American Express Leadership Academy 2.0: A Fellowship for Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Announces the 2016 Class of Fellows

July 26, 2016

The Aspen Institute Program on Philanthropy and Social Innovation and the American Express Foundation Announce the 2016 Fellowship Class

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Contact: Tracey Rutnik
Deputy Director, Research and Policy,
Program on Philanthropy & Social Innovation
The Aspen Institute
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Washington, DC, July 26, 2016—The Aspen Institute Program on Philanthropy and Social Innovation, in partnership with the American Express Foundation, is excited to announce the class of 2016 fellows for the American Express Leadership Academy 2.0 Fellowship convening in Aspen, CO this August. Using the time-tested 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.

This year’s class of fellows are among the most accomplished alumni of the American Express Leadership Academy and American Express leadership funded programs, and represent a wide array of executive and management level nonprofit professionals. 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.”

“We’re proud that our alumni network is made up of world-class leaders tackling some of society’s most complex issues and impacting everything from education and the arts to social services to health, policy and more,” said Timothy J. McClimon, president, American Express Foundation. “Now in its fourth year, the American Express Leadership Academy 2.0. is the natural next step in our alumni’s leadership journey as they seek to continue to improve the communities in which we live and work.”

The fellows will come together for a week-long seminar from August 21 to August 26. 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. 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 2016 Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Fellows are:

Charles Batte, Managing Director and Founder, Empower Community Farm

Stephen Bauer, Chief of Staff, Public Allies National Office

Kelvin Cheung, Chief Operating Officer, The GoodLab; Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Unlimited Hong Kong Foundation

Maria Choi, Head of Fundraising and Partnerships,

David Fakunle, Pre-Doctoral Fellow, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Ligia Guallpa, Executive Director, Workers Justice Project

Stephen Hanmer, Education and Permanency Support Director, SCO Family Services

Michael Hill, President and Chief Executive Officer, Youth for Understanding USA

Katrina Huffman, Director, Youth, I.N.C.

Emmanuel Imah, National Alumni Engagement Manager, Upwardly Global

Jil Littlejohn, President and Chief Executive Officer, Urban League of the Upstate

Jenny Oby, Director of Co-Curricular Programs & Services, Great Hearts Academies/ Great Hearts America

Elena Pak, Chief Development Officer, Girl Scouts of the USA

janera solomon, Executive Director, Kelly Strayhorn Theater

Martin Torres, Associate Director, Latino Policy Forum

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


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 has campuses in Aspen, Colorado, and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also maintains offices in New York City and has an international network of partners.

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 16,000 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


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