President Emerita of the ERA Coalition and Fund for Women's Equality
Jessica Neuwirth is President Emerita of the ERA Coalition/Fund for Women’s Equality, and author of Equal Means Equal, Why the Time for the ERA is Now.
She is also the Director of Donor Direct Action and a founder of Equality Now.
Jessica has worked for Amnesty International and for the United Nations. As Special Advisor on Sexual Violence to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2010, she organized the UN high-level panel on reparations for victims of sexual violence in the DR Congo. She currently serves as the Rita E. Hauser Director of the Human Rights Program at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute of Hunter College.
Chair of the ERA Coalition
Former Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney has spent her entire career working to advance women’s rights. In 2014, Ms. Maloney suggested to Jessica Neuwirth that they should work together to create an organization dedicated to passing the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which prompted Ms. Neuwirth to form the ERA Coalition. Ms. Maloney is thrilled to join as the Fund for Women’s Equality Chair as part of the ERA Coalition to focus on ensuring that the ERA becomes part of the Constitution.
First elected to city council 1982-1992, she created and chaired the contracts committee which oversaw a quarter of the city’s budget. She authored and passed many accountability and reform contract laws and what was called, at the time, the toughest and best campaign finance bill in the nation. For 30 years, Ms. Maloney represented parts of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Ms. Maloney was first elected to Congress in 1992 during the “Year of the Woman. She became the 13th woman in History to chair a congressional committee first serving as the chair of the Joint Economic Committee as well as the first woman to chair the powerful House Committee on Oversight and Reform.
During her tenure in Congress, Maloney authored and passed more than 80 measures, 12 of which had presidential bill signings which are reserved for the most historic and transformational pieces of legislation. Ms. Maloney passed a series of bills that secured health care and compensation for the 9/11 heroes and others harmed by the toxins released when the Twin Towers fell. She passed the Credit Cardholder’s Bill of Rights to protect consumers from abuses by financial institutions, saving them roughly $16 billion a year. She passed the Postal Reform Act to help the U.S. postal service become solvent. She passed the Never Again Education Act to expand Holocaust education across the United States. And she obtained roughly $10 billion in federal funding for major infrastructure projects such as the Second Avenue Subway, East Side Access, the replacement of the Kosciuszko Bridge and repairs to the L Train.
Among the measures she was most proud to author and pass were bills designed to improve women’s lives, including legislation to expand Medicare to cover annual mammograms for women, to require colleges and universities to publicize information about their records on sexual violence, to encourage law enforcement to target those who patronize sex trafficking victims and to create the Smithsonian National Women’s Museum on the Washington Mall. Her Debbie Smith Act provides funding for law enforcement to process DNA evidence collected from rape victims and has been called the most important anti-rape bill Congress ever passed. The story of the bill’s passage was made into a film called A Life Interrupted. Ms. Maloney also secured passage of the nation’s first ever paid parental leave to care for newborn or newly adopted children. She then passed paid family and medical leave for all federal employees and continues to fight for paid leave for all Americans.
Ms. Maloney began her professional career as a teacher and administrator for New York City’s Board of Education and has recently returned to her teaching roots as a result of her appointment as an Eleanor Roosevelt Distinguished Leader in Residence through the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College CUNY.
Chair of the Fund for Women's Equality
Jamia is an award-winning feminist activist, writer, speaker, and podcaster. She joined Random House as vice president and executive editor in 2021. As the former director of the Feminist Press at the City University of New York and the former VP of programs at the Women’s Media Center, Jamia has been a leading voice on women’s rights issues for over a decade. Her work has appeared in numerous outlets, including the New York Times, the Today Show, CNN, Elle, BBC, Rookie, Refinery 29, Glamour, Teen Vogue, and The Washington Post. She is the author of This Book Is Feminist, Young, Gifted, and Black, the introduction and oral history in Together We Rise: Behind the Scenes at the Protest Heard around the World, Step Into Your Power: 23 Lessons on How to Live Your Best Life, Big Ideas for Young Thinkers, ABC’s of AOC, and the co-author of Roadmap for Revolutionaries: Resistance, Advocacy, and Activism for All. Jamia is passionate about mission-driven organizations and serves on the Omega Institute, Feminist.com and Center for Reproductive Rights boards, and the St. Timothy’s School Advisory Council. She is also the co-host of the second season of the Anthem Award-winning podcast, Ordinary Equality.
