MEET THE SPEAKERS

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Stacey Abrams

Founder, Fair Fight Action

Stacey Abrams is a New York Times bestselling author, serial entrepreneur, nonprofit CEO and political leader. After serving for eleven years in the Georgia House of Representatives, seven as Democratic Leader, In 2018, Abrams became the Democratic nominee for Governor of Georgia, winning more votes than any other Democrat in the state’s history.

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Beto Altamirano

NLC San Antonio '16 Alumnus
Co-Founder, Irys

Beto Altamirano’s interest in public policy and community involvement has led him to work at the U.S. Senate.

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Assemblyman Michael Blake

NLC Honorary Co-Chair
New York General Assembly, District 79
Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee

New York State Assembly Member Michael Alexander Blake was born and raised in The Bronx, New York and is a son of Jamaican immigrants. His mother is a retired 40 year manufacturer and his late Father was an 1199SEIU maintenance supervisor at St. Barnabas Hospital in The Bronx.

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Keah Brown

Creator, #DisabledAndCute

Keah Brown is a journalist, author, and screenwriter.

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Mayor LaToya Cantrell

Mayor, New Orleans, LA

Mayor Cantrell’s life has been steeped in community service. As a little girl, her grandmother would bring her to neighborhood meetings, and by the age of 13, she was serving as secretary for her local chamber of commerce.

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Damara Catlett

NLC Washington DC '12
Principal, The Raben Group

With over a decade of experience in campaign strategy, grassroots advocacy, and lobbying, Damara Catlett brings a thoughtful, innovative and thorough approach to her role as principal. In her role at The Raben Group, Damara manages a diverse portfolio of clients comprised of tech companies, and traditional civil rights groups, including, Discovery Channel, the African American Mayors Association, Google, Music First and Oculus.

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KenDrell Collins

NLC Arkansas '20 Alumnus
Attorney and Community Builder

KenDrell Collins fights on the frontlines of the criminal justice system as a trial attorney at the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the Eastern District of Arkansas. He also works to shape statewide polices as a member of Governor Asa Hutchinson’s newly formed Law Enforcement Taskforce.

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Michael Deegan-McCree

NLC Los Angeles '20
Partnerships Coordinator, The Bail Project

Michael Deegan-McCree was a 2020 New Leaders Council LA Institute Fellow and now sits on the NLC LA Governing Board. He currently serves as the National Partnerships and Political lead at The Bail Project playing a pivotal role in developing grassroots and grasstops partnerships for The Bail Project.

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Yordanos Eyoel

Partner, New Profit

Yordanos is a Partner at New Profit, a pioneering venture philanthropy organization that invests in breakthrough leaders and systems change initiatives to break down barriers to opportunity in America.

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Jim Friedlich

CEO and Executive Director, The Lenfest Institute for Journalism

Jim Friedlich serves as CEO and Executive Director of The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, an innovative non-profit organization that supports local journalism in Philadelphia and nationwide.

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Jasmine Govan

NLC Palm Beach '17 Alumna and Chapter Co-Director
Donor Development Officer, American Red Cross

Jasmine Govan is a Palm Beach native who prides herself on being a community advocate, consultant, donor relations & stewardship expert and nonprofit leader.

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Graciela Guzmán

NLC Chicago '19 Alumna
Campaign Director, Healthy Illinois

Graciela Guzmán is a healthcare advocate in Chicago and is Campaign Director for Healthy Illinois, a statewide coalition committed to fighting for healthcare for all people in Illinois regardless of their immigration status.

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Jarrett Harper

Represent Justice Ambassador

Jarrett Harper is a System-impacted returning citizen who became a criminal justice reform advocate after surviving the foster care system and mass incarceration for 20 years.

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Ron Harris

NLC Twin Cities Founding Board
Chief Resilience Officer, City of Minneapolis

Ron Harris is a black millennial focused on political involvement, civic/shareholder engagement, and philanthropy being the best opportunities to improve people’s lives.

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Crystal Hudson

New Leaders Council New York City '15 Alumna
Co-Director of the Community Outreach Unit, New York City Council

Crystal Hudson has over a decade of experience in operations, strategic planning, community engagement, and marketing and advertising working in both government and the private sector. She has recently returned to the New York City Council as Co-Director of the Community Outreach Unit, and previously served as First Deputy Public Advocate of Community Engagement under NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.

