Community Advisory Board

Gar Alperovitz photo
Gar Alperovitz
Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political-Economy, University of Maryland

Gar Alperovitz is Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political-Economy at the University of Maryland and one of the founders of the Democracy Collaborative, an organization devoted to developing community wealth-building approaches to local and national democratic reconstruction. Alperovitz’s most recent book is Unjust Deserts: How the Rich Are Taking Our Common Inheritance (The New Press, 2008). A related recent book is America Beyond Capitalism: Reclaiming Our Wealth, Our Liberty and Our Democracy (John Wiley & Sons, 2005). He is also author (with Jeff Faux) of Rebuilding America (Pantheon), and (with Staughton Lynd) of Strategy and Program (Beacon). Another related book is Making a Place for Community (Routledge, with Thad Williamson and David Imbroscio.)

Jose Alvarez photo
Jose Alvarez
Leadership and Organization Development Consultant

Joe Alvarez is a leadership and organization development consultant with over 30 years experience in the fields of labor relations, human resources, leadership development, strategic management, group facilitation, conflict management, managing diversity, and changing and developing organizational systems and structures. Joe’s consulting practice is focused on helping union leaders build unions that are visionary, strategic and oriented towards dramatic growth; well led and well run; with competent and inspired staff who work together effectively; and with structures and systems that are aligned with their strategy and vision. Prior to launching his private consulting practice, Alvarez Porter Group, Joe served as the AFL-CIO’s Northeast Region Director and was responsible for implementing the AFL-CIO’s programs in a twelve state region (from Maine to West Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico). In 2005, Joe designed and implemented a national program for the AFL-CIO to reorganize state and local councils.

Angela Blackwell
Founder and CEO, PolicyLink

Angela Glover Blackwell is founder and chief executive officer of PolicyLink, a national research and action institute that works collaboratively to develop and implement local, state, and federal policies to achieve economic and social equity. By Lifting Up What Works—using research to understand and demonstrate the possibilities for positive change—PolicyLink presents new and innovative solutions to old problems. Since its inception, in January of 1999, PolicyLink has partnered with a cross-section of stakeholders to ensure that questions of equity receive the highest priority in addressing major policy issues, including: urban sprawl and smart growth, reinvestment in low-income communities, bridging the digital divide, eliminating racial health disparities, and developing leaders for policy change. PolicyLink is a leading advocate of equitable development, a comprehensive approach which includes the fair distribution of affordable housing throughout regions and equitable public investment.

Jose Calderon
Professor Emeritus, Sociology and Chicano Studies at Pitzer College

Jose Zapata Calderon is Professor in Sociology and Chicano Studies at Pitzer College. Jose has had a long history of connecting his academic work with community organizing, student-based service learning, participatory action research, critical pedagogy, and multi-ethnic coalition building. He is the 2004 recipient of the Richard E. Cone Award for Excellence and Leadership in Cultivating Community Partnerships in Higher Education, presented by the California Campus Compact (CACC) to individuals who demonstrate building partnerships between communities and higher education. The United Farm Worker’s Union has honored him with their “Si Se Puede” award for his life-long contributions to the farm worker movement. As a participant ethnographer, he has published numerous articles and studies based on his community experiences and observations. Recent publications include: “Linking Critical Democratic Pedagogy, Multiculturalism, and Service Learning to a Project-Based Approach" in a book edited by the article author (Jose Calderon): Race, Poverty, and Social Justice: Multidisciplinary Perspectives Through Service Learning, Stylus Publishing, 2007; and Organizing Immigrant Workers: Action Research and Strategies in the Pomona Day Labor Center" (with Suzanne Foster and Silvia Rodriguez), in Latino Los Angeles, (edited by Enrique C. Ochoa and Gilda Laura Ochoa), 2006.

Douglas Foy
Founder and President, Serrafix

Douglas Foy is a founder and President of Serrafix, a strategic consulting firm focused on energy, transportation, and climate change. Prior to launching Serrafix in 2006, Mr. Foy served as the first Secretary of Commonwealth Development in the administration of Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. In leading this “super-Secretariat”, Mr. Foy oversaw the agencies of Transportation, Housing, Environment, and Energy, with combined annual capital budgets of $5 billion, operating budgets of $500 million, and a total workforce of more than 11,000. Before his service in the Romney administration, Mr. Foy served for 25 years as the President of the Conservation Law Foundation, New England’s premier environmental advocacy organization, with offices in all six New England states.

Among other awards, Mr. Foy has received: the President’s Environmental and Conservation Challenge Award, the country’s highest conservation award; the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service from the Woodrow Wilson Center, the national memorial to President Wilson; and the Order of the British Empire (OBE) from the Queen of England. Mr. Foy, a member of the 1968 USA Olympic Rowing Team and the 1969 USA National Rowing Team, graduated from Princeton University as a University Scholar in engineering and physics, attended Cambridge University in England as a Churchill Scholar in geophysics, and graduated from Harvard Law School.

