Alan Borden, Esq.

Bootstraps by Billionaires

Alan’s Spark! Talk entitled, Bootstraps By Billionaires examines the current financial life of the average American. It explores how the legal and financial system are set to benefit the wealthy, meanwhile punishing and judging those with little to no means. Alan is the owner of Debt Relief Legal Group, LLC a consumer protection law firm in Tampa, Florida. He’s spent over 10 years representing thousands of consumers to defend and fight back against aggressive creditors.



Eric Brown

M.E.M.P.H.I.S. (Making Energy Moves Pushing Hope Is Serious)

In his Spark! Talk entitled M.E.M.P.H.I.S. (Making Energy Moves Pushing Hope Is Serious), Eric uses Memphis as a model to show how black folks, indigenous persons, and other people of color are impacted by climate change and energy issues. They are the ones that can be the leaders in Energy Democracy to do something through local economic impact, fixing health disparities, and building coalition for fighting for the struggle of environmental & institutionalized racism.   Eric coordinates Friends of the Earth efforts in Memphis and the state of Tennessee to develop and implement weatherization and solar power programs to lower utility bills and generate new jobs in clean energy. When not working, Eric loves to read, write, and enjoy time with his spouse, Brittney, and three dogs, Senator, Aaliyah, and Phife.

Dr. Magdala Chery

The Power of Natural Hair

Magdala’s Spark! Talk entitled The Power of Natural Hair will share the intimate details of her natural hair journey and how her hair has allowed her to authentically connect with her community. The goal is to show how diversity in the form of hair expression is absolutely needed in healthcare and medical education.  Magdala Chery is a Board Certified Internal Medicine Physician, motivational speaker, and health policy enthusiast. Dr. Chery currently practices as a primary care general internist and assistant professor at Rowan Medicine in New Jersey, serving the South Jersey and Greater Philadelphia community.

Erin Cubit

Equity in the First-in-the-Nation Caucus

Erin's Spark! Talk, entitled Equity in the First-in-the-Nation Caucus, will explore the history of the Iowa Caucuses as well as the efforts to change the Caucus process. Erin was a 2017 NLC fellow, has been an Institute Chair for the last two years and is now the Chapter Director-Elect for the Des Moines Chapter.

Jessica Dickinson Goodman

Male, Pale, and Stale: Working Within Legacy Organizations to Further Progressive Goals

Jessica (30) is the youngest woman to serve as Noble Grand of a California Odd Fellows lodge and is excited to present her Spark! Talk, entitled Male, Pale, and Stale: Working Within Legacy Organizations to Further Progressive Goals. Jessica has opened her lodge's doors, welcoming trans and genderqueer people, Muslim and immigrant women, homeless folks, and kids in foster care. Jessica bridges the worlds of politics and tech: she is the Chair of the San José Human Services Commission, an Impact Coach with the US State Department's TechWomen program, and a Technology Fellow with a Harvard-affiliated environmental policy think tank.



Valerie M. Henderson

Historically Black: Sustaining the Future of African American Colleges

Valerie's Spark! Talk, entitled Historically Black: Sustaining the Future of African American Colleges will explore the importance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities in today's society. Valerie is the Alumni Chair for the NLC NYC chapter and a 2017 NYC fellow. She is a journalist for the and the founder and director of the HBCU Leadership Initiative. She received her B.S. in Aviation Science and B.A. in Mass Communications from Elizabeth City State University in 2014. She became the university’s first female pilot in 2011. She obtained her M.S. in Journalism from Columbia University in 2015.



Joi Jackson-Morgan

Move the Needle

Joi will be presenting a group Spark Talk! entitled, Move the Needle, will uplift some of the progressive programs and initiatives they witnessed in Israel that are attempting to address very complex problems. This talk is NOT about politics. The presenters are NLC alumni and volunteers with varying backgrounds, perspectives and interests. Joi Jackson-Morgan is the Executive Director of 3rd Street Youth Center & Clinic in San Francisco. 3rd Street Youth Center & Clinic provides free medical care and housing to at-risk youth.  Since graduating from NLC, she has gone onto chairing the Finance/Chapter Advancement Committee and is currently the San Francisco Chapter Co-Director.  


Mandy McWherter

Save the World - Go Vegan

Mandy’s Spark! Talk, Save the World - Go Vegan, will share facts about the impacts of animal agriculture on global warming and offers a simple solution for how consumers can drastically lower personal carbon emissions and influence food producers through modified eating habits. Mandy, a 2016 NLC fellow, is the Director of Membership for the Technology Association of Iowa and Advisory Council Liaison for New Leaders Council Des Moines. She currently serves on the board of directors for the Des Moines Social Club and is an avid blood donor, caucus enthusiast and energetic volunteer for Planned Parenthood and Polk County Democrats.


Charisse Price

Move the Needle

Charisse will be presenting a group Spark Talk! entitled, Move the Needle, will uplift some of the progressive programs and initiatives they witnessed in Israel that are attempting to address very complex problems. This talk is NOT about politics. The presenters are NLC alumni and volunteers with varying backgrounds, perspectives and interests. Charisse Price is a supplier diversity professional with experience in both the public and private sectors. She also consults with clients on management and marketing strategies.  A former Atlanta fellow, Charisse has served as the national Curriculum Co-Chair and on the National Programs Committee for the past two years.



