Dr. Adren O. Wilson
Executive Director, My Brother’s Keeper Alliance
Dr. Adren O. Wilson (he/him), an experienced leader committed to equity, is leading the next chapter of President Obama’s national call to action to build safe and supportive communities where boys and young men of color have clear pathways to opportunity as the Executive Director of the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance. Prior to his role with My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, Dr. Wilson served as the Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor of Louisiana. He is a known leader within the Public Allies community, having previously served as the national CEO.
Wilson holds a Master’s in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, a Doctorate in Public Policy from the Nelson Mandela School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs at Southern University, and a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science from Louisiana State University.
Angela Dorn, JD (Vice Chair)
COO and General Counsel, Youth INC NYC
Angela Dorn (she/her) is a Harvard trained lawyer with experience in the private and not-for-profit sectors, with success advising, managing and resolving complex legal and organizational issues throughout her career. She was a founding member of a team that launched a national, tech-based, not for profit. She also co-founded BlackHer, a website to promote the personal, political and economic power of Black women.
Angela has an AB in Economics and a Doctor of Law (JD) from Harvard University.
Aria Florant (Secretary)
Co-Founder and Managing Director, Liberation Ventures
Aria Florant (she/her) is a Public Allies San Francisco/Silicon Valley alumna from the Class of 2012 and is currently the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Liberation Ventures (LV), a new philanthropic and field building organization fueling the US Black-led movement for racial repair. By providing resources and technical assistance to efforts working toward truth, reconciliation, and reparations, LV is building momentum toward a comprehensive federal financial and non-financial racial repair program. LV’s vision is a healing society and healthy multiracial democracy, where the trauma and legacy of slavery and its aftermath have been repaired.
Previously, Aria was an engagement manager in McKinsey & Company’s Washington D.C. office, where she served public and social sector clients on issues related to strategy, organizational design, racial equity, and financial sustainability. Additionally, Aria was a non-profit practitioner and organizer for four years in East Palo Alto, California, focusing on education, youth development, and civic engagement. Aria worked as an education consultant for the San Mateo County Private Defender Program, helping incarcerated youth navigate and complete college entrance requirements. She also helped launch the first-ever round of programs for civic leaders at the Obama Foundation.
Aria received a BA in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity from Stanford University, an MBA in Management for Social Change from The Wharton School, and an MPA in Management, Leadership, and Decision Sciences from the Harvard Kennedy School.
Chanda Smith Baker (Chair)
Founder & CEO, Smith Baker LLC / Co-Founder in Residence, Black Collective Foundation
Chanda Smith Baker is a board director and entrepreneurial philanthropic, nonprofit and community leader. An experienced CEO with proven success in leading complex organizations, Chanda is recognized for her strategic leadership, creating and implementing innovative solutions that engage stakeholders with a focus on advancing racial equity and broadening social impact. An award-winning podcaster and sought-after speaker, Chanda’s expertise in diversity, equity and inclusion is recognized nationally. She is the President of Smith Baker, an executive coaching and strategic consulting firm offering an particular expertise in philanthropy, organizational leadership, board governance, talent development.
In Chanda’s most recent role as Chief Impact Officer at the Minneapolis Foundation, a $1B+ community foundation, she was recognized for her compelling work in cross-sector partnerships. She was instrumental in the development of the organization’s strategic framework which resulted in forward leading strategies which have gained national attention. Previously, as the President and CEO of Pillsbury United Communities, Chanda had leadership responsibility for P&L and growth strategies. She orchestrated the successful launch of new business ventures including a health and wellness integrated grocery store and acquired a newspaper focused on community narrative and reporting.
Her expertise in cultural and organizational transformation, talent management, and fluency in diversity, equity, and inclusion has had a positive impact in the Twin Cities and beyond for over 25 years. She is extremely proud to be a co founder and chair of the Black Collective Foundation: an effort that launched in 2020 to response to the murder of George Floyd and subsequent uprising. Chanda has served on numerous boards and advisory committees including serving on the Federal Reserve Bank of Minnesota community advisory board. Her current assignments include: The Joyce Foundation, Board Chair of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, MN Timberwolves/Lynx Fastbreak Foundation and the Minnesota Women’s Economic Roundtable.
Chanda has received numerous recognitions honoring her exceptional community leadership including the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota’s, Mary Lee Dayton Catalyst 2020 Honoree, Minnesota Business Magazine, The “Real” Power 50 Honoree, Hubert H. Humphrey Leadership Award and recognition by the Chronicle of Philanthropy as “the Groundbreaker” and Innovator in 2019.
