Join the movement and Take The Initiative!
Board of Directors
Make a Donation
Become a Volunteer
Become an Advisor
Become a Partner
Vickie Robinson joined Microsoft in January 2018 after nearly two decades in the service of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in multiple leadership roles and most recently as Acting CEO and General Counsel of the Universal Service Administrative Co., an independent not-for-profit organization designated by the FCC as the administrator of the federal Universal Service Fund. At Microsoft, Ms. Robinson continues her commitment to Universal Access by fostering relationships with internal and external partners, with the goal of assisting rural Americans to affordably get online and access applications and services powered by Microsoft’s Cloud.
Ms. Robinson is well versed in the complexities of Universal Broadband Access, having started her career with the FCC as an Attorney Advisor supporting policies underlying the federal universal service support mechanisms and the universal service contribution system. From there, she steadily advanced through a series of promotions of increasing influence, responsibility, and authority, where she advised FCC senior leadership and thought leaders in shaping the development of Universal Broadband Access policies.
In 2015, Ms. Robinson was promoted to the position of Special Counsel to the Division Chief, Competition Policy Division, Wireline Competition Bureau at the FCC, where she worked with attorneys, economists, business analysts, and data analysts to track the deployment and availability of Universal Broadband Access to consumers nationwide. She left the FCC in February 2016 to join the senior leadership Team of the Universal Service Administrative Co., administering nearly $10B in annual funds supporting Universal Broadband Access, serving as Acting Chief Executive Officer and General Counsel.
As Senior Director of Airband USA at Microsoft, Ms. Robinson draws upon her broad and deep command of Universal Broadband Access to deliver consistent results for the company and the nation’s consumers.
Ms. Robinson holds a Juris Doctor from Howard University School of Law, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude, as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Howard University, also graduating Magna Cum Laude. She resides in Mitchellville, Maryland with her husband Paul and their twins, Kendall Marie and Paul Gilscott.
Founder, The SODA Fund™
Susan Schwartz is an award-winning, experienced, and accomplished creative services strategist, author, journalist, and nonprofit founder, who prides herself on her ability to deliver high-quality content and optimized branding experiences to her readers, clients, and partners. Her hands-on experience as a leader in both large organizations and overseeing national campaigns allows her to deliver results-based outcomes that are both reliable and sustainable.
Susan has a degree in Communications/Criminal Justice from The American University and completed post-grad studies in Public Health at John Hopkins University. Susan started as an investigative journalist, where her work led her to Knight-Ridder Tribune in The National Press Building. She wrote, reported, and produced stories for national network news and then transitioned to a career in IT at America Online, working in business development, operations, production, and International software product development. Susan contributes to projects with partners such as HuffPost, The National Domestic Violence Hotline, Medium, YourTango, and The SODA-Pop.
Five years ago, Susan turned her time and attention directly to the cause of helping those who are in domestic abuse situations and founded a national nonprofit, The SODA Fund INC, dedicated to helping victims and survivors of domestic abuse. She is the principal of four enterprises and has published a book, SPARKS IN LOVE, which she hopes will serve as both an educational and cautionary tale to everyone who reads it. Susan is a mom to two teenage boys and hopes that her work will contribute to a world in which all children can feel safe every day – and in all circumstances.
Head of Marketing & Communications
DeeDee Fisher knows that success begins with communication. She is committed to direct thoughtful dialogue that produces results for herself and her clients. As a communications expert, executive coach and entrepreneur, she has been featured in women’s health and fitness magazines and in the book “Balancing Your Life”.
When she is not working to create outstanding communication in organizations and in human relationships, you can find her biking, kayaking, hiking, hanging with her daughter, family and friends.
Her latest project,” Save her Self,” is committed to increasing communication between children to create future adults that are clear about their voice and their rights while holding compassion for themselves and others. Find her at www.deedeefisher.com
Ama Romaine is a seasoned executive who brings a wealth of diverse, global, legal and commercial experience that spans a broad range of industries. She is a dynamic and collaborative leader who has represented clients primarily in the Financial Services and Hospitality industries across the public, private and non-profit sectors. Ama is a commercially focused, strategic leader who possesses expertise in commercial transactions, brand building, franchising and reputation management.
