Board of Governors
PAUL N.D. THORNELL
Paul Thornell brings over 20 years of experience serving in leadership roles in non-profit organizations, the White House, Capitol Hill, presidential campaigns, and the private sector. His work in policy, politics, regulatory, and advocacy arenas has provided him with a distinct variety of perspectives and shows a record of demonstrated results in government, philanthropic, and corporate sectors.
In government, Thornell served at the White House as Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs for Vice President Al Gore, where he was a senior liaison for Vice President Gore with members of Congress, promoting the Clinton/Gore administration’s policies and directing the vice president’s activities and communication with U.S. Senators and Representatives. He worked in the U.S. Senate on the leadership staff of former Sen. Democratic Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) as the leadership’s chief liaison to education, children’s, social service, civil rights, religious organizations, governors, and mayors. He also worked in the state office of former U.S. Sen. Harris Wofford (D-PA).
In the non-profit sector, Thornell served as Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Field Leadership at United Way of America (now United Way Worldwide), the nation’s largest charity. In this role, Thornell developed and advocated on behalf of United Way’s public policy agenda before Congress and the administration; led the organization’s relationship management work with the nearly 1,400 local United Ways; and oversaw United Way of America’s work in disaster preparedness and response.
Thornell is currently a principal at Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas. He has previous experience working in the multi-client world as Managing Director for Public Affairs in Hill and Knowlton’s Washington. D.C. office managing a variety of clients, for whom he provided strategic counsel, directed government relations, and developed strategies on media relations and third-party engagement. Thornell has also worked at Citigroup on a range of policy and regulatory issues such as capital markets and corporate governance.
In addition to his formal professional roles, Thornell has served as an informal advisor to Senate and House Democratic leaders and committee chairs in an effort to increase diversity among senior-level staff on Capitol Hill. Frequently speaking before top Senate and House staff, convening discussion sessions on the topic with corporate executives and other thought leaders, and consulting with Senators and House members, Thornell has demonstrated his commitment to creating a more diverse Capitol Hill. He has also played a leading role in ensuring diversity in appointments to key executive branch and independent agency leadership positions. Further, Thornell has volunteered on presidential, Senate, and House campaigns in Pennsylvania, Missouri, Colorado, and Massachusetts.
Paula Boyd is currently a Senior Director at Microsoft Corporation, where she partners with colleagues to develop Microsoft’s communications policy positions and advocates those positions before the Federal Communications Commission, Congress, and the administration. At Microsoft, Paula champions policy frameworks that advance cloud and communications services involving issues such as spectrum, broadband, VoIP, robocalling, accessibility, and satellite policy.
Prior to joining Microsoft in 2002, Paula was Senior Counsel to the Senate Subcommittee on Communications. She joined the Subcommittee in April of 1997 and while there, she drafted legislation, developed legislative strategy, organized hearings and briefings, managed consideration of bills on the Senate Floor, and advocated the Senate position in House and Senate Conferences. She handled issues such as broadband deployment, spectrum management, digital television transition, and competition in the local telecommunications marketplace.
Paula joined the Office of the General Counsel of the Federal Communications Commission in February of 1994 where she reviewed draft orders involving, broadcast issues and worked on issues involving tax certificates and preferences for designated entities in PCS. In September of 1994, Paula began working with the International Bureau on satellite policy issues. Paula began her legal career at Verner, Liipfert, McPherson and Hand in 1997 where she worked on a variety of litigation and transportation issues.
Kenneth Jones is the Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for the MacArthur Foundation. He is responsible for all aspects of the finance, accounting, tax, audit, information technology, grants management, administrative services, core services and facilities functions for the foundation. He also serves as the Chief Equity Officer for the foundation. In addition, Ken implements and evaluates the MacArthur Foundation’s financial objectives and performance to support MacArthur’s priorities and programs.
Prior to joining the MacArthur Foundation, Ken was the Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for the Annie E. Casey Foundation. In this role, he oversaw the Finance, Grants Management, Business Technology and Facilities & Operations functions as well as the disaster recovery & relief process for the Foundation. He traveled extensively in African and Southeast Asia as CFO for Danya International, a public health and education organization and Jhpiego, a nonprofit international health affiliate of Johns Hopkins University. He also previously held corporate finance positions at Ford Motor Company, Pfizer Corporation, and the Prudential.
Ken received his MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management, a master’s degree in economics from the University at Buffalo and a bachelor’s degree from Boston University.