Antuan M. Johnson
Secretary of the ERA Coalition and Fund for Women's Equality
Antuan M. Johnson is a legal scholar and lawyer. Antuan is also a Ph.D. student in the Philosophy Department at Yale University. They received a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania in 2013 and a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 2016. Following graduation, they worked as a litigation associate at Debevoise & Plimpton in New York.
They co-founded The Colors Project, a student-run publication for queer people of color in the Philadelphia community, at the University of Pennsylvania and co-founded the Queer & Trans affinity group for students of color at Harvard Law School. They also co-founded the Royall Must Fall and Reclaim Harvard student movements at Harvard Law School.
Steve Andersson is a Commissioner of Human Rights for the State of Illinois appointed by Illinois’ Governor JB Pritzker. He is also a retired member of the Illinois House of Representatives. During his tenure, he was floor leader for the House Republican Caucus and oversaw all debate on the House floor. In addition, Representative Andersson led a bi-partisan initiative to end the longest state budget impasse in US history, overriding the veto of his own Republican Governor in order to do so.
During his last session in the Illinois House, Representative Andersson was the Chief Republican Sponsor of the Equal Rights Amendment and successfully passed the amendment making Illinois the 37th to pass the ERA. Since passage of the ERA in Illinois, Representative Andersson has traveled the country advocating for passage in additional states. He has been a practicing lawyer since 1992 and is licensed to practice in Illinois, the 7th Circuit and the United States Supreme Court.
Ron Baldwin is a political strategist and fundraising and communications consultant for national political candidates and high-visibility celebrity activists. He served as Senior Advisor for Swalwell For America, and was founder and Senior Strategist during the 2020 election cycle for the Independent Expenditures group, E Pluribus Unum PAC. He is currently acting as Special Advisor to the Haitian Ambassador to the US and is national finance chair for Jennifer Carroll Foy For Governor. From 2010 t0 2013, Ron served as the Executive Director for Sean Penn’s NGO in post-earthquake Haiti, JP/HRO (now CORE). He has established several major fundraising events that have become staples of the political and philanthropic landscape including Sean Penn’s “Help Haiti Home”, Patricia Arquette’s and Marc Benioff’s “The Dinner For Equality”, and Congressman Adam Schiff’s “Hold The House”. In the entertainment field, he is currently producing television adaptations of books authored by his management client, Ilyasah Shabazz, daughter of Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz.
Taína Borrero is Senior Vice President at The Hayes Initiative, a public affairs firm based in New York. At the firm, Taína has provided public affairs support to clients including the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, the New York State Department of Labor, and The New York City Football Club. She also leads public affairs efforts for Blade Urban Air Mobility, and served as the firm’s senior advisor on Latino Strategy & Outreach to the NY State Democratic Party. Most recently, she worked closely on the election campaign for the first female Governor of the State of New York.
Most recently, her experience earned her recognition as one of City and State’s 2023 Above & Beyond Women, City and State’s 2022 Albany 40 under 40, Crain’s New York’s Notable 2022 Hispanic Leaders as well as one of PoliticsNY’s 2022 Power Players Rising.
Prior to joining The Hayes Initiative, Taína served as Director of Business Development – Political/Government at MediaCo (HOT 97 and WBLS), where she led the execution of more than half a dozen virtual town halls featuring on-air talent, elected officials, and civic leaders. Before that, Taína was Vice President, Strategy & Business Development at leading lobbyist firm Kasirer LLC. She also spent more than five years leading fundraising efforts for Teach For America-New York, where she served as Interim VP and Managing Director of Development. Taína started her career in the New York City press office of then-Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Her work experience also includes a variety of roles in communications, external affairs, and government affairs at Hunter College, the New York City Department of Education under then-Mayor Bloomberg’s administration, and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
A native New Yorker who grew up at the intersection of politics and media, Taína is a graduate of Princeton University (MPA), Hunter College (BA), and Baruch College Campus High School. She lives on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, where she is an active member of her community. Taína is currently serving her second appointed term on Manhattan Community Board 8, where she co-chairs the Youth, Education & Libraries committee as well as the Rules & By-Laws Committee. She also serves on the executive committee of The Lexington Democratic Club which was the first Reform Club, serving as a model for the movement that came to dominate Democratic politics in Manhattan.