Ama is currently the General Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer at G6 Hospitality, the parent company for the iconic Motel 6 and Studio 6 brands. In this role Ama has been focused primarily on building a strong compliance culture, aggressively managing a high-risk litigation portfolio, and developing a holistic response to some of the company’s most challenging reputational issues.
Previously, Ama held a number of positions with increasing responsibility in the hospitality industry, including as the Vice President & Senior Counsel for Brands at Hilton Worldwide. Ama also practiced law at top-ranked law firms in the United States and Trinidad, where she represented lenders and borrowers on a broad range of financing transactions.
Founder/Owner, DHR Institute of Mental Health
Don Harris has the unique background of being an African American male with 25 years’ experience as a Detective Sgt in the Bergen County Prosecutors Office and a licensed mental health therapist specializing in trauma therapy. Mr. Harris’s experience as a detective, and then post-retirement from the police force, obtaining his master’s degree and licensing credentials to provide clinical mental health care gives him an invaluable insight into the pressures and trauma that police officers and African American males face on a daily basis. Mr. Harris specializes in providing mental health services to police officers in crisis, and has experience in conducting suicide assessments and referral service for callers into a 24 hour suicide hotline for police officers in New Jersey.
Mr. Harris also has experience conducting group and individual counseling sessions with African American male inmates, and currently provides clinical counseling sessions to teens, adults, and families in an office and in-home setting.
Mr. Harris also founded The Manhood Project, LLC, where he facilitated group sessions for at risk youths through a series of hands-on workshops aimed at developing coping skills to address unresolved childhood trauma and promote resilience.
Director of Finance & Administration, LEAP
Mr. Moody received his B.A. in Economics and Spanish from Morehouse College and his M.B.A. from Columbia University with concentrations in Finance and Entrepreneurship.
He has 25 years of experience in financial technology, corporate finance, and entrepreneurship with such companies as Bloomberg Financial, American Express Bank, and Thompson Financial, and was instrumental in the founding of Bloomberg Integration Services and Primus Financial Technologies.
In 2010, Mr. Moody began to leverage his expertise in financial entrepreneurship to enhance educational and social justice outcomes in underserved communities. He became the Founding Director of Operations/ Chief Financial Officer for Newark Legacy Charter School, an innovative and successful community school, serving students and families in the highest need South Ward of Newark, NJ. In 2015, Mr. Moody continued to provide leadership in enhancing education outcomes as Chief Financial Officer at the “I Have A Dream” Foundation in New York City, a national organization committed to empowering children in low-income communities to achieve higher education by providing guaranteed tuition support and in 2019 with Learning through an Expanded Arts Program (LEAP), a foundation whose mission is to dismantle the barriers to access and equity to arts education for New York City’s underserved youth, largely brown and black children whose engagement in school is significantly enhanced through active participation in the arts.
Internist at Capital Integrative Health, Previously Hospitalist at Johns Hopkins Community Physicians
Dr. Delistathis is a top-rated internal medicine physician in the Washington, DC area, having practiced hospital and private practice medicine for 17 years. For the last three years Dr. Delistathis has been practicing at Capital Integrative health, a holistic medicine practice that also includes specialists from variety of other disciplines (psychologists, nutritionists, health coaches and acupuncturists) to offer a holistic approach to patient care.
Before that Dr. Delistathis worked as an inpatient Hospitalist within the Johns Hopkins hospital system for 12 years. She grew up overseas in the Middle East and Europe and is fluent in Arabic, French and is proficient in Spanish.
She served on the board of the Norwood School in Bethesda, MD from 2013-2016 where she spearheaded the medical committee.