Ken serves on the boards of the Council of Foundations, ABFE, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, the National Prevention Science Coalition, the Mission Investors Exchange, the Thurgood Marshall Academy, Think of Us, the Public Justice Center, the Southern Education Foundation, the Center for Urban Families, the Steve Fund and Lutheran World Relief. He is a Who’s Who Black Baltimore recipient, Arthur Vining Davis Fellow for the Aspen Ideas Festival, Presidential Scholar at Concordia College – New York, Smart CEO Magazine Executive Management Award recipient as well as a DCA Live Star CFO awardee. Ken was in the 2nd Cohort of the Council of Foundations’ Career Pathways Program.
Spencer Overton is the President of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, which was founded in 1970 and is America’s Black think tank. He is also a tenured Professor of Law at George Washington University in Washington, DC.
Spencer is the author of the book Stealing Democracy: The New Politics of Voter Suppression (W.W. Norton) and several academic articles and popular commentaries on voting rights, race, and public policy, including State Power to Regulate Social Media Companies to Prevent Voter Suppression, 53 U.C. Davis Law Review 1793 (2020).
Spencer’s work as a commissioner on the Carter-Baker Election Commission laid the groundwork for modern arguments against unnecessary voting restrictions that reduce turnout by legitimate voters. His work on the Commission on Presidential Nomination Timing and Scheduling resulted in Iowa restoring voting rights to over 80,000 returning citizens. He was also a part of a group of commissioners that worked to successfully move more diverse states like South Carolina and Nevada to the beginning of the modern Democratic presidential primary process. He has testified several times before Congress on voting rights, election administration, and election disinformation.
Spencer chaired the 2008 Obama campaign’s Government Reform Policy Committee, and led the 2008 Obama transition team's Election Assistance Commission agency review group. During the Obama Administration he served as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Policy (
Spencer has also served on the boards of Dēmos, the American Constitution Society, and Common Cause. He has practiced law at the firm Debevoise & Plimpton, clerked for U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Damon J. Keith, and graduated with honors from both Hampton University and Harvard Law School.
LaTosha Brown is an award-winning visionary thought leader, institution builder, Cultural Activist and Artist, and Connector. She is a nationally recognized, “go-to” expert in Black Voting Rights and Voter Suppression, Black Women’s Empowerment, and Philanthropy.
Her voice is the nexus between the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Power Movement, and Black Lives Matter.
“There is power in my voice! It is a divine gift that I use to connect different worlds. I bridge the philanthropy world to the grassroots community, traditional politics to grassroots politics, and practitioners to the scholarship of movement building.”
LaTosha is the Co-Founder of Black Voters Matter, Black Voters Matter Fund and Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute. These institutions are community investment and power building models designed to build capacity of Black led organizations and boost Black voter registration and turnout, as well as increase political power in marginalized, predominantly Black communities.
LaTosha is also the Visionary, Founder, and Co-Anchor of a regional network called the Southern Black Girls & Women’s Consortium. This is a $100 million, 10-year initiative to invest in organizations that serve Black women and girls. The goal of the consortium is to create a new approach to philanthropy by allowing every component of the program, inception to execution, to be created by Black girls and women in the South.
Ms. Brown is also the 2020 Hauser Leader at the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School, the 2020 Leader in Practice at Harvard Kennedy School’s Women and Public Policy Program, and a 2020-2021 American Democracy fellow at the Charles Warren Center at Harvard.
Michael Collins is a Vice President at JFF, a national non-profit that accelerates the alignment and transformation of the American education and workforce systems to ensure economic advancement for all. He leads the Racial Economic Equity Initiative, an effort to increase economic opportunity and advancement for Black learners and workers through disrupting occupational segregation, increasing employer uptake of equitable talent practices, and convening to source big ideas, policy incentives, and financial investment to address the Black-white wealth gap.
Prior to leading the Racial Economic Equity Initiative, Mr. Collins led JFF’s postsecondary practice where he developed the State Policy Network, a multi-state collaboration to increase college completion, and led the organization’s participation in prominent postsecondary reform initiatives, including Achieving the Dream, Completion by Design, and the American Association of Community Colleges Pathways Project.
An inveterate collaborator, he has partnered with Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program, Complete College America, the Institute for Higher Education Policy, the Charles A. Dana Center, the Community College Research Center, and a host of other leading social impact organizations to scale education and workforce innovation.
Mr. Collins is a frequent public speaker on the future of work and has written for Bloomberg, Fortune, the Hechinger Report, and Inside Higher ED. He is co-editor of the book, Teaching Students About the World of Work: A Challenge to Postsecondary Educators.
Mr. Collins serves on the boards of the National Student Clearinghouse, the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, the Higher Ed Equity Network and serves as a commissioner for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Prior to joining JFF, he served as an Assistant Commissioner at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Mr. Collins holds a Master of Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin.
