BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Charles J. Hamilton, Jr., Esq.Chairman
Charles J. Hamilton, Jr., became the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Harlem School of the Arts on April 21, 2010 after taking part in an intensive three-week campaign that resulted in combined gifts of $1 million from the Herb Alpert Foundation, the Starr Foundation and two anonymous donors. These gifts allowed the School to keep its doors open after more than 45 years of service.
Mr. Hamilton is Senior Counsel in the New York office of Windels Marx Lane & Mittendorf, LLP. Mr. Hamilton advises clients in real estate development and finance, government finance, and corporate governance. He represents private real estate owners, buildings and developers, entrepreneurial investors, investment banks and institutional lenders, and public and private real estate investment funds in complex acquisition, development, financing, tax credit, and joint venture transactions. He also represents media companies and government agencies, and counsels national and not-for-profit organizations. From 1984 to 2000, Mr. Hamilton was a Partner in the law firm of Battle Fowler LLP. From 2000 to 2009 he was a Partner in the New York office of global law firm Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP, with offices in the United States, Europe and Asia. Mr. Hamilton was a partner in Paul Hastings’ National Real Estate Practice Group.
Mr. Hamilton graduated from Harvard College in 1969 (cum laude in Government), and from the Harvard Law School (J.D., 1975) where he served on the Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. He also received a Masters Degree in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.C.P., 1975). Mr. Hamilton is also a Member of the Board of Directors of the Environmental Defense Fund and the National Visionaries Leadership Project. He also serves as a Trustee of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Mr. Hamilton has served on the boards of the Phoenix House Foundation, Inc., Granite Broadcasting Corporation (NASDAQ Symbol “GBTVK”) and the Ethical Culture Fieldston School.
Mr. Hamilton has been the recipient of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP Robert P. Hastings Partnership Award (2006) for Firm Leadership in Community Service, and the National Urban League, Inc. Collins Award (2006) for outstanding leadership as an NUL Trustee and service as Outside General Counsel.
He has also been recognized as follows:
“America’s Top Black Lawyers,” Black Enterprise Magazine, November 2003. W.E.B. DuBois Medal for Academic Leadership, Harvard University, 2000. “New York’s Most Powerful Lawyers,” New York Magazine, Fall 1999.
Mr. Hamilton has also served as a member of the Harvard College Board of Overseers’ Visiting Committee to the College, Public Policy Committee of the Board of Directors of The Advertising Council, Inc., and the Board of managers of the Harvard Club of New York City. He has served as a Trustee of the Harvard Law School Association of New York City, Inc. and the Interest on Lawyer Account Fund of the State of New York (IOLA) (Appointment by Governor Mario M. Cuomo; 1984-1987). Mr. Hamilton is a member of the American Law Institute (ALI), the American Bar Association, the National Bar Association, and the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. He has served on the faculty of the Practicing Law Institute’s (PLI) program in Commercial Real Estate Financing.
Lisa DavisVice Chair
Lisa Davis is the Global Head of Enterprise Services within Citi’s Treasury and Trade Solutions business and is responsible for the delivery of best-in-class enterprise platforms in billing, core banking, Client Relationship Management, as well as business and process transformation in data management and digitization. She leads TTS’ Data Insights and Artificial Intelligence roadmap which includes a Big Data strategy, machine learning data science and visualization of client insights.
She was previously Creative Director, Senior Partner at OgilvyOne, where she and her partner managed a large creative group working on brands like IBM, Merck and People PC. She was with Foote Cone Belding for 10 years working on Citibank, AT&T, Kraft, USPS and Marriott. She also spent time at Ogilvy and started her career at a small boutique brand shop.
Previously, Ms. Davis was Senior Program Manager in the Transaction Services Program Management Office. In this role, Ms. Davis led teams responsible for the rollout and implementation of global enterprise wide projects, process re-engineering initiatives and large multi-faceted, multi-regional client deals. Ms. Davis established program management discipline across businesses and functional areas within Transaction Services, implemented governance and communication models as well as risk management to ensure the delivery of end to end solutions across the Enterprise and for Clients.
