobel.’ His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages; he’s gone on to write a dozen more books. He is a founder of 350.org, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement, which has organized twenty thousand rallies around the world in every country save North Korea, spearheaded the resistance to the Keystone Pipeline, and launched the fast-growing fossil fuel divestment movement.
The Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he was the 2013 winner of the Gandhi Prize and the Thomas Merton Prize, and holds honorary degrees from 18 colleges and universities. Foreign Policy named him to their inaugural list of the world’s 100 most important global thinkers, and the Boston Globe said he was “probably America’s most important environmentalist.”
A former staff writer for the New Yorker, he writes frequently for a wide variety of publications around the world, including the New York Review of Books, National Geographic, and Rolling Stone. He lives in the mountains above Lake Champlain with his wife, the writer Sue Halpern, where he spends as much time as possible outdoors . In 2014, biologists honored him by naming a new species of woodland gnat— Megophthalmidia mckibbeni–in his honor.
Photo credit: Nancie Battaglia
Eva A. Millona is Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), the state’s largest organization representing the foreign born, and co-chair of the National Partnership for New Americans, the lead national organization focusing on immigrant integration. She joined MIRA in 1999 and served as Director of Policy and Advocacy and as Deputy Director before becoming Executive Director in 2008, and she is now one of New England’s most highly quoted immigration experts. Prior to MIRA, Ms. Millona directed the refugee resettlement program in Central Massachusetts. In her native Albania, she practiced civil and criminal law, serving on Tirana’s District Court from 1989 – 1992, when she was the nation’s youngest district judge ever appointed.
Ms. Millona is also the co-chair of the Governor’s Advisory Council for Refugees and Immigrants and serves on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. She serves on the Advisory Board for the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement and serves on the Attorney General’s Council for New Americans. In 2010, she co-chaired the nation’s largest immigrant integration conference, which MIRA hosted in Boston. She is the recipient of over a dozen major awards, including the prestigious 2009 USCIS Outstanding American by Choice Award, the 2010 Wainwright Bank Social Justice Award, and the 2011 and 2012 Powermeter Award, presented to the most influential people for Latinos in Massachusetts.
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.
Jennifer Nassour is the former Chief Executive Officer of ReflectUS, a nonpartisan coalition of the nation's leading women's representation organizations. She is also the founder of Conservative Women for a Better Future, a non-profit organization dedicated to electing more women in Massachusetts and the Northeast. Jenn has served as an attorney and been a leading voice in Massachusetts politics for nearly two decades. Since her tenure as Chair of the Massachusetts Republican Party, Jenn has refocused on bi-partisan efforts, engaging in constructive debates as an analyst for numerous Boston-area news outlets such as WGBH, WBUR and NECN, as well as co-hosting the “Disagreeing Agreeably” podcast, produced by CommonWealth magazine. Jenn describes herself as a social progressive and fiscal conservative, but above all, as a mother.
After practicing law and working in political spaces for her entire career, Jenn has demonstrated that she is committed to equality and fights passionately for causes she believes in. She serves or has served on the boards of: MassINC, Mass General Hospital for Children, UMass Women Into Leadership, the Union Club, Suffolk University, Bridgewater State University, the Dorchester YMCA and the MA Public Health Council, in addition to helping out with Girl Scouts and coaching soccer at Hill House.
The granddaughter of immigrants and the daughter of a single mom, Jenn learned the value of hard work and grit. After public high school, Jenn waitressed through college and grad school, earning a bachelor's at SUNY Stony Brook, a master's at CW Post and a J.D. from St. John's Law School. She and her three daughters live in the Back Bay with their two dogs.
Renaldo Michael Pearson
In his speech at the inaugural Unrig the System Summit in 2018, the 50th anniversary year of Dr. King’s assassination, Renaldo Pearson resurrected Dr. King’s undelivered sermon, “Why America May Go to Hell,” and boldly juxtaposed it to his new framework for the democracy movement, “The 7 Deadly Sins of American Democracy.” Global think tank and government corruption watchdog Transparency International has since credited that speech and framework with becoming “a touchstone for thousands of anti-corruption and pro-democracy activists around the country.” Pearson’s group, Democracy Spring, organized the largest action of American civil disobedience this century back in April 2016 with a 140-mile march from Philly to DC, culminating in the arrest of over 1300 sitting-in on the U.S. Capitol steps demanding that congress take immediate action to end voter suppression and the corrupting influence of big money in politics.
Pearson is a 2011 graduate of Morehouse College and former Harvard University administrator and Social Engineer-in-Residence. He co-founded the Boston Democracy Circle with Frances Moore Lappé and also serves on the board of Free Speech TV. He is featured in award-winning filmmaker Josh Tickell’s new book and film, The Revolution Generation: How Millennials Can Save America and the World (Before It’s Too Late).
Michael E. Porter
Professor Michael E. Porter is the Bishop William Lawrence University Professor, based at Harvard Business School. As the leading authority on competitive strategy and the competitiveness and economic development of nations, states and regions, Professor Porter is well-regarded for his application of competitive principles to social problems such as health care, the environment and corporate responsibility. He is the author of 19 books (including Competitive Strategy, Competitive Advantage, and Redefining Health Care) and more than 130 articles. In 2001, Harvard Business School and Harvard University jointly created the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness, dedicated to furthering his work. Professor Porter also chairs Harvard Business School's program for newly appointed CEOs of multibillion dollar corporations.
