2012-2013 Aspen institute ascend fellows

Meet the 2012-2013 class of Aspen Institute Ascend Fellows.

Katie Albright

Safe and Sound

San Francisco, CA

Bio

Katie Albright, JD, is the Chief Executive Officer of Safe and Sound (formerly the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center), an organization dedicated to the prevention of child abuse and neglect, the promotion of healthy families, and the mental health of children. Her prior experiences include SF Deputy City Attorney representing public schools; SF Education Fund Policy Director leading a campaign to improve teacher quality and increase student retention; and Preschool California Co-Director of Policy & Outreach campaigning statewide for universal preschool. Prior to serving as an associate at Latham & Watkins and clerking for the US District Court in Maryland, she co-founded and taught in the Kayole-Gitau Nursery School & Community Center in Nairobi, Kenya.

Anthony Barrows

Cara Aley

Sensor Industries

San Diego, CA

Bio

Cara Aley is the Chief Operating Officer of Sensor Industries, which harnesses data that utilizes the internet of things to identify and eliminate water waste on a massive scale, saving multi-unit property owners thousands in utility costs each month. Previously, Aley was the chief operating officer at Peachjar, a company that connects parents, programs, and schools with the goal of enabling every child to have the opportunity to achieve their full potential. Aley also served as the President and COO of American Mojo, a social venture that addressed the issues of mothers in poverty.  By providing new career paths and freedom from child care costs, American MoJo supported and celebrated its employees’ drive to get their lives and those of their children on the right track.

Kristin Bernhard

Reggie Bicha

Shine Early Learning

Denver, CO

Bio

Reggie Bicha is the President of Shine Early Learning.  He is a social worker, administrator, educator and national leader. In addition to his work in early learning, he has extensive experience working on child welfare, education, employment, and healthcare issues at the county, state and national levels.

He served as the Executive Director of the Colorado Dept. of Human Services for Governor John Hickenlooper, and as the Inaugural Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families for Governor Jim Doyle.  Reggie is a Past President of the American Public Human Services Association.  
State Human Services Model: Colorado as a Case Study for Policymakers

Mia Birdsong

Economic Security Project

Oakland, CA

Bio

Mia Birdsong is a senior fellow at the Economic Security Project. She was formerly the Co-Director of Family Story. She has spent more than 20 years fighting for the self-determination, and pointing out the brilliant adaptations, of everyday people. Most recently, she was the Vice President of the Family Independence Initiative (FII). Under her leadership the organization expanded and achieved national recognition. Through FII, she created and curated the Torchlight Prize, an award for groups of everyday people working together to strengthen their own communities.
Mia’s TED Talk: The story we tell about poverty isn’t true

Anthony Barrows

Lindsay Chase-Lansdale

Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University

Evanston, IL

Bio

Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, PhD, is the Frances Willard Professor Emerita of Human Development and Social Policy at the Institute for Policy Research and the Associate Provost for Faculty at Northwestern University. She is an expert on the interface between research and social policy for children and families, including a focus on two-generation educational interventions.
The Northwestern University Two-Generation Research Initiative

Kristin Bernhard

Karla Davis

Whole Child Strategies

Memphis, TN

Bio

Karla Davis is a committed and dedicated professional with over 25 years of management experience in the federal government, state government, and non-profit sectors. Prior to joining Whole Child Strategies, Inc., she served as Programs Officer for the Assisi Foundation of Memphis, Inc., a private foundation that has awarded over $200million to non-profit organizations in the Greater Memphis area. Before joining the Assisi Foundation, she served as Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development where she championed strategic planning and organizational change, including successfully leading the 2000-employee department through an extensive “top-to-bottom” review, which resulted in reduced waste, cost savings and improved productivity. Prior to that, she was director of Urban Strategies Memphis HOPE, a non-profit social service agency in Memphis, TN. Before moving to Memphis, she was with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Chicago, IL where she served in a number of management-level positions.

Steven Dow

CAP Tulsa

Tulsa, OK

Bio

Steven Dow founded and served as executive director of CAP Tulsa from 1992 to 2019. CAP Tulsa embraces a two-generation anti-poverty strategy which focuses on providing high-quality early childhood education coupled with comprehensive family support services. CAP Tulsa has received national recognition for its innovative and effective approaches, having been honored in the initial class of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Family Counts National Honors program, a member of the Fannie Mae Foundation Alliance, and named as a National Head Start Center of Excellence.

Anthony Barrows

Bio

Chris King, PhD, is a lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs and a senior research scientist at the Ray Marshall Center, which he directed from 1991 to 2014. He co-led a team that designed CareerAdvance®, Tulsa’s 2-Generation program, in 2008-2009 and has been evaluating the program with colleagues at Northwestern, NYU and Columbia since 2011. He co-chairs Austin’s 2-Generation Advisory Committee, is on the Casey Foundation’s Two-Generation Strategic Evidence-Building Advisory Group and leads the evaluation of the National Association of Workforce Boards’ 2-Generation Initiative for the Kellogg Foundation.
Kristin Bernhard

Andrea Levere

Prosperity Now

Washington, DC

Bio

Andrea Levere is the President Emerita of Prosperity Now (formerly CFED). Prosperity Now’s mission is to ensure everyone in our country has a clear path to financial stability, wealth and prosperity. Under her leadership, Prosperity Now launched the Campaign for Every Kid’s Future in 2015. The Campaign will support the growth of the children’s savings account field to ensure that at least 1.4 million children receive an account by 2020.

