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Announcing the 2017-2018 National Leading From The Inside Out Yearlong Fellows

By November 7, 2017September 25th, 2019No Comments

Rockwood is proud to announce our 2017-2018 National Leading from the Inside Out (LIO) Yearlong Fellows!

Each year, Rockwood selects a cohort of nationally-recognized leaders to participate in our transformative LIO Yearlong fellowship. Since 2003, this executive leadership program has emerged as one of the nation’s leading learning laboratories for experienced social change leaders.

National LIO Yearlong fellows must be nominated in order to apply for the fellowship, and the extensive selection process takes into account a great number of factors, including Rockwood’s commitment to building connections between leaders who are diverse in methodology, issue focus, geography, and personal experience and identity.

The 2017-2018 National LIO Yearlong Fellows are:


Seema Agnani | Executive Director, National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development

Seema is the executive director of the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD), a coalition of more than 100 community-based organizations in 22 states and the Pacific Islands. Prior to joining National CAPACD, Seema served as the Founder and executive director of Chhaya CDC, an organization that works with immigrant New Yorkers on housing justice and economic development issues. She began her work in New York City with Asian Americans for Equality, where she oversaw affordable housing and community facility developments in the Lower East Side. She also previously held roles as the coordinating consultant to the Fund for New Citizens at The New York Community Trust, where she managed a donor collaborative of more than 20 foundations supporting immigrant rights and integration work in New York City, and as the director of training and technical assistance at Citizens Committee for NYC, where she developed the core training curriculum and implementation of a capacity building program to support volunteer-run organizations addressing poverty and hunger. Currently, she serves on the Community Advisory Board, Consumer Financial Protections Bureau and is an officer of the board of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT).  Seema is originally from the Chicago metro area where her parents emigrated to from India and earned a Masters in Urban Planning and Public Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Lydia Avila | Executive Director, Power Shift Network

Lydia is the executive director of the Power Shift Network, a diverse, national network of youth-led and youth-focused climate justice organizations. Lydia is originally from a working-class suburb of Los Angeles County, a first-generation Mexican-American, and attended UCLA where she was involved with student-initiated, student-run social justice service organizations and was a student activist. It was here that she learned the importance and strength of empowered youth. After earning two Bachelors of Arts degrees in Geography/Environmental Studies and Psychology, Lydia wanted to dedicate herself to what she saw as the transcending issue of our time: the climate crisis. As a result, she became a community organizer for the Sierra Club in Texas where she led two major Beyond Coal campaigns, working side-by-side farmers and landowners in east Texas. Lydia then spent two years in graduate school and, in 2015, re-joined efforts to change our energy future, halt the acceleration of climate change, and address environmental justice through a powerful youth-led movement at the Power Shift Network.

Stephanie Cho | Executive Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta

Stephanie is the executive director for Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta. She brings over 20 years of experience in labor and community organizing, strategy planning, and fundraising at the local and national level. Originally born in South Korea, Stephanie grew up in Oregon. After university, she started her career in movement work. She has been a community organizer, program director for LGBTQ youth programming, director of training for a national fellowship program, a labor organizer, and organizational consultant. Before coming to Advancing Justice, Stephanie was the Los Angeles director of the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC-LA), where she worked to raise industry standards and wages for LA’s restaurant workers. She believes in creating more spaces for new leadership, developing healthy and sustainable ways of working towards justice for all, and is moved by transnational forms of expressions of solidarity and movement building.

Sung Yeon Choimorrow | Executive Director, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum

Sung Yeon is the executive director of National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF). Prior to NAPAWF, Sung Yeon was the director of organizing at Interfaith Worker Justice leading collaborative work with various partner organizations, unions, and faith communities in the economic justice movement. Sung Yeon has also worked in the AAPI community as a community organizer in Chicago where she organized a pan-Asian coalition for presidential and mayoral elections, immigration reform, the state budget, and redistricting. Sung Yeon is a first-generation Korean immigrant who came to the U.S. to study Political Science and Urban Studies at Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL and earned an M.Div from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. Sung Yeon is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Sung Yeon is the board treasurer of Hana Center, a Korean American Immigrant Rights organization in Chicago.

