American Express Leadership Academy 2.0: Emerging Nonprofit Leaders – 2016 Fellowship Class

BatteCharles Batte was born in Kamwokya, one of the most impoverished slums in Uganda. He grew up in an environment characterised by lack of opportunity, poverty, crime, drugs and poor health service delivery. This early experience inculcated in him a spirit of social responsibility that has been responsible for his work towards sustainable development. Founder of the global award winning health initiative Family Health Centre, he is a magna summa laude graduate of Human Medicine and Surgery from Makerere University. Charles’s social entrepreneurial journey spans 8 years. Having established Empower Community farm to combat malnutrition and promote sustainable agricultural methods in Katiiti Village. He also founded Tree Adoption Uganda – a social enterprise working to demystify the linkages between climate change and health.  For his work he won the 2012 World Merit Global Ambassador for Social Entrepreneurship award travelling to over 20 countries on 5 continents to inspire and work with youths, in 2013 he was named Global Laureate Fellow by the International Youth Foundation. In 2014 he was a finalist in the HRH the Prince of Wales award for sustainable living entrepreneurs. In 2015 he was named Dalai Lama Fellow for social entrepreneurs, winner at the US Department of Sate – Global Innovation through Science and technology (GIST) competition at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit – Nairobi organized and attended by President Obama of the USA, winner of the United Nation’s Framework on Climate change Conference (UNFCC)Youth video Award and the CommonWealth Youth Bright Ideas competition. He has recently been invited to give key note speeches at the World Forestry Congress by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and at the youth event during the CommonWealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta. He is currently a World Merit expert for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 3 – Health and wellbeing mentoring youth from all around the world working is the health sector.

BauerStephen Bauer serves as Public Allies’ Chief of Staff where he works with the national network to operationalize the strategic vision of the organization to create a more just and equitable society and the diverse leadership to sustain it.  Prior to this role, Bauer served as Director of Strategic Initiatives where he managed a diverse portfolio of work including new site expansion, the National Leadership Institute, national recruitment efforts, and work to increase academic pathways for our Allies.  Prior to coming to Public Allies, Stephen was the Director of National Partnerships and External Relations at The Nonprofit Leadership Alliance where, most notably, he launched a national coalition in partnership with Public Allies focused on increasing pathways and support for next generation nonprofit leaders.  Stephen was selected as an Independent Sector NGen Fellow (2013-14), a National Human Service Assembly Civic Sector Leadership Fellow (2010-11), and holds a certification in Nonprofit Management and a master’s degree in College Student Personnel from Western Illinois University.

CheungKelvin Cheung can be described as a force of positive disruption – meaning that he constantly believes things can be better in function or design, and that’s why he is passionate about social innovation, youth entrepreneurship and societal transformation. Kelvin achieves this through his work at the GoodLab, Hong Kong’s social innovation consultancy and co-working space.  Along with directors Ada Wong JP, Francis Ngai, KK Tse and Patrick Cheung, they work with governments, businesses and NGOs on creating programs and partnerships for societal change. He also heads up UnLtd HK, a foundation that provides funding and on-going mentorship for early stage social innovators here in Hong Kong. Based on the model of UnLtd UK, which has supported 13,000 innovators, UnLtd HK identifies, selects, and mentors social innovators to help make their idea into a reality.  UnLtd Hong Kong currently supports 18 entrepreneurs.  Previous to this career in Hong Kong, Kelvin honed his social entrepreneurial experience in London.  After his studies there in International Development, Kelvin founded FoodCycle, an award winning charity based in the UK that builds communities by combining volunteers, surplus food and a spare kitchen space to create nutritious meals for those at risk of food poverty and social isolation. Set up in 2008, FoodCycle is now in 24 locations across the country and has a network of over 1,200 volunteers.  Before FoodCycle, he worked at MyBnk, a youth financial education charity based in London run by Lily Lapenna, an Ashoka fellow. Kelvin is a World Economic Forum Global Shaper and also sat on the food advisory board for the Mayor of London.  Kelvin has been a cyclist for half of his life.  He rides on the road, in the forests and also has been an indoor cycling instructor for the past 10 years, something he still does on the side.  He’s biked from Vancouver to Toronto for charity when he was 18, and continues to balance in cycling into his weekly life, which provides him the energy and reflection time needed for the rest of his work.  He’s married, with no pets, and 6 bikes.