Steve Liss

Beverly, MA

Bio

Steve Liss has been a photojournalist, filmmaker, educator and advocate for youth. For 25 years he was an award-winning photographer at TIME magazine, where over 40 of his photographs appeared on the cover. His book, No Place for Our Children: Voices from Juvenile Detention, won the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and the World Understanding Award from Pictures of the Year International. He has taught at Northwestern University, Columbia College Chicago and Endicott College. An Emmy-nominated filmmaker,  he has photographed, produced and directed films for Discovery Channel and PBS, and his most recent film, 16 and Recovering, aired as a four part docu-series on MTV.  The film depicted a year in the life of a public high school helping teenagers overcome substance abuse disorder. It was critically well received, with Forbes describing it as, “thoughtful, accurate and heart wrenching.”

Anthony Barrows

Bio

Meera Mani, EdD, is Director of the Children, Families and Communities (CFC) Program at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, which strives to ensure that all children have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Packard’s grantmaking strategies address two fundamental needs: health and education. She joined the Foundation in February 2009 as program officer, and in 2010 assumed responsibility for leading the preschool, after-school and summer enrichment subprogram in CFC.
Kristin Bernhard

Nicole Mason

Institute for Women’s Policy Research

Washington, DC

Bio

Dr. C. Nicole Mason is the president and chief executive officer of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research. Having stepped into the role in November 2019, Dr. Mason is the youngest person currently leading one of the major inside-the-Beltway think tanks in Washington, DC, and one of the few women of color to do so. As one of the nation’s foremost intersectional researchers and scholars, Dr. Mason brings a fresh perspective and a wealth of experience to IWPR. Prior to IWPR, Dr. Mason was the executive director of the Women of Color Policy Network at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner’s Graduate School of Public Service. Born Bright: A Young Girl’s Journey from Nothing to Something in America

Margaret McKenna

Boston, MA

Bio

Margaret McKenna, JD, is a civil rights attorney and academic and former president of Suffolk University. McKenna was previously the president of Lesley University in Cambridge and president of the Walmart Foundation, granting more than $900 million in cash and in-kind donations to nonprofit organizations. She led Lesley and its teacher training programs to national recognition.
Anthony Barrows

Wes Moore

Baltimore, MD

Bio

Wes Moore, a combat veteran, bestselling author, small business owner, Rhodes Scholar and former CEO of Robin Hood Foundation, one of the nation’s largest anti-poverty organizations, has devoted his life’s work to a basic principle: no matter your start in life, you deserve an equal opportunity to succeed – a job you can raise a family on, a future you can look forward to. Previously, Moore founded and served as CEO of BridgeEdU, an innovative college platform that addresses the college completion and job placement crisis.  BridgeEdU reinvents freshman year through high-touch and high-tech supports for students.
The Other Wes Moore / The Work: Searching for a Life That Matters

Kristin Bernhard

Eduardo Padrón

Miami Dade College

Miami, FL

Bio

Eduardo Padrón, PhD, is President of Miami Dade College (MDC), the country’s largest institution of higher education. MDC makes high quality teaching and learning accessible to a diverse student body, and serves as an economic, cultural, and civic beacon in the community. He is credited with elevating MDC into a position of national prominence among the best and most recognized U.S. colleges and universities. In 2016, President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the U.S., for being a prominent national voice for access and inclusion in higher education.

Vivian Nixon

Square One Project

New York, NY

Bio

Vivian D. Nixon is Writer in Residence at The Square One Project. She contributes to theRacial Justice and Abolition Democracy (RJAD) Project and the narrative of racial reckoning.Recently retired, Vivian gained 20-years of leadership experience at College & Community Fellowship (CCF), a nonprofit that helps women with criminal convictions earn college degrees. She enrolled in CCF as a student upon her release from prison. In 2006, she became executive director, exponentially increasing the organization’s resources and impact. The CCF community made significant contributions to public policy initiatives that restored Pell grant eligibility to incarcerated college students. During the time Vivian spent in prison she was moved to write and speak about issues that promote spiritual, physical, and economic health for women who are subject to structurally biased social systems. In her new role as a writer, she tries to break through walls of stigma and reveal the wisdom these women offer to a world that often overlooks their worth.
Anthony Barrows

Gloria Perez

Women’s Foundation of Minnesota

Minneapolis, MN

Bio

Gloria Perez is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota (WFMN), where she leads the first statewide women’s foundation in the country. Since 1983, WFMN has distributed more than $32 million through community investments; conducts ongoing research on the status of women and girls in Minnesota; advocates for public policy that results in greater economic security and safety for women and their families; and invests in organizations and leaders to build the field and achieve gender and racial equity.

Kristin Bernhard

Bio

Mario Small, PhD, Grafstein Family Professor at Harvard University, is the author of numerous award-winning books and articles on urban poverty, support networks, qualitative and mixed methods, and other topics. He was previously the Dean of the Social Sciences at the University of Chicago.
Someone To Talk To

Henry Wilde

Acelero Learning

Madison, WI

Bio

Henry Wilde is Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Acelero Learning and Shine Early Leaning. Acelero, a social venture model combining local expertise with the management support of a national network.  Acelero Learning currently serves more than 5,000 children and families in Head Start centers in four states. The Shine Early Learning division helps disseminate these innovative practices to other Head Start and Early Head Start programs throughout the country through intensive, ongoing training and technical assistance partnerships.

Anthony Barrows

Richard Wylie

Endicott College

Beverly, MA

Bio

Richard Wylie, PhD, served as President of Endicott College for over 30 yeards. As Endicott College’s fifth president, he is widely credited with spearheading the College’s transition from a small, two-year school for women to a coeducational institution with national and international reach offering undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees. More than 90 percent of the degree programs now available at Endicott did not exist in 1987. He launched Endicott’s Keys to Degree Program, allowing academically qualified single parents ages 18 to 24 to study full-time and live on campus with their children. (in memoriam)