Cindy Cohn | Executive Director, Electronic Frontier Foundation

Cindy is the executive director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. From 2000-2015, she served as EFF’s legal director as well as its general counsel. Cindy first became involved with EFF in 1993, when EFF asked her to serve as the outside lead attorney in Bernstein v. Dept. of Justice, the successful First Amendment challenge to the U.S. export restrictions on cryptography. The National Law Journal named Cindy one of 100 most influential lawyers in America in 2013, noting, “[I]f Big Brother is watching, he better look out for Cindy Cohn.” She was also named in 2006 for “rushing to the barricades wherever freedom and civil liberties are at stake online.” In 2007, the National Law Journal named her one of the 50 most influential women lawyers in America. In 2010, the Intellectual Property Section of the State Bar of California awarded her its Intellectual Property Vanguard Award, and in 2012 the Northern California Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists awarded her the James Madison Freedom of Information Award.

Andrea Dehlendorf | Co-Executive Director, Organization United for Respect at Walmart

Andrea is the co-director of the Organization United for Respect (OUR), an innovative national organization of people working in the retail sector. For over 20 years, Andrea has worked with low wage service and retail workers to win improved pay and working conditions using creative organizing strategies, storytelling, and direct action. From 2011 and 2015, Andrea was the assistant director of the Making Change at Walmart campaign, where she directed the development of Organization United for Respect including pioneering work developing a model of worker outreach and advocacy through social media. Previously, Andrea worked as the acting director of SEIU’s Property Service Division and as the executive vice president and organizing director of SEIU United Services Workers West (USWW), an organization of property services workers in California that has secured health care and living wages for 40,000 janitors, security officers, higher education, and airport workers. For 11 years, Andrea led organizing for Justice for Janitors and Airport Workers United campaigns in California, which brought over 10,000 new members into the organization and raised the standard of living for 50,000. Andrea started her organizing work with the Hotel and Restaurant Worker’s Union (HERE) in Las Vegas, NV working to secure pay increases, retirement plans, and health insurance to casino workers. She lives in Oakland with her son. She has a degree in U.S. History and Women’s Studies from Brown University.

Paul Di Donato | President, Proteus Fund

Paul is president of Proteus Fund, a nationally recognized philanthropic leader that works to promote social justice through democracy, human rights, and peace. As a public foundation, Proteus advances its vision and mission through a variety of initiatives and programs, including funder collaboratives, donor-advised funds, fiscally-sponsored projects, and family foundation management. Prior to becoming president, Paul served for eight years as the program director of Proteus’s Civil Marriage Collaborative, which provided over $21 million in grants to support the successful movement to achieve marriage equality for the LGBT community in the United States. Paul has worked for progressive change for over 30 years as a student activist, litigator, policy advocate, nonprofit executive, private consultant, and philanthropic leader with particular expertise in the issue areas of HIV/AIDS, domestic and global public health, LGBTQ and women’s rights, and civil/human rights generally. Paul is an honors graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Law School.

Jennifer Epps-Addison, JD | Co-Executive Director and Network President, Center for Popular Democracy

Jennifer is the network president and co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy, a nationwide racial and social justice advocacy organization. She boasts over 15 years of organizing experience and a history of activism for economic and social justice issues. Her accomplishments include leading the campaign for paid sick days and fighting for in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants. Jennifer leads CPD’s racial justice campaigns and works closely with the organization’s growing network of local affiliates. She holds a BA in Political Science and Women’s Studies and a JD from the University of Wisconsin. She currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their two children.

Jerry Gonzalez | Executive Director, Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials

Jerry is the founding and current executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO) and the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund, a statewide nonprofit and non-partisan organization with a mission to increase civic engagement and leadership development of the Latino community across Georgia. Jerry is a native of Laredo, TX and received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M University in 1995. He completed his Master of Public Administration at the Andrew Young School of Public Policy at Georgia State University in 2005. Due to his efforts at GALEO, Jerry has been recognized by Georgia Trend Magazine as one of Georgia’s 100 Most Influential Georgians for several years. Jerry lives in Atlanta with his husband of over 20 years, Ray, an established and practicing pediatrician, and their dog, Jenny. Jerry’s hobbies include photography, travel, and hiking. He also considers himself an avid cyclist.

