2015-2016 Aspen institute ascend fellows
Meet the 2015-2016 class of Aspen Institute Ascend Fellows.
Laurie Miller Brotman
New York, NY
Melvin Carter III
St. Paul, MN
Carter grew up in the Rondo neighborhood as the son of one of Saint Paul’s first black police officers, and a teacher (who now serves as a Ramsey County Commissioner). He attended Saint Paul public schools, ran track at his neighborhood rec center, and graduated from Central High School. He currently lives blocks away from where he grew up with his wife, Dr. Sakeena Futrell-Carter, and the youngest three of their five children.
Carter has been working to engage, enfranchise, and uplift people not only in Saint Paul, but also across the state and nation. Most recently, he served as Executive Director of the Minnesota Children’s Cabinet, advising Governor Mark Dayton on early childhood policy. Prior to joining state government, Carter represented Ward 1 on the Saint Paul City Council from 2008 to 2013.
In the run up to his campaign for Mayor, Carter spent a year in conversation with neighbors through a series of listening sessions called Imagine Saint Paul. His unconventional campaign focused on grassroots organizing and earning support from every corner of the city.
As Senior Vice President, Mission and Education Initiatives, Betsy Delgado is responsible for leading the organization’s efforts to help individuals and families access education, employment and health services.
Delgado previously served as the Vice President of Mission and Education Initiatives as well as executive director of The Excel Center, Goodwill’s school for adult learners, from 2011 to 2013. Prior to joining Goodwill, she served for six years in Community and Continuing Education at the Metropolitan School District of Washington Township.
She obtained an MBA from the University of Notre Dame and a bachelor’s degree in English and education from the University of North Dakota. She has also earned a certification in leadership from ProLiteracy. In 2015, Delgado was named an Ascend Fellow at the Aspen Institute, an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C. As an Ascend Fellow, she works with leaders across the nation to develop a two-generation approach to build economic security, educational success, health and well-being for low-income families.
Dr. Maria Harper-Marinick is a senior fellow with the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program. Harper-Marinick served the Maricopa Community College District in Arizona for almost 30 years in a variety of leadership roles, including nearly four years as chancellor. Maria has served on the boards of the American Council of Education, American Association of Community Colleges, Excelencia in Education, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, and many other organizations. She chaired the Federal Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance and is an Aspen Institute Ascend fellow and a distinguished fellow of the Arizona State University Morrison Institute for Public Policy. Diverse: Issues in Higher Education named Maria one of 25 exceptional women leaders who have made a difference in higher education. Maria is originally from the Dominican Republic and came to the U.S. as a Fulbright Scholar. She holds masters and Ph.D. degrees in educational technology from ASU.
Dr. Raquel Hatter is the managing director of human services at the Kresge Foundation, which supports the advancement of human services organizations to accelerate social and economic mobility for people with low income.
She has served families and communities for more than 30 years in leadership roles across the child welfare, juvenile justice, mental health and human services systems. Hatter’s service spans advancing public policy, organizational and person-centered systems change to forging partnership with families and communities to integrating trauma- and executive functioning-informed, family-centered, two-generation and strength-based practices into her work with individuals and families. Prior to joining The Kresge Foundation, Hatter served as commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Human Services where she identified ways to improve the outcomes for individuals and families across various support systems including child support, TANF, SNAP and vocational rehabilitation.
John Hudson III
John Hudson is a licensed attorney who serves as president and chief executive officer of Nicor Gas, the largest natural gas distribution company in Illinois. In this role, he is responsible for ensuring that natural gas – a clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy source – reaches more than 2.2 million homes and businesses in 656 northern Illinois communities. In addition, Hudson serves as executive vice president of Southern Company Gas, where he has enterprise-wide responsibility for market strategy and new venture development across the company’s regulated utility franchises in Georgia, Illinois, Tennessee and Virginia. Hudson also is a member of the Southern Company Gas Management Council. Southern Company Gas is a subsidiary of Southern Company and the parent company of Nicor Gas.