ChoiMaria Choi leads up fundraising & partnerships at, a non-profit with a mission to bring free computer science education to all students, with a focus on increasing participation among females and underrepresented students of color. Previously, Maria worked for brands like Sesame Workshop, NFL, and UNICEF. Her other passion is volunteering for Nomi Network, a social enterprise dedicated to creating jobs for survivors of human and sex trafficking.

FakunleDavid Olawuyi Fakunle is a fourth-year doctoral student in the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In 2013 David received a pre-doctoral fellowship with the Drug Dependence Epidemiology Training Program, funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, becoming the program’s first Black male pre-doctoral fellow. At Johns Hopkins, David focuses his research on sociodemographic associations with stressors within the built environment such as tobacco outlet density and e-cigarette availability, the manifestations of institutional racism in society, and the utilization of arts and culture to promote equity and social justice. In 2016, David began a year-long fellowship with the Baltimore City Health Department working in Community Engagement and Policy. He received his B.A. in Psychology and Criminology & Criminal Justice from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2009. In addition to his academic, research and professional endeavors, David has been a performing artist, including vocal/theater performance, African storytelling, and African drumming, for over 20 years. He is the co-founder and primary facilitator of DiscoverME/RecoverME, an intervention program that utilizes the African oral tradition to aid in recovery from societal traumas.

Guallpa_HeadshotLigia Guallpa, the daughter of a former day laborer and garment worker, is the Executive Director of Workers Justice Project (WJP), a community-based building, workers’ rights organization that is winning better working conditions for low-wage immigrant workers. At WJP, Ms. Guallpa has spearheaded efforts to ensure safe and dignified jobs for NYC’s 2,000 day laborers, construction workers, and domestic workers. Through her leadership, WJP played a key role in the creation of a new union, Laborers’ Local 10, built an alternative economic model to transform the conditions for female day laborers in the house cleaning industry, and enforced higher wages and safety standards in the post Hurricane Sandy reconstruction. Ms. Guallpa’s work has been covered on Univision and in publications like The Nation, New York Daily News, and The New York Times.

HanmerStephen Hanmer is Director of Education & Permanency Support for SCO Family of Services, one of the largest non-governmental providers of social services in New York City. Stephen previously led UNICEF’s global initiatives with legislative branches of government and religious communities, including the development of global guidance for over 160 country offices. Before that, Stephen served as child protection advisor for the International Rescue Committee’s programs in Burundi, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Lebanon, Liberia, State of Palestine, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Tanzania. Stephen also worked for national and international NGOs in programs for vulnerable and at-risk children in the United States, Pakistan, India, and Brazil. Stephen graduated from Yale University with a degree in History and received his Law and Social Work degrees from Columbia University.

HillMichael E. Hill of Washington, DC is the President & Chief Executive Officer of Youth For Understanding USA, assuming the position in June 2013. Since his appointment, Hill has ushered in a new vision for YFU, dramatically expanding and diversifying programs, relocating the organization’s national headquarters to a new state-of-the-art complex in Washington, DC; and co-leading a historic civil rights trip to Cuba with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC, at the invitation of Mariela Castro, two weeks before diplomatic relations were restored between the US and the island nation. He has provided an important advocacy voice in his role as a member of the Board of Directors of the Alliance for International Exchange and has served as a panelist and speaker on issues surrounding international education and exchange.  Prior to joining YFU, he served as Senior Vice President of External Affairs for United Cerebral Palsy. In that role, he led international public education, fundraising, communications, marketing and branding efforts for one for the world’s largest health care charities. He led national development, communications and volunteer efforts for Washington National Cathedral as Executive Director for External Relations and held a similar role at The Washington Ballet. Hill directed a $125 million effort to expand the historic Arena Stage, securing the largest single gift ever made to a theater in the United States, and served as Executive Director of St. Bonaventure University’s Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts, where he oversaw the construction of a new museum complex, the renovation of a historic theater, the addition of an artist residency center and the quadrupling of programming at the multi-venue arts complex. Starting his career as a journalist, he served as a Dow Jones Newspaper Fund Fellow and as a Staff Correspondent for the Courier-Observer.  He holds a BA in journalism from St. Bonaventure and an MA in arts and cultural management from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. Hill is an international educator and founding faculty member of the Master of Arts Management program at George Mason University, where in 2011, he was named faculty member of the year. He has also given lectures on the non-profit sector to groups from France and China in his work with GMU and as a visiting lecturer for Georgetown University. In 2012, he was selected as one 12 American Express NGen Leadership Fellows in the United States. He is a member of St. Bonaventure University’s Board of Trustees and serves on the Board of Directors of the Sitar Arts Center, which advances the critical life skills of underserved children and youth and prepares them for achievement in the 21st century through visual, performing, and digital arts education in a nurturing community.