Dr. Delistathis holds an M.D. from University of Maryland School of Medicine, an M.P.H.in Health Policy and Management from Columbia University School of Public Health, and a B.A. in Molecular Biology from Princeton University.
Founder and President, Creative Disruption
Jennifer Silberman is the Founder and President of Creative Disruption, a global strategy and change consultancy dedicated to helping brands unlock the potential of sustainabil-ity to create better products, better customer experiences, better communities and a bet-ter future. She is regarded as an expert in the fields of sustainability and social impact and has more than 25 years of experience working globally in the areas of environmental sustainability, human rights and trafficking, women’s empowerment, responsible sourc-ing, economic development and youth opportunity. In addition to strategy and program design, Jennifer also has significant experience in consumer insights, stakeholder en-gagement, internal and external communications and advocacy for sustainability and so-cial impact to generate business and brand value.
Jennifer most recently served as Vice President, Corporate Responsibility for Target where she led the company’s commitment to create positive economic, social and environmental impact in the local and global communities it serves. She had direct responsibility for the company’s sustainability and social impact strategy and priorities and created Future at Heart, Target’s first integrated approach designed to deliver market differentiation and strategic business value creation. Under her leadership, Target released an enterprise-wide chemical strategy regarded as the most comprehensive in the retail sector; developed SBTi-approved climate goals; kicked-off an enterprise-wide human rights impact assessment; created Target Clean,
the brand’s first product standard for Essentials & Personal Care categories; transformed the Target Foundation’s philanthropic strategy and programmatic focus; and supported the implementation of the company’s first product sustainability and responsible sourc-ing goals in the areas of raw materials, worker wellbeing and clean manufacturing.
Jennifer joined Target from Hilton where she served as Chief of Staff to the President and CEO as well as Vice President of Corporate Responsibility. She was hired as Hilton’s first Vice President of Corporate Responsibility, creating a formalized function focused on deliv-ering long-term results for the company’s hotel and timeshare operations, societal impact and shareholder value. She led a global team responsible for the strategy, integration and communication of Hilton’s sustainability and social impact initiatives across more than 4,500 hotels globally. Jennifer also led a multi-year, multi-stakeholder global initiative to uncover and embed Hilton’s purpose throughout the organization. Previously, she worked at APCO Worldwide, where as a Vice President, Corporate Responsibility, she consulted for Fortune 100 companies, NGOs, corporate and private foundations, government and trade associations.
Jennifer holds a M.A. in International Economics and Latin American Studies from The Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) and a B.A. with honors in Latin American Studies from Mount Holyoke College. She currently serves on the boards of Net Impact and Keep America Beautiful. She is also a Senior Advisor, Sustainability and Social Impact for BeyondBrands and mentor for Be-yondSKU.
Nadine Jones graduated from Howard University School of law in 2003. Ms. Jones (then Nadine Jones-Francis) co-authored a Supreme Court amicus brief in the case of Grutter v. Bollinger on behalf of Howard Law students. After graduation, she joined Arnold & Porter LLP’s Washington, D.C. office where she practiced in the area of regulatory compliance for nine years. Ms. Jones left the law firm briefly to serve as Counsel on the Antitrust Modernization Commission (“AMC”), a bipartisan commission created by Congress and the White House. Ms. Jones returned to Arnold & Porter after the close of the AMC in 2007, where she took briefed and argued a Fourth Amendment case, Henderson v. State before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, and then before the highest court in Maryland, the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Ms. Jones and overturned her client’s conviction on the grounds that the police officers lacked reasonable suspicion to detain him during a traffic stop. Ms. Jones left the firm to join a New Jersey-based multibillion-dollar company as Vice President of Compliance for North America. In her role as Regional Compliance Officer, Ms. Jones understands that to create an effective compliance program, it is critical to understand the industry at issue and the pressure points that can cause people to violate policy before crafting changes to mitigate or even neutralize those pressure points in a collaborative matter with those who work in the field on a day-to-day basis.