Ms. Davis joined Citi in 1999 in the New York offices of Smith Barney as an Assistant Vice President in General Services, responsible for executive dining, conference services and special event planning. Through various talent development and mobility initiatives Ms. Davis was asked to move from General Services to Global Transaction Services to help kick-off a global effort establishing and implementing a metrics driven process to institute and track best practices within regional customer service centers.
Prior to joining Citi, Ms. Davis was employed with Sodexho Management as Senior Operations Manager and Special Events Director at Marriott Management Services. She is a veteran of the United States Air Force.
In addition to her current responsibilities Ms. Davis is currently chair of the Diversity Operating Committee for Citi’s Treasury & Trade Solutions business in North America and is also a member of the Citi PRIDE Affinity Steering Committee.
Ms. Davis received her M.B.A from Baruch College Zicklin School of Business and her Bachelor’s degree from Long Island University in Sociology and Anthropology.
Jose Claxton is currently the Managing Director of Investment Relations at the Blue Harbour Group, where he is responsible for all business development and client service activities. Previous companies include Latigo Partners (Apr. 2007 – Jan. 2010), Lehman Brothers (May 2004 – Dec. 2006), and JP Morgan Asset Management. He is a current Trustee of the Charles Hayden Foundation, and a former trustee of the New Jersey Investment Council.
Jose and his wife are active in philanthropy making multiyear gifts to the following institutions: Middlebury College, National Urban Fellows, New York Needs You Inc., Peck School, St. Francis College, The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, University of Virginia, the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, Brooklyn Tech Alumni Foundation, Brown University, and Columbia Business School.
Mr. Claxton received his B.S. in Manufacturing Engineering from Boston University (1987) and his M.B.A. from Columbia University (1991).
Claxton and his wife April E. Claxton reside in Summit NJ.
EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, SPONSORS FOR EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY (SEO)
Johnson has a special affinity for the SEO Scholars program. He was architect of the modern version of SEO Scholars—and is working tirelessly to help SEO Scholars close the academic achievement gap. Before joining SEO, Johnson was Director of Development and Corporate Partnerships at the Institute of International Education, which administers global education and training programs including the Fulbright Program. He has held senior development positions at Teach for America, A Better Chance and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Julian holds Masters Degrees in Developmental Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University, and in Non-Profit Management from the New School. He presently serves on the board of trustees of the Institute of International Education.
Mogolodi BondDirector, Head of Professional Development
Mogolodi Bond is a Director and the Head of Professional Development for Point72 Asset Management. He is responsible for learning and development programs for all of the Firm’s long/short investment professionals. Mr. Bond was previously deputy to Point72’s president, in the role of Firm Engagement Leader, responsible for a variety of Firm-wide and culture initiatives. He was also previously a member of Point72’s Corporate Communications team, responsible for managing the Firm’s brand, digital properties, and various employee engagement initiatives.
Before joining Point72, Mr. Bond was a Managing Director and Head of the U.S. Financial Practice of Burson-Marsteller, a global communications consultancy. Mr. Bond was previously the Director of Communications at Silver Point Capital, a hedge fund focused on credit and special situations investments. Mr. Bond began his career working for the global investment banking group of Credit Suisse First Boston (now Credit Suisse).
Mr. Bond earned his BA in Sociology from Connecticut College. He is a Trustee of Manhattan Country School, a member of the Board of Directors of Harlem School of the Arts, and a member of the Board of Directors of PowerMyLearning.
Sandra Buchanan Hurse
Chief Human Resources Officer at Grosvenor Capital Management
Sandra Hurse is the GCM Grosvenor Chief Human Resources Officer. Prior to joining GCM Grosvenor, Ms. Hurse held various positions at Bank of America, most recently serving as Global Head of Human Resources for Corporate and Investment Banking. Previously, Ms. Hurse also held leadership roles in Talent Management and Talent Acquisition at Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase. She received her Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance from Bernard M. Baruch College, and her Master of Business Administration in Marketing from the University of Michigan.
