American Express Leadership Academy 2.0: Emerging Nonprofit Leaders – 2019 Fellowship Class

Katrina Sun Breese is the Vice President of Development and Programs at APIA Scholars, the nation’s largest organization dedicated to supporting APIA student access to higher education and resources that cultivate their academic, personal and professional success. She leads the strategy and execution of the organization’s growth activities, partnerships, and Scholar programming. Katrina is a nonprofit leader with over 10 years of experience at organizations embarking on major growth, re-branding, and/or capacity-building efforts. Her areas of interest and expertise are in education and healthcare—two industries that have an incredible impact on human lives but are not equally accessible to all.

Katrina comes to APIA Scholars most recently from PDK International, an organization supporting educators and school leaders throughout the arc of their careers. There she led the organization’s comprehensive fundraising activities and directed the PDK Educational Foundation’s scholarship program for current and aspiring educators. The organization, amidst a re-branding and turn-around phase, experienced major infrastructural and programmatic growth. Katrina rebuilt a fundraising department that had been largely dormant for years and oversaw PDK’s first private foundation grants.

Katrina’s nonprofit leadership experience also includes a position as Director of Leadership Giving at the Inova Health Foundation, where she led fundraising for their Women’s and Children’s Hospitals, Transplant Center, and Departments of Neuroscience and Surgery. Additionally, at The George Washington University Medical Center she helped launch their grateful patient fundraising initiative and led fundraising for the GW Cancer Center. An avid traveler, Katrina grew up living all over the world and across the US including South Korea, Pakistan, Bolivia, Texas, Mississippi, California, Connecticut, DC, and Virginia. She and her husband Adam currently reside in South Riding, Virginia and are proud parents of their two children. 

Isaias Garcia is passionate about helping others climb their ladder of success. Isaias was first introduced to the nonprofit sector in high school with the Children’s Aid Society. From helping his high school fundraise for baseball uniforms, to assisting in the Special Olympics, to teaching fellow students about financial literacy, Isaias has helped others with alacrity. In college, he helped found a nonprofit organization called Project Feed Me, an organization that provides families with warm meals during the holiday season. Project Feed Me’s impact on families fueled his desire to become a leader and help others who are less fortunate. 

After graduating from Hobart College, Isaias wanted to use his writing and rhetoric degree to make an impact for students within the college space. As a Program Manager at YearUp, he was able to help students become successful within the corporate environment and secure full-time employment upon graduating. During his tenure within the organization, he came across several professional development opportunities to grow in his leadership, the most impactful and inspiring experience being “Managing for Success” with ProInspire. Through this program, Isaias developed his leadership skills through thoughtful and engaging interactives to become an influential leader within YearUp.

After leading hundreds of students to become successful in corporate America, Isaias decided to give back to his Latino community while combining his passion for financial literacy. Joining the Financial Clinic, Isaias led a campaign to help thousands of Latinos across the country become financially secure.  Isaias now works as an independent consultant and has created a portfolio of several nonprofit organizations, helping to maximize their impact while preparing to go back to school and pursue a dual degree in business and public administration.

Cherie Greene is the Senior Vice President of Finance at Points of Light in Atlanta, Georgia. She has over 15 years’ work experience in Audit and Financial Planning and Analysis with 10 years in the nonprofit sector. Cherie’s love of nonprofit work extends into her off-time as well. She is a former mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters, past Vice President and Treasurer of the Urban League of Greater Atlanta-Young Professionals, and a member of the Urban League of Greater Atlanta-Guild. 

Cherie is a South Carolina native and has a Bachelor of Science in accounting from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University. She enjoys traveling, reading, and lazy Sundays with her dog Roxie.

Megan Grimaldi is a management professional with a passion for life-long learning, inclusiveness, equity, and balanced living. She has worked at the Communities In Schools national office for nearly nine years and currently serves on the Operations team, managing CIS’ Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Imperative. For much of her tenure here, Megan managed the work of Research to Practice (R2P) efforts, led the work of conducting evaluations of national office initiatives, and helped guide the work of research, evaluation, and data throughout the CIS network.  

Megan’s experiences as a public-school teacher on the US-Mexico border and as a woman in the nonprofit sector have inspired a deep passion for advancing equity and inclusion in nonprofit practice.  She also believes in the power of continuous learning and loves to support others in their pursuit of growth through coaching. Megan cares deeply about health and wellness and, through words and actions both in and outside of work, seeks to create a future where nonprofit professionals can prioritize self-care in a way that allows them to impact their communities while nurturing themselves and their visions for the future. 