Devika Bulchandani became CEO of Ogilvy North America & Global Chairwoman of Advertising in March of 2021. Previously, Devika served as President of McCann North America, where under her leadership in 2019 was named the 2019 Most Creatively Effective Agency Network in the U.S. by the Effie Awards. She is an active board member of the ERA Coalition, the Ad Council, the 4A’s and the Advertising Club and is a frequent speaker at Ad Council, Ad Forum and other prominent industry events. Devika is deeply devoted to social causes that promote equality, diversity and inclusiveness. She is a founding member of Times Up Advertising, where she has tirelessly championed equality for women in advertising — particularly for women of color. Devika and her husband live in New York City, have a son and daughter, whom they are bringing up, respectively, to be an enlightened man who will champion strong women and a strong woman who will break barriers.
Ms. Coberly is Chair of the Appellate of Critical Motions Practice at Winston & Strawn and serves as Chair of the ERA Coalition’s Legal Task Force. She is the managing partner of Winston & Strawn LLP’s Chicago office and serves on the firm’s Executive Committee. She is a partner in the firm’s Litigation Department and chairs its Appellate and Critical Motions Practice.
A significant portion of Linda’s practice centers on advising and representing clients with regard to proceedings in the U.S. Supreme Court, drawing upon her experience as a law clerk to Justice Stephen G. Breyer on the Supreme Court and to Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg on the D.C. Circuit. She also frequently represents amici in important business cases before the Court.
Ben is an American attorney who specializes in civil rights and catastrophic personal injury cases. He is the President of the National Civil Rights Trial Lawyers Association and served as President of the National Bar Association. He was the first African-American to chair the Florida State University College of Law Board of Directors and is the founder and director of the Benjamin Crump Social Justice Institute.
Carol Jenkins is an advocate for human, civil and women’s rights, an award-winning author and Emmy-winning former television journalist.
Carol Jenkins served as the previous President and CEO of the ERA Coalition and the Fund for Women’s Equality, sister organizations dedicated to the adoption of the Equal Rights Amendment. A board member since its inception in 2014, she joined the leadership team in December of 2018 before returning to the board of directors in 2022.
Previously, Carol Jenkins was founding president of The Women’s Media Center, a national nonprofit organization created to increase coverage and participation of women in media. As president, she conceived the Progressive Women’s Voices program to provide media training for women and girls, and she expanded SheSource, the largest portfolio of women experts in the country. At FCC hearings she testified on the “crisis in representation” in mainstream media.’ Every year WMC presents its WMC Carol Jenkins award to women in extraordinary leadership positions.
As former chair and current board member of Amref Health Africa USA, an arm of the largest health NGO in Africa, she is engaged in efforts to support health programs for African women and girls. Her other board work includes the Feminist Press, the Veteran Feminists of America, The Steering Committee of the Gloria Steinem Chair at Rutgers University, the Anne O’Hare McCormick Journalism Scholarship Board, the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance, and the international animal rights organization Humane Farm Animal Care (Certified Humane).
Carol Jenkins is a part of The History Makers archive of African American oral histories housed at the Smithsonian Institute.
In the spring of 2019 and 2020 Carol Jenkins served as a Grove Leader at Hunter College, leading a cohort of Grove Fellows to produce a virtual gathering on the ERA on campuses across the country Carol Jenkins earned a B.A. from Boston University and an M.A. from New York University.
Both universities honored her as a Distinguished Alumna. She holds honorary doctorates from the College of New Rochelle and Marymount Manhattan College. She was a 2017 recipient of the Sackler First Award, given to women who are pioneers in their fields.
With her daughter, Elizabeth Gardner Hines, Ms. Jenkins is co-author of Black Titan: A. G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire (2004). A biography of her uncle, a successful Alabama businessman and civil rights activist, the book won a Best Non-Fiction award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.
Carol Jenkins hosts the three-time NY Emmy-nominated interview show, Black America, on CUNY TV, now entering its sixth season. She is also executive producer, writer and correspondent of its documentaries, including the PBS-aired “More Than a Building, A Dream Come True,” an award-winning film detailing the creation of the new African American Museum in Washington, DC and “Conscience of America: Birmingham’s Fight for Civil Rights, a special on the Birmingham National Civil Rights Monument, which won a national Telly award in 2018 and was nominated in the Best Documentary category by the National Association of Black Journalists. The program has been honored by the New York Association of Black Journalists as Best Talk, and Best Documentary. In 2018 she hosted a limited edition Black America podcast with Black women leaders, and was also co-anchor of CUNY TV’s live election night coverage, which dealt with national as well as local races.