Fatima Goss Graves | President and Chief Executive Officer, National Women’s Law Center (NWLC)

Fatima has served in numerous roles at NWLC for more than a decade and spent her career fighting to advance opportunities for women and girls. She has a distinguished track record working across a broad set of issues central to women’s lives, including income security, health and reproductive rights, education access, and workplace fairness. Most recently, Fatima served as the Center’s senior vice president for program, where she led the organization’s broad program agenda to advance progress and eliminate barriers in employment, education, health and reproductive rights, and to lift women and families out of poverty. Prior to that, as the Center’s vice president for education and employment, she led the Center’s anti-discrimination initiatives, including work to promote equal pay, combat harassment and sexual assault at work and at school, and advance equal access to education programs, with a particular focus on outcomes for women and girls of color. She is widely recognized for her effectiveness in the complex public policy arena at both the state and federal levels, regularly testifies before Congress and federal agencies, and is a frequent speaker at conferences and other public education forums. Fatima appears often in print and on air as a legal expert on issues core to women’s lives, including in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, AP, Chicago Tribune, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, CNN, MSNBC, and NPR.

Leah Greenberg | Co-Executive Director, Indivisible Project

Leah is a co-founder and co-executive director of the Indivisible Project. She most recently served as policy director for the Tom Perriello for Governor of Virginia campaign. Previously, she managed the Partnership for Freedom, a $6 million public-private partnership on human trafficking, served as an advisor to the State Department’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review process, coordinated interagency engagement for the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, and worked on the Hill for Congressman Tom Perriello. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Carleton College and a master’s degree in international affairs from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

Annie McKay | President and Chief Executive Officer, Kansas Action for Children

Previously the executive director of the Kansas Center for Economic Growth (KCEG), Annie joined Kansas Action for Children as president and CEO in June 2016. Before leading the team at KCEG, Annie worked as a research analyst with the University of Kansas coordinating and assisting with evaluation of early childhood and federally funded programs targeting low-income students. A Kansas native, Annie earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas and has a master’s degree from the University of Chicago. In 2016 she was a Sunflower Foundation Advocacy Fellow and a University of Kansas Women of Distinction honoree. In 2017, she was named the Kansas Children’s Champion by Head Start Association’s Region 7 and currently serves as the Kansas Senate Minority Leader’s appointee to the Kansas Children’s Cabinet.

Anthony Newby | Executive Director, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change

Anthony is a husband, father, organizer, strategist, and a nationally recognized expert on community-based issues that lie at the intersections of race, public policy, and economic justice. Anthony was born in Minneapolis, MN, but grew up in the rural town of Bemidji in northern Minnesota. He studied English and Philosophy at Howard University. Upon Anthony’s return to the Twin Cities from Washington DC, he began working at a nightclub owned by the late, great Prince. It was there that Anthony developed a range of political, artistic, and entrepreneurial skills that would eventually inform his organizing model and political theory of change. Anthony began his organizing career in disaster relief, helping create an innovative social media platform to deliver aid in the wake of a tornado that devastated his neighborhood of North Minneapolis in 2011. He then worked to leverage the local Occupy movement into what became Occupy Homes MN. Anthony is currently the executive director at Minnesota Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC), an intersectional movement hub and one of the most compelling black-led community organizations in the nation.

Mary Le Nguyen | Executive Director, Washington Community Action Network

Mary is the first person of color to serve as executive director of Washington Community Action Network (Washington CAN!), a racial, gender, and economic justice organization with a 34-year history and over 44,000 members statewide. Born to Vietnamese refugee parents in a small logger town, she learned early on how racism and poverty keep families from living a dignified life. Nguyen brings over a decade in community organizing experience in immigrant and refugee communities, workers’ rights, and reproductive justice.