Megan has a Master of Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University, a Bachelor of Music Education and Spanish from Central Michigan University, and a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification. In her free time, Megan enjoys baking, running, yoga, and hiking in the woods with her husband and son.

Tim Jones is a thought leader, communicator and writer. Mr. Jones has found success in providing a context, different from the expectation. He provides influence and perspective on topics such leadership, organizational health, motivation & inspiration. He currently keynotes, hosts and facilitates discussions throughout the city of Chicago and the nation

Born into a heritage of community leaders on the south side of Chicago, Tim also provides leadership addressing the social issues plaguing the city of Chicago and Urban America in the areas of Economic Development, Public Safety/Violence, & Education Equality

He holds a Masters of Business Administration from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Resource Management from Northern Illinois University. He is currently the Executive Director of Good News Partners, a housing continuum that provides affordable housing to the homeless in Chicago, serving over 500 residents a year. He specializes in challenging and persuading audiences, to live by the mantra he created and lives by: “Leave No Potential On The Table”

Abaas Mpindi is the CEO and Founder of the Media Challenge Initiative, a youth-driven non-profit building the next generation of journalists in Uganda. Mpindi believes that good journalism can make the world a better place through the stories that journalists tell and how they tell them. He also believes that if journalism is to positively change the world, then we must have good, objective, empowered, socially conscious and just journalists. These beliefs have led him to found the Media Challenge Initiative (MCI).

Under MCI, Mpindi has now opened a Media Academy, with a TV and Radio accelerator space for training journalism students who do not have access to practice facilities in their universities. In 2017, he launched the Next-Gen-Journalist Program, a four-phased project including a three-day annual journalism expo and the first ever fellowship program in Uganda and East Africa targeting journalism students. In 2018, he was involved in coordinating the Uganda Social Media Conference, an annual event focusing on discussions around the impact of social media and democracy today

Prior to starting MCI, Mpindi spent four years working at Global Health Corps as the Uganda Fellowship Program Manager. His story has been published in the Huffington Post, and recently his work was highlighted by President Barack Obama in his #Mandela100 lecture in South Africa. Mpindi is a 2018 Obama Leader, a 2018 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneur, and a Young Emerging Leaders Program Fellow. Recently he was selected by the Government of Uganda to be on the National Taskforce for the Adoption of 4th Industrial Revolution. When he is not developing concepts that intersect media and other development sectors, Mpindi loves to dance and watch documentaries. 

Abeer Pamuk is a graduate student at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University,where she is working on a master’s degree in conflict resolution and coexistence. She earned her BA in English and comparative literary studies at the University of Aleppo. She has worked as a communications strategist when she came to New York City on a fellowship for nonprofit leaders called Atlas Corps and as a crisis and emergency communications advisor at SOS Children’s Villages Regional Office. She recently finished her internship at The Century Foundation working on research related to The United States foreign policy in the Middle East.

Maria Rogers Pascual currently serves as the Executive Director for Prospera Community Development, an Oakland-based incubator for Latina-owned cooperative businesses. She is a passionate, hands-on organizational leader determined to create a new kind of organization that is fully governed and sustained by and for Latina immigrant women. Maria brings her full self to her work and community: her experience growing up in a bi-cultural and bilingual family, her struggles as a business owner and working parent, her coaching skills, and her dedication to contemplative practices. She brings insights gathered through many years of experience jump-starting and running new organizations, leadership development, and income-generating programs in the Bay Area and throughout Latin America. 

Prior to her work with Prospera, Maria served as the Executive Director of Partnership for Immigrant Leadership and Action (PILA), where she oversaw civic engagement programs for community-based organizations in the Bay Area. During her tenure she co-founded Mobilize the Immigrant Vote California Collaborative (MIV), now Power California, and served on the founding board of directors for Mujeres Unidas y Activas. In the 1990’s she helped launch five Greenpeace offices in Latin America.

Maria received her Master of Arts in intercultural communication studies from San Francisco State University. She is an experienced coach and facilitator, a mosaic and collage artist, and a proud mother of two young adult women currently enrolled in college in San Francisco and New York.

Wesner Pierre is a Vice President at CAMBA, Inc. with nearly a decade of experience in the social purpose sector. As a native New Yorker who grew up in an underprivileged inner-city community, Wesner began his successful career by working in and giving back to that very same community. 

