Rockwood is proud to announce our 2020-2021 National Leading from the Inside Out (LIO) Yearlong Fellows!
Each year, Rockwood selects a cohort of nationally recognized leaders to participate in a transformative 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 2020-2021 National LIO Yearlong Fellows are:
Adrian Haro | Chief Executive Officer, The Workers Lab
Adrian is the chief executive officer at The Workers Lab, which gives new ideas about increasing worker power a chance to succeed and flourish. He joined the lab in 2017 as its managing director. Prior to joining The Workers Lab, Adrian built a career in progressive politics, government, and public affairs. He started as a field organizer on Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and then served as the speechwriter to United States Secretary of Labor, Hilda L. Solis. He then spent four years at Civitas Public Affairs Group, a leading national public affairs firm. Adrian had a brief but beloved stint in Hollywood working under the mentorship of acclaimed Latino entertainment executive, activist, and entrepreneur, Moctesuma Esparza. Adrian holds a degree in rhetorical studies and political science from California State University, Long Beach and grew up in East Los Angeles.
Adrienne Evans | Executive Director, United Vision for Idaho
Adrienne is the executive director for United Vision for Idaho, the state’s only multi-issue, progressive coalition. A sociologist with a background in multi-issue movement development with an emphasis on the intersections of economic, social and racial justice. Adrienne is a nationally recognized social justice organizer, renowned public speaker and facilitator. She serves as a state director of People’s Action and works on national campaigns to advance a progressive populist organizing approach rooted in transformative methods to build a race conscious, working class movement, and strategic path forward for structural change. A cohort member of Western States Center, she has spearheaded rural organizing campaigns, designed strategies to respond effectively to counter white nationalism in one of the most challenging places in the country, and built successful models of relational organizing that can be replicated by the progressive movement to win real systems change.
Afua Atta-Mensah| Executive Director, Community Voices Heard
Afua is the executive director of Community Voices Heard. Community Voices Heard (CVH) is a member-led multi-racial organization, principally made up of women of color and low-income families in New York State that build power to secure racial, social and economic justice for all. Between 2012 and 2016, Afua was the Urban Justice Center’s director of litigation and policy for the Safety Net Project. In 2008, she was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship in support of her work at the International Federation of Women Attorneys advocating on behalf of indigent women in Ghana. Afua has also worked with area lawyers to develop proposed legislation for marital rape law and served as a visiting lecturer at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. In both Ghana, West Africa and the United States, Afua has worked to improve the quality and quantity of fair and equitable housing, defend women’s rights, galvanize support for programs benefiting low-income families, and fight to dismantle systemic racism. Afua holds a law degree from Fordham Univ. School of Law, and a BA in Sociology and African American History from Trinity College. She and her husband Cephas are proud parents of two children and reside in the “village of Harlem”.
Ben Beachy | Director, Living Economy Program, Sierra Club
Ben has worked to transform economic policies for over 15 years in organizations fighting for climate justice, good jobs, workers’ and immigrants’ rights, trade transformation, and public health. That includes work as founder and director of Sierra Club’s Living Economy program, senior policy advisor for Sierra Club’s trade team, research director for Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, and national organizer for Witness for Peace. He also has written on the financial crisis with the Global Development and Environment Institute in Boston, researched food sovereignty with ActionAid in India, and investigated labor abuses with the Worker Rights Consortium in Central America. Ben received a master’s in public policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where he was a Public Service Fellow. He hails from Mennonite roots in West Virginia and lives in D.C., where he enjoys biking past traffic, performing quarantine “concerts” with housemates, and supporting immigrant-led efforts to resist deportation.