As a pioneering African American television reporter, Jenkins was an anchor and correspondent for WNBC TV in New York for nearly 25 years. She reported from the floor of national presidential conventions from the 1970s to the 1990s, and from South Africa she reported on the release of Nelson Mandela from prison and co-produced an Emmy-nominated prime-time special on apartheid. She hosted Carol Jenkins Live, her own daily talk show, on WNYW-TV. Early in her career she co-hosted one of the first daily public affairs programs in New York City, Straight Talk on WOR-TV; and co-hosted Positively Black for WNBC TV, one of the earliest television programs dedicated to Black issues in the United States.
Among other honors:
Lifetime Achievement and International Reporting Awards from The Association of Black Journalists/NY; the 2008 Women’s Equality Award from The National Council of Women’s Organizations; the North Star News Prize. Women’s eNews recognized Jenkins as a “multimedia agitator against bias” and presented her with its Ida B. Wells Award for Bravery in Journalism and in 2014 she was honored for her life in journalism by Mercy College.
Other honors include those from The Feminist Press, The Daily News with its Front Page Award, YWCA, Girl Scouts of America, Save the Children, Single Parents’ Association, United Negro College Fund, Hale House, National Mothers’ Day Committee as Mother of the Year, the Police Athletic League as Woman of the Year, Abbott House as Humanitarian of the Year.
Rev. Dr. Serene Jones
The Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, a highly respected scholar and public intellectual, is the 16th President of the historic Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York. The first woman to head the 180-year-old institution, Jones occupies the Johnston Family Chair for Religion and Democracy. She is the Immediate Past President of the American Academy of Religion, which annually hosts the world’s largest gathering of scholars of religion. Jones came to Union after seventeen years at Yale University, where she was the Titus Street Professor of Theology at the Divinity School, and Chair of the University’s Program in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies.
Sophie Ann Kelly
Sophie Kelly has had a colorful career in advertising spanning more than two decades and multiple continents. She has established herself among industry peers as a professional troublemaker for change, known for her passion and unapologetic belief that creativity, culture and purpose have the power to transform brand marketing, communications and build the world’s most beloved brands.
Sophie joined Diageo in 2016 as the SVP of Diageo’s industry-leading Whisk(e)y portfolio in North America. In this time, she has propelled the growth of some of the most iconic and dynamic brands in the category. Sophie’s maverick spirit is the driving force behind boundary-pushing initiatives that reinforce Diageo’s corporate values and represent Sophie’s commitment to impacting the communities her brands serve.
Under Sophie’s leadership, Diageo’s whisk(e)y portfolio has achieved unprecedented success. The Bulleit Bourbon brand’s Kentucky distillery has become completely carbon-neutral. Crown Royal – which became the most valuable whiskey brand in North America – applies its purpose of exceptional generosity through landmark support of the hospitality industry, its celebration of Black creatives to shape the brand narrative and service communities in need through the iconic Purple Bag Project. And finally, Johnnie Walker has become a leading voice in the women’s equality conversation through its Jane Walker platform.
Sophie continues to champion an agenda of sustainability, inclusivity, and diversity across her brands, teams and agency partners, and she is proud to play an active role in the changing face of whisk(e)y
Suzanne Lerner, co-founder and president of lifestyle and clothing brand Michael Stars, is an activist entrepreneur and philanthropist. As a philanthropist, she focuses on creating economic empowerment for women and girls. She supports organizations that promote gender and racial equality in the United States and internationally through personal grants, impact investments, and the Michael Stars Foundation. Today Suzanne inspires new generations of social impact entrepreneurs and is a frequent speaker on investing, founding, and running socially conscious businesses. She serves as a director on several non-profit boards including the ACLU of Southern California and the Ms. Foundation.
M. Dru Levasseur, Esq. is a high-energy presenter, leading advisor, and seasoned strategist with extensive experience in law, diversity & inclusion, advocacy, policy, and philanthropy. He currently serves as the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the National LGBTQ+ Bar, leading its DEI Consulting Practice, the only LGBTQ+ inclusion coaching and consulting program designed specifically to enable the implementation of best practice standards for LGBTQ+ equity in the legal profession.