Brian Dixon is one of the first and youngest African-American Partners at a Silicon Valley venture capital firm. He is committed to making sure entrepreneurs of all backgrounds have access to advice and capital in order to make their businesses succeed. For the past ten years, he has worked his way up from intern to Partner at Kapor Capital. Brian is a Kauffman Fellow, Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT) Fellow, and two-time tech startup founder. Brian has an MBA from F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College and a Bachelor of Science in Computer and Information Science from Northeastern University.
To date, Brian has shared his investment experience on over 50 stages, including TechCrunch Disrupt, SXSW, and SOCAP. He has also been featured on NPR and has earned several recognitions, including being named one of Business Insider’s 46 Most Important African Americans in Technology.
Chanelle Hardy is an attorney and public policy expert dedicated to advancing policies that promote economic growth, opportunity and justice. She is a member of the Public Policy team at Google, focusing on Strategic Outreach and External Partnerships. Most recently, she had the honor to serve as Chief of Staff to Federal Communications Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, the first woman to serve as Commission Chair and the only African American currently on the dais. Before that she led the Washington Bureau of the National Urban League - the nation's oldest civil rights and urban advocacy organization; was Counsel and Chief of Staff to former US Congressman Artur Davis; and served as an FTC staff attorney, Fellow and Counsel at Consumers Union, and fifth grade teacher. She is a member of the boards of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies and the Black Women’s Health Imperative.
BARBARA L. JOHNSON
Barbara L. Johnson is a nationally known employment law attorney who represents employers in a wide variety of employment matters, including litigation and trials, day-to-day advice and counsel, employment discrimination and wage and hour claims, regulatory compliance, and diversity, equity and inclusion programs and handles investigations, arbitrations and mediations. Ms. Johnson has over 30 years of experience in assisting employers of all sizes in developing innovative approaches to address their workplace challenges. After fourteen years as an employment law Partner in a leading global law firm and handling high-profile class and collective actions, Ms. Johnson left the firm in December 2015 to establish BLJohnsonLaw PLLC. She serves as Counsel to Potter & Murdock PC. Barbara has been a Partner in a litigation boutique in Houston, Texas and in-house counsel for a major chemical company in Michigan.
Ms. Johnson is a graduate of Hampton University and William and Mary Law School. She is Secretary of the Board of Visitors of the College of William and Mary and a former President of the William and Mary Law School Foundation. Barbara is active in a number of professional associations, including the National Employment Law Council (immediate past President), the American Bar Association (Fellow in the College of Labor and Employment Law), and the Association of Workplace Investigators.
Ashley Lewis is the Deputy Director of the Office of Communications and Engagement for the regulator Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB). Here she leads the PCAOB’s communications and outreach efforts.
Before joining the PCAOB in February 2023, Ashley was Senior Vice President at Edelman, the world’s largest public relations agency. Here she led partnerships with global financial services companies to help them protect, promote and evolve their reputation.
Prior to Edelman, Ashley served as Communication Director for the United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs under the leadership of Chairman Sherrod Brown. In this role, Ashley oversaw communication strategy, messaging, and outreach as it related to key policy and regulatory proposals and initiatives before the committee and Congress. Ashley also served in the Obama-Biden Administration as Senior Communication Advisor to the Chairman at the Export-Import Bank of the United States. Prior to EXIM Bank, Ashley had previous roles at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, AFL-CIO, and U.S. House of Representatives.
In 2022, Ashley received the ‘Emerging Leaders Award’ from Washington Women in Public Relations, Inc., in the category of Global/Large Agency. In 2019, Ashley was the recipient of Women in Housing and Finance’s ’40 Under 40’ Award.
Ashley graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in mass media communication and public relations from Michigan State University.
DR. SAFIYA NOBLE
Dr. Safiya U. Noble is an internet studies scholar and Professor of Gender Studies and African American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where she serves as the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry (C2i2). She holds affiliations in the School of Education & Information Studies, and is a Research Associate at the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford where she is a Commissioner on the Oxford Commission on AI & Good Governance (OxCAIGG). In 2021, she was recognized as a MacArthur Foundation Fellow (also known as the “Genius Award”) for her ground-breaking work on algorithmic discrimination, which prompted her founding of a non-profit, Equity Engine, to accelerate investment in companies, education, and networks driven by women of color. She is the author of a best-selling book on racist and sexist algorithmic bias in commercial search engines, entitled Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism (NYU Press), which has been widely-reviewed in scholarly and popular publications.
Dr. Noble is the recipient of a Hellman Fellowship and the UCLA Early Career Award. Her academic research focuses on the design of digital media platforms on the internet and their impact on society. Her work is both sociological and interdisciplinary, marking the ways that digital media impacts and intersects with issues of race, gender, culture, and technology. She is regularly quoted for her expertise on issues of algorithmic discrimination and technology bias by national and international press including The Guardian, the BBC, CNN International, USA Today, Wired, Time, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, The New York Times, and a host of local news and podcasts. Her popular writing includes critiques on the loss of public goods to Big Tech companies, as featured in Noema magazine.
