WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 7, 2011) — Today, the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships announced the appointment the 2011-2012 Class of White House Fellows. The Fellows come from diverse backgrounds, varied professions, and all have shown a strong commitment to public service and leadership. The 2011-2012 Class of Fellows and their biographies are included below.
The White House Fellows Program was created in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson to give promising American leaders “first hand, high-level experience with the workings of the Federal government, and to increase their sense of participation in national affairs.” This unique opportunity to work within our nation’s government is designed to encourage active citizenship and a lifelong commitment to service.
The Fellows also take part in an education program designed to broaden their knowledge of leadership, policy formulation, and current affairs. Community service is another essential element of the program, and Fellows participate in service projects throughout the year in the Washington, DC area.
Selection as a White House Fellow is highly competitive and based on a record of professional achievement, evidence of leadership potential, and a proven commitment to public service. Each Fellow must possess the knowledge and skills necessary to contribute meaningfully at senior levels in the Federal government. Throughout its history, the program has fostered leaders in many fields, including leaders in government, business, media, medicine, education, diplomacy and the military. Additional information about the White House Fellows program is available at www.whitehouse.gov/fellows.
2011-2012 Class of White House Fellows
• Lindsay Barenz, Centerville, UT. Lindsay Barenz most recently served as an Associate with the law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP in New York City. She was responsible for managing complex corporate transactions and counseling clients on mergers and acquisitions, cross border transactions, private equity investments and securities law matters. During her time with Cleary Gottlieb, she served on the firm’s Diversity and Mentoring Committees and provided pro bono legal services to the New York City Investment Fund, the Middle Eastern Documentary Film Foundation and the Name Change Project with the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund. From 2004-2005 she served as a law clerk to the Honorable Betty Binns Fletcher on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Lindsay is a graduate of Yale Law School, where she was a senior editor of the Yale Law Journal, Coker Fellow and Co-Chair of Outlaws, the LGBTQ law student association. Prior to attending law school, she was a union organizer with the Service Employees International Union. Lindsay received her B.S. with honors in Political Science from the University of Utah. Lindsay grew up in Centerville, Utah. Placement: Office of Management and Budget
• Reggie Chambers, Harlem, NY. Reggie Chambers most recently served as an Investment Executive with 3i Group plc, a $20 billion international investment firm in New York and London. At 3i, he helped found and lead its North American infrastructure team and served on the board of a multi-billion dollar UK rail company. Before 3i, Reggie was a Vice President with Citi Investment Banking, executing cross-border mergers, acquisitions and financings for Fortune 500 energy infrastructure companies. Reggie’s transactional work began as a corporate lawyer with Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP in New York and Uría Menéndez Abogados in Madrid, Spain. Reggie has dedicated himself to creating educational opportunities for others by teaching entrepreneurship and small business as an Adjunct Professor at Brooklyn College, using his teaching salary to fund the class’s business plan competition, and by serving as one of the youngest trustees ever on the boards of the Graduate Center of CUNY, the Bogliasco Foundation in Italy, and the Teachers Network. Reggie earned his J.D. from Harvard Law School and his A.B. in Political Science, Spanish and Markets & Management from Duke University. Reggie is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and grew up in Mequon, Wisconsin. Placement: The White House
• Albert Cho, Tempe, AZ. Albert Cho most recently served as an executive at Cisco Systems, where he directed environmental innovation projects and led development of a new approach for monitoring global deforestation. Prior to Cisco Systems, Albert was an Engagement Manager at McKinsey & Company, where he helped found the Sustainability and Resources Practice and advised clients in the aerospace, industrial, high tech and financial sectors on strategy and risk management. He has also worked at the United Nations with Jeffrey Sachs on a global plan for achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Albert volunteers as a strategic advisor to the Nobel Prize-winning Green Belt Movement in Kenya and as a consultant to the World Resources Institute. He serves on the board of the Telluride Association, an educational non-profit, and is a trained crisis hotline counselor and hospice volunteer. Albert has lived, worked or traveled in over 70 countries, including a year supporting financial sector reform in north Africa. He is a Rhodes and a Truman Scholar, a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and was a Visiting Business Fellow at Oxford. He received an M.Sc in development economics and an M.B.A. with distinction from Oxford, and graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard College. Placement: U.S. Department of State