Dru is a recognized leader in the LGBTQ+ equality movement for more than 25 years. He directed Lambda Legal’s Transgender Rights Project from 2009 to 2019, attending the first transgender policy meeting at the White House in 2011, and serving as counsel in landmark impact litigation cases and amicus briefs in federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. He co-founded a national trans-led nonprofit, the Jim Collins Foundation, which provides gender-affirming care to trans people in need.
A national and international media spokesperson, Dru has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, People Magazine, Self, Reuters, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, ABA Journal, Atlantic, Vice, Daily News, New York Post, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, Fox News, NPR, Huffington Post, and was profiled in the Advocate and Vanguard Law Magazine. Harvard Law School selected him as a Wasserstein Fellow for the 2021-2022 academic year. He is admitted in New York, Georgia, D.C., and Massachusetts.
Actress and Activist Alyssa Milano has been in the spotlight for most of her life. She chooses to shine that spotlight on causes that matter deeply to her. Her advancement of #MeToo sparked a viral movement of women fighting against sexual harassment and assault and she has been involved in TimesUp since its inception. In the wake of the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, Alyssa became one of the founders of NoRA, a coalition dedicated to combatting the NRA money in political campaigns so that common sense gun reform can be enacted. For 15 years, she has been a UNICEF National Ambassador. In 2016, she received their Spirit of Compassion Award for her dedication to their mission of advocating for the protection of children’s rights, helping meet their basic needs and expanding their opportunities to reach their full potential. She has lobbied members of congress for greater rights for immigrants as well as education reform and has been on the forefront of efforts to protect health coverage for all Americans. She continues to use her voice and platform to advocate for social justice, fairness and equality.
Kimberly Peeler-Allen is the Co-founder of Higher Heights, a national organization building the political power and leadership of Black women from the voting booth to elected office.In 2018, Kimberly served as the Co-Executive Director of New York Attorney General Letitia James’ Transition Committee.
A highly skilled political fundraiser and event planner, Kimberly was the principal of Peeler-Allen Consulting, LLC from 2003 to 2014, the only African American full-time fundraising consulting firm in New York State. Kimberly serves also serves as Co-Chair of Higher Heights for America PAC, and is a Board Director of NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation. She is currently a Visiting Practitioner at The Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.
Bamby is a national and international recognized transgender Latina Woman who received her Master’s Degree in Mexican and Latin@ Studies from California State California Los Angeles. Bamby is the President and CEO of the TransLatin@ Coalition, a national organization that focuses on addressing the issues of transgender Latin@s in the US. Bamby developed the Center for Violence Prevention & Transgender Wellness, a multipurpose, multiservice space for Trans people in Los Angeles.
Bamby’s remarkable and wide-ranging activist work has brought voice and visibility to not only the trans community, but also to the multiple overlapping communities and issues that her life has touched including migration, HIV, youth, LGBT, incarceration and Latin@ communities. Through her instinctive leadership, she has birthed several organizations that created community where there was none, and advocate for the rights, dignity, and humanity for those who have been without a voice. Bamby’s work as a collaborator and a connector through a variety of organizations reflects her skills in crossing various borders and boundaries and working in the intersection of multiple communities as well as the intersections of multiple issues. Bamby has served and participated in many local, national and international organizations and planning groups. This work mediates intersections of race, gender, sexuality, age, social class, HIV+ status, immigration status and more.
Her activist public speaking has ranged from testifying to governmental bodies, human rights and social justice organizations, universities and colleges, demonstrations and rallies, and national and international conferences as featured speaker. Bamby speaks to diverse audiences on many topics and intersecting issues. Bamby has spoken about transgender-related issues, social justice, healthcare, social services, incarceration, immigration and detention as well as professional and economic development for transgender people. Bamby has been invited to participate in several panels at the White House including in 2015 The United State of Woman where she share stage with President Biden at the opening plenary session and in 2015, Transgender Women of Color and Violence and LGBTQ People of Color Summit. Bamby has also participated as the Opening Plenary Speaker at several conferences, including The 2015 National HIV Prevention Conference, The United States Conference on AIDS in 2009 and 2012. She has participated as facilitator with The PanAmerican Health Organization while developing the Blue Print on how to provide competent health care services for transgender people as well as health care for LGBT people and Human Rights in Latin America and The Caribbean.
