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Robert Balfanz

Everyone Graduates Center, Johns Hopkins University

Robert Balfanz, PhD, is a co-director of the Everyone Graduates Center and research scientist at the Center for Social Organization of Schools, Johns Hopkins University. He is the co-director of the Talent Development Middle and High School Project, which is currently working with more than 100 high-poverty secondary schools to develop, implement and evaluate comprehensive whole school reforms. He is also co-operator of the Baltimore Talent Development High School, an Innovation High School run in partnership with the Baltimore City Public School System. He has published widely on secondary school reform, high school dropouts, early warning systems and instructional interventions in high-poverty schools. Recent work includes Locating the Dropout Crisis, with co-author Nettie Legters, in which they identify the number and location of high schools with high dropout rates and What Your Community Can Do to End its Dropout Crisis. Dr. Balfanz is the first recipient of the Alliance For Excellent Education's Everyone a Graduate Award.

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Melody C. Barnes

Melody Barnes Solutions

Vice Provost for Global Student Leadership Initiatives

Senior Fellow at the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University

Melody Barnes is CEO of Melody Barnes Solutions LLC, a domestic strategy firm, and Vice Provost for Global Student Leadership Initiatives and Senior Fellow at the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University.  Ms. Barnes also serves as a Senior Director at the Albright Stonebridge Group, a global strategy firm; Chair of the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions; and on the Board of Directors of the Marguerite Casey Foundation.  From January 2009 until January 2012, she was Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. 

As Director of the Domestic Policy Council, Ms. Barnes provided strategic advice to President Obama and worked closely with members of the Cabinet coordinating the domestic policy agenda across the Administration. Under her leadership, innovative new policies, practices and partnerships were initiated to address significant national challenges, including education, health care and the federal government’s relationship with local governments and communities. Until July 2008, Ms. Barnes was the Executive Vice President for Policy at the Center for American Progress, a progressive research institute and think tank.  From December 1995 until March 2003, Ms. Barnes worked for Senator Edward M. Kennedy on the Senate Judiciary Committee; she served as his chief counsel from 1998 until she left the Committee in 2003.  Barnes’ experience also includes an appointment as Director of Legislative Affairs for the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and serving as a Principal at the D.C.-based consulting firm, The Raben Group.  

Ms. Barnes began her career as an attorney with Shearman & Sterling in New York City.Ms. Barnes received her law degree from the University of Michigan in 1989.In 1986, she received her bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she graduated with honors in history. Ms. Barnes’ media appearances include This Week with George Stephanopoulos, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Charlie Rose, Morning Joe and NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.  She currently resides in Washington, DC with her husband, Marland Buckner.


John J. Dilulio Jr. 

Frederic Fox Leadership Professor of Politics, Religion, and Civic Society

John J. Dilulio Jr. is a Frederic Fox Leadership Professor of Politics, Religion, and Civil Society and Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. He serves as Faculty Director of the Robert A. Fox Leadership Program. During his leave from Penn in academic year 2000-2001, he served as Assistant to the President of the United States, and first Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.


Professor Dilulio is a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, where he directed the Center for Public Management. For thirteen years, he was Professor of Politics and Public Affairs at Princeton University. He has authored, Institutions and Policies (with James Q. Wilson, Houghton-Mifflin, ninth edition, 2004); What’s God Got to Do with the American Experiment? (E.J. Dionne, Brookings, 2000); and Medicaid and Devolution (with Frank Thompson, Brookings, 1998).


Professor Dilulio received his Ph.D. from Harvard University, where he also served as a Head Resident Tutor. He is winner of the David N. Kershaw Award of the Association of Public Policy Analysis and Management, and the Leonard D. White Award of the American Political Science Association (APSA).


Margo Drakos

Founder & CEO, ArtistYear

Committed to a life of service that harnesses the innovative power of technology and the transformative potential of the arts, Margo Drakos is a former professional cellist turned entrepreneur and a proud U.S. Military spouse. Margo is Founder and CEO of ArtistYear, an organization born out of the traditions of service, dedication to artistic excellence and expression, and obligation towards our fellow citizens, and the first National AmeriCorps program for artists to serve to our nation. ArtistYear recruits, trains, and supports recent arts graduates across disciplines to serve as full-time teaching artists in high-poverty schools across our nation to ensure that all students, no matter their economic status, have arts education. In 2018-2019, 55 ArtistYear AmeriCorps Fellows are serving in 51 low-income schools, delivering 93,000 hours of arts instruction to nearly 12,000 vulnerable students twice per-week. Margo spent the past decade working with private and public sector institutions leveraging technology and strategic alignment to realize scale, revenue generation, and sustainability. Until 2017, Margo spent four years as Chief Technology Officer at McChrystal Group LLC.