• Elizabeth Coté, Bangor, ME. Elizabeth Coté most recently served as a resident physician in Anesthesia at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She completed an internship in Pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital. In 2010, she provided medical assistance to earthquake victims in Haiti and worked in a relief camp to deploy a mobile medical record system that tracked patients and prevented family separation. While in medical school, Elizabeth started a training program in Chennai that empowered orphanage caregivers to prevent and detect newborn disease. In 2004, she served in the Coalition Provisional Authority as a special assistant to the Iraqi Ministry of Health and volunteered at the main combat support hospital. Working at the OECD in Paris, she managed a study that compared health quality among 20 countries. As an AmeriCorps Fellow, Elizabeth established a program that linked enrollment in the school meals program with access to MassHealth. Raised in Bangor, Maine, Elizabeth earned a Foster Scholarship at Harvard Medical School (M.D. ’09) and a Zuckerman Fellowship at the John F. Kennedy School Government at Harvard University (M.P.A. ’09). She is a magna cum laude graduate of Wellesley College (B.A. ’99). Placement: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
• Kisha Davis, Gaithersburg, MD. Kisha Davis most recently served as a family physician at Chase Brexton Health Services, Inc. She practiced primary care at a culturally and socioeconomically diverse community health center. In addition to routine primary care, she has special interest in HIV/AIDS, women’s health, and diabetes. She has taught medical students from both Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland. She earned an M.P.H from Johns Hopkins University and is a member of the Delta Omega public health honor society. Her public health research includes studying health care costs and utilization among Maryland Medicaid new enrollees. She completed residency at the University of Maryland and served as Chief Resident. Kisha is on the board of the Maryland Academy of Family Physicians. She is also active in the America Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), representing the voice of new family physicians within the AAFP and American Medical Association. She has sponsored health fairs, diabetes groups, and an HIV/AIDS prayer breakfast through her church. She has travelled to Zimbabwe, Honduras, and New Orleans on medical mission trips. Kisha received her M.D. from the University of Connecticut where she received the Lyman Stowe Award for humanitarianism in medicine. She holds a B.S. in Biological Anthropology from Duke University. Placement: U.S. Department of Agriculture
• Felice Gorordo, Miami, FL. Leonardo Felice Gorordo most recently served as co-founder, chairman and CEO of Raíces de Esperanza (Roots of Hope), a national non-profit focused on youth empowerment in Cuba. He founded Raíces while in college. In 2009, Felice served as an advisor to 17-time Grammy winner Juanes and helped organize the historic “Peace without Borders” concert in Cuba, with 1.2 million in attendance. Previously, he led government sales for Liberty Power, the fastest-growing Hispanic-owned business in the U.S., generating $14.7 million in revenues annually. Prior to that, he worked as a trade specialist at the U.S. Department of Commerce, managing a cross-sector caseload valued at $1.5 billion in export content. Felice was featured on CNN’s “Young People Who Rock,” and Latinos in Information Science Technology honored him with the “Rising Star Award.” Felice served as a strategist for the CEO of Jackson Health System and as a member of the University of Miami’s Energy Task Force. He frequently appears as a commentator in the media, including CNN, BBC, NPR, CNBC, and The Economist. Felice is a Georgetown University graduate. Placement: The White House
• Ziad Haider, Washington, DC. Ziad Haider recently earned an M.P.A. and J.D. from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and Georgetown University. He previously served as a Foreign Policy Advisor to U.S. Senator Chris Dodd and Professional Staff on the House Committee on Homeland Security. He previously served as a Research Analyst at the Henry L. Stimson Center developing conflict resolution measures in South Asia, a Fulbright Scholar in Malaysia working on Muslim women’s rights and studying Islamic law, and a Fellow at Human Rights Watch’s China Program and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, conducting field work on governance reforms in Pakistan’s tribal belt. He has also worked at leading international law firms in the United States, India, and Singapore. Haider is the author of The Ideological Struggle for Pakistan (Hoover Institution Press) and a foreign affairs columnist for The Sun (Malaysia). He is the Director of the Truman National Security Project’s Asia Expert Group and a member of the Groton School’s Alumni Committee. He received his B.A. with distinction in Political Science from Yale University. He is fluent in Urdu and proficient in Mandarin and French and has lived in Bahrain, China, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Singapore. Placement: U.S. Department of Justice
