American Express Leadership Academy 2.0: Emerging Social Purpose Leaders – 2021-2022 Fellowship Class
Adriana Betti is the Executive Director of R.I.S.E., which was established in 1976 by Berkeley youth seeking educational equity. Adriana’s leadership for over twenty years has structured R.I.S.E. as a program that fosters caring and understanding relationships between youth and program counselors who affirm cultural identity and personal growth. ‘Cuauhtli Mitotiani Mexica’ – a Native Youth group which utilizes native cultural traditions to develop youth leadership through self-knowledge, cultural healing and presentations both local and international. Adriana is the founder and director. Adriana has worked professionally as a Math teacher and teacher educators at the local level in Berkeley and in Massachusetts. After the high school shootings that started in Columbine and then to Santee, She organized “Pedaling for Peace” a partnership with California Police Athletic league and the California State Parks and 17 Youth. She organized youth to attend the 2010 March for America in Washington DC. The youth created and presented a book to legislators. A R.I.S.E student was chosen to speak on the National Mall. They produced the film “The Next Step”. She and the youth received a resolution from the City of Berkeley. Adriana is featured in the film “Peace and Dignity for the Love of Standing Rock” 2018 Certificate of Recognition from the State Senate and the State Assembly 2014, VIP Woman of the Year, National Association of Professional Women 1989 M.ED. Math, English, and Science Technology, University of Massachusetts Amherst. 1988 B.A. Math and Computer Science, UC Berkeley.
Shelby N. Chaney is a native Detroiter based in Chicago. She has worked with youth and adults in different capacities for the last five years. She launched Still We R.I.S.E., LLC in 2020 to follow her passion for mediating racial tensions with a specialization in Black and Brown dynamics. In her work, she centers Black history, culture, and identity because of the belief that if the most marginalized are centered then everyone in society will be able to rise. She has a bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Spanish from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in Social Service Administration with a certificate in Global Social Development and Practice from the University of Chicago. In her graduate program, she focused her research on anti-Blackness in the Latine community. She has spent a significant amount of time in places like Brazil and Colombia and has traveled to other Latin American countries as well. Shelby utilizes her well-rounded education and various travel experiences to influence the way in which she connects with the communities she serves. She actively partners with various Chicago organizations in order to bring workshops, trainings, programming, and curriculum to both youth and adults. Shelby focuses on sustainable practices to ensure that the work towards a more equitable future can continue in the schools and organizations that she partners with.
Kim Gube serves as the Monthly Giving Manager with the Southern Poverty Law Center where she leads monthly giving initiatives and implements employee giving strategies. Most recently she served as the Director of the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast Region at Global Impact, partnering with global nonprofits, consulting and developing workplace giving strategies for the public and private sector. Before that, Kim coordinated volunteers, disaster response training and partnerships at the local and national levels at the American Red Cross. In her free time, Kim volunteers with the American Express Leadership Academy Global Taskforce supporting global alumni connections, KAMA DC, a platform for immigrants to share their skills and stories, and Food and Friends delivering nutritious meals and friendship to neighbors with serious illnesses in the metro DC area.
Jacob Ireri is the Founder and CEO of Deaf Empowerment Society of Kenya (DESK), a nongovernmental organization for Deaf persons based in Kenya that seeks to advance the empowerment and independence of Deaf persons. Jacob has over seven years of professional work experience in the social purpose sector. Since founding DESK in 2013, Jacob has grown an extensive network of empowerment initiatives across Kenya. To combat the high unemployment rate, Jacob led an effort to educate businesses on how to integrate deaf people into their workplace. To date dozens of businesses around Kenya have been trained and hundreds of deaf persons have found jobs and are flourishing. To empower deaf people economically, from 2016 to 2018 Jacob led a partnership with USAID and the Kenyan government to deliver an intensive entrepreneurial program where upon graduation 151 participants were provided seed funding to start their income generating micro-businesses. His enterprise was recognized at the 2018 AIDF Innovator of the Year Award. Jacob holds a master’s degree in International development and is passionate about transforming livelihoods of poor and marginalized Deaf persons all across Kenya, and ultimately all across the globe.