Margo began working as a professional musician at age four, performing on national radio and television commercials.  Over the course of her career as a cellist she performed as a soloist, chamber, and orchestral musician on the world’s preeminent stages on five continents. Margo entered music conservatory at fifteen as a double major in cello and composition and graduated from the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in 1999. From 2002-2008, she served as Artist-in-Residence and faculty member at Manhattan School of Music and Aspen Music Festival & School. Margo’s positions included cellist of the American String Quartet, Principal Cellist of the Oregon, San Diego, and Seattle Symphonies, and Associate Principal of Pittsburgh Symphony. She has recorded for Sony Classical and Arabesque.


In 2007, embracing the power of technology to democratize access to the arts, Margo co-founded and led her first start-up,, the world’s leading provider of web and mobile technology to the performing arts. In that role, Margo led strategic deals with Tesitura and Google.  In 2010, Margo was honored as a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, a community of extraordinary global leaders under forty. Margo received a Master’s in Human Rights from Columbia University and holds Executive Degrees in Global Leadership and Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School and Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. Her publications have appeared in the Aspen Institute Magazine, The International Affairs Review, The Stanford Social Innovation Review, and The Cornell International Law Journal. Margo lives with her family in Southern Pines, North Carolina.


Dr. Sylvia Earle

High Seas Initiative

President and Chairman, Mission Blue

The Sylvia Earle Alliance

National Geographic Society Explorer in Residence

Sylvia Earle is Co-Chair of the High Seas Initiative, President and Chairman of Mission Blue/ The Sylvia Earle Alliance. She is a National Geographic Society Explorer in Residence, and is called Her Deepness by the New Yorker and the New York Times, Living Legend by the Library of Congress, and first Hero for the Planet by Time Magazine. She is an oceanographer, explorer, author, and lecturer with experience as a field research scientist, government official, and director for several corporate and non-profit organizations.


Dr. William Galston

Senior Fellow, Governance Studies

The Ezra K. Zilkha Chair in Governance Studies

Brookings Institution

Dr. Galston is a political theorist and author of 6 books and more than 100 articles, who both studies and participates in American politics and domestic policy. Galston was Deputy Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy during the first Clinton Administration and Executive Director of the National Commission on Civic Renewal, which was chaired by Sam Nunn and William Bennett.


He has served as Director of Economic and Social Programs at the Roosevelt Center for American Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., as chief speech writer for John Anderson's National Unity campaign, as issues director for Walter Mondale's presidential campaign and as senior advisor to Albert Gore Jr. during his run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988. Since 1995, Galston has served as a founding member of the Board of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and as chair of the Campaign's Task Force on Religion and Public Values. Galston's teaching and research interests include social policy, family policy, normative analysis, education policy and civic renewal.


Michael J. Gerson

Washington Post Columnist

Michael Gerson is a nationally syndicated columnist who appears twice weekly in the Washington Post. He is the author of Heroic Conservatism (HarperOne, 2007) and co-author of City of Man: Religion and Politics in a New Era (Moody, 2010). Gerson serves as Senior Advisor at ONE, a bipartisan organization dedicated to the fight against extreme poverty and preventable diseases. He is the Hastert Fellow at the J. Dennis Hastert Center for Economics, Government, and Public Policy at Wheaton College in Illinois. He serves on the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, the Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Committee on Conscience, the Board of Directors of Bread for the World, the Initiative for Global Development Leadership Council, and the Board of Directors of the International Rescue Committee. He is co-Chair of The Poverty Forum and Co-Chair of the Catholic/Evangelical Dialogue with Dr. Ron Sider. From 2006 to 2009, Gerson was the Roger Hertog Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).


Before joining CFR in 2006, Gerson was a top aide to President George W. Bush as Assistant to the President for Policy and Strategic Planning. He was a key administration advocate for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the President's Malaria Initiative (PMI), the fight against global sex trafficking, and funding for women’s justice and empowerment issues. Prior to that appointment, he served in the White House as Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Presidential Speechwriting and Assistant to the President for Speechwriting and Policy Advisor. Gerson joined Bush's presidential campaign in early 1999 as chief speechwriter and a senior policy adviser.


He was previously a senior editor covering politics at U.S. News and World Report. Gerson was a speechwriter and policy adviser for Jack Kemp and a speechwriter for Bob Dole during the 1996 presidential campaign. He has also served Senator Dan Coats of Indiana as Policy Director. Gerson is a graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois. He grew up in the St. Louis area and now lives with his wife and sons in northern Virginia.