Safiya is the co-editor of two edited volumes: The Intersectional Internet: Race, Sex, Culture and Class Online and Emotions, Technology & Design. She currently serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Critical Library and Information Studies, and is the co-editor of the Commentary & Criticism section of the Journal of Feminist Media Studies. She is a member of several academic journal and advisory boards, and holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Library & Information Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a B.A. in Sociology from California State University, Fresno where she was recently awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award for 2018. Recently, she was named in the “Top 25 Doers, Dreamers, and Drivers of 2019” by Government Technology magazine.
Dr. Noble is a board member of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, serving those vulnerable to online harassment. She was recently appointed as a board member for the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, America’s Black think tank. In 2020, she was awarded the Distinguished Alumna Award from the iSchool Alumni Association (ISAA), and is also the inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Award winner from the Illinois Alumni Association at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
DR. DIANNE M. PINDERHUGHES
Dr. Dianne Pinderhughes is a professor of Africana Studies and political science at the University of Notre Dame. Before Notre Dame, Pinderhughes taught at Dartmouth College and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her teaching focuses on racial and ethnic politics in the U.S., voting rights policy, and American urban politics. Pinderhughes’ research addresses issues of inequality with a focus on racial and ethnic politics and public policy, explores the creation of American civil society institutions in the twentieth century, and analyzes their influence on the formation of voting rights policy.
Her publications include her book, Race and Ethnicity in Chicago Politics: A Reexamination of Pluralist Theory. In a current study, Pinderhughes also examines the intersection of race and gender in American electoral representation, the Gender and Multicultural Leadership Project.
Pinderhughes recently served as the president of the American Political Science Association from 2007 to 2008. She holds a B.A. from Albertus Magnus College along with an M.A. and a Ph.D., both in political science, from the University of Chicago.
CARLA THOMPSON PAYTON
Carla Thompson Payton is Vice President for Program Strategy for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. In this role, she supports the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s efforts to promote thriving children, working families, and equitable communities. As a member of the executive team, she provides leadership and management for the creative and strategic direction of programming from design through implementation, evaluation, and dissemination.
Prior to joining the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in 2012, Carla was Deputy Director of the Office of Child Care at the Administration for Children and Families in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C. She was the Assistant Superintendent for Early Childhood Education for the District of Columbia, where she initiated the first publicly funded pre-kindergarten program. Prior to this, she has held positions with the Department of Education and Department of Public Welfare for the state of Pennsylvania; United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania in Philadelphia; and the U.S. Department of Education.
Carla received her bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York. She holds a master’s degree in social work and a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
Tony Williams currently serves as the Vice President of Government Affairs and Local Advocacy for Comcast NBCUniversal. He is the lead strategist for Comcast’s work with over 6,000 City and County governments across the United States and manages the company’s engagement with local intergovernmental associations and Chambers of Commerce.
Previously Tony was the Executive Director of External Affairs for Comcast NBCUniversal where he developed partnerships with civil rights, consumer, and community organizations to expand free speech, civil rights, and economic inclusion within Technology and Media.
Prior to coming back to Washington, Tony led outreach and partnerships for Comcast’s Internet Essentials program. Under his leadership, Comcast built partnerships with thousands of school districts, libraries, community-based organizations, government agencies, and federal, state, and local elected officials to connect low-income Americans to broadband at home while ensuring that they also have the digital literacy skills and tools necessary to thrive in a 21 st century economy. Today Internet Essentials is the largest and most impactful broadband adoption program in the world connecting over 8 million low-income Americans to Broadband Internet.
Tony currently serves as the Chair of the Board of Trustees for DC Public Libraries, as well as the Washington Leadership Academy, and is on the boards of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, and the National Coalition for Black Civic Participation. He is also an advisor for the DC Chapter of the New Leaders Council.
Before Comcast Tony worked for U.S. Senator Norm Coleman and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He is a 2020 Seeding Disruption Fellow, a 2016 Presidential Leadership Scholar, a 2016 graduate of the NAMIC Executive Leadership Development Program at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, and has received a Master’s in Communications and Journalism from American University, as well as a bachelor’s degree in History and International Relations from Macalester College.
Dr. William B. Boyd
The Johnson Foundation
Eddie N. Williams
President and CEO
Eddie Williams and Associates, LLC
John D. Wolfensohn
President and CEO
Wolfensohn and Company
Dr. Kenneth B. Clark
Served from 1970 to 2005
Louis E. Martin
Served from 1970 to 1997