Brandon McKoy | President, New Jersey Policy Perspective
Brandon is the chief executive of New Jersey Policy Perspective (NJPP) and leads the organization’s efforts in shaping policy debates to advance economic justice for the many, not a chosen few. Prior to being named President of NJPP in February 2019, Brandon served as NJPP’s Director of Government and Public Affairs. Before joining NJPP in August 2014 as a national fellow under the State Priorities Partnership’s and Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ state policy fellowship program, Brandon worked as a program associate at The Fund for New Jersey, where he assisted in grantmaking on public policy issues that particularly affect low-income and minority populations in New Jersey. Brandon received a MA in city & regional planning and policy development from Rutgers University’s Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy and holds a BS degree in Social Psychology from The College of New Jersey.
Catherine Bracy | Founder and Executive Director, TechEquity Collaborative
Catherine is a civic technologist and community organizer whose work focuses on the intersection of technology and political and economic inequality. She is the co-founder and executive director of the TechEquity Collaborative, an organization in Oakland, CA that mobilizes tech workers to advocate for a tech-driven economy that works for everyone. She was previously Code for America’s director of organizing where she grew Code for America’s Brigade program into a network of over 50,000 civic tech volunteers in 80+ cities across the US. She also founded Code for All, a global network of Code for organizations, and created a framework and best practices for local governments to increase public participation which has been adopted in cities across the US. During the 2012 election cycle, she was director of Obama for America’s Technology Field Office in San Francisco where she was responsible for organizing technologists to volunteer their skills for the campaign’s technology and digital efforts. It was the first of its kind in American political history. Prior to joining the Obama campaign, she ran the Knight Foundation’s 2011 News Challenge and before that was the administrative director at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. She is on the board of directors at the Data & Society Research Institute and the Public Laboratory.
Felicia Wong | President and CEO, The Roosevelt Institute
Felicia is the president and CEO of the Roosevelt Institute, a New York-based think tank and campus network that promotes a bold economic and political vision capable of bringing the ideals of Franklin and Eleanor into the 21st century. She helps lead the Roosevelt Institute’s work on rewriting the rules agenda, a comprehensive economic program and narrative that has become increasingly influential. She is the co-author of The Hidden Rules of Race: Barriers to an Inclusive Economy (Cambridge University Press, 2017) and her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time, Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, and the Boston Review. Felicia came to the Institute from the Democracy Alliance, and previously ran operations and product development at a venture-funded education services company. Her public service includes a White House Fellowship in the Office of the Attorney General and a political appointment in the Office of the Secretary of the Navy. She holds a PhD in political science from the University of California, Berkeley. Her doctoral dissertation on the role of race and framing in K-12 public education politics received the 2000 American Political Science Association award in Race, Ethnicity, and Politics.
Harish Patel | Director, Economic Security for Illinois
Harish is the director of economic security for IL. Previously, Harish was the deputy director of New America Chicago, a non-partisan policy innovation lab, Violence Prevention Coalition-Organizer on Chicago’s Southwest side, and Social Innovator for Accelerate Change, where they help social change organizations build financially sustainable membership benefits. Harish also was a co-owner of a fair-trade clothing line, Ishi Vest and co-founded Chicago Votes, a non-profit organization that has played a critical role in the passage of a few landmark voting rights laws in recent years in Illinois. Harish holds a master’s degree in urban planning and policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Harish is a proud immigrant who moved to Illinois from Gujarat, India at 14 and now lives on Chicago’s Northwest Side. He is obsessed with his plants and staying caffeinated by drinking mochas!
Harlan Yu | Executive Director, Upturn
Harlan is the executive director and co-founder of Upturn. Based in Washington D.C., Upturn advances equity and justice in the design, governance, and use of digital technology. Through research and advocacy, Upturn drives policy changes to address the disproportionate impact of new technologies across a range of civil rights issues, including policing and surveillance, equal employment, fair housing, and fair credit. Harlan has extensive experience working at the intersection of technology and policy, having previously held roles at Google, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Labor. Harlan holds a PhD in computer science from Princeton University, and a BS in electrical engineering and computer science from UC Berkeley.