Stephen Goldsmith

Daniel Paul Professor of Government,

Harvard's Kennedy School of Government

Stephen Goldsmith is the Daniel Paul Professor of Government and the Director of the Innovations in American Government Program at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. He is also Chairman of the Corporation for National and Community Service. He previously served as Special Advisor to President Bush on faith-based and not for profit initiatives and as chief domestic policy advisor to the 2000 Bush for President campaign.


While serving two terms as Mayor of Indianapolis, Goldsmith earned a national reputation for innovations in government. As Mayor of America’s 12th largest city, he reduced government spending, cut the city’s bureaucracy, held the line on taxes, eliminated counter-productive regulations, and identified more than $400 million in savings. He reinvested the savings by putting more police officers on the street and implemented a $1.3 billion infrastructure improvement program called Building Better Neighborhoods. His neighborhood empowerment initiatives involved hundreds of community and faith based partnerships in the widely acclaimed Front Porch Alliance.


Prior to his two terms as Mayor, Goldsmith was Marion County District Attorney for 13 years.

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Jessica A. Milano

Vice President and Director of ESG Research for Calvert Research and Management

Jessica Milano is Vice President and Director of ESG Research for Calvert Research and Management, an investment management firm based in Washington, DC that invests across global capital markets. She is responsible for overseeing the firm’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) research on global securities, which focuses on identifying issuers that create value for long-term investors in a positive manner that is sustainable to our environment and inclusive of all people and communities.  From 2012 to 2017, Jessica served in the Obama Administration, first at the Small Business Administration and then at the U.S. Treasury Department where she oversaw policy initiatives to connect more families, small businesses, and communities to safe and affordable credit.


As Deputy Assistant Secretary for Small Business, Community Development, and Housing Policy she managed three Treasury programs focused on access to capital; the Small Business Lending Fund (SBLF), the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), and the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund.  Collectively, the SBLF and SSBCI provided $5.5 billion in capital to support nearly $30 billion in small business lending or investment nationally during her tenure.  Jessica also facilitated the historic award of $7 billion in New Markets Tax Credits by the CDFI Fund and signed on behalf of the Secretary more than $1.1 billion in bond guarantees under the newly created CDFI Bond Guarantee program, which provides long-term credit at below-market interest rates to economically underserved communities.  She also directed Treasury’s research on how advances in financial technology and the availability of data are changing the way consumers and small businesses access credit.


Jessica has extensive economic consulting and financial services experience. She previously held positions as Director of Research at Compass Lexecon, an economic consulting firm, and with Promontory Interfinancial Network, a financial services firm with a network of over 3,000 financial institutions. She also was a policy consultant at Civic Enterprises where she ran projects for a wide variety of clients including AARP, the Gates Foundation, OpportunityNation, and the White House Council for Community Solutions.


Jessica is the author of several policy reports for the Progressive Policy Institute on topics including economic opportunity, job creation, and investment and innovation and a member of the Board of Directors of Small Business Majority, a national small business advocacy organization.  She holds a MA in Applied Economics from The Johns Hopkins University and received her BSc in Government from the London School of Economics. She lives in Maryland with her husband and daughter.


Robert D. Putnam

Peter and Isabel Malkin professor of Public Policy, Harvard University

Robert D. Putnam is a Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in American politics, international relations, comparative politics, and public policy. He is the founder of The Saguaro Seminar: Civic Engagement in America, a program that brings together leading practitioners and thinkers for a multi-year discussion to develop broad-scale, actionable ideas to fortify the nation's civic connectedness.


Raised in a small town in the Midwest, Putnam graduated from Swarthmore College in 1963, attended Balliol College, Oxford, and received his PhD from Yale University in 1970. He is the recipient of honorary degrees from Swarthmore, Ohio State University, Stockholm University, and the University of Antwerp. Putnam has authored or co-authored ten books and more than 30 scholarly works, including Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community (2000).


Timothy Shriver

Chairman & CEO of Special Olympics

Timothy P. Shriver is the Chairman of Special Olympics. In that capacity, he serves 2.5 million Special Olympics athletes and their families in more than 165 countries. He has helped transform Special Olympics into a movement that focuses on acceptance, inclusion, and respect for individuals with intellectual disabilities in all corners of the globe.


In his eleven years at the helm of Special Olympics, Shriver launched the organization’s most ambitious growth agenda leading to the recruitment of over 1.5 million new athletes around the world. He has worked with the leaders of China to initiate a thriving program in their country and supported their efforts to bring the 2007 Special Olympics World Games to Shanghai. He has also worked with world leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Bertie Ahern, Rafiq Hariri, Thabo Mbeki, Julius Nyerere, Hosni Mubarak, and Shimon Peres to advance the growth of the Special Olympics mission and vision while challenging nations to adopt more supportive and just policies. He has spearheaded programs in developing or war-torn countries such as Afghanistan, Bosnia Herzegovina, and Iraq.