Jacqueline Patterson, MSW, MPH | Director, Environmental and Climate Justice, NAACP

Currently the director of environmental and climate justice at the NAACP, Jacqui has worked on international and domestic issues including gender justice, racial justice, economic justice, and environmental and climate justice, with organizations including Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, IMA World Health, United for a Fair Economy, ActionAid, Health GAP, and the organization she co-founded, Women of Color United.  She also currently serves on the board of directors for the Institute of the Black World, Center for Story Based Strategy, the U.S. Climate Action Network, The River Network, the American Society of Adaptation Professionals, as well as on Steering Committee for Interfaith Moral Action on Climate Change, and the Advisory Board for the Center for Earth Ethics and the Climate Resilience and Urban Opportunity Initiative.


Becky Rafter | Executive Director, Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions

Becky is the executive director of Georgia WAND Education Fund, Inc., a grassroots, women-led, multiracial organization bridging the rural/urban divide and advancing environmental and climate justice, addressing outsized militarized spending, and ending systemic violence, especially in relation to the nuclear weapons and nuclear energy industries. In 2017, Becky was honored as a local “superhero” by Mark Ruffalo and the Solutions Project for advancing community-driven solutions to nuclear contamination. She serves on the executive committees of Partnership for Southern Equity’s Just Energy Circle and Advancing Equity and Opportunity in the U.S. South (AEO), is a voting member of Southern Partners Fund, and serves on the board of ProGeorgia, a statewide table for collaboration around civic engagement. Prior to joining the Georgia WAND squad, Becky worked in social justice philanthropy at the Funding Exchange in New York City and the Fund for Southern Communities in Atlanta, where she organized donors and foundations to invest more resources in the U.S. South. Earlier in her career, as executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Georgia, she worked to advance reproductive justice strategies in Georgia and the national NARAL community. Becky has an MPA in International Policy and Nonprofit Management from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and a BA in International Relations and Spanish from Agnes Scott College. She is currently working to co-develop just systems, practices, and office culture at Georgia WAND to combat white supremacist structures and habits embedded in nonprofit organizations.

Tarso Luís Ramos | Executive Director, Political Research Associates

Tarso is executive director of Political Research Associates (PRA), a Boston-based national research center. Tarso has been investigating and challenging the U.S. Right for 25 years. Under his leadership, PRA has launched major initiatives on Islamophobia, antisemitism, misogyny, authoritarianism, White nationalism and the Alt-Right, and other emerging threats to democracy. He collaborates closely with immigrant and racial justice groups, social justice feminists, LGBTQ advocates, and worker organizations to provide analysis and strategic advice. Tarso is a sought-after public speaker and the author of numerous articles and reports. Before joining PRA in 2006, Tarso served as founding director of Western States Center’s racial justice program, which resists racist public policy initiatives and supports the base-building work of progressive people of color-led organizations. As director of the Wise Use Public Exposure Project, he monitored the Right’s anti-union and anti-environmental campaigns. Tarso is currently an activist in residence at the Barnard Center for the Study of Women. For more, follow @PRAEyesRight.

Nadia Roumani | Director, Effective Philanthropy Lab, Stanford University

Nadia is the director of Stanford University’s Effective Philanthropy Lab, and the Senior Designer of Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design’s Designing for Social Systems Program. Nadia works with philanthropists and nonprofit leaders to advance their strategic and creative processes so that they may achieve greater impact. Over the past two decades, she has launched several organizations and initiatives including the Initiative for Policy Dialogue (IPD) with Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz at Columbia University; the Women Leaders Intercultural Forum with Ireland’s former President Mary Robinson; Global Policy Innovations Program at the Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs (CCEIA); the Building Bridges Program at the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art (DDFIA); and the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute (AMCLI) at the University of Southern California. Nadia is a board member of the El Hibri Foundation and advisory board member of Ascent Capital Private Capital Management.