Jamila Headley | Chief of Staff, Center for Popular Democracy
Jamila is the chief of staff at the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD)—a national network organization dedicated to advancing a racial justice, economic justice, and pro-immigrant, pro-worker agenda by working to build a dynamic democracy in partnership with high-impact-base building organizations in 35 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. Born and raised on the island of Barbados, Jamila is a leader with a global footprint. She has spent the past 17 years working to advance human rights, racial justice, health justice, and economic justice, through work with movements and movement leaders in the Caribbean, Eastern and Southern Africa, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, South-East Asia and the United States. Over the years, her work has spanned research and policy analysis, organizing and advocacy, philanthropy, and executive leadership. In her current role as chief of staff, Jamila works at the intersections of strategy and implementation, blue-sky thinking and planning for the here and now, between caring for the network and organization and for the individual people in it. Jamila holds a doctorate in Public health and a masters in global health from the University of Oxford, where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar. She currently lives in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Karundi Williams | Executive Director, re:power
Karundi (she/her) became the executive director of re:power in 2019, a national progressive training and capacity building organization. She leads a national team of strategists, organizers, and technologists towards re:power’s bold mission of building transformative political power with and for communities of color, at all levels in our government and power structures. Previously, Karundi held multiple leadership positions at SEIU. In her role as political director for the Midwest Initiative and the director of state and local programs, she directed national policy priorities, managed a host of state legislated campaigns, and elevated the needs of working people in the national discourse. As the deputy director for government affairs for the State of Ohio, Karundi was instrumental in implementing legislation and policy, and working across party lines to create coalitions of elected officials and constituents. Her political analysis and skill in bringing people together is key to re:power’s core goal of building political power with action-oriented partners. Karundi is based in Washington, D.C. with her daughter Zoya and partner Rafiq. In her spare time she enjoys hiking, nature photography, traveling and spending time with friends and family over a good meal.
Kassandra Frederique | Executive Director, Drug Policy Alliance
Kassandra became the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance in September 2020, a national nonprofit that works to end the war on drugs—which has disproportionately harmed Black, Latinx, Indigenous, immigrant, and LGBTQ communities—and builds alternatives grounded in science, compassion, health, and human rights. Throughout her work, Frederique has been a powerful advocate for working closely with people who have been directly impacted by the war on drugs, and she has built strong alliances with partners in New York and beyond. She has been instrumental in grounding the national drug policy conversation around reparative justice and restitution for communities harmed by the war on drugs. Additionally, Frederique is actively working with the In Our Names Network and other efforts across the country to resist drug war-fueled state violence.
K. Sabeel Rahman | President, Demos
K. Sabeel is the president of Demos, a dynamic think-and-do tank that powers the movement for a just, inclusive, multiracial democracy. Sabeel is also an associate professor of law at Brooklyn Law School and the co-author most recently of Civic Power (Cambridge University Press, 2019), which looks at how to build a more inclusive and empowered bottom-up democracy.His first book, Democracy Against Domination(Oxford University Press, 2017), won the Dahl Prize for scholarship on the subject of democracy. His academic research focuses on issues of democracy, economic power, law, and inequality. He has worked extensively with a range of think tanks, advocacy organizations, and foundations to develop novel approaches to addressing these issues in practice. His popular writings have appeared in venues like The Atlantic, The New Republic, The Boston Review, Dissent, and The Washington Post. He earned his law degree and doctorate at Harvard University, and his master’s degrees at the University of Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.
Kris Hayashi | Executive Director, Transgender Law Center
Kris Hayashi is the executive director at the Transgender Law Center. Transgender Law Center (TLC) is the largest national trans-led organization advocating self-determination for all people. Grounded in legal expertise and committed to racial justice, TLC employs a variety of community-driven strategies to keep transgender and gender nonconforming people alive, thriving, and fighting for rights and justice. Kris has been active in social, racial and economic justice organizing for 25 years. Kris served as the executive director/co-director of the Audre Lorde Project, a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Trans and Gender Non-Conforming People of Color organizing center based in New York City for ten years. Previously he served as executive director of youth United for Community Action a youth organizing group in California, led by young people of color organizing for social and environmental justice.