Reda Taleb

Reda's Spark! Talk, entitled, Marhaba, Enti Bent Min: Hello, Whose Daughter Are You?, utilizes spoken word poetry to expose the listener to the impact of incarceration on the Middle Eastern community, through a personal testimony that exists at the intersection of patriarchy, criminal justice reform, and the need for healing. Reda is the co-founder of the NLC MENASA Caucus (Middle Eastern, North African, Southeast Asian), a LEAD and DEI trainer, member of the National Diversity Committee, former Executive Board member of the NLC Detroit Chapter, a 2017 NLC fellow and Co-Chair of her cohort's Fellows Fundraiser. She currently serves on the Advisory Council for the Dean's Office at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and is the Founder/CEO of Dream Catcher Innovations™.



Marhaba, Enti Bent Min: Hello, Whose Daughter Are You?

Justin Thomas

How a Cell Saved My Life

Justin’s Spark! Talk, titled How a Cell Saved My Life will explore Justin’s experience in prison and how it saved him, discussing the mental, physical and emotional pieces that come with incarceration and how that affects the individual and communities we return to. His Talk will highlight programs like Pivot the Hustle and why they are needed for success, how it helped Justin understand soft skills that saved him from the dangers of prison and the work readiness skills that made him confident to return and live the life he wanted for himself. Justin Thomas is the Employer Engagement and retention coach at Amos House. Justin is a passionate energy that now knows his purpose: to use his pain, his failures and his knowledge to help others on their journey after incarceration. Dr. Cornell West said to stir souls and this is his attempt at that!



Jake Tonkel

Democracy for our Money

Jake's Spark! Talk, Democracy for our Money, discusses the need for democracy and transparency in the world of banking, giving people the power to decide what investments are right for their communities. Jake is a Research and Development Biomedical Engineer with Relign Corporation and Chair of the South Bay Progressive Alliance Public Banking Action Team. He is currently a 2019 NLC Silicon Valley Fellow and Co-chair of the Green Party of Santa Clara County.



Devonte Wilson

Teaching While Black in Rural America

Devonte's Spark! Talk, entitled Teaching While Black in Rural America, will explore the unique presentation styles utilized in NLC Spark! Talks. Devonte is the Co-Director for the New Leaders Council in North Carolina and former 3rd Vice Chair of the 8th Congressional District in North Carolina for the Democratic Party. He currently serves as the NC State Commissioner for the Volunteerism and Community Service Commission (appointed by Governor Roy Cooper), political liaison for the Moore County faith community, and 6th grade Social Studies teacher at Southern Middle School.



Brooke Wojdynski

Originally from San Diego, Brooke is a graduate of The Ohio State University where she studied political science and non-profit management. Brooke has worked as a Campaign Manager, Communications Director, and Digital Director on local, state, and federal campaigns. She currently runs her own political consulting firm called Verve Creative. Her Spark! Talk, titled, From Leaders to Legends, focuses on the progression of women's leadership styles over time and the current cultural shift we are seeing in how female candidates and elected officials respond, react, and carry themselves on the national stage.


Trip Yang

Diversifying Political Campaigns

Trip's Spark! Talk, titled, Diversifying Political Campaigns, will explore why making the campaign industry more progressive will bring about more diverse campaign staffs and more effective organizations. Trip Yang is a Democratic strategist who most recently served as campaign manager for Jumaane Williams' bid for Public Advocate, where he led a team of over 30 staffers and consultants to a double-digit margin in New York’s first-ever citywide special election. He has been an NLC NYC Advisory Board Member since 2016 and an Executive Board Member since 2018.


Aparajita Jeedigunta

Making the Invisible Visible for Mental Health Inclusion

AJ’s Spark! Talk, entitled "Making the Invisible Visible for Mental Health", is about understanding of the needs of those with Invisible Disabilities, including but not limited to mental well being challenges, so that we can create more inclusive environments for everyone. AJ is an immigrant, a two-time Traumatic Brain Injury survivor, a social-personality psychologist, a D&I consultant, and an empowerment and success coach. She currently runs her own business that aspires to help people learn, be empowered, and grow to achieve success, regardless of their (dis)ability status.


Yasmine-Imani McMorrin

Equity and Parent Empowerment

Yasmine-Imani's Spark! Talk, entitled "The Progressive's Guide to Education Equity: My Journey to Parent Advocacy" will explore actionable steps attendees can take to make their respective school districts more equitable. Specifically in the areas of: disciplinary policy, teacher recruiting, culturally responsive curriculum and assessment tools. Yasmine-Imani is a mom to an 11-yr-old superstar daughter, an attorney, the Associate Director of Student Support at USC Gould School of Law, a former Los Angeles NLC Fellow, co-founder of the Culver City Community of Color Collective, founder of LA County Parents Empowered, and she serves on the Culver City General Plan Advisory Committee.