• Theodore Johnson, Raleigh, NC. Theodore Johnson is a Lieutenant Commander and information warfare officer in the United States Navy. He most recently served on the faculty at the U.S. Naval War College where he was a cyberspace and information operations military professor. His thirteen years of commissioned service include numerous afloat deployments throughout Asia and the Middle East, cyberspace operations supporting major combat operations, and as aide-de-camp to the Director of the National Security Agency, Generals Keith Alexander, USA and Michael Hayden, USAF. In 2007, Ted deployed with Expeditionary Strike Group SEVEN in support of Operation Sea Angel II, the disaster relief response to Cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh. In 2009, he conducted research in Africa, Asia, and South America that led to official U.S. Navy publications on theater security cooperation and in the historic U.S. Naval Institute’s Proceedings. His military decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service and Humanitarian Service medals. Theodore holds a Bachelor of Science from Hampton University and a Master of Liberal Arts with an International Relations concentration from Harvard University. Placement: U.S. Department of Energy
• Debra Kurshan, Brooklyn, NY. Debra Kurshan most recently served as a consultant with the Recovery School District in New Orleans, Louisiana. She worked directly with the Superintendent to develop the strategic vision for the district. Prior to that, she served in a variety of leadership roles at the New York City Department of Education, including the Executive Director of the Office of Portfolio Planning, the office responsible for opening new schools, closing under-performing schools and planning the portfolio of the city’s 1,700 schools. She also served as Chief Operating Officer for the Office of Innovation, the office responsible for the District’s first large scale online learning platform. Debra served on the board of Minds Matters, a nonprofit dedicated to preparing low-income students for college and is also a member of the Columbia Business School Social Enterprise Program Alumni Circle. She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ghana where she worked with the community to create and implement a technology center. Debra received her M.B.A. from Columbia Business School where she was honored with the Board of Overseers fellowship, and her B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, in Urban Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. Placement: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
• Jennifer Lee, Fairfax, VA. Jennifer Lee most recently served as a practicing emergency medicine physician and Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at The George Washington University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Health Policy. She directed the Emergency Medicine Health Policy Fellowship Program, where she taught and mentored medical students in health policy. Her research focuses on the impact of health reform on ER utilization and how medical schools can train socially conscious physicians. Jennifer is on the board of the Arlington Free Clinic, where she volunteers and chairs a health reform planning committee. She was also co-chair of the Northern Virginia Access to Health Care Consortium, a coalition of safety net providers that advocates for the uninsured. Additionally, Jennifer was board chair of the Hepatitis B Initiative, a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating liver disease caused by hepatitis B. In 2008, Jennifer was appointed by Governor Tim Kaine to the Virginia Board of Medicine. She was a health fellow on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee from 2002-2003. Jennifer completed her residency training at Johns Hopkins University, received her B.S. from Yale University, and her M.D. from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Placement: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
• Rodney Lewis, Oklahoma City, OK. Rodney Lewis is a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force and an Air Force C-17A pilot. As Commander of the 4th Airlift Squadron, he was directly responsible for the Department of Defense’s only Prime Nuclear Airlift Force, which handles our nation’s most sensitive cargo and provides tactically qualified C-17A crews who stand ready to airdrop combat troops and supplies anywhere in the world. In 2008 and 2009, he was the McChord AFB Chief of Safety and his office was awarded Air Mobility Command Safety Office of the Year. Previously, he was assigned to the Office of Legislative Liaison, Secretary of the Air Force, Pentagon, Washington, DC where he served as the Executive to the senior General officer, supervising the internal coordination of Air Force legislative proposals and issues. In 2004 he received the Bronze star for his service in Iraq. In 2010 he was awarded the Air Force Association National Medal of Merit for his work supporting medically challenged children in the Pilot for a Day program. Rodney earned a Systems Management M.S. with Honors from the University of Southern California, and a B.S. in Human Factors Engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy. Placement: The White House
