Center for American Progress

RELEASE: CAP Announces 2013-14 Class of Leadership Institute Fellows
Press Release

RELEASE: CAP Announces 2013-14 Class of Leadership Institute Fellows

Washington, D.C. — The Center for American Progress announced today the selection of its third class of Leadership Institute Fellows.

Fifteen fellows, selected from a competitive pool of applicants, will participate in a series of CAP-directed seminars, activities, and networking sessions with a broad array of leaders and experts in the progressive public policy movement. This program aims to identify and assist the next generation of policy experts who have an interest in issues related to people and communities of color.

Reflecting their varying perspectives and communities, the Leadership Institute Fellows bring the concerns and talents drawn from their life experiences to bear on the policy challenges and opportunities presented by an increasingly diverse America. “I couldn’t be more excited about this year’s group of Leadership Institute Fellows,” said Sam Fulwood III, director of the Leadership Institute and a Senior Fellow at CAP. “Every year the competition grows keener for the limited number of slots in our program. The fellows selected this year represent some bright minds and sincere desires to bring progressive change through public policy in communities of color.”

The Leadership Institute is a product of CAP’s Progress 2050 program, which promotes innovative policy ideas, examines the intersection of race and policy, analyzes demographics, and promotes new leaders from diverse communities.

The 2013-14 Leadership Institute Fellows:

Shae Harris is the career developer for Sasha Bruce Youthwork, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit. She works to assists and empower young people through workforce development, social media, advocacy and grassroots campaigns in southeast Washington on career readiness and leadership development. Additionally, she is the reentry outreach coordinator for Free Minds Book Club and Writing Workshop, leading an initiative to end the school-to-prison pipeline and mass incarceration, and advocate for juvenile offenders in the adult courts system. In her spare time, she also runs the social media platform for Reclaim the Vote DC, a grassroots voter education/registration campaign aimed at educating and organizing returning citizens in the metropolitan Washington area. She received her bachelor of arts in political science from the North Carolina A&T State University.

Elizabeth Dawes Gay is a senior associate for programs and policy at the Reproductive Health Technologies Project, where she is responsible for the organization’s efforts to improve the availability of contraceptive technologies. As a member of the Women’s Information Network, she has served as co-chair of both the Women’s Health Policy and Women of Color sub-networks. During her tenure, she helped plan and implement the network’s first political leadership training specifically for women of color. Earlier this year, Elizabeth founded Black Women For…, a leadership development network for professional black women. She holds a master of public health in health policy from The George Washington University and a bachelor of arts in urban studies from the University of Pennsylvania.

Fadesola A. Adetosoye is the public affairs manager for the U.S. Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT. She leads communication and collaboration efforts with congressional and other stakeholder groups who have interests in health IT, quality improvement, and health policy. She serves as a senior advisor to the office’s leadership on various health IT-related and policy issues. Previously, she led program management activities on the Regional Extension Center program at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, working with more than 40 percent of the nation’s primary care providers to adopt, implement, and expand electronic health records. Fadesola is currently working on a project to increase the use of electronic health records in sub-Saharan Africa, specifically in Nigeria. She recently launched the Africa eHealth Collaborative, which will create an infrastructure to improve health care access, as well as the efficiency and quality of health care of Africans. She holds several degrees including a master of science degree in health policy, a graduate certificate in health information technology, and a bachelor of science degree in biological anthropology from The George Washington University.

Devon Rollins is a senior information systems engineer and technical subject matter expert for MITRE Corporation’s Cyber and Investigative Technologies Department. His work focuses on developing and integrating leading-edge technology and techniques to support cyber investigations with a national security emphasis. Outside of manipulating bits and bytes, Devon is a professor at the Institute for College Preparation at Georgetown University, equipping children from underrepresented communities with the technical skills necessary to support their creative interests. He is also a member of the Mentoring Leadership Council at Capital Partners for Education, a Washington, D.C.-based community organization that seeks to improve the futures of low-income youth predominantly through mentoring and partnerships. Devon is a graduate of the McNair College of Engineering at the North Carolina A&T State University and the Heinz College of Public Policy and Information Systems Management at Carnegie Mellon University.

Nicole Porter is director of advocacy for The Sentencing Project in Washington, D.C., where she coordinates state legislative and public education campaigns on the project’s criminal justice reform priorities. She is the former director of the ACLU’s Prison & Jail Accountability Project, where she monitored the conditions of confinement in Texas jails and prisons. Porter received her B.A. in international affairs from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and holds a master’s degree in public affairs from the LBJ School at the University of Texas at Austin. She also studied African politics at the University of Ghana, West Africa.

Patricia E. Gaston is an editor at The Washington Post, editing national, foreign, and financial copy, as well as overseeing the newspaper’s night-editing and website’s evening homepage operations. Before coming to the Post in 1997, Gaston worked at The Dallas Morning News, where she was an assistant foreign editor and was co-editor of the 1994 Pulitzer Prize-winning series on violence against women. Gaston also works as a kitchen, case management, and advocacy volunteer at Miriam’s Kitchen, and was recently named to the agency’s Volunteer Advocacy Advisory Committee. She also is the co-chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force of the American Association of University Women. She grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, and graduated from the University of Kansas and has a master’s degree in sports management from The George Washington University.