In addition to his research, writing and teaching, Professor Porter serves as an advisor to business, government and the social sector. He has served as strategy advisor to numerous leading U.S. and international companies including Caterpillar, Procter & Gamble, Scotts Miracle-Gro, Royal Dutch Shell and Taiwan Semiconductor. Professor Porter previously served on selective public boards including Thermo Fisher Scientific, PTC, and Merrimack, but currently serves only as direct strategic advisor to company CEOs.
He received a B.S.E. with high honors in aerospace and mechanical engineering from Princeton University in 1969, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and Tau Beta Pi. He received an M.B.A. with high distinction in 1971 from the Harvard Business School, where he was a George F. Baker Scholar, and a Ph.D. in Business Economics from Harvard University in 1973.
Eneida Roman is a nationally-recognized civic leader and attorney who runs a boutique legal practice in Boston. She also co-founded Omega Global Advisors, a cross-sector public relations and government affairs firm.
Eneida has served in leadership roles on the American Bar Association, the Hispanic National Bar Association, and the Massachusetts Bar Association. She serves on the HOPE National Taskforce, which works to increase Latina leadership representation at every level of public service. She also serves on Big Sister Boston’s Board of Directors and on Eastern Bank’s Board of Corporators. In 2018 Eneida was appointed by Governor Charlie Baker to serve on the Workforce Training Fund Advisory Board.
In 2012 Eneida co-founded The Latina Circle (TLC), a Boston-based network that advances Latina leaders across industries into positions of power and influence. In 2017, TLC launched Amplify Latinx, a non-partisan movement whose mission is to build Latinx economic and political power by increasing Latinx civic engagement and representation in leadership across sectors.
Eneida is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, a distinction limited to one percent of lawyers licensed to practice in each jurisdiction. For three years she has been recognized by Latino Leaders Magazine as one of the Most Influential Latino Lawyers in the United States. She is admitted to practice law in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Massachusetts Federal District Court, First Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court of the United States.
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.
Sam Squailia is an at large City Councilor and activist in Fitchburg, where she grew up and lives with her husband and daughter. Sam hosts a cable television series Discussing Fitchburg Now and manages a series of social media accounts with weekly engagement of tens of thousands of followers. Sam’s distinct model of serving and informing Fitchburg and surrounding areas, incorporating front-line volunteering and advocacy, rich multi-channel media, and continuous constituent service and accessibility, has achieved remarkable results fostering civic engagement and pride, and produced tangible improvements to the city that residents now enjoy.
Sam has been on the ground leading local initiatives such as the creation of the new Fitchburg dog park, keeping Fitchburg’s roads and parks clean with weekly organized cleanups, city wide yard sales, and initiatives with the Fitchburg Greenway Committee. Sam was appointed by Governor Baker to the Massachusetts Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Board, is President of the 501c3 Fitchburg Friends of DOGS, Inc., a board member of the Longsjo Classic / Art Longsjo Foundation, Fitchburg Pride, and the newly formed Friends of Fitchburg Abolitionist Park.
Professionally, Sam is an Architectural Building Engineer & Project Manager with a LEED AP in Building Design and Construction who for over 20 years has worked on large Commercial & Industrial building design & construction projects to local commercial renovations.
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.
Gladys Vega joined the Chelsea Collaborative in 1990 and became Executive Director in 2006. She has worked as an organizer and an advocate to insure that the Latino community has a role in determining the ways its needs and concerns are addressed. She believes that empowerment of the individual leads to empowerment of the community and that social action is the vehicle an empowered community can use to achieve its goals.
Gladys is the architect of most of the Collaborative’s community coalitions and has played leadership roles in organizing for immigrants’ rights, tenants’ rights, welfare rights, open space and the environment, multicultural and anti-racism programs, and in numerous grassroots campaigns.
Reverend Vernon K. Walker
The Rev. Vernon K. Walker was born and raised on the west side of Philadelphia. Rev. Walker attended Penn State University for college where he earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree with a major in Organizational Leadership and a minor in Psychology in 2012. During his time in college, Rev. Walker was also elected to become the President of the Abington Christian Fellowship at Penn State Abington’s campus, which is the campus Christian Organization.
After graduating from Penn State University, Rev. Walker attended Boston University's School of Theology and earned a Master's Degree in Theological Studies (M.T.S.) in 2016. During this time, Rev. Walker also crossed-registered to take courses at Harvard University' Divinity School on non-profit leadership. Rev. Walker also took classes at the School of Social Work at Boston University that focused on social justice and macro social work practices.
During his graduate studies at Boston University, Rev. Walker had the opportunity intern at Mass Alliance of HUD Tenants, where he helped the organization preserve and improve at-risk HUD buildings as permanently affordable housing with a maximum of resident participation, ownership and control.
Rev. Walker also interned at the Massachusetts Communities Action Network, where he had an opportunity to engage more deeply in racial and economic justice work. For the last several years, Rev. Walker has been affiliated with the Berachah Church located in Dorchester where he helped to develop the social action and outreach department.
Rev. Walker supports Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) and believes that this reform is needed to empower voters and increase voter participation in local, state, and federal elections.
Throughout his time in Boston, Rev. Walker has appeared in several different newspapers such as: Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Bay State Banner, Commonwealth Magazine, and other newspapers for his work related to social justice. Rev. Walker has also made TV appearances on Fox 25, New England Cable News, Boston Neighborhood Network, CBS Boston, and NBC 10 Boston.
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.
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.