Lani Guinier
Bennett Boskey Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

Lani Guinier, Bennett Boskey Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, was the first woman of color tenured at Harvard Law School. Before that appointment, she was a tenured professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Educated at Radcliffe College and Yale Law School, Lani worked in the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice and then headed the voting rights project at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in the 1980s. Lani has published many scholarly articles and books, including The Tyranny of the Majority (1994); Becoming Gentlemen: Women, Law School and Institutional Change (1997) (with co-authors Michelle Fine and Jane Balin); Lift Every Voice: Turning a Civil Rights Setback into a New Vision of Social Justice (1998); and The Miner's Canary:Enlisting Race, Resisting Power, Transforming Democracy (2002) (co-authored with Gerald Torres); Meritocracy, Inc.: How Wealth Became Merit, Class Became Race and Higher Education Became a Gift From the Poor to the Rich (Harvard University Press 2007). In her scholarly writings and in op-ed pieces, she has addressed issues of race, gender, and democratic decision making, and sought new ways of approaching questions like affirmative action while calling for candid public discourse on these topics. Lani’s excellence in teaching was honored by the 1994 Harvey Levin Teaching Award from the graduating class at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and the 2002 Sacks-Freund Award for Teaching Excellence from Harvard Law School.

Penda Hair
Founder and Co-Director, Advancement Project

Penda Hair is a Founder and Co-Director the Advancement Project. With offices in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, Advancement Project supports, and strengthens, the work of community organizations and lawyers engaged in projects to advance racial and social justice, and to broaden democratic participation. Advancement Project currently focuses on three areas: 1) opportunity to learn, 2) police accountability, and 3) power and democracy. Hair attended Harvard Law School, where she served as Supreme Court Note Editor of the Harvard Law Review. Subsequent to graduation, Hair clerked for Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the United States Supreme Court. Immediately following her clerkship, she joined the faculty at Columbia University Law School; teaching in the areas of civil rights, women’s rights, and federal taxation. In 1982, Hair joined the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and served its New York and Washington, D.C. offices.

Gerald Hudson
Executive Vice President, SEIU

Gerry Hudson has served as Executive Vice President of SEIU since June 2004, leading the union's long term care work through new strategies and campaigns and as a result SEIU's 580,000 long term care members are building a powerful voice in the workplace and the political arena for both themselves and for the seniors and people with disabilities they support. Hudson's outstanding commitment to labor, confronting the realities of long term care, and environmental justice spans decades. Recently honored by Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations for his extraordinary leadership, Hudson continues to have wide-ranging impact on the fight to improve the lives of working families and their communities. His dedication to addressing urban sprawl and the disproportionate impacts of environmental degradation on low-income and minority communities informed his participation in the first-ever U.S. labor delegation to the United Nations' climate change meeting in Bali in 2007. He has served on the advisory board of the Apollo Alliance, a labor-based organization that advocates for high-quality job creation in a clean energy economy. He's also served on the board for Redefining Progress, the nation's leading public policy think tank dedicated to developing innovative public policies that balance economic well-being, environmental preservation, and social justice.

Stewart Kwoh
Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles

Stewart Kwoh is the founding President and Executive Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles. Under Kwoh's leadership, Advancing Justice - LA has become the largest and most diverse legal assistance and civil rights organization targeting Asian Pacific American in the United States. He is also Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors for the Asian American Justice Center (AAJC), which was co-founded by Advancing Justice - LA in 1991. AAJC is the country's first national pan Asian civil rights organization.

Stewart Kwoh earned his Bachelor of Arts at UCLA and his Juris Doctorate degree from the UCLA Law School. He was a grader for the California State Bar Exam and has been President of the Southern California Chinese Lawyers Association. He is also an instructor at UCLA for “Asian Americans and the Law”.

With Stewart’s leadership the Advancing Justice - LA has become the largest Asian American legal services and civil rights organization in the U.S. Advancing Justice - LA provides services for over 15,000 individuals per year including those who seek to become U.S. citizens and who seek relief from domestic violence or cutoffs from government benefits. APALC has represented victims of hate violence and exploitation from sweatshops including workers who were enslaved in El Monte, California. Advancing Justice - LA has pioneered the development of programs, coalitions and projects that build bridges with other racial groups. One of its programs, Leadership Development in Interethnic Relations, has been featured several times in the L.A. Times and other media outlets. Advancing Justice - LA has over 40 talented staff, 700 volunteers, and a dedicated board of directors and advisors. In 1999-2000, Advancing Justice - LA led a statewide coalition to focus on census outreach. And in 2001, Advancing Justice - LA led a similar statewide effort with the Coalition of Asian Pacificcans have proposed a statewide redistricting plan.