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Senator Tim Kaine

NLC Honorary Co-Chair
U.S. Senator, Virginia

Senator Tim Kaine was elected to the Senate in 2012 and serves on the Armed Services; Budget;
Foreign Relations; and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committees.

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Congressman Andy Kim

U.S. House of Representatives, NJ-3

Congressman Andy Kim was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018. He represents the Third Congressional District of New Jersey, which stretches from the Delaware River to the Atlantic Ocean encompassing most of Burlington County and parts of Ocean County.

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Mark Martinez

NLC Boston '20 Alumnus
Policy and Budget Advisor, Office of State Senator Patricia D. Jehlen

Mark Martinez is a Policy and Budget Advisor for State Senator Patricia D. Jehlen focusing on the environment, housing, economic development and criminal justice reform.

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Dr. Atul Nakhasi

NLC Los Angeles '20 Alumnus
Physician & Policy Adviser, LA County Department of Health Services

Dr. Nakhasi originally hails from Iowa, born and raised amongst cows and cornfields.

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Jabari Paul

US Activism Manager, Ben & Jerry's

Jabari Paul is a passionate champion for social justice who leads the US activism work on the Social Mission team at Ben & Jerry’s.

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David Radcliff

NLC Los Angeles '16 Alumnus

David Radcliff was the 2018 co-director of the Los Angeles institute of NLC, which was recognized by National as Institute of the Year. Born with cerebral palsy and raised in Nebraska, he has worked in business, education, journalism, and television and is a graduate of USC and UCLA.

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Keith Sagers

NLC Atlanta '20 Alumnus

Keith Sagers is the President and CEO of R.S. Empowerment Group, LLC and Founder of the Empowerment Lab, an Atlanta-based firm created for the sole purpose to Inspire, Empower, and Transform lives through leadership development, training and coaching.

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Candace Stanciel

NLC Atlanta '13 Alumna
Founder, The Common Good Agency

Candace Stanciel founded The Common Good Agency (CGA), a diversity, equity and inclusion and convening consulting firm focused on capacity building for nonprofits and Higher Education institutions, in 2003.

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Mini Timmaraju

Executive Director, Diversity & Inclusion, Comcast NBCUniversal

Mini Timmaraju has over 20 years of professional experience leading federal, state and local campaigns, as well as advocacy efforts for non-profit organizations. She has an extensive background on gender issues and community outreach strategies. She currently serves as an Executive Director on the Diversity and Inclusion team for Comcast NBCUniversal, based out of their corporate headquarters in Philadelphia.

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Nsé Ufot

NLC Atlanta '12 Alumna
CEO, New Georgia Project

Nsé Ufot is the chief executive officer of the New Georgia Project (NGP) and its affiliate, New Georgia Project Action Fund (NGP AF).

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Michelle Vallejo

Co-Director, NLC South Texas Frontera
Co-Owner, Pulga Los Portales

Michelle Vallejo was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, living and working just eight minutes from the closest international bridge to Mexico.

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Senator Nikema Williams

NLC Atlanta '13 Alumna
Georgia State Senate, District 39
Democratic Party of Georgia Chair

Senator Nikema Williams has been a fearless advocate for women and families throughout her life. Since her election to represent Georgia’s 39th Senate District, which includes the cities of Atlanta, East Point, College Park, Union City and South Fulton, Sen. Nikema Williams has led the charge to improve her community and fight for the values of her constituents.

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Yolo Akili Robinson

Executive Director and founder, BEAM

Yolo Akili Robinson is a writer, yoga teacher and the Executive Director and founder of BEAM.

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Xahej Bajipura

NLC Palm Beach '20 Alumna
Founder and Executive Director, Show and Heal

Xahej "Ms. Xi" Bajipura is the Founder and Executive Director of the nonprofit, Show and Heal. Show and Heal celebrates diversity, social inclusion, and self-care of adolescents.

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Martin Booker

Program Manager, Financial Resilience, AARP

Martin Booker is a member of AARP’s financial resilience team, leading financial education initiatives focused on social security, budgeting and investing.

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Bernice Butler

NLC Washington DC '17 Alumna and Current Co-Director
Deputy Director of Network Learning and Collaboration, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Bernice Butler is the Deputy Director of Network Learning and Collaboration with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. In this role, she develops and implements cross-sector learning labs and state network convenings to share best practices on expanding economic opportunity, reducing inequities, and fighting poverty across the State Priorities Partnership and compiles data that demonstrates the Partnership’s collective impact with the philanthropic community.