Megan Jacobs is the managing director of product for the Innovations center at Truth Initiative. In that role, Megan brings an empathic, user-centered approach to product design that is key to the successful quit-smoking and vaping programs used by hundreds of thousands of people looking to break free from addiction. Most recently, she designed the quit-vaping program This is Quitting (TIQ) for teens and young adults. She works across departments to integrate TIQ into the truth® campaign. Megan’s work focuses on developing and evaluating programs to help young people live their best lives, addiction-free. Before working at Truth Initiative, she applied technology to help people make healthy behavior changes at the University of Michigan Health Service, DC Department of Health and the National Vaccine Program Office. Megan earned bachelor’s degrees in English and French from the University of Michigan, a master’s degree in public health communication and marketing from the George Washington University and certificates in product management and design thinking. She teaches mHealth product development at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University, where she has held leadership roles on several alumni groups. She has served on the Counter Tools board of directors since 2020. Megan has two amazing young kids, and in her non-work time enjoys exploring DC and the world with them and her husband.
Isabel Kumwebe is a woman on a mission. She believes in the unified power of the people and one’s inherent ability to affect change. A firm believer of upholding one’s social responsibility. She believes volunteerism is a powerful means of engaging people in tackling development challenges, and if development is to be effective and sustainable, the people affected by it must take ownership of its process and drive forward through civic engagement. Isabel is passionate about the transformative power of leadership development and has been a scholar and implementor of various leadership programs. Her hope is to actively contribute to the development of her country Malawi, and Africa at large by actively participating in civic, national and political affairs.
Noel McKenzie is a Black, Queer, Jamerican social entrepreneur and organizational development consultant based in Brooklyn, New York. He is Executive Director of Represented Foundation, the nonprofit he founded in Brooklyn in 2017 to close the diversity gap in the social impact leadership, where in cities like New York people of color make up less than 30% of CEOs, despite comprising 68% of the population. Drawing from his own experiences with racial biases in nonprofit leadership, Noel created the Vision. Execution. Results. (V.E.R.) incubator, a social impact training program, that’s helped 30 Black and Brown social entrepreneurs launch 27 social enterprises in NYC since 2018. As a social entrepreneur, Noel designs leadership development opportunities that blend culture and service to promote access and intentional community-building. Former and current workshops of his include: First Generations, a podcast-creation program helping migrant youth find ownership of the immigration narrative while amplifying their voices in educational podcasts and “The Art of Accepting Help Workshop,” a lunch & learn program helping corporate teams create equity for BIPOC, women, Queer or disabled-bodied employees by normalizing vulnerability in the workplace. Noel is an American Express Emerging Leaders fellow of 2019, a 2020 honoree from the BET network’s Black Excellence Campaign and a 2021 inductee to the Black Innovation Alliance and a 2022 Roddenberry Fellowship fellow. Noel is a graduate of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, and earned his Masters Degree in Nonprofit Management from The Milano Graduate School at the New School in New York, where he served as President and Lead Organizer of the Students for Social Justice (SSJ).
Aisha Pew is the co-founder of City Dibs, a social justice development organization building Black Sovereignty. Their projects include: Dovecote Café, a community based oasis & café; Brioxy, a training pipeline for young people of color buying land and launching organizations collectively, Countered—turning the neighborhood corner store into a hub of wellness and community organizing, and the House of Sedulō an artist residency for Black artists across the globe. Aisha brings almost two decades of talent management and organizational effectiveness solutions to other social entrepreneurs. Aisha’s diverse HR background has enabled her to bring an innovative, practical and fresh perspective to HR issues. She has consulted with Fortune 500 companies working with foreign and domestic markets. Aisha held several leadership roles for leading companies where she developed talent acquisition and selection, organizational and leadership, and recruitment process. She has managed teams of up to 350 and businesses in excess of $100 million annual sales. Aisha holds a BA in Economics from Wesleyan University and a MA in Jurisprudence and Social Policy from UC Berkeley. City Dibs backs Black people to build and cultivate intentional community and economic sovereignty. We invest in historically undervalued and intentionally marginalized communities. In order to develop vibrant economies, we provide support to businesses and social justice organizations, offer resources to increase homeownership, create community driven land trusts, and invest in grassroots urban planning.