Christopher Besendorfer (Treasurer)
Owner & Principal, Constant Business Solutions
Christopher Besendorfer (he/him) is a global entrepreneurial-minded executive with proven success of driving growth and transforming customer experiences in consumer products and services across loyalty, travel, and financial services verticals. Working for one of the most respected brands in the world, he has consistently delivered results in fast paced, rapidly changing growth businesses.
As an innovator and forward-thinker, Christopher has built new businesses including launching and scaling an e-commerce travel site, currently ranked as one of the Top 10 U.S. travel sites for sales. For Amex’s industry leading Membership Rewards program, he redefined the way customers interact, consider, and redeem loyalty product rewards.
Christopher received a BBA from Kings College and a MBA from Hosftra University.
Managing Director & Private Wealth Advisor, Merrill Lynch Private Banking & Investment Group
Kanwar Singh (all pronouns) currently serves as a Managing Director & Private Wealth Advisor at the Merrill Lynch Private Banking & Investment Group. Prior to this, he was a Senior Vice President-Wealth Management at UBS Financial Services, a Law Partner at Baker & McKenzie and, prior to that, at Kirkland & Ellis. In business, Singh has held senior executive positions at Valence Capital Group, Monsanto Company, and BrightSage, Inc.
Singh earned their B.A. from Northwestern University and his J.D. (cum laude) from the Boston University Law School. Singh has a strong commitment to service, including formerly serving on the Board of Education of Butler 53 School District, currently serving on the board of Northwestern Integrative Medicine. Singh lives in Oak Brook, Illinois with his wife and two daughters. Kanwar received a baccalaureate degree from Northwestern University and a Juris Doctor (JD) from the Boston University School of Law.
Lisa Woodruff-White (she/her) was elected to the East Baton Rouge Parish Family Court in 2008, where she served as a District Court Judge in Division B of the Court until she retired in January 2022. Woodruff-White also previously served as chief judge of the Family Court. Woodruff-White currently serves as a judge on the Louisiana Board of Tax Appeals by appointment of Louisiana Governor John Bell Edwards.
Woodruff-White is a Senior Officer of the Louisiana State Law Institute and has served on the faculty of the National Judicial College since 2017.
In furtherance of her passion for ensuing access to the courts to all citizens, she served on the Louisiana Access to Justice Commission and currently serves as Chairperson of the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Access to Justice Committee.
Lisa Woodruff-White is a past-president of the Louisiana District Judges Association, for which she was also prior chairperson of the Strategic Planning, Self-Represented Litigant, and Professional Liability Insurance committees. She previously served on the Louisiana Supreme Court’s Self-Represented Litigant’s Committee and the Pro Bono Committee of the Baton Rouge Bar Association. Woodruff-White is a prior recipient of the Louisiana State Bar Association’s Presidents Award for her exemplary work toward equal access to justice for self-represented litigants.
Prior to being elected as a District Court Judge, Lisa Woodruff-White was appointed by Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco to the position of Deputy Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Social Services in 2004, where she led legislation and supervised the bureaus of General Counsel, Appeals, and Civil Rights until 2008. She also served as statewide Director of the Louisiana Child Support Program from 2001-2004.
During her service in Louisiana government, Lisa Woodruff-White served as chairperson of the Child Support Committee of the Louisiana State Law Institute from 2004 to 2010; and chair of the Louisiana Child Support Guidelines Review Committee in 1999 and 2004.
She is also a former commissioner on the Louisiana Housing Finance Agency (LHFA) Board of Directors, former vice president of the National Child Support Enforcement Association, former executive board member of the National Council of Child Support, and former president of the Southwest Regional Child Support Association.
Marc McAleavey, MSW
Program Manager and Faculty, The Polis Center at the Indiana University Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering
Marc McAleavey (he/him) brings over two decades of experience establishing, and leading place-based organizations dedicated to sustainable community development. He served as founding executive director of Playworks Indiana and Public Allies Indianapolis, supporting 150 Allies in resident-led quality-of-life organizing and planning in over 20 neighborhoods. Marc led evaluation and documentation at the Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center and Founded The Zawadi Exchange, an asset-based community development organization.