Wesner joined CAMBA to start the East New York Beacon Community Center. Having demonstrated his passion, innovation, and unwavering commitment to youth, Wesner quickly moved up the ranks at CAMBA. As Vice President of Education and Youth Development, Wesner has developed a team of highly committed staff who lead with urgency as they help youth and families navigate challenges and opportunities. Wesner oversees a robust portfolio of over 40 program contracts—including Community School, Beacon and NYCHA Cornerstone Community Centers, Youth Mentoring programs, and a pivotal anti-gun violence initiative in one of NYC’s most distressed neighborhoods. Wesner is responsible for supervising over 250 employees who provide services to nearly 13,500 youth and adults annually.

Wesner is an alumnus of the American Express Leadership Academy, 2015. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the City College and a Master of Arts degree from Queens College of The City University of New York.

Brittany Schulman (Waccamaw Siouan) strives to create opportunities through indigeneity and is an Indigenous values-based leadership educator and community organizer. As Director of Leadership Initiatives at Americans for Indian Opportunity (AIO), Brittany connects participants and strengthens the alumni network of AIO’s highly acclaimed Ambassadors Program, an Indigenous values-based community capacity building and leadership development initiative. 

As a former Miss Indian North Carolina, Brittany attended many local, state, and national events representing North Carolina American Indians and advocating for the incorporation of Indigenous values and traditions in a modern context.  As a former high school English teacher, Brittany incorporated her Native American values in the classroom and was a leader in her department, implementing Indigenous philosophy.  Brittany was a consultant for the Public Schools of Robeson County Indian Education program, the largest Indian education program in the country.  She taught drumming, dancing, singing, and history to students in the After Hours Cultural Academy.

Brittany is part of a movement to organize the Albuquerque urban Indian community.  She organizes monthly Native Professionals Networking events and AIO Third Thursday Luncheons. Brittany is actively involved in the community through her role as President of the Epsilon Pi Professional Chapter of Alpha Pi Omega Sorority, Inc., the first Native American Greek letter organization, and the Native Health Initiative Advisory Board. Brittany is also a cohost of the Wrong NDN Podcast. Brittany is married to a wonderfully supportive husband, Joseph (Leech Lake Ojibwe) and they have two small children. Brittany is pursuing her master’s degree in public administration at the University of New Mexico. 

Saima Siddiqui is Vice President of Development, Alumni and University Relations at the Washington Center, a nonprofit educational institution that works with colleges and universities to bring students to Washington, D.C. for immersive, high-impact internship, seminar, and career readiness programs.

Saima leads three key partnership areas at TWC and is responsible for building strong and aligned strategic partnerships. She leads the college and university relations team that manages relationships with TWC’s 400 domestic college and university partners; the fundraising team that ensures access to TWC programs by building corporate, foundation, and individual donor support for experiential education; and the alumni relations team that creates a framework for engagement and resources for TWC’s global community of 60,000 alumni.

Prior to joining TWC, Saima led Career Services at National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School, where she helped build a world-class, student-focused department that successfully prepared over 3,000 BBA, MBA and Executive MBA students for global careers. She began her career in affordable housing and community development, working with Shorebank in Chicago to build public-private partnerships supporting stable and accessible housing options for residents.

Saima holds a Master of Public Administration and a Master of City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania, and a BS from Northwestern University. Saima serves on the Board of Directors of the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), a non-profit research institute focused on the American Muslim community. She lives in Bethesda, Maryland with her husband and (sometimes) two children.

Stacy Stout is the Assistant to the City Manager with the City of Grand Rapids to support city neighborhood capacity building initiatives, such as the Neighborhood Match Fund, the annual Grand Rapids Neighborhood Summit, and the Neighborhood Economic Connections grant designed to increase resident leadership and power. She is currently on assignment to oversee, strategize, and elevate the city’s diversity, inclusion, and equity efforts. Stacy serves on the city’s Racial Equity Here (REH) cohort team connected with the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE), and brings a strong racial equity and community empowerment lens to the work, pulling on her lived experience and training as a former Michigan team member at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Dean of Students at Burton Middle School with Grand Rapids Public Schools, and former Education Director at the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan.

Stacy is currently a K-Connect board trustee and member of the GRPS Native American Education Program (NAEP) Parent Committee. She is also one of four co-founders of the Latina Network of West Michigan, whose vision is to be a catalyst for systemic change through leadership development, a space of cultural belonging, and reclaiming the Latina narrative.