In the spring of 2022, Jones-Taylor will join the Urban Institute as their first chief policy impact officer, where she will work with experts and analysts across the organization to help maximize the impact of their research, while also helping tell the story of how their work changes lives and strengthens communities.
Prior to her role at ZERO TO THREE Jones-Taylor served as Connecticut’s founding Commissioner of Early Childhood, leading the cabinet-level state agency responsible for early care and education, home visiting, early intervention, and child care licensing in the state, serving all children from birth through age five. During her time as Commissioner, the state agency was awarded $50 million in new, competitive federal grants and expanded access to high-quality preschool to 25 percent more three and four-year-olds.
Kirsten Lodal is LIFT’s Founder and Senior Advisor. She served as the organization’s CEO for more than 20 years, from its founding in 1998 until 2019 when she passed the torch to Michelle Rhone-Collins. LIFT began as an idea during her sophomore year of college and has become one of the foremost anti-poverty organizations in the country. Under Kirsten’s leadership, LIFT has fostered positive outcomes for hundreds of thousands of parents and children and established itself as a national model for more effective and human-centered social services. Along the way, Kirsten has become a leading advocate for re-thinking and modernizing the design of America’s anti-poverty programs, spreading LIFT’s message from the White House and Capitol Hill to the NBC Nightly News, the PBS Newshour, CNN and The New York Times. Her passionate championing of racial equity has been featured as a case study by The Chronicle of Philanthropy and Harvard University.
Félix V. Matos Rodríguez
New York, NY
Félix V. Matos Rodríguez became the eighth Chancellor of the City University of New York (CUNY) in May 2019, making him the first educator of color, and the first Latino to lead the nation’s largest urban university. CUNY’s sprawling system comprises 25 campuses with an enrollment of over 275,000 degree-seeking students, over 225,000 adult and continuing education students, and an operating budget of over $3.6 billion.
El Paso, TX
Sarah Enos Watamura
Dr. Sarah Enos Watamura is professor of psychology within the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. She is part of the Developmental and Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Areas within the Psychology department. She joined the department in 2005 after receiving her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Cornell University. In 2014, she was instrumental in creating the Stress, Early Experiences and Development (SEED) Research Center and has served as co-Director since its creation. She is currently Chair of the Department of Psychology. She has longstanding interests in children’s physiologic regulation, their development within caregiving contexts, and in understanding mechanisms and trajectories from early life stress to later physical, mental health, cognitive/educational, and socio-emotional outcomes. Her work examines the unique stressors and buffers in families experiencing poverty and among newly immigrated families, and includes testing promising intervention approaches.
Sherece Y. West-Scantlebury
Little Rock, AR
Ann Silverberg Williamson
Salt Lake City, UT
Ann Silverberg Williamson has dedicated herself to directing public agencies working to improve the quality of life for children, families and individuals. Most recently, she served as Executive Director of the Utah Department of Human Services (2013-2021) overseeing a wide range of care including child and family welfare, substance abuse and mental health, juvenile justice, and support services for aging adults as well as individuals with disabilities. In her capacity as a cabinet-level official, she led efforts to deliver an integrated continuum of care with individualized services delivered in the least restrictive environment. She worked with Congressional partners and nonprofit agencies to effect child welfare reform legislation at the federal level. Currently, she is serving on a task force aimed at improving Michigan’s delivery of services to children and families and is participating in the Aspen Institute’s two-generation effort focused on prenatal and early childhood care.
A native of Louisiana, Ann served as Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Social Services (2001-2008) leading her department through the human services crisis caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The U.S. Department of Agriculture noted these efforts with its Pinnacle Award in 2006.
Dr. Katharine W. Winograd is the executive director of the Economic Forum of Albuquerque. Previously, Dr. Winograd served as the president of Central New Mexico Community College (CNM). CNM is New Mexico’s largest post-secondary institution in terms of enrollment, with 30,000 students, and offers more than 100 degree, training, and certificate programs.