Huffman_HeadshotKatrina S. Huffman has been serving the nonprofit community for over two decades. A youth advocate at heart, she is on a mission to invest in and grow nonprofit organizations that provide transformative programs to the neediest youth in NYC. In her role as the Senior Director of Programs & People, Katrina has tripled Youth INC’s program offerings since 2012 and is currently working alongside he Executive Director to build a thriving, collaborative, learning organization that attracts and retains top talent. Katrina earned a Master of Public Administration from Syracuse University and a Bachelor of Arts from the State University of New York at Binghamton. She is an ordained minister residing in Rockland County, NY. Her young adult daughter, Glory, is a musician attending college in the Midwest.

ImahEmmanuel Imah is a social innovator and nonprofit professional with many years of experience in the nonprofit, government, and technology sectors. He currently manages the national alumni program of Upwardly Global, a national non-profit organization that helps work-authorized, skilled immigrants rebuild their professional careers in the U.S.  His responsibilities include developing a sustainable program and engaging 3500+ members of the Upwardly Global alumni community across the country. In this role, he works with, among other groups, a 25-member Alumni Advisory Council of high-skilled and experienced immigrant and refugee professionals in US companies to conceptualize and execute programs that promote a United States where skilled immigrants are seamlessly integrated into the professional workforce and the fabric of American life, and are recognized for the value they add to both.  Emmanuel joined Upwardly Global in 2011 to oversee the volunteer and corporate relations services in the Bay Area.  He managed and grew relationships with dozens of Fortune 1000 corporate partners while recruiting and empowering 800+ champions of immigrant integration in the workplace as Upwardly Global ambassadors in these corporations. Prior to joining Upwardly Global, he worked extensively on social mobilization in rural areas of Nigeria, championing social change programs and managing community economic development projects. He also worked with economically-vulnerable populations in the San Francisco Bay Area in workforce development and energy efficiency programs. Emmanuel holds an MBA from the University of Nigeria, an undergraduate degree in Public Relations & Advertising, and earned a certificate in renewable energy from Skyline College.

LittlejohnJil Littlejohn was born and raised in inner-city Atlanta, Georgia and has a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) from Webster University and a Bachelors of Arts in Intercultural Studies for Business from Wofford College (2001) with studies at the Universidad de Sevilla in Seville, Spain. Jil is fluent in Spanish and studied Japanese. She served as the Executive Director/CEO for the YWCA of Greenville for nearly 4 years. She has been an Urban Leaguer for the past 10 years serving as Young Professionals Chapter President, NULYP Southern Region Vice President, and NULYP Treasurer. She currently serves at the first female President & CEO of the Urban League of the Upstate. The Urban League of the Upstate is a $2 million dollar organization with over 20 staff and contractors spanning across 10 counties. Her role allows her to combine her passion for people and community into a job she loves!  On January 20, 2009, she was elected to serve on Greenville City Council. In the summer of 2011 she was re-elected to a full four year term.  She is the youngest member on council and one of two minorities. Jil has been recognized by as a Women Making History Honoree, Greenville Magazine Top 50 Influential People, Ebony Magazine Top Young Leader under 30, Greenville Chamber of Commerce Young Professional of the Year Finalist, Greenville Link Magazine’s Top 50, and Greenville’s Best & Brightest under 35. Jil has participated in Leadership South Carolina, Diversity Leadership Academy, Leadership Greenville, Leadership Spartanburg, Connections: Women’s Leadership Program, and the Women’s Campaign School at Yale University. Jil is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and actively involved with numerous nonprofits. She is also the founder of the Talented Tenth Greenville Leadership Conference.