• Clay Pell, Providence, RI. Clay Pell is a JAG and Lieutenant in the United States Coast Guard. He has served as Admiral’s Aide, Appellate Government Counsel, and Adjunct Faculty for the Defense Institute of International Legal Studies. Clay executes regular Coast Guard exchanges with China to improve military diplomacy, instructs courses on human rights and military justice, and has prosecuted crimes for the U.S. Marine Corps. Prior to military service, Clay worked for the CIA, State Department, and the international law firms of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Baker & McKenzie, and Uría Menéndez. He helped lead a national campaign to increase funding for inexpensive, lifesaving medicines for children under five. In Rhode Island, Clay supported Progreso Latino, the International Institute, and the China Working Group in their drive to instruct foreign languages in local schools and provide critical services to communities of new Americans. Clay is fluent in Chinese, Spanish, and Arabic and studied law in China and Argentina. He graduated first in his class from the Coast Guard Direct Commission Officer School, earned his J.D. from Georgetown University, and graduated from Harvard University with high honors in Social Studies and a Citation in Modern Standard Arabic. Clay is a recipient of the CIA’s Exceptional Performance Award. Placement: The White House
• Wizdom Powell, Norfolk, VA. Wizdom Powell most recently served as an Assistant Professor of Health Behavior and Health Education (HBHE) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) Gillings School of Global Public Health and a UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center faculty member. Her community-based domestic research examines the impact of neighborhood, healthcare, and socioeconomic resources on racial health disparities, with an emphasis on vulnerable Black males. She has published over 15 scientific articles and book chapters. In 2009, she gave invited expert testimony to the President’s Cancer Panel about racial/ethnic minority healthcare experiences. Prior to her positions at UNC, she was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar at the University of California, San Francisco and Berkeley. She is an American Psychological Association (APA) Minority and Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellow who received a Ph.D. and M.S. in Clinical Psychology and M.P.H. in HBHE from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. In recognition of outstanding dissertation research, Wizdom received APA’s Division 51 Loren Frankel Award. Wizdom obtained her B.A., summa cum laude, in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice where she received the Thurgood Marshall, Malcolm-King Leadership, and Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program Alumnae of the Year awards. Placement: U.S. Department of Defense
• Jaron Wharton, Birmingham, AL. Jaron Wharton is a Major in the United States Army. He most recently served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense where he was a Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy. In this capacity, he focused on Afghanistan and served as a liaison to the President’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. His military assignments include four combat deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq. He graduated with honors from the United States Military Academy with a B.S. in International Relations and earned an M.P.A. from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Jaron is also a term member at the Council on Foreign Relations. His military awards and decorations include three Bronze Star Medals (including one for valor), the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal for supporting multiple projects for wounded warriors, the Ranger Tab and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. Placement: United States Agency for International Development
• Tony Woods, Fairfield, CA. Tony Woods most recently served as the Director of ServiceNation’s “Service as a Strategy” initiative. In partnership with Mayor Bloomberg’s Cities of Service coalition, Tony managed a program that develops volunteer-driven solutions for American cities. Before joining ServiceNation, Tony campaigned in 2009 to represent California’s 10th congressional district in the US House of Representatives. Tony has also served as an aide to New York Governor David Paterson and as an officer in the US Army. While in the Army, he deployed twice to Iraq as a platoon leader and earned the Bronze Star for his service. Tony’s extensive community service activities include leading reconstruction trips to New Orleans and Haiti, bicycling across America to raise money for Habitat for Humanity, and mentoring low-income students through the college admissions process. Additionally, Tony has written op-eds for The Washington Post, Daily Beast, and Huffington Post. Tony received an M.P.P. from the Harvard Kennedy School and a B.S. in Economics and American Politics from the United States Military Academy at West Point. Placement: U.S. Office of Personnel Management