LaTosha Brown | Co-Founder, Black Voters Matter Fund
LaTosha is an award-winning organizer, philanthropic consultant, political strategist and jazz singer with over twenty years of experience working in the non-profit and philanthropy sectors on a wide variety of issues related to political empowerment, social justice, economic development, leadership development, wealth creation and civil rights. She is the co-founder of Black Voters Matter Fund, a power building southern based civic engagement organization that played an instrumental role in the 2017 Alabama U.S. Senate race and the principal owner of TruthSpeaks Consulting, Inc., a philanthropy advisory consulting firm in Atlanta, GA. For more than 25 years, she has served as a consultant and advisor for individual donors, government, public foundations and private donors. Throughout her career, Ms. Brown has distinguished herself as a trusted expert and resource in political strategy, rural development and special programming for a number of national and regional philanthropies. She is the founding project director of Grantmakers for Southern Progress.
Leticia Peguero | Vice President of Programs, Nathan Cummings Foundation
Leticia is a leader with deep community roots and has dedicated her career to issues related to justice and equity with the goal of leveling the playing field for underserved and historically marginalized communities. She is the vice president of programs at the Nathan Cummings Foundation and was previously executive director of the Andrus Family Fund (AFF), where she was at the forefront of the national conversation around youth justice reform and narrative change surrounding Black and Brown young people. Under her leadership, AFF and the Surdna Foundation developed innovative tools and curricula to engage next generation family philanthropists in meaningful conversations and experiences related to race, class, and privilege. Before joining AFF, Leticia was the regional vice president at the Posse Foundation, where she managed sites in Los Angeles, Boston, New Orleans, and Houston. Prior to her role at Posse, Leticia spent five years as deputy director of the Local Funding Partnerships program, where she developed strategy to support innovative program models that serve vulnerable populations. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Fordham University and graduated with honors from the Marxe School of Public Affairs with a master’s in public administration. Outside of her professional role, Leticia spends a lot of time working and thinking about the arts (dance was her first love). She helps run Areytos Performance Works—a dance theatre company working at the crossroads of African-Caribbean forms, contemporary modern dance and performance art.
Lori Villarosa | Executive Director & Founder, Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity (PRE)
Lori has been a pioneer working consistently at the intersection of racial justice and philanthropy for nearly 30 years. As the founder and executive director of the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity (PRE), she works with a diverse board of racial justice leaders and movement partners to significantly shift grantmaking practices through PRE’s conference workshops, Racial Justice Funder Labs, direct consultations, coaching, research and through PRE publications, such as the seminal Grantmaking with a Racial Equity Lens guide, and more recent Grantmaking with a Racial Justice Lens: A Practical Guide. Prior to launching PRE, Lori worked at C.S. Mott Foundation for 12 years, where she was instrumental in developing and managing the foundation’s portfolio to explicitly address institutional and societal racism, moving $24 million in racial justice grants at a time when very few foundations had such a specific portfolio naming racism. She has served on several foundation boards over the years, currently chairing the Edward W. Hazen Foundation board, and is also a member of United Philanthropy Forum’s Racial Equity Committee and the Latin American Committee of WINGS. Lori has been published in Nonprofit Quarterly, The Alliance Magazine, and quoted often in other philanthropic media on issues of Black movement building, intersectional issues, racial justice philanthropy data and trends.
Marí Urbina | Chief of Staff/National Political Director, Indivisible
Marí is Indivisible’s national political director leading national political strategy and the chief of staff overseeing internal culture. Before joining the Indivisible Project, Marí spent the 2016 cycle running Voto Latino’s voter engagement and national campaigns as vice president of politics and campaigns. She previously spent seven years working for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, including as a senior advisor. During the 2010, 2012 and 2014 election cycles, she served in political engagement and coalition roles for Senate races in Nevada, Colorado and for President Obama’s re-election campaign in Nevada. Throughout her career, Marí has focused on strategy, messaging and policy that disproportionately affects Latinx, AAPI and immigrant communities. Mari has been featured on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, AM Joy, Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow and Univision Noticiero.