Marc holds a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and a Master of Social Work from Indiana University. He enjoys teaching graduate-level policy, program design, and community development courses and is an Adjunct Professor in the School of Social Work. Marc serves on the boards of the Indiana Afterschool Network, Indiana University School of Liberal Arts Alumni Board, and the Central Indiana Community Foundation’s Racial Equity Advisory Council.
Dr. Meredith Shockley-Smith
Executive Director, Cradle Cincinnati
Dr. Meredith Shockley-Smith (Public Allies Cincinnati ’07) currently serves as the Executive Director of Cradle Cincinnati, where she works with Black women to co-create sustainable communities to lower infant mortality in Cincinnati. She is also an educator and former professor. At Queens Village, she takes her passion for Black Studies and Women & Gender Studies beyond the classroom to build stronger, more equitable relationships that benefit the greater community.
She also previously served as the Director of Equity and Community Strategies for Cradle Cincinnati. During her tenure in this role she founded Queens Village, a community of Black women who work towards self healing and systems change in the medical space. Dr. Shockley-Smith is committed to building on the substantial reductions in infant mortality with a sustained focus on health equity and the elimination of the racial disparities of birth outcomes that still plague our community.
Policy Advisor, Wisconsin Department of Children and Families
Priya Bhatia currently serves as a Policy Advisor at the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, where she is focused on building access to affordable, high-quality early care and education to promote equity and inclusion. She is an attorney by training and practiced immigration law and commercial litigation before moving into the public sector. As an immigration lawyer, Priya advocated for survivors of domestic violence and other immigrant families. Priya is a member and former President of the Public Allies Wisconsin advisory board.
As an immigration lawyer, Priya advocated for survivors of domestic violence and other immigrant families. Priya earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Political Science with honors from Northwestern University and a Law Degree from The University of Chicago. A native Chicagoan, Priya has lived in Milwaukee for over a decade. She is passionate about creating stronger and more equitable communities in her adopted hometown. Priya enjoys baking with her children and hiking with her pandemic puppy in her spare time.
Chief of Staff, Ubuntu Research and Evaluation
Shavonda Sisson, Black woman, radical change maker, mother, and Black Joy Curator currently works as the Chief of Staff at Ubuntu Research and Evaluation, a consulting firm run by Black women who use liberation and beloved community frameworks to affect education, policy, and advocacy. Shavonda is an alumnus of Public Allies Wisconsin and embodies its mission working in all aspects of her life to create a just and equitable society and the diverse leadership to sustain it.
From 2017 to 2022 Ms. Sisson served as Program Manager and then Director of Ally and Alumni Programs at PA Milwaukee. In addition, recognizing the strength of network and clarity of her voice, Shavonda has leveraged her social media platform to launch Love On Black Women a people-driven fund that disburses 100% of all funds raised directly to Black women and MaGes of Milwaukee who have identified a need for financial support. Since its launch in February 2019, Love on Black Women has helped families secure housing, cover educational expenses, gain access medication, filled refrigerators and provided support for women escaping intimate partner violence.
A certified member of the BeyHive, Shavonda is also the one half of the podcast ‘That’s What She Said’ Shavonda along with her co-host Tee dissect pop culture, politics, and relationships from a social justice perspective.
If given the opportunity, ask Shavonda about self-care, #marrylarry, her 3 teenage sons and the ministry of brunch.
Trustee, William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund
William Graustein‘s (he/him) initial career was in the earth sciences. From 1981 to 1996, he was a research scientist in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Yale studying the behavior of natural radioactive elements in the environment. In 1996 Mr. Graustein left scientific research to devote his time to work in the nonprofit sector.
He led the reorganization of his family’s foundation, the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund and serves as its lead trustee. In 2002 he created and still leads a workshop series, the “Community Leadership Program” for civic and nonprofit leaders in his home town of New Haven, Connecticut. In 2011 he co-founded, “Co-Creating Effective and Inclusive Organizations to support New Haven community movements and organizations in building internal practices and external interactions that are co-creative, that embody social and economic justice and that increase effectiveness.
William earned a PHD in Geology and Geophysics from Yale University.
PUBLIC ALLIES SENIOR ADVISORY COUNCIL
This council supports Public Allies by advising the CEO and National Board of Directors, links Public Allies alumni to high-leverage opportunities, serve as alumni mentors, provide strategic feedback and guidance on what is happening in the National Service space, and support the mobilization of the Public Allies community around key policy actions aligned with the mission of Public Allies.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER AT REPAIR THE WORLD
SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, CBS NEWS