Bishop Dwayne Royster | Political Director, PICO National Network

Bishop Dwayne is the political director of PICO (People Improving Communities through Organizing) National Network. He was previously the executive director of Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower, and Rebuild (POWER) and the PICO Federation in Philadelphia, PA. Bishop Dwayne is a voice for justice for and with those most marginalized in our society. He partners with those that have been oppressed as a result of their race, nationality, socioeconomic level, gender, and faith. He not only stands with those marginalized but works to end systemic oppression and racism through the transformation of public policy and laws that govern this nation. Since we are all created in the image and likeness of God, Bishop Dwayne believes that it is imperative that a prophetic faith voice is heard in the halls of power, calling for the equity and respect of the moral value of every human life. In addition to his work with PICO National Network, he is an Ordained Minister in the United Church of Christ as well as Higher Ground Christian Fellowship International and has served in pastoral ministries for 24 years. He was consecrated a Bishop by Higher Ground Christian Fellowship in 2007 and serves as the Assistant Presiding Bishop. Bishop Dwayne is a former Councilman at Large for the Municipality of Norristown, PA. The Bishop has a BS in Urban Ministry Management from Geneva College’s Center for Urban Theological Studies with. In addition, Bishop Dwayne has studied at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary and is a graduate of the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, with a Master of Arts in Religion with a specialization in the African American Church. Bishop Dwayne is married to the lovely Suzette Royster, and together they are the parents of two beautiful daughters. He can be found on his personal blog and on Twitter @ddroyster.

Maritza Silva-Farrell | Executive Director, ALIGN: The Alliance for a Greater New York

Maritza is the executive director of ALIGN. Prior to becoming executive director in November 2016, Maritza was ALIGN’s deputy director and campaign director. Maritza has led or played a critical role in coalitions such as Real Affordability for All, Caring Across Generations, the Universal Pre-K campaign, and the campaign that successfully halted Walmart’s plans to develop in East New York. Previously, Maritza worked with the Long Island Progressive Coalition to coordinate the Yes, In My Back Yard (YIMBY) campaign, increasing affordable housing throughout the entire island. A native of Ecuador, Maritza earned her BA in journalism from the Central University of Ecuador. She later completed a BA degree in communications from SUNY Old Westbury, where she organized with the New York Public Interest Research Group and United Students Against Sweatshops. She also worked with Long Island Jobs with Justice on issues related to youth, labor, and immigrant rights, where she combined her passions for journalism and activism by producing short workers’ rights documentaries. Maritza’s vision is of a just and sustainable New York City, achieved by workers and community coming together to tackle inequality and climate change. She is committed to driving transformational change in New York City by forging powerful alliances that benefit workers, immigrants, women, low-income communities of color, and the environment.

Sara Steffens | Secretary-Treasurer, Communications Workers of America

Sara was elected secretary-treasurer of the Communications Workers of America by delegates to the union’s 75th convention in 2015. Before her election to CWA’s second-highest ranking office, she served as secretary-treasurer of The NewsGuild-CWA, the CWA affiliate representing journalists and other media workers. A native of Minnesota, Sara earned a journalism degree from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, and worked as a reporter for nine years at the Contra Costa Times in California. There, she successfully led her co-workers at the Times and its sister newspapers in the Bay Area News Group to organize and join TNG-CWA Local 39521. Sara was fired two weeks after the vote for her union activism, but she continued to work with The NewsGuild and CWA, ultimately bargaining a first contract for workers at the newspaper group. Sara and her family live in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.

Sherece West-Scantlebury | President and Chief Executive Officer, Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation

Sherece is president and CEO of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, a private, independent foundation whose mission is to improve the lives of all Arkansans in three interrelated areas: economic development; education; and economic, racial, and social justice. Involved in philanthropy for 25 years, Sherece served as CEO at the Foundation for Louisiana and as a program associate at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Her professional career includes nearly 30 years of experience in community development, public policy and advocacy, and public service. In addition to running the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, Sherece is active in a number of nonprofits and philanthropy organizations, including the boards of director of Center for Community Change and National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy. Additionally, she has been ranked in the Top 180 Power List in 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2013 of the Arkansas Business Journal. Sherece received her MA in Public Policy from the University of Michigan Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and her PhD in Public Policy from the University of Maryland.

Rockwood Community Call

Kris Mereigh,  MPH, CWP.

public health and wellness strategist

June 27 | 12 PT / 3 ET