Max Rose | Executive Director, Sheriffs for Trusting Communities
Max Rose is the executive director of Sheriffs for Trusting Communities, which works alongside grassroots organizers across the country to end mass incarceration and stop deportations while building progressive political power. Max’s work has focused at the intersection of justice, racial equity and the South. Prior, Max worked at MDC and helped to build Made in Durham, a partnership aimed at shifting systems to ensure that young people of color connect to his hometown’s increasing wealth. Max is on the board of directors at Walltown Children’s Theatre in Durham, and lives in Washington, D.C., where he coaches a high school girls’ soccer team that has won one game during his four-year tenure. His writing, in the American Prospect, Washington Monthly, and academic publications, focuses on racism, place and justice.
Meena Jagannath | Director of Global Programs, Movement Law Lab
Prior to joining Movement Law Lab, Meena co-directed the Community Justice Project, Inc., a Miami-based movement lawyering organization supporting campaigns for racial justice and human rights. She is a movement lawyer with an extensive background in activism and international human rights, including work in Haiti and Guatemala. She has brought to bear her international human rights expertise in delegations to the United Nations to elevate U.S.-based human rights issues like police accountability in Ferguson and Miami as well as Stand Your Ground laws to the international level. Meena received her J.D from the University of Washington School of Law where she was a William H. Gates Public Service Law Scholar. She also holds a master’s degree in international affairs (human rights) from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, and a BA in international relations and peace and justice studies from Tufts University. Meena deeply believes in the importance of multi-disciplinary and experimenting with new ways of solving problems. This can be anything from designing hackathons and salons to integrating arts and culture into legal work, such as creating an Artist Residency Program at Community Justice Project and her collaborations with poet Aja Monet and Voices: Poetry for the People.
Neha Patel | Co-Executive Director, State Innovation Exchange
Neha is the co-executive director of State Innovation Exchange (SiX), which equips state legislators to build and wield progressive governing power with/for the people they represent. Growing up in the Midwest (Indiana/Michigan) as the child of immigrants, she believes that opportunity exists for everyone only if we fight for it on behalf of all of us. This foundational belief led her to a lifelong career in domestic and international human rights advocacy. Over the last 20 years, Neha has worked at the intersection of advocacy and direct service. With a focus on reproductive rights among underrepresented and marginalized communities, she has helped those closest to the pain fight for the solutions they know work best. Her work has included: combatting the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Chicago and NYC, fighting for LGBTQ protections in India, expanding access to sexual and reproductive health and rights in South and Southeast Asia, and supporting local organizations in over 70 countries build stronger government and civil society institutions. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and two children.
Nikki D. Thanos | Legal and Policy Director, New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice (NOWCRJ)
Nikki is the legal and policy director at the New Orleans’ Workers Center for Racial Justice. She believes in building strong, mass movements to fight for racial and economic justice. After earning a JD from Loyola University College of Law in 2010, Nikki pioneered a movement lawyering solo practice model that extended strategic legal tools to organizers and social movements without in-house counsel. Nikki has collaborated with groups including the New Orleans Independent Police Monitor, Movement Law Lab, Louisiana Bucket Brigade, Alton Sterling Legal Defense Fund, Center for Popular Democracy, and the School of the Americas Watch. Early in her legal career, Nikki helped to challenge the 2009 U.S.-backed military coup d’etat that ousted President Manuel Zelaya in Honduras and supported Alien Tort Statute litigation to hold US corporations accountable for human rights abuses in Colombia. Nikki also worked as a collaborating attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights on Doe v. Caldwell and more recently, Nikki helped build out a national institute to train the next generation of movement lawyers at the Bertha Justice Institute at the Center for Constitutional Rights. Nikki has trained hundreds of lawyers and law students on both the theory and practice of movement lawyering and is passionate about using law to build the power of folks most directly affected by systems of oppression. Nikki also loves dancing and is the proud mama of two little freedom fighters.