ObyJenny Oby holds a B.S. (Ed.) in Secondary English Education with a major in British literature and a double minor in history and philosophy, as well as an M.A. (Ed.) in counseling.  Jenny has dedicated her life to education in the capacity of teacher and counselor, and most recently, as founder/director of the social enterprise arm of Great Hearts Academies, a not-for-profit charter school management organization with a network of classical liberal arts academies in the greater Phoenix (Arizona) area.   In addition to her work in education, Jenny is a copywriter and consultant, specializing in helping non-profits create effective websites and content marketing to spread their mission and message.  A keen reader and historian, Jenny spends much of her personal time researching  historical curiosities of her native Maine.  Her first book, a history of Maine’s Lakewood Theatre, is due to be released in June, 2017.

PakElena Pak became chief development officer at Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) in 2015. Elena is responsible for the strategic direction and implementation of the national fund development effort for the entire Girl Scout Movement under the umbrella of GSUSA’s $1B ToGetHerThere campaign, the largest fundraising campaign for girls in history. In partnership with the Office of Philanthropy team, she leads GSUSA’s fundraising activities through major gifts, planned giving, direct mail, and corporate partnerships. Before joining GSUSA, Elena was senior vice president of resource development at United Way of New York City, where she was responsible for the corporate citizenship program, workplace giving, major gifts, donor engagement, and affinity groups. Prior to United Way, Elena held several executive positions at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank in foreign affairs. She represented the council in New York City and oversaw board relations and individual and corporate membership programs. In 2009 and 2010, Elena served as the director for the Atlantic Council’s energy and economic forum in the greater Black Sea-Caspian region; between 2006 and 2010, she also worked as the U.S. director of the British-North American Committee, a forum of business, labor, and academic leaders from the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada. Earlier in her career, Elena worked as a business development manager at Hyatt Regency Almaty, Kazakhstan, where she led a team of sales and marketing executives. Educated in the United States and Kazakhstan, Elena holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Turan University in Kazakhstan and a master’s degree in communication from Western Kentucky University.

Solomon_HeadshotJanera Solomon is the executive director of the Kelly Strayhorn Theater, a historic live arts venue in Pittsburgh now in its seventh year of presenting progressive, evocative new works in dance, music, film, education and cultural programming. Recognized for her transformative leadership and contributions to the revitalization of East Liberty, Janera managed the merger of the Kelly Strayhorn Theater and the Dance Alloy in 2011, while maintaining affordable dance instruction at The Alloy School and creating a series of diverse programs designed to inspire and engage a wide range of audiences. Janera has contributed significantly to the artistic development and career advancement of numerous dancers and choreographers supported by Kelly Strayhorn’s residency programs. An experienced curator, Janera worked with the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and developed the First Voice International Black Performing Arts Festival produced by the August Wilson Center for African American Culture in 2007. She has worked on a range of cultural projects including content development and programming for Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, project management for the August Wilson Center, branding at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and program planning for the National Museum for African American History and Culture in Washington D.C.  Janera maintains volunteer board positions for several organizations. In 2014, she formed the August Wilson Center Recovery Committee. In a recent settlement, it was announced that the AWC will continue as a fully dedicated center for African-American culture in Pittsburgh.  Janera was recently featured in Pittsburgh Magazine’s “50 Most Powerful People in Pittsburgh”. 

TorresMartin V. Torres guides the Latino Policy Forum’s legislative and administrative advocacy with a focus on early childhood education, immigrant integration, housing and state fiscal policy.  In carrying out his responsibilities, Martin regularly convenes Latino service providers, civic leaders, and other stakeholders in order to develop and promote a common policy agenda that emphasizes responsive governance, equity of opportunity and investment and inclusive decision-making.  Prior to his tenure at the Forum, Martin worked in Washington, D.C. at the Alliance for Excellent Education where he focused on secondary school reform at the federal level.  He also worked at the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans through a 1-year fellowship with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. Martin holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign and a M.P.P. from the Irving B. Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. In recognition of his work in the field, Martin was selected as a member of the 2012 inaugural class of Edgar Fellows managed by the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs.  He also serves as a member of the board of directors for Change Illinois.