National Service

Announcing the Inaugural Class of Franklin Project Ambassadors

May 8, 2015  • Yasmeen Shaheen-McConnell, Guest Blogger

The Aspen Institute Franklin Project recently launched the Franklin Project Ambassadors Program, a leadership development program and local engagement strategy that will catalyze support for the national service in communities across the country and address three key goals over the course of the next year:

  1. Make national service part of the 2016 election conversation
  2. Increase the number of service year positions available in communities across the US
  3. Steward the next generation of national service leaders

Forty-five Ambassadors were selected to join the program in its inaugural year based on their community leadership, innovative service ideas, and demonstrated commitment to the Franklin Project’s “big idea” that service year opportunities should be expected and universal.

“We know it takes carefully planned and well-executed action to shift American culture,” said Franklin Project Chair and Gen. Stan McChrystal. “We believe that the Ambassadors Program is the first step in the next wave of citizen-centered change in this country.”

Over the next 12 months, the Ambassadors will partner with community stakeholders in 25 states to work toward making national service a cultural expectation, common opportunity, and civic rite of passage in their areas. If you are interested in being connected with the Ambassador in your city, visit our Ambassadors page to learn more or email Mayo Sonko at 

The program will begin with an intensive three-day training in Alexandria, VA, and is phased so that Ambassadors go through a one-on-one design process with Franklin Project team members, before planning for and executing on a local event in each Ambassador’s city that addresses the goals of the program. A capstone seminar at the end of the program will include skills-sharing, leadership development, and organized reflection.

We are honored to have the following people join our inaugural class of Franklin Project Ambassadors:

  • Alen Amini, Cincinnati, OH
  • Amanda Panciera, Milwaukee, WI
  • Anna Lenhart, San Diego, CA
  • Brandon Bodor, Chicago, IL
  • Brian Pawlowski, South Bend, IN
  • Catherine Cheney, Sacramento, CA
  • Charls (Roch) Turner, Hamilton, MT
  • Chelsea Martin, Lansing, MI
  • Dan Sullivan, Boston, MA
  • Dev Zaveri-Tabb, San Diego, CA
  • Elizabeth Barrett, San Luis Obispo, CA
  • Elizabeth Collins, Wheeling, WV
  • Geoff Wilson, Minneapolis, MN
  • Godfrey Plata, Houston, TX
  • Gordon Liu, Wiscasset, ME
  • Gordon Rooney, Charleston, SC
  • Greg Ericksen, Los Angeles, CA
  • Jamiel Alexander, York, PA
  • Jamison Braun, Washington, DC
  • Jason Crow, Denver, CO
  • Jason Jaffery, Cleveland, OH
  • Jeff Bryant, Reno, NV
  • Jennifer McArdle, Flint, MI
  • Jillan Hishaw, Charlotte, NC
  • John-Paul Smith, Durham, NC
  • Josh Fryday, San Francisco Bay Area, CA
  • Josh Visnaw, New Orleans, LA
  • Kevin Ward, Seattle, WA
  • Lauren Boswell, Atlanta, GA
  • Luis Chavez, Fresno, CA
  • Mark Payne, Chicago, IL
  • Marquis Hawkins, Dallas, TX
  • Matthew Blackwell, Atlanta, GA
  • Meghan Hughes, Columbia, SC
  • Michael Auerbach, New York, NY
  • Mi’Jan Celie Tho-Biaz, Santa Fe, NM
  • Mike Meaney, Phoenix, AZ
  • Nikki Gusz, Durham, NC
  • Patrick Murray, Boston, MA
  • Pete Kalenik, Chicago, IL
  • Randy Frazier, Houston, TX
  • Roger Wong, New York, NY
  • Sarah Guy, Philadelphia, PA
  • Thomas B. Howard, Jr., Vinton, IA
  • Whitney Parnell, Washington, DC

Yasmeen Shaheen-McConnell is the Program Manager for the Franklin Project.