Her powerful, sobering and inspiring speeches and her warm, down-to-earth presence have provided emotional grounding and perspective for diverse gatherings. She speaks from the heart, as one who has been able to transcend many of her own issues, to truly drop ways of being and coping that no longer served her, issues that have derailed and paralyzed countless lives. Her words and experience evoke both tears and laughter, sobriety and inspiration through the documentary made about her life called TransVisible: Bamby Salcedo’s Story. Bamby has been featured and recognized in multiple media outlets such as People en Español, Latina Magazine, Cosmopolitan, the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Magazine, OUT 100 and featured in the HBO documentary The Trans List, among many others. Bamby has also been recognized for her outstanding work by multiple national and local organizations.
Lisa Ann Walter
Lisa Ann Walter Actress, Creator/Producer/Writer, Lisa Ann Walter’s career spans television, film and the stage. She is currently starring as Melissa Schemmenti in ABC’s #1 show, the Emmynominated, SAG AWARD Best Comedy Ensemble Winning “Abbott Elementary” and she is so happy to join the stellar cast in Quinta Brunson’s homage to hardworking teachers/staff of our nation’s teachers – which includes Walter’s mother, a former DC public school teacher.
Lisa Ann Walter’s film highlights include stand-out performances as Chessy in “The Parent Trap” with Dennis Quaid and Bobbie in “Shall We Dance“ opposite Richard Gere. Other blockbuster films include “Bruce Almighty” with Jim Carrey and Jennifer Aniston, Steven Spielberg’s “War of the Worlds” with Tom Cruise and the Lionsgate action comedy, “Killers” where she enjoyed stunt-driving a Mustang and shooting a glock at Ashton Kutcher.
Other Films include “Drillbit Taylor” with Owen Wilson, “Eddie” with Whoopi Goldberg and “The Trouble With Dee Dee”, which garnered her 6 Festival Best Actress Awards.
Based on her years as a national touring standup comedy headliner, Walter co-created, produced and starred in several network sitcoms; Fox’s “My Wildest Dreams” and ABC’s “Life’s Work”, the highest rated new show on ABC for the season averaging 19 million viewers per week. She is currently Creator/Writer & E.P. of her new half hour single-camera series “Bitter”. She’s very proud of co-starring in “The More Things Change”, an ‘Everyday Trans Woman’ half-hour comedy, where she also served as executive producer – debuting at Outfest-2019. She recently directed and starred in the comedic short, “Jersey”. Walter was honored to appear on the Netflix special, “Laugh In: The Stars Celebrate”, as Lily Tomlin & cast formed her early love of comedy. She is recurring in the longest running medical drama on TV, “Grey’s Anatomy” and has enjoyed many guest and recurring tv roles over the years including Fox Network’s Angela Bassett starrer, “9-1-1”, Netflix’ “GLOW” as Betty Gilpin’s Mother as well as numerous independent feature films.
On the other side of the camera: Walter has worked as Creative Executive Producer and show runner on innovative formats with top factual companies 495 Productions, Magical Elves, Esquire TV (formerly HDNET) and Propagate. Her hit dance/weight-loss competition series, “Dance Your Ass Off”, where she served as creator, Exec. Producer & Head Judge, originally the highest rated premiere for any Oxygen Series, was produced in 15 foreign formats.
She also Executive Produced and wrote the stand up special “The Naughty Show” as well as co-created, Exec Produced & directed “Gonzo Girlz” in 2005, a groundbreaking female stunt/comedy web-series which aired on Time Warner, Comcast and Adelphia on-demand networks garnering 6 million unique views per episode and was the #1 show on the Sprint Network. She co-created “Tour Dates”, which celebrates the world of a female national touring stand-up comedians currently in development at a major cable network.
As an author: Walter’s comedic memoir, The Best Thing About My Ass Is That It’s Behind Me (Harper Collins/Harper One) is a comedic look at a chronic self-loather and former “chubby” girl trying to make it in the glamorous world of size “0” Hollywood was #13 on both Amazon and the New York Times Comedic Essays Bestseller List.
But Walter is most proud of being a working mom of four with “One foot on the Red Carpet…The other at Costco” – and that her stomach is still reasonably flat after being the clown car they all came out of.
Thursday Williams is making her Broadway debut! She recently appeared in What the Constitution Means to Me at New York Theatre Workshop and is currently a senior at William Cullen Bryant High School in Queens. She has debated at Brooklyn Law School and NYU through the Legal Outreach Program and completed a judicial internship at the Civil Supreme Court through the Sonia & Celina Sotomayor Judicial Internship Program last summer.
