ADL and Aspen Institute Announce Inaugural Class of the Civil Society Fellowship

September 10, 2019

The 23 Fellows Are Emerging Civic Leaders From Across the Country

ADL: Jake Hyman

Aspen Institute: Philip Javellana

New York, NY and Washington, D.C., September 10, 2019 — ADL (Anti-Defamation League) and the Aspen Institute today announced the inaugural class of the Civil Society Fellowship: A Partnership of ADL and the Aspen Institute. This new Fellowship, part of the Aspen Global Leadership Network, aims to prepare and engage the next generation of community and civic leaders, activists and problem solvers from across the political spectrum.

The 23 inaugural Fellows, selected from a pool of over 200 nominees from across the country, are journalists, entrepreneurs, government officials, lawyers, educators and designers. They work for nonprofits, private industry and in law enforcement. All are proven leaders with a broad array of concerns who have reached an inflection point in their lives where they are ready to apply their talent and skills to build a more civil society. A more civil society requires the participation and mutual understanding of all, regardless of political affiliation. The Fellowship is intended to ground this group of Fellows, all between the ages of 25 and 45, with a foundation to work toward a more civil society and discourse. The inaugural cohort reflects a diverse mosaic representing a broad geographical, political and ideological swath of the United States.

Civil Society Fellows will spend five weeks over the course of two and a half years in structured retreat – exploring their leadership, core values and visions for a more free, just and equitable society, as well as their desired legacies. Seminars created in text-based dialogue and experiential engagement will take place in Aspen, CO, Washington DC, Europe, the Middle East, and culminate in the southern United States to explore how issues of freedom, security, liberty and diversity play out in different contexts.

Each Fellow will launch a leadership venture tackling a societal problem of their choosing that will stretch them and make a positive impact on their communities, their country and the world. Civil Society Fellows join the 3,000+ Fellows in the Aspen Global Leadership Network.

“At a time when our country seems to be more divided than ever and we are continuously presented with more and more complex challenges, it’s vital that we bring together the next generation of diverse leaders — individuals across the political and ideological spectrum — in an effort to develop innovative strategies and solutions to those problems,” said ADL CEO and National Director Jonathan Greenblatt. “ADL, along with our partners at the Aspen Institute, is incredibly proud to welcome this inaugural class of Fellows, who undoubtedly possess the potential and tenacity needed to combat the issues that consume our society today.”

 The Fellows will work together in pursuit of broad-based solutions that will help address the challenges created by our divided political landscape,” said Marc Rowan, philanthropist, co-founder of Apollo Global Management and the Fellowship’s lead benefactor. “This group of Fellows will have the opportunity to come together in a non-partisan setting to exchange ideas and work on solutions to unite our country.”

“The launch of the inaugural class of Civil Society Fellows is an important step in developing the type of optimistic, values-driven leaders America needs. The individuals selected represent a true cross section of American society who will make transformational differences in their communities and for our country. We are excited that, with our partners at ADL, we will help move these individuals from success to significance so that they might help build a more free, just, and equitable world,” said Dan Porterfield, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute.

“This inaugural cohort of Civil Society Fellows expresses high intentions through 23 stellar leaders deeply invested in urban, rural, coastal, and middle America,” said Nike Irvin, Managing Director of the Civil Society Fellowship. “With the benefit of the Fellows’ time in leadership seminars and in their ventures, their communities and our country will feel the impact of this much-needed Fellowship.”

“This class excites me because of the rich and diverse dimensions represented in each individual and across the cohort as a whole,” said Hilary Pennington, Executive Vice President of Program of the Ford Foundation and member of the Civil Society Fellowship Executive Committee. “They embody the ways in which we have more in common than what divides us.  Most people in our societies are looking for ways to move us forward together.  Having a multi-year endeavor like this Fellowship Program, working with groups of leaders over time, is vitally needed.”

Photos and bios are available here.

The Civil Society Fellow for 2019 are:

  • Samah Abukhodeir, Managing Partner, The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm, Miami, FL
  • Shawn Barney, Managing Director, CLB Porter Development, LLC, New Orleans, LA
  • Ashley Daniel Bell, Founder & CEO, 20/20 Bipartisan Justice Center, Atlanta, GA
  • Antionette D. Carroll, President & CEO, Creative Reaction Lab, St. Louis, MO
  • Frank Fernandez, Senior Vice President, Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, Atlanta, GA
  • Matthew Fieldman, Vice President of External Affairs, MAGNET: The Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network, Beachwood, OH
  • Nathan Fletcher, Supervisor, Fourth District, San Diego County Board of Supervisors, San Diego, CA
  • Leon Ford, Entrepreneur in Residence, Bronze Investments, Pittsburgh, PA
  • Nia-Malika Henderson, Senior Political Reporter, CNN, Washington, DC
  • Akbar Hossain, Associate, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, LLP, Norristown, PA
  • Joseph Kunkel, Executive Director, SNC Design Lab, MASS Design Group, Santa Fe, NM
  • Lauren McCann, Executive Vice President, Stand Together Foundation, Falls Church, VA
  • Blair Milo, Secretary of Career Connections and Talent, State of Indiana, La Porte, IN
  • Aviva Nassimi, Community Development Manager, TED Translators, TED Conferences, New York, NY
  • Isaiah Oliver, President & CEO, Community Foundation of Greater Flint, Flint, MI
  • Dylan Orr, Deputy Director, Environmental Health Services Division, Seattle & King County Public Health, Seattle, WA
  • Kaci Patterson, Owner & Principal, Social Good Solutions, Los Angeles, CA
  • Marlon Peterson, Founder & President, Precedential Group, Brooklyn, NY
  • Laura Beth Prevette, Director of Community Engagement, Forward Wilkes, Wilkesboro, NC
  • Jenifer Sarver, Principal, Sarver Strategies, Austin, TX
  • Rev. Adam Taylor, Executive Director, Sojourners, Washington, DC
  • Joseph Tomás Mckellar, Co-Director, PICO California, Los Angeles, CA
  • Ryan Zuidema, Chief of Police, Lynchburg Police Department, Lynchburg, VA

Nominations for the inaugural class were open from April 25 – June 7, 2019. An Executive Committee is charged with oversight of the program; an Advisory Committee of national leaders representing diverse perspectives helped in sourcing nominees for the cohort. The combined approach of both committees ensures the non-partisan nature of the Fellowship in keeping with the Aspen Institute’s tradition of values-based leadership development.

About the Civil Society Fellowship
The Civil Society Fellowship is a leadership development program preparing the next generation of community and civic leaders, activists and problem solvers from across the political spectrum. The Fellowship provides participants the opportunity to engage in experiential learning and text-based dialogue, build trust among a diverse cohort of leaders based on shared insights and mutual respect, and put ideas into action through a required leadership venture. The Fellowship will launch a new cohort annually and is a partnership of ADL and the Aspen Institute. For more information visit

About ADL
ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of anti-Semitism occur. ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate. For more information, 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

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