Ana M. Rivera currently works at Share Our Strength in Washington, D.C as a Field Associate supporting the implementation and execution of Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign in cities and states across the country. Ana has a background within community development and has dedicated her career to issues related to poverty, inequality, food nutrition, and leadership development. She has served in various roles, including program coordinator at the Salvation Army, provides services to low-income families, Team Leader at AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), where she supervised and motivated a team of 12 young adults across several different community service projects. Before Share Our Strength, she worked at Chemonics International as an Operations Associate. Ana was an integral part in providing administrative support to a corporate initiative in rolling out an Enterprise Resource Planning system across 90 field offices. Ana graduated from American University with a Master’s degree in International Development with a concentration in community development and a bachelor’s degree in Family and Child Studies with a concentration in Family Services. A fun fact about Ana: she is part of a dance group called Corazon Folklorico, where she dances Mexican folk dance or “baile folklorico.”
Abby Robinson is the Chief Strategy Officer for Atlas Corps, a leadership development program for global social change leaders. Her personal motto is “make it big”—inspiring individuals to inspire positive impact in their communities. In 2021, she served as the Acting CEO after the Founder transitioned. She joined Atlas Corps in 2008 as a Class 2 Fellow in Bogota, Colombia. Prior to Atlas Corps, Abby worked as a Development Strategist for the InterAmerican Development Bank (Washington, DC), Fundacion Escuela Nueva (Bogota, Colombia), and The Campus Kitchens Project/DC Central Kitchen (national). Abby was as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Puerto Rico and organized community development efforts throughout the northern part of the island. Abby participated in the Independent Sector NGEN Program and the American Express Leadership Academy implemented by the Center for Creative Leadership. She is actively engaged with the American Express Leadership Academy Alumni Network and previously served on the Board of Directors for the Giving Circles Fund/One Percent Foundation. Abby graduated with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Communications and Spanish with a minor in Marketing from the University of Minnesota Duluth and completed the Fundraising for Small Nonprofits course offered by The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. Abby is originally from northern Minnesota, established her career in Washington, DC, and now resides with her husband and two children in Montreal, Canada.
Stephanie Roman is the Sr. Program Manager for Leadership and Learning at Hispanics in Philanthropy, whose mission is to strengthen Latinx leadership, influence, and equity by leveraging philanthropic resources across the Americas. Roman’s leadership work reaches intergenerational leaders in both Mexico and USA who work in philanthropy or the social justice sector, including human rights defenders. Through a ten-month fellowship program, Roman is able to support the development of Latinx Líderes who are interested in disrupting systems of power while also practicing individual and community healing. In addition, Roman oversees the racial equity and soon to be racial justice work internally through HIP’s organizational culture, and externally with HIP’s field facing work. This includes partner collaboration to change the narrative of what it means to be Latinx in philanthropy. Roman also works closely with intersecting programs including Gender Justice, Migration & Forced Displacement and Power Building and Justice work to amplify the voice of those at the margins in proximity to power. Roman is a cultural visual artist based in Phoenix, AZ, and works closely with local artists, and activists. This includes working with CALA Alliance (Celebración Artística de las Américas) a multidisciplinary Latino arts organization as coordinator of events for international artists from across the Americas. Currently, Roman is working with a local team of women to build a mutual aid for artists in Arizona to provide resources and a safe space for emerging and youth artists to collaborate, create and fight for social justice.