Stacy has been recognized with the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce ATHENA Youth Professional Award, the Young Professional of the Year Award by the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber, and the Community Improvement Award by the Grand Rapids Young Professionals. She has also been named to GR Business Journal’s 40 Under Forty designation, one of the 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan and most recently received the 2018 #NGen Leadership Award from Independent Sector. She earned both her undergraduate degree in biology and her master’s degree in public administration with an emphasis in nonprofit leadership and management from Grand Valley State University.

Fidelis Bonaventure Uzoma serves as an Atlas Corps International Programs Fellow at the Obama Foundation, Washington DC, working with the International Team in designing, developing, and deploying high-impact leadership programs in Africa, Asia, and Europe. He is an emerging human capital development professional with over six years of experience within the training and development sector in Nigeria. Fidelis is currently the Executive Director at Diplo-Age where he designs, coordinates, and manages capacity building projects, talent acceleration, career readiness, and professional development programs for start-ups, entrepreneurs living with disabilities, college graduates, corporate organizations, NGOs, and educational institutes. He is also as a founding member of Youth Aid Development Foundation (YADF), a nonprofit that provides economic empowerment opportunities, job assistance, and psycho-social support programs for at-risk youth and persons with disabilities in Africa.

He holds a master’s degree in diplomacy and strategic studies, and Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. As a social sector professional, Fidelis has worked in different capacities with several organizations, government agencies, private companies, and SMEs in facilitating high-impact leadership programs. Fidelis also volunteers as a leadership development consultant and has partnered with grassroots, community, and faith-based organizations, educational institutions, and international nonprofits to promote high-impact programs that enhance the capacity of unemployed youth, start-ups, entrepreneurs, and persons with disabilities. Fidelis is committed to building high-impact ecosystems that provide opportunities for 1 million unemployed persons in Nigeria. Fidelis enjoys topics on inclusive development, leadership, employment, and the future of work.

Fidelis’ expertise and achievements have not gone unnoticed: he was selected as an Emerging Global Leader at Atlas Corps, an African Award Winner and a fellow of the 2016 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program, Awardee, Crans Montana New Leaders, Switzerland, U.S Certified Fellow, Inspire Africa Entrepreneurship Institute, a Pan-African Awards Nominee, and an Award Winner of the President Barrack Obama Young African Leaders Initiative (Face-2-Face) Network Nigeria.

Maco Yoshioka is the founder and CEO of Madre Bonita, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting families after childbirth. Madre Bonita provides postpartum fitness programs for new mothers to recover physical strength and mental stability. 70 classes are held in 20 prefectures throughout Japan by certified trainers. Over 65,000 mothers participated for the past decade. Madre Bonita also focuses on research on postpartum issues which had long been a blind spot of maternal healthcare in Japan.

Maco developed the postpartum fitness program in 1998 combining, her experience of childbirth and her expertise in sports science. The program received great appreciation not only from mothers but also from fathers, receiving praise that it is transformative. Maco believes that postpartum issues that are overlooked in society, including postpartum depression, relationship stress, child abuse, and fewer women returning to the workforce, can be prevented if our society values and supports new mothers and the importance of postpartum health. Maco aims to form a social infrastructure of postpartum care in Japan to make it more accessible to every family. Maco holds a bachelor’s degree in literature at the University of Tokyo. She studied sport science in graduate school at the University of Tokyo

Elena Zee is President and CEO of the Arizona Council on Economic Education. Prior to this role, Elena had worked in the global financial services industry for more than 20 years, with her first job as an econometrician developing predictive modeling to launch new products at American Express in New York. She was then promoted to Director of International Operations, responsible for customer service, business growth, and process improvement worldwide. Elena’s extensive work and travel internationally brought her to Arizona to build the international information management MIS and business analytics infrastructure and teams.

Elena has a master’s degree in economics from Columbia University and double bachelor’s degrees in economics and math from Wellesley College. She is a graduate of the American Express Leadership Academy at the ASU Lodestar Center, Class VII and Valley Leadership Class 40. She was also a Certified Financial PlannerTM and taught financial planning and economics at universities. 

Elena is very passionate about education, professional development, economic empowerment, and international exchange, having served on the boards of the Global Economic Education Alliance, the Organization for Nonprofit Executives, the National Association of Economic Educators, the Phi Beta Kappa of Greater Phoenix, and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Arizona. Elena has represented the city of Phoenix multiple times to visit China for cultural, education, tourism, and business exchange.