Nonprofit Organizations

American Express Leadership Academy 2.0 Announces the 2017 Cohort of Fellows

June 29, 2017  • Program on Philanthropy and Social Innovation

American Express Leadership Academy 2.0 at the Aspen Institute: A Fellowship for Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Announces the 2017 Cohort

Follow us on Twitter: @aspenpsi
Join the Conversation: #amexleads
Contact: Tracey Rutnik
Deputy Director, Research and Policy, Program on Philanthropy & Social Innovation
The Aspen Institute
(202) 736-2501|

Washington, DC: June 29, 2017 —The Aspen Institute Program on Philanthropy and Social Innovation, in partnership with American Express, announces the 2017 class of fellows participating in the American Express Leadership Academy 2.0. This values-based leadership development program strengthens the capacity of fifteen accomplished nonprofit leaders annually. Using the Aspen Institute method of text-based dialogue, the Fellowship offers participants a neutral forum in which to reflect on timeless human values, pursue common ground, and cultivate a richer understanding of the human condition.

Fellows are selected through a competitive process, with nominations submitted by American Express Leadership Academy partners and American Express grantees. The fellows represent a talented cohort of executive and management level nonprofit professionals and social entrepreneurs working in organizations that enrich communities and tackle pressing social issues. Participants hail from diverse, global backgrounds and share a proven commitment to serving the public good.

“Strong, effective leadership is essential for the social sector,” said Jane Wales, Vice President, Philanthropy and Society, at the Aspen Institute. “This Fellowship program helps nonprofit leaders to become more self-aware and better prepared to lead as they confront society’s toughest challenges.”

“Over the past decade, the American Express Leadership Academy has developed more than 3,000 emerging nonprofit and social purpose leaders globally,” said Timothy J. McClimon, president, American Express Foundation. “Now in its sixth year, the American Express Leadership Academy 2.0 is the natural next step in our alumni’s leadership journey – ensuring they have the resources and skills to tackle society’s most complex issues.”

The fellows will come together for a week-long experience at the Aspen Institute’s Aspen Meadows campus from August 20 to August 25.  Surrounded by the natural beauty of Aspen, they will examine classical texts, including selections from Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and Plato’s The Republic, along with more contemporary readings, such as Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham City Jail and The Danger of A Single Story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Through textual analysis and discourse, the seminar explores tensions among fundamental values such as freedom, equality, justice, and community. The Fellowship provides these nonprofit professionals with the opportunity to move beyond daily operational concerns and take time for an enlightened exploration of the core values that animate their work – inspiring them to become more effective, innovative leaders.

The 2017 American Express Leadership Academy 2.0 Fellows are:

Troy Adkins, Director, Networks & Member Engagement, Independent Sector

Jonathas Barreto, Senior Global Program Director, Points of Light

Terri Broussard Williams, Vice President of Government Relations, American Heart Association

Annie Burridge, General Director & CEO, Austin Opera

Shelley Danner, Founding Program Director, Challenge Detroit

Julieta Garibay, Deputy Advocacy Director, United We Dream

Lorena Gomez-Barris, Senior Manager of Operations, RiseUp

Daria Hall, Vice President of Communications & External Relations, America’s Promise Alliance

Cheryl Jones, President & CEO, Girls Inc. of St. Louis

Vanessa Leung, Co-Executive Director, Coalition for Asian American Children and Families

Juan Carlos Linares, Executive Director, Latin United Community Housing Association – LUCHA

Diana Nambatya Nsubuga, Country Manager, Global Health Corps

Akshai Patel, CEO, Phoenix Collegiate Academy

SZE Lai-Shan, Community Organizer, Society for Community Organization

Kevin Vuong, CEO, Agency for Public & Social Innovation

For bios and photos of all 15 extraordinary leaders, visit:


About The Aspen Institute
The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit

About American Express: Developing New Leaders for Tomorrow
One of American Express’ three philanthropic platforms is Developing New Leaders for Tomorrow. Under this giving initiative, which recognizes the significance of strong leadership in the nonprofit and social purpose sectors, American Express makes grants focused on training high potential emerging leaders to tackle important issues in the 21st century. More than 30,000 emerging nonprofit and social sector leaders worldwide have benefitted from American Express leadership programs, including the American Express Leadership Academy among others. Launched in 2008, the American Express Leadership Academy addresses the growing deficit of leadership talent in the nonprofit sector by bringing together emerging leaders from a diverse set of nonprofit, social sector and non-governmental organizations. For leadership journey stories and additional resources, visit