ZuQuan Rooks is an accomplished, ever-evolving business professional with broad industry experience. He is also a proud father to a 7-year-old daughter, who has given added motivation and purpose to his life. Full-time, ZuQuan is Senior Director of Social Ventures at Per Scholas, Inc., a national non-profit organization that provides tuition-free technology training and job placement to diverse, yet often overlooked participants. ZuQuan also serves as an adjunct professor at NYU’s School of Professional Studies. Since 2016, he has been teaching Database Management & Modeling for their Integrated Marketing graduate program. Prior to joining Per Scholas, Inc., ZuQuan’s career path has gradually developed through years of diverse and extensive work experience in marketing, publishing, and PR business sectors. While working full-time, ZuQuan eventually obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, and throughout his career he has project-managed multiple initiatives ranging from large-scale media events to launching a pilot gift card/loyalty program for an international online spa marketing company. He has served as a contributing writer for The Source Magazine, and an editor and copy writer for various newsletters and companies. He has also created targeted marketing strategies for various top-tier firms across several industry silos, boosting sales and expanding business footprints. Beginning in 2009, ZuQuan entered a new career path in the non-profit sector, where he has happily remained for the past (12) years. Additionally, he has actively volunteered his time in community social activities, including youth mentorship and the launching of his own face-painting troupe for children’s events. In his leisure time, he enjoys singing and songwriting with a group of fellow musicians.
Janey Pearl Starks, an experienced healthcare and nonprofit professional, is the Director of Equity, Diversity & Engagement at Mountain Park Health Center, a nonprofit community health center serving approximately 90,000 people throughout its eight clinics. Originally from Guadalajara, Mexico and a graduate of Arizona State University and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, her involvement spans more than 20 years and focuses on access to healthcare, civic engagement, providing information and tools to marginalized communities, and leading conversations about race and diversity. She has received numerous local and national recognitions including the Phoenix Business Journal and Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 40 Under 40 awards, Valle Del Sol’s Profiles of Success award and the Citizen of the Year award from the National Association of Social Workers Arizona chapter. Most recently, she was one of 26 recognized nationwide by FWD.Us with their Keeping Families Together Champion Award. In addition to serving on the Equality Arizona board, she’s the former Vice Chair of the City of Phoenix Village Planning Committee, a facilitator with the Anti-Defamation League’s education programs and a mentor to two young women through New Pathways for Youth. Throughout her tenure at Mountain Park, she’s worked to improve the way patients access healthcare electronically and in person, informs about health disparities and barriers to care, and finds creative methods to help overcome those barriers. During the COVID-19 pandemic she has served on the Incident Command Team and is focused on getting COVID-19 vaccines to the communities hardest hit by the virus.
Dr. Prakash Tyagi, MD, PGDGM, is the Executive Director of GRAVIS and Founder-Director of GRAVIS Hospital. In his academics, he has studied Medicine and Geriatrics. He has also been the recipient of a Fulbright-Humphrey Fellowship to study global health at UNC Chapel Hill, received a Ford Fellowship to study non-profit management at Columbia University and has studied public policy through a Fleishman Fellowship at Duke University. He has supported various non-profits working on health and development aspects. As the Executive Director of GRAVIS, he has been leading the organization since last 16 years. GRAVIS works extensively in the Thar Desert of India and in other regions, with key focuses on water security, food security and community health. GRAVIS reaches out to about 1.7 million people living in poverty with its work and has helped formation of over 4,000 Community Based Organizations including Older People Associations and Self-Help Groups. He had founded a major hospital which is an important medical centre in the Thar Desert of India. Dr. Tyagi is an active development practitioner and public health professional and has contributed significantly in the fields of healthy ageing, HIV, TB and occupational health through his writing, research and field work. He is also a visiting faculty at Jodhpur School of Public Health in India and a Clinical Professor at the School of Global Health and Medicine of University of Washington, US.
Maria Yuan, founder of IssueVoter, is passionate about fixing systemic problems by leveraging creativity and determination to achieve world-changing results and impact. Its mission is to give everyone a voice in our representative democracy. Highlighted on CNN Heroes, IssueVoter extends engagement beyond elections on policy that affects our lives, increases communication between constituents and representatives, and catalyzes more informed voters. Maria also leads a coalition to bridge self-reported anti-Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) incident data, including data visualizations and resource matching, eliminating silos, and encouraging community action and awareness. Maria has spoken at many conferences and her writing and interviews have been featured by PBS, Real Clear Politics, The Hill, CBS, and Crooked Media. She serves on the Bridge Alliance Board of Directors, and holds degrees from The Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania and The University of Texas at Austin.