Fran Zone is an award-winning broadcast producer, leadership communication expert, and executive coach. Her continued interaction with Fortune 100 CEOs, board members and teams won her a coveted invitation to Fortune Magazine’s ‘Most Powerful Women in Business Summit’ and the ‘Headliner of the Year Award’ for lifetime achievement in the field of communication.
She is the founder and president of San Francisco based Zone Communication and the creator of The Zone Method™, a strategic communication tool for leveraging personal leadership style and creating message strategies for team initiatives, media interaction and IPO offerings.
Fran’s clients include White House staff, NBC Olympics, NASCAR, Johnson & Johnson, Dolby, Edwards Lifesciences, Intel, Accenture, HP, Genentech, Roche, ABCTV, and Time Inc. She is a #1 rated speaker at business conferences across the country and has taught graduate level courses at UC Berkeley.
An expert on women’s leadership challenges in the workplace, Fran has been recruited to create leadership communication programs, keynotes and curriculum for women in corporations worldwide. In 1992, she was recruited by ABCTV to create and lead the Coalition to Stop Sexual Harassment media campaign and secured sponsors that included Chrysler, Murad, and Hearst Magazines. The award-winning campaign was the first of its kind and a precursor to informing employees and employers of their rights and responsibilities as a matter of company policy.
The Fran Zone/JMC Fund is the result of Fran’s commitment to supporting women in the workplace via grants and scholarships. Fund recipients include individual students and university initiatives such as the Gloria Steinem Chair at Rutgers University, where she serves on the Steering Committee.
President and CEO
Zakiya Thomas is President and CEO of the ERA Coalition and the Fund for Women’s Equality. Zakiya is an agent for change, working to make equality a reality for all people. Using her experiences as a political strategist and nonprofit manager, Zakiya leads a diverse coalition of over 280 organizations representing 80 million people. This community of activists jointly advocates for gender, racial, and reproductive justice, LGBTQ+ rights, and much more under the unifying goal of sex equality. The Coalition’s work is to shift how people talk about their respective issues in order to reflect how all of our issues are connected and to facilitate closer collaboration. Zakiya is also an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown Law teaching a nonpartisan course on how to run for political office and volunteers on several nonprofit boards ranging from advancing reproductive rights to individual financial empowerment.
Chief Operating Officer
Marc J. Sokol is an expert in aligning organizational talent, values, cultures, strategies, departments and resources for maximum success and delivery on mission. Marc brings his more than 30 years of global and national nonprofit experience to organizations dedicated to arts and culture and social justice, especially LGBTQI+ rights and gender equality.
Marc served at Let’s Breakthrough, Inc. for 15 years as Interim E.D. and COO, as well as the Secretary of the Corporation. In addition to running the day-to-day business and ensuring program implementation, Marc took point on two significant organizational development lifecycle processes: collaboratively designing and implementing the structures and systems that transformed Breakthrough from a small venture of 20 into a 150+-person global organization; and, more than a decade later, serving as Interim E.D. and partnering with the Board to create the U.S. entity’s new structure, and hire the new U.S. CEO.
Marc currently serves on the Board of UHAI EASHRI USA, an affiliate of Nairobi, Kenya-based UHAI EASHRI, a feminist, activist, indigenous, LGBTQI+ funder resourcing and supporting African movements. Marc is an enthusiastic, certified practitioner of the MBTI (Myers-Briggs), and holds a Masters in Arts Administration from Columbia University and an undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Last, but certainly not least, Marc, a foodie, is a huge fan of travel, both recreational (he has visited 50+ countries) and time (Doctor Who).
Chief, Policy and Programs
Bettina Hager is the Chief of Policy and Programs for the ERA Coalition and Fund for Women’s Equality. She previously served as the co-Chair of the Equal Rights Amendment Task Force of the National Council of Women’s Organizations and has been helping lead the movement for constitutional equality since 2012. Bettina has conducted focused lobby training workshops across the country on the issue of constitutional equality and oversaw the creation of a widely used ERA advocacy packet with information on how to contact elected officials, reach out to media and encourage constituency outreach. She has organized and moderated briefings on the Equal Rights Amendment in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Bettina also writes for The Hill as an opinion contributor on gender issues. In 2018, she was named one of the 21 Leaders for the 21st Century by Women’s News. Prior to joining the ERA Coalition, she worked as Programs Director and Interim Executive Director at the National Women’s Political Caucus (NWPC), advocating for the necessity of women’s political participation at all levels of government. Bettina graduated from St. Olaf College with a degree in Biology and concentration in Women’s Studies.