Juan Leyton

Juan Leyton was a human rights activist in his native Chile, before moving to the Boston area where he became a community organizer. For the past five years, Juan served as the Executive Director of Neighbor to Neighbor Mass –a statewide organization promoting grassroots policies, leadership development, coalition and electoral work. He also worked as a program officer for the Solidago Foundation, a national foundation invested in developing a progressive movement through funding strategies. In addition, Juan was the Executive Director of City Life/Vida Urbana, a grassroots organization based in Jamaica Plain working on anti-displacement strategies. Juan has worked with organizations around the country on issues like worker and immigrant rights, community and labor-union coalition, tax reform, corporate accountability and gentrification. Lastly, Juan was selected as a Barr Fellow by the Barr foundation, and he was 2011 Mel King Community Fellow in CoLab. Juan is currently dedicated to consulting on important social issues in Latin American and the USA.

Otto Scharmer
Senior Lecturer at MIT, founding Chair of the Presencing Institute, and a founding member, MIT Green Hub

Dr. C. Otto Scharmer is a Senior Lecturer at MIT, the founding chair of the Presencing Institute, and a founding member of the MIT Green Hub. Otto has consulted with global companies, international institutions, and governments in North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. He has co-designed and delivered award-winning business leadership programs for client firms including Daimler, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Fujitsu, and Google. He also facilitates cross-sector programs for leaders in business, government, and civil society that focus on building people’s collective capacity to achieve profound innovation and change. Otto holds a Ph.D. in economics and management from Witten-Herdecke University in Germany. He introduced the theoretical framework and practice called “presencing” in his book Theory U: Leading from the Future as It Emerges (2007), and in Presence: An Exploration of Profound Change in People, Organizations, and Society (2005), co-authored with Peter Senge, Joseph Jaworski, and Betty Sue Flowers. With his colleagues, Otto has used presencing to facilitate profound innovation and change processes both within companies and across societal systems.

Peter Sigrist
PhD Candidate, Cornell University and Author of Civic Nature

Peter Sigrist is especially interested in how cities change over time. He recently completed research on the role of architecture in conflicts over land in Mumbai and the potential impacts of a proposed eco-city on Chongming Island near Shanghai. Peter’s formative experience includes setting up a carpentry workshop in the Dominican Republic, planting trees with Friends of the Urban Forest, working on a mangrove research site in Kenya, and volunteering at the Moscow State University Botanical Garden.

Peter holds a B.A. in international relations from Trinity College, and an M.Phil. in geography with a concentration in environment, society, and development from Cambridge University. At Cornell, he is studying the influence of economic transition on urban nature through a historical study of Moscow's public park system.

Peter is the author of Civic Nature and one of the founders of Polis.

Miguel A. Soto Class
President, Center for the New Economy

Mike Soto is the President for the Center for the New Economy in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He has had a wide range of experience in both the private and public sectors. In the private sector he has worked at law firms in Puerto Rico and the U.S. and in the banking sector as Assistant to the President of a bank in San Juan. He has also worked in the non-profit sector with California Rural Legal Assistance in San Francisco and has been involved with United Way and the Boys and Girls Clubs, where he served as a Board member, in Puerto Rico. In the Public Sector he has served as an appointed member of the Policy Group drafting a gubernatorial campaign platform and as Director of Public Policy and Legal Counsel in the Senate of Puerto Rico.

Mike has a B.A. from Yale University and a Juris Doctor from Vanderbilt University.

He is a past appointee by the Governor of Puerto Rico to the Board of Directors of the Corporation for National Service in Puerto Rico and to the Advisory Board of the Department of the Family. He has also been appointed by the President of the University of Puerto Rico to serve on the Board of Directors for the University Press. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Baldwin School of Puerto Rico; the Advisory Council for the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico; and the YouthSave Advisory Board at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C. He was selected as an Aspen Institute Ideas Fellow in 2008.

In 1999, Mike founded the Center for the New Economy (CNE), Puerto Rico’s first think-tank. CNE is an independent, nonprofit, research and policy development organization dedicated to promoting innovative economic development strategies. In 2003 CNE received the prestigious Zenith Award for Best Non-Profit from the Chamber of Commerce.

Mike has been a columnist for El Nuevo Día, Puerto Rico’s largest circulation daily, since 2003. His first book, The Economy of Puerto Rico: Restoring Growth, was published by the Brookings Institution in 2006.

Kent Wong
Director, UCLA Labor Center

Kent Wong is the Director of the UCLA Labor Center, where he teaches Labor Studies and Asian American Studies. The UCLA Labor Center has been a leading force for immigrant rights, worker rights, and labor and community coalitions in Los Angeles. Prior to the UCLA Labor Center, Kent served as staff attorney for the Service Employees International Union, #660, representing Los Angeles County workers. Kent also worked as the first staff attorney for the Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California, where he developed programs to serve the needs of Asian American workers. Kent served as the Founding President of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO, the first national organization of Asian union members and workers. He also has served as the President of the United Association for Labor Education, and the University and College Labor Education Association, national organizations of union and university labor educators. Kent has been actively developing international labor solidarity programs in the Pacific Rim with China, Japan, Vietnam, and Korea.