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Congressman Joaquin Castro

Chair, Congressional Hispanic Caucus
U.S. House of Representatives, TX-20

Joaquin Castro was born in San Antonio, Texas on September 16, 1974. A second generation Mexican American, he was raised on the city’s West Side and is a proud product of the public school system.

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Dr. Theresa Cheng

NLC Los Angeles '20 Alumna

Theresa Cheng is a senior Emergency Medicine resident at UCLA, hoping to shape medical practice to promote human dignity and social justice.

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Dr. Joia Adele Crear-Perry, MD, FACOG

Founder and President, National Birth Equity Collaborative

Joia Adele Crear-Perry, MD, FACOG – a thought leader around racism as a root cause of health inequities, Speaker, Trainer, Advocate, Policy Expert, and fighter for justice – is the Founder and President of the National Birth Equity Collaborative.

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Mayor James Diossa

NLC Rhode Island '12 Alumnus
Mayor, Central Falls, RI

Mayor James A. Diossa was born and raised in Central Falls of immigrant parents from Colombia

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State's Attorney Kim Foxx

NLC Honorary Co-Chair
Cook County State's Attorney

Kimberly M. Foxx is the first African American woman to lead the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office – the second largest prosecutor’s office in the country. Kim took office on December 1, 2016 with a vision for transforming the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office into a fairer, more forward-thinking agency focused on rebuilding the public trust, promoting transparency, and being proactive in making all communities safe.

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H. Drew Galloway

NLC San Antonio '16 Alumnus
Executive Director, MOVE Texas

H. Drew Galloway is the Executive Director of MOVE Texas (formerly MOVE San Antonio), a grassroots, nonpartisan nonprofit organization building power in underrepresented youth communities through civic education, leadership development, and progressive issue advocacy. Through fundraising, relationship building, and advocating for young people, Drew empowers young changemakers and activists across the Lone Star State.

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Dr. Kristen Guillory

President and Chief Consultant, KSGuillory Enterprises

Dr. Kristen Guillory, as featured on Fox and CBS affiliates as well as multiple podcasts and magazines, is a true force. She is a sought after speaker and trainer who uses her signature method that incorporates her own life experiences, contagious enthusiasm, dance, and a touch of humor.

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Errin Haines

Editor-at-Large, The 19th

Errin Haines is editor-at-large for The 19th. She was previously national writer on race for The Associated Press, focused on the intersection of race, politics and culture.

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Ashley Harrington

NLC Washington DC '19 Alumna

Ashley Harrington is federal advocacy director and senior policy counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL).

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Veronica Haywood, RN, MSN, IBCLC, WHNP

NLC San Antonio '17 Alumna
Co-Founder, Latched Support

Veronica is a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner with focused experience in various sexual, reproductive and maternal health programs.

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Brent Johnson

New Leaders Council Washington, DC '18 Alumnus
Manager of Executive Operations, The Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights

Brent currently serves as the Manager of Executive Operations at The Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights where he supports the President and CEO and manages the Executive Office.

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Youssef Kalad

NLC New York City '19 Alumnus
State Smart Cities Director, Office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

Youssef Kalad is an immigrant, New Yorker, and public servant. He currently serves in the Executive Chamber of the Governor’s Office of New York as State Smart Cities Director.

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David Lee

President and Co-founder, Texas Signal

David is the President and Co-founder of the Texas Signal. He focuses on strategic partnerships, business growth, and policy for the organization.

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Aneesa S. McMillan

Director of Strategic Communications and Voting Rights, Priorities USA

Ms. Aneesa McMillan is one of America’s leading political communicators. She currently serves as Director of Strategic Communications and Voting Rights at Priorities USA — the largest Democratic Super PAC in the nation — where she helps lead the organization's communications strategy while managing a $32 million litigation program aimed at challenging restrictive voting laws across the country.

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Sam(ira) Obeid

NLC Tampa Bay '20 Alumna
Poet. Indian. Activist. Lesbian. Scholar. Warrior.

Sam(ira) Obeid is the Program Director of Community Tampa Bay. She was born and raised in Chennai, India. She moved to the U.S. when she was 23 becoming an intersectional resistance activist/poet who speaks to the tensions of immigration, gender, sexuality and youth voice.

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Dr. Megan Peterson

NLC Montana '18 Alumna
Gynecologic Oncologist

Megan Petersen is currently a Gynecologic Oncologist in Billings, Montana.