Sudha Nandagopal | CEO, Social Venture Partners International
Sudha is a nationally regarded organizer, facilitator, strategist, and movement builder focused on democratizing systems of power and shifting power outward to those most affected by injustice. Through her leadership with racial and social justice organizations, philanthropy, and progressive politics, Sudha has developed an expertise in multi-ethnic stakeholder engagement, racial equity, communications, policymaking, and campaigns. Sudha works with government, labor, national and international organizations, and serves as a consultant on racial equity and organizational strategy to foundations and other agencies. Most recently, she co-created and led the first-of-its-kind City of Seattle’s Equity & Environment Initiative. Grist Magazine recognized her as one of “50 visionaries leading us to a more sustainable future.” As chief executive officer of Social Venture Partners International, Sudha cultivates and expands a global network of individual philanthropists and social change leaders to catalyze more resources to frontline communities, demonstrate ways to disrupt philanthropy as usual to share power and wealth, and inspire and influence philanthropists to be more community and justice centered.
Tamara Toles O’Laughlin | North America Director, 350.org
Tamara is an environmental advocate focused on people and planet. Her niche in environmental work is developing capacity building programs and creating multimedia campaigns to dismantle privilege and increase opportunities for vulnerable populations to access health air, clean energy, and a toxic free economy at the local, regional and national level. Tamara is the North American director at 350.org, where she drives regional strategy in the United States and Canada. As the leader of 350’s programming, she leads mission critical work, and organizational investments to build a multiracial, multi-generational climate movement that is capable of holding our leaders accountable to science and justice. She is the chair and state representative on the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, Air and Climate Public Advisory Committee. Tamara also serves as the chairwoman of the Board of Directors of Women’s Voices for the Earth. Prior to joining 350.org, Tamara was executive director of the Maryland Environmental Health Network in Baltimore, Maryland, where she championed its mission to promote the elimination of environmental threat to human health. She graduated from the Vermont Law School in 2009, with a Juris Doctor and master’s degree in environmental law and policy with a concentration in energy generation and carbon constraint.
Tara Houska | Founder, Giniw Collective
Tara (Couchiching First Nation Anishinaabe) is a tribal attorney, founder of Giniw Collective, and a former advisor on Native American affairs to Bernie Sanders. She spent six months on the frontlines fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline, and is currently engaged in the movement to defund fossil fuels and a years-long struggle against Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline. She is a co-founder of Not Your Mascots, a group committed to positive representation of Native peoples. She is a TED speaker, gave a Harvard keynote, received an “Awesome Women Award” from Melinda Gates and a Rachel’s Network Catalyst Award, is featured in “Women: A Century of Change” by National Geographic, and was named an “Icon” on the cover of Outside Magazine’s 40th Anniversary edition. Tara has contributed to the New York Times, The Guardian, Huffington Post, Indian Country Today and been featured on CNN, MSNBC, CBS, Democracy Now, and BBC. She lives in a pipeline resistance camp in Northern Minnesota.
Tarana J. Burke | Executive Director, me too International
For more than 25 years, activist and advocate Tarana has worked at the intersection of sexual violence and racial justice. Fueled by commitments to interrupt sexual violence and other systemic inequalities disproportionately impacting marginalized people, particularly Black women and girls, Tarana has created and led various campaigns focused on increasing access to resources and support for impacted communities, including the ‘Me Too.’ movement, which to date has galvanized millions of survivors and allies around the world.
Wahleah Johns | Executive Director, Native Renewables
Wahleah Johns is a member of the Navajo (Dine) tribe and comes from the community of Forest Lake, Arizona atop Black Mesa. Wahleah is the co-founder and executive director of Native Renewables and her work with the Black Mesa Water Coalition and Navajo Green Economy Coalition has led to groundbreaking legislative victories for groundwater protection, green jobs, and environmental justice. In 2019, she was awarded the Nathan Cummings Foundation Fellowship.