As a managing partner of RATA Development, Toral Balakrishnan is committed to succeed. As a daughter of an immigrant from India, Toral was led to a career in medicine. She graduated from Howard University with a Bachelor’s of Science as a Physician Assistant in 1999. Immediately after graduation, she practiced Cosmetic Dermatology at the famous Berman Skin Institute in Palo Alto, California where she specialized in aesthetic laser technology. Shortly after working in California, she decided to spend more time at home with her family in Dallas, Texas. In Dallas, she worked as a Physician Assistant in Facial Plastic Surgery. After two years, Toral got married and settled in Northern Virginia with her husband in 2001. In October 2001, she joined the Plastic Surgery Associates of Northern Virginia. Toral worked here for 13 years assisting and performing facial plastic surgery, full body plastic and reconstructive surgery as well as laser assisted procedures on the cutting edge of technology. Toral, along with her Supervising Physician, published internationally recognized articles. She trained physicians and other medical professionals on laser anti-aging technology.
Although Toral enjoyed working in medicine and she succeeded working in medicine, she felt that this was not her true passion. With the support of her family, she decided to jump two feet into the world of her family business, hotel management and development. She had no formal education in business however her Stanford grad father always believed that so long as you have an education, you can teach yourself anything you put your mind to.
In 2013, Toral and her family moved to Austin, Texas, purchasing her first independent motel. Here is where she learned the basics of the hotel industry. From there, her and her husband purchased and sold a few properties while managing a few others. She became partners with well known hotel brands like Crowne Plaza, Motel 6, and Comfort Inn & Suites. Soon after, Toral and her husband developed their first Hilton hotel in Round Rock, Texas.
Today, Toral and her husband own and operate 4 hotels with another 4 hotels in development. She also sits on the Tru by Hilton Owners Advisory Board as well as the Motel 6 Owners Advisory Board. Toral also serves as Advisory Director at the State Bank of Texas.
Toral is married to Rajesh Balakrishnan, a practicing dentist. She also has two beautiful daughters, Ariana & Avni.
As an executive coach, consultant, facilitator and professor, Meredith Persily Lamel specializes in the leadership challenges of complex, global organizations including technology, healthcare, financial services, and hospitality. Leaders call on Meredith to challenge their management teams, facilitate the development of their vision and strategic goals, and instigate transformation. With an MBA and professional coach certification, Meredith brings her deep business background, understanding of neuroscience, and a variety of leadership assessments to her clients.
A keen observer and trusted advisor, Meredith helps her global C-suite coaching clients break through the clutter, get clear about the real issues at hand, find their purpose, and take risks so they can play in an even bigger arena. She has delivered leadership programs in 17 countries across five continents and in 38 states and the District of Columbia.
Meredith served on the faculty of American University’s Kogod School of Business from 2010-2013 and transitioned in 2014 to teaching public sector leaders in American University’s School of Public Administration Key Leadership Programs. Her courses include Transforming from Manager to Leader, Leading High Performance Teams, and Action Learning.
As the former director of training and consulting for The Congressional Management Foundation, she coached and consulted for Members of Congress and their Chiefs of Staff. She also served as director of executive education of CEB’s Corporate Leadership Council working with hundreds of leading corporations around the world. Fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, Meredith began her career as a telecommunications market analyst and then Research Director for the telecommunications division of Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), based in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Meredith earned an MBA, with concentrations in finance, strategy and organizational behavior, from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business. She earned her BA with honors from Brown University.
Featured on NPR, in Entrepreneur, SHRM, Roll Call, Politico and more, Meredith is a subject matter expert on multi-generational leadership, career transition, executive onboarding, employee engagement and current workplace trends.
She earned a Certificate in Leadership Coaching from Georgetown University and is credentialed as a Professional Certified Coach (P.C.C.) by the International Coach Federation. She is certified in The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®), The Leadership Circle Profile™, DiSC®, Appreciative Inquiry, Korn Ferry’s ESCI (EQ) tool, and The NeuroLeadership Institute’s Brain-Based Coaching.