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Afif Rahman

NLC Washington DC '19 Alumnus

Based in Austin, TX, Afif Rahman is the Chief Operating Officer of NuWatt Energy, a leading solar power provider in the US.

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Alyene Schneidewind

SVP, Strategic Partnerships, Salesforce

Alyene is a connector, gifted at bringing the right people together to unlock new possibilities. Throughout her career she has delivered a variety of successful business, customer, and organizational transformations, holding leadership positions in Strategy, Partnerships, Professional Services, and Human Resources.

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Joanne Suarez

NLC Boston '20 Alumna
Community Health Assistant, Harvard Medical School -The Family Van

Joanne Suarez is a bioethicist and community healthcare professional. As a first generation college student, she is passionate about advocacy and addressing healthcare inequities in impoverished and underrepresented communities in Greater Boston.

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Maria Town

NLC Washington DC '14 Alumna
President and CEO, American Association of People with Disabilities

Maria Town is the President and CEO of the American Association of People with Disabilities. In this role, she works to increase the political and economic power of people with disabilities.

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Congresswoman Lauren Underwood

NLC Washington DC '14 Alumna
U.S. House of Representatives, IL-14

Congresswoman Lauren Underwood serves Illinois’ 14th Congressional District and was sworn into the 116th U.S. Congress on January 3, 2019. Congresswoman Underwood is the first woman, the first person of color, and the first millennial to represent her community in Congress. She is also the youngest African American woman to serve in the United States House of Representatives.

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MaryEllen Veliz

NLC San Antonio '16 Alumna and Chapter Director
Deputy Chief of Staff, U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett

MaryEllen G. Veliz, a San Antonio native, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Texas at San Antonio.

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Sheba Williams

NLC Virginia '20 Alumna

Sheba Williams was born and raised in Richmond, VA. She is a Norfolk State University alum with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Management, she has professional licenses in Cosmetology and Barbering, and her Master Instructor's license.

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Nida Allam

NLC North Carolina '19 Alumna
Durham County Commissioner-elect

Born and raised by immigrant parents, my entire life I have seen the struggle to attain the American dream. These struggles never faded my parents' determination to raise my two sisters and myself to value and cherish the people around us no matter your background.

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Mayor Stephen Benjamin

NLC Honorary Co-Chair
Mayor, Columbia, SC

Since being elected mayor in a record turnout election in April 2010, Mayor Steve Benjamin has made it his mission to create in Columbia the most talented, educated and entrepreneurial city in America.

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Alex Bores

NLC New York City '20 Alumnus

Alex Bores leads the business side of Promise, a startup focused on criminal justice reform. Earlier this year he cofounded Foresight2020 (with NYC ’19 Fellow Amy Larsen), a nonprofit that has become the largest provider of live, personalized cybersecurity training for political campaigns in the country.

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Nick Cain

NLC Portland '19 Alumnus
Founder, Frontline Foods PDX
Senior Manager, Google.org

Nick founded Frontline Foods PDX to provide relief to restaurants struggling due to the COVID-19 economic shutdown. Run by a team of local volunteers, Frontline Foods PDX has raised more than $170,000 for Portland restaurants, who use the donations to deliver meals to local hospitals and food insecure families.

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Secretary Julián Castro

NLC Honorary Co-Chair
Former US Housing and Urban Development
Founder, People First Future

Julián Castro served as U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama from 2014-2017. Before that, he was Mayor of his native San Antonio, Texas — the youngest mayor of a Top 50 American city at the time.

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Mayor Paige Cognetti

NLC Philadelphia '19 Alumna
Mayor, Scranton, PA

Paige Gebhardt Cognetti is the newly-elected Mayor of the City of Scranton and the first female to hold the position.

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Amanda Deegan

Director, Healthcare Public Policy, Walmart

Amanda is responsible for the legislative and regulatory healthcare policy issues for the Walmart Benefits and Health & Wellness business. In this capacity, she identifies public policy trends and opportunities for proactive engagement for Walmart.

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Joy Dixon

NLC Tallahassee '14 Alumna and Member, NLC Board of Directors
Assistant Director of Partner Success, BellXcel

Joy Dixon is the Assistant Director of Partner Success with BellXcel, an educational non-profit organization designed to close the achievement gap in underserved communities.

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Howard Franklin

NLC Atlanta '10 Alumnus
NLC Managing Partner, Ohio River South

Splitting time between state capitals and the campaign trail, Howard Franklin has led nonprofits, served in government, elected and lobbied government officials across two dozen states.