Zachery Williams is an associate professor of African American history at the University of Akron, Ohio, and the coordinator of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century’s Research Consortium. In 2003, Williams co-founded the Africana Cultures and Policy Studies Institute, a policy think tank group dedicated to the study of African American policy history and development of sustainable solutions to historic and contemporary problems impacting African Americans. He serves as an associate minister at Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland. Also in 2003, he received his Ph.D. in American and African-American policy history from Bowling Green State University, with a focus on Americana and African American policy history and Africana studies. He holds a B.A. in history from Clemson University.

Jordan EJ White is a program director in the Center for AIDS Research at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he is responsible for managing community and stakeholder partnerships. Prior to joining Johns Hopkins, White served as a research fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2009–2012, developing national health communication campaigns and managing community partnerships. White holds an M.S. from the Columbia University School of Social Work and a B.A. from Case Western Reserve University.

Demetricia Hodges is a postdoctoral candidate in educational policy studies at Georgia State University in Atlanta. Her research interests include racial/cultural diversity in educational leadership, urban and rural education, history of black education, and qualitative research methodologies. Hodges spent the past year in the field collecting data for her dissertation study, which is focused on exploring school leadership in urban environments from the perspectives of black school leaders with the hope of generating an explanatory framework of an alternative perspective of effective school leadership. Previously, she was a high school teacher in Atlanta-area public schools. She received a B.A. in marketing management and research from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a M.S. in business/vocational education from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Kelly Marie Fay Rodriguez is an immigrant rights activist and legal advocate at the AFL-CIO, assisting the labor organization’s Office of General Counsel with legislative reform efforts, facilitating a labor-community coalition to advance immigrant worker rights, and helping coordinate plans for comprehensive immigration reforms. Fay Rodriguez joined the AFL-CIO’s political department last year to work on community partnerships for the 2012 national elections, after graduating from CUNY School of Law as a Haywood Burn Civil and Human Rights Fellow. Before law school, Fay Rodriguez was a regional field director for the Obama campaign in central Florida. Previously, she has helped coordinate 10 election observation missions with the Organization of American States around Central and South America, and the Caribbean. She also spent several years serving as a bilingual labor case assistant at the Labor Bureau of the NY State Attorney General’s Office, where she helped investigate and enforce against minimum wage and overtime violations. She has also served as an immigration paralegal for union members of SEIU Local 32BJ in New York City. She graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, with a B.A. in international studies and Spanish.

Mekaelia Davis is a program associate with the Aspen Institute in Washington, D.C. In this role, she is responsible for the design and implementation of the Ascend Fellowship, which is awarded to pioneers from diverse fields pursuing new pathways toward creating cycles of economic opportunity for vulnerable children and their parents. Over the past seven years, Davis’s work has focused on supporting educational access and career success for low-income and marginalized populations. Previously, she worked a host of child- and family-focused organizations, including the Annie E. Casey Foundation, NAACP, Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, and Group Health Incorporated. She has a master of public administration degree from the City University of New York, Baruch College.

Michele Jackson is chief operations officer of International Code Design, Inc., a multimedia software and web development firm. Jackson is responsible for four primary areas within the organization: operations, program management, client relationship management, and business development. Jackson has a B.A. in communications from Cleveland State University and holds an M.B.A. in organizational leadership and development from Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management.

Bernice Romero is a senior director of humanitarian response public policy and advocacy at Save the Children. She leads the organization’s policy and advocacy around humanitarian crises and co-chairs its worldwide working group. Romero previously served as the advocacy and campaigns director for Oxfam International, overseeing international campaigns and its international advocacy offices. Prior to that, Bernice was the advocacy and policy deputy director at Oxfam America. Romero earned a M.A. in Latin American studies from Stanford University and a B.A. in Hispanic studies from Harvard College.

Irene Lin is a senior policy advisor in the Rural Development and Rural Housing department of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She was the state policy director for Obama for America in Iowa in 2012 and has held communications and research director roles on other congressional and Senate campaigns. Her Capitol Hill experience includes working for the House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee and as a legislative assistant to Rep. Betty McCollum (MN-04). She directed policy and communications at the National Family Farm Coalition and spent one year in Zimbabwe, working with African farm groups. She also serves as a board member of the Asian American Action Fund. She has a B.A. in American studies from Amherst College and a M.A. in public policy from Johns Hopkins University.

Yasmine Taeb is government relations manager for the Arab American Institute in Washington, D.C., where she develops and coordinates advocacy strategy and legislative priorities. She holds a B.A. in political science from the University of Florida and a law degree from the Dickinson School of Law at Penn State University. She has a graduate certificate in international human rights law from Oxford University in the United Kingdom.