Shriver has also created exciting new Special Olympics initiatives in athlete leadership, cross-cultural research, health, education, and family support. Among them, Special Olympics Healthy Athletes® has become the world’s largest public health screening and education program for people with intellectual disabilities, and Special Olympics Get Into It®, together with Unified Sports®, promotes inclusion and acceptance around the world. In addition, he has worked to garner more legislative attention and government support for issues of concern to the Special Olympics community, testifying before Congress on numerous occasions.


As part of his passion for promoting the gifts of the forgotten, Shriver has harnessed the power of Hollywood to share the stories of inspiration and change, co-producing DreamWorks Studios’ 1997 release, “Amistad,” and Disney Studios’ 2000 release, “The Loretta Claiborne Story.” He is Executive Producer of “The Ringer,” a Farrelly Brothers’ film, and “Front of the Class,” a Hallmark Hall of Fame television movie. He has produced or co-produced shows for ABC, TNT, and NBCnetworks, and made broadcast appearances on The Today Show, CNN, MTV, and Nickelodeon’s World of Difference.


Before joining Special Olympics, Shriver was and remains a leading educator focusing on the social and emotional factors in learning. He has worked in substance abuse prevention, violence, dropout prevention, and teen pregnancy prevention. He created the New Haven Public Schools’ Social Development Project, now considered the leading school-based prevention effort in the U.S., and co-founded the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), the leading research organization in the U.S. in the field of social and emotional learning. Shriver currently chairs CASEL.


Shriver earned his undergraduate degree from Yale University, a Master's degree in Religion and Religious Education from Catholic University, and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Connecticut. He is the recipient of numerous honors, including honorary degrees from Loyola University, New England College, and Albertus Magnus College; the Medal of the City of Athens, Greece; the Order de Manuel Amador Guerrera of the Republic of Panama; the 1995 Connecticut Citizen of the Year; the Surgeon General’s Medallion; and the 2007 Lions Humanitarian Award. He has authored articles in many leading publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Commonwealth magazine.


Shriver serves on the Boards of the Education Commission of the States’ Compact for Learning and Citizenship, WPP Group, and Neogenix Oncology, Inc. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.


He and his wife, Linda Potter, reside in the Washington, D.C. area with their five children.


Randal C. Teague

Legal Counsel

Mr. Teague serves as counsel to Civic. He began his international practice in the late 1970s as counsel with Boston-headquartered Cabot Corporation, where he had responsibilities for the legal requirements of subsidiary corporations and affiliates in Europe, Latin America, Asia and Australia. In the intervening years, he has represented for-profit and non-profit corporations as to the now former Soviet Union and Central and Eastern Europe more broadly, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East and southern and east Africa.


Mr. Teague began his government relations career as the Republican clerk of the House Committee on Public Works (now House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure) where he worked principally on federal environmental remediation projects and related legislation. He served as chief of staff and legislative counsel to the Rep. Jack F. Kemp, a member of the House Committee on Appropriations and later President George H.W. Bush’s Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and his party’s 1996 Vice Presidential candidate. He had previously served as an economic policy analyst in the Executive Office of the President of the United States. Today, he heads Vorys’ federal legislative and related regulatory practice as to appropriations, environment remediation and civil works, energy, transportation, taxation, financial institutions, international trade and finance, and agriculture.


Mr. Teague is past chairman of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Advisory Committee for Voluntary Foreign Aid, a trustee of EARTH University in Costa Rica, a director of the Air Force Academy Foundation in Colorado Springs, and a senior councilor to the Atlantic Council of the United States. He is chairman and chief executive officer of The Fund for American Studies in association with Georgetown University, a co-founder of its American Institute on Political and Economic Systems at Charles University in Prague, and the founder of its International Institute for Political and Economic Studies in Greece.


Mr. Teague is admitted to practice fourteen federal and state jurisdictions, including the Supreme Court of the United States


Practice Areas:
Administrative Law; Agribusiness; Alternative Energy; Business & Trade; Directors’ & Officers’ Liability; Foreign Investment; Formation & Business Planning; International Banking; International Law; International Transactions; Legislative Practice; Non-profit & Tax-exempt Organizations; Taxation Law; Trade Associations; and Transportation Law.

In Memoriam

Amy Kass

James Q. Wilson

Senator Harris L. Wofford

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