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Jessica Gonzalez

NLC New Jersey '20 Alumna

Jessica currently serves as a Cannabis and Intellectual Property attorney at Bressler Amery & Ross, as well as outside General Counsel for the national organization Minorities for Medical Marijuana and sits on the state and federal Policy Committee for the Minority Cannabis Business Association.

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Vanita Gupta

President and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

Vanita Gupta is president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States.

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Wendy Hamilton

NLC Omaha '17 Alumna

Wendy Hamilton is the Chief Development Officer at Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska.

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James Harris

NLC Dallas '19 Alumnus and Co-Director

James Harris is an award-winning technical recruiter with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion in the tech industry.

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Judith Heumann

Disability Rights Activist

Judith (Judy) Heumann contracted polio in 1949 in Brooklyn, NY and began to experience discrimination at five years old when she was denied the right to attend school because she was a "fire hazard."

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Marcia Johnson-Blanco

Co-Director, Lawyers’ Committee’s Voting Rights Project

Marcia Johnson-Blanco is the Co-director of the Lawyers’ Committee’s Voting Rights Project. She manages the Project’s programmatic and advocacy portfolios which include leading Election Protection, the nation’s largest non-partisan voter protection program, overseeing the work of the National Commission on Voting Rights, promoting election reform, ensuring minority participation in the redistricting process and ensuring that those with felony convictions regain their right to vote.

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Keegan-Michael Key

Emmy and Peabody Award-winning writer, actor, and producer

Emmy and Peabody Award-winning writer, actor, and producer Keegan-Michael Key is one of Hollywood’s most in-demand forces.

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Colleen Lowry

NLC Columbus Co-Founder
Director of the Foundation Board and Volunteer Experience, The Ohio State University

Colleen Lowry is an expert project manager, strategist, event planner, and staff manager with deep experience in relationship building,

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Jess Morales Rocketto

Political Director, National Domestic Workers Alliance

Jess Morales Rocketto is the Political Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) and Executive Director of Care in Action, where she spearheads political advocacy campaigns on economic justice, immigration reform, sexual harassment, and the future of work for the 2.5 million domestic workers in this country.

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Ernest Owens

NLC Philadelphia '19 Alumnus
CEO of Ernest Media Empire, LLC

Ernest Owens is an award-winning journalist and CEO of Ernest Media Empire, LLC. As an openly Black gay journalist, he has made headlines for speaking frankly about intersectional issues in society.

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Ai-jen Poo

Executive Director, National Domestic Workers Alliance

Ai-jen Poo is an award-winning organizer, social innovator, author, and a leading voice in the women’s movement. She is the Executive Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Director of Caring Across Generations, Co-Founder of SuperMajority and Trustee of the Ford Foundation.

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Dasheika Ruffin

New Leaders Council Atlanta
Consultant, ACLU Campaign for Smart Justice

Dasheika is a Political Operative and a consultant for the American Civil Liberties Union’s (the ACLU”) National Campaign for Smart Justice, where she also is the immediate former Southern Regional Director.

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Amy Spitalnick

NLC New York City '12 Alumna
Executive Director, Integrity First for America

Amy Spitalnick is the Executive Director of Integrity First for America, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization dedicated to holding those accountable who threaten longstanding principles of our democracy—including our country's commitment to civil rights and equal justice.

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Gabriel Tanglao

NLC New Jersey '17 Alumnus
Associate Director of Professional Development and Instructional Issues, New Jersey Education Association

As a proud Filipino-American, son of a union-nurse, and product of New Jersey public schools, Gabriel has strong roots as an educator-activist.

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Shundrice Tucker

NLC Twin Cities '20 Alumna

Shundrice Tucker is a recent 2020 fellow with NLC Twin Cities and is devoted to advancing equity in education.

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Charo Valero

NLC Miami '15 Alumna
Florida Policy and Advocacy Director, Florida Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice

Born and raised in Panama City, Panama, Charo Valero is a proud immigrant and queer Latina feminist.

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Delegate Jheanelle Wilkins

NLC Washington DC '15 Alumna
Maryland House of Delegates, District 20

Delegate Jheanelle Wilkins proudly represents the 20th Legislative District in the Maryland House of Delegates.

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Ben Wizner

Director, ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project

Ben Wizner is the director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project. For nearly 15 years, he has worked at the intersection of civil liberties and national security, litigating numerous cases involving airport security policies, government watch lists, surveillance practices, targeted killing, and torture.

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