State Outreach Coordinator
AmyJo coordinates the State Law Audit Project, an initiative of the ERA Coalition. During the Illinois campaign for ratification, her favorite project was creating “Equal: a coloring book” which was distributed around the state by AAUW-Illinois members. AJ continues to manage social media and special events for ERA Illinois, a state-wide coalition to promote the Equal Rights Amendment. She married her law school sweetheart and they are raising two lacrosse players in the Chicago suburbs. AJ is a proud alumna of Mount Holyoke College and DePaul College of Law. Her favorite superhero is She-Hulk.
Ava is an intern at the ERA Coalition and Fund for Women’s Equality. She is currently a junior in high school, and her interests include social justice and international policy. Ava is also passionate about educating and empowering women and girls.
Social Media Manager & Digital Strategist
Velu Ochoa is the Social Media Manager – Digital Strategist for the ERA Coalition and Fund for Women’s Equality. She has over 10 years of experience working in the nonprofit and private sectors. Velu is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in all facets of her life. During her free time, she provides social media consulting services to small companies and independent projects. She is also a volunteer with the DC Music Summit, a nonprofit that empowers underrepresented artists in the DMV area (DC, VA, and MD). Velu is also part of a collective of women and allies called “Movimiento Pùrpura DC”, committed to the fight against gender violence where she helps lead efforts to empower and educate people around gender equity and intersectionality. Velu has a Master’s degree from UNCW.
Manager, Equal Voice | Equal Future
Elisa connects people through the power of story, partnership and solutions to amplify women’s leadership and close the gender gap. She has served as the founder of cutting edge organizations and programs, a nationally acclaimed radio host, coalition builder, strategist and visionary for equity and social justice. She currently oversees Equal Voice | Equal Future, a new gender justice media hub championed by the Fund for Women’s Equality and its sister organization, the ERA Coalition.
Elisa is the founder, director and host of the award-winning program and organization, See Jane Do, co-founder & co-director of 50 Women Can Change the World in Media & Entertainment, Indivisible Women and 100 Women Change Hollywood. Other notable works include creating the Passion into Action™ Women’s Conference, TEDxGrassValley, Raising Jane and the See Jane Do Media Lounge.
She’s spoken at events such as, The United State of Women, UN Commission on the Status of Women, TEDx, The Women’s March, March for Civility, The Power Women Summit and Netroots Nation. Elisa is an alumna of the Women’s Media Center Progressive Women’s Voices program, Take the Lead Women and the Vote, Run, Lead Go Run program.
She holds a BA in Communications from San Francisco State and a MA in Organization Development & Leadership from the University of San Francisco.
Senior Advisor, Strategic Partnerships and Engagement
Jennifer Tucker joins the ERA Coalition as a consultant senior policy analyst with three decades of experience in bringing the intersectional and diverse voices of women and girls into the policy arena. Ms. Tucker, an independent consultant, provides senior level strategic support, program development and policy expertise to organizational executives related to promoting gender, racial, social and economic justice. Her clients include: Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation’s Black Women’s Roundtable, and Alliance for Excellence Education.
Ms. Tucker served as Vice President at the Center for Women Policy Studies where she was instrumental in developing a network of women state legislators, the Foreign Policy Institute for State Legislators and the internationally acclaimed GlobalPOWER (Partnership of Women Elected/Appointed Representatives) program.
Ms. Tucker holds a M.A. in Urban Studies, University of Maryland, College Park, and a B.A. in Sociology from American University, Washington, DC.
Chrisi West is the Director of Communications for the ERA Coalition and Fund for Women’s Equality. She previously served as the Director of Advocacy for Child Care Aware of America, and worked in digital communications for nonprofit advocacy organizations for 11 years prior to that position. Chrisi has created and led trainings on communications and social media tools for effective advocacy for issues-based organizations across the country and has been passionate about women’s issues and equity her entire life. In her free time she leads social media efforts for a gun violence prevention group in Virginia, runs an afterschool reading program for children in at-risk housing, escorts at a women’s health clinic, and serves as an officer on two different boards. She has a degree from the University of Pittsburgh in Communications: Rhetoric.