For two years under the Erwin Penland banner, and the prior eight as Hill Holliday, Lisa has led the creative group working on Verizon Wireless, AOL, US Trust, West Side Tennis Club and other clients. She has a collection of professional awards including silver, gold and grand Effies, Gold Clio, Diamond Echo and a host of others.
She was previously Creative Director, Senior Partner at OgilvyOne, where she and her partner managed a large creative group working on brands like IBM, Merck and People PC. She was with Foote Cone Belding for 10 years working on Citibank, AT&T, Kraft, USPS and Marriott. She also spent time at Ogilvy and started her career at a small boutique brand shop.
She started her advertising career after studying advertising and design at the University of Delaware.
On the side she is an award-winning artist, Master Pastellist of the Pastel Society of America and has been represented by galleries in NYC, New Jersey, and South Carolina.
Lisa has served as Vice President of the board of her condominium for over 12 years and serves on the boards of the Harlem School of the Arts and Forestdale foster care in Queens, NY.
Ezra Ezzard is the Founder and CEO of ARTIFICATION, the modern media company behind the distribution of the New York Times Critics Pick Documentary SYSTEM K by Renaud Barret, and THE STATE AGAINST MANDELA AND THE OTHERS. Prior to current role he has worked at BBC Studios, where is work has included the acquisitions and distribution of content for the US and Canadian territories to digital and retail partners including Best Buy, Amazon and Starz. Some of these titles included both the indie films, the Oscar shortlisted WE COME AS FRIENDS by Academy nominee Hubert Sauper and the National Theatre’s cinematic verbatim-style musical LONDON ROAD starring Academy Winner Tom Hardy, Emmy Award Winner Olivia Colman and the Tony Award winning Kate Fleetwood. During his time at BBC Studios, he also worked on key campaigns for global television tentpoles, Planet Earth II, Enchanted Kingdom, Doctor Who, Luther, Orphan Black and Sherlock. He is a graduate of the prestigious Ailey/Fordham BFA program under the direction of Denise Jefferson, where he worked with some of the most celebrated dance arts in the world, including Max Luna, Hope Boykin, Ronald K. Brown, Jaculyn Buglisi, Christopher Huggins, Alvin Ailey and more. In 2008, he performed Alvin Ailey’s iconic ballets Revelations and Memoria with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for the 50th Anniversary Season. He also made a Carnegie Hall debut with the Aeros Quartet in a new work choreographed by Jaculyn Buglisi. Later, he would be one of three men to perform Taye Diggs’ Loose Change. Ezra proudly serves on the Board of Directors for The Harlem School of the Arts, Co-Chairs HSA’s Associate Board.
The huge celebrity following of NASCAR has taken Michelle Fizer trackside as an Entertainment Reporter for the once syndicated FOX Speed Channel show, NASCAR Nation. As unique as her NASCAR background, Michelle’s undeniable drive has also led her to study Opera at the renowned, John’s Hopkins Peabody Preparatory in Baltimore, Maryland, as well as Oberlin College Conservatory in Oberlin, Ohio. A fearless performer, she once spontaneously serenaded Luciano Pavarotti at a TV press conference. Stunning viewers is Michelle’s style as she did for 9 years on Entertainment TV show, Deco Drive, FOX Channel 7 WSVN. Michelle has traveled around the world to report for FOX, Miami as well as COMCAST TV’s Backstage With Barry Nolan. Known as the ‘411’ Reporter for South Florida radio station HOT, 105.1-FM. Michelle would faithfully inform listeners each weekday morning with entertainment reports for the nationally syndicated, Tom Joyner Morning Show.
Formerly, Host of her own Midday radio show on Miami’s WEDR, 99.1-FM, Michelle is used to being in the driver’s seat as the News Director for COAST, 101.7-FM in Charleston, South Carolina. Her smooth voice was also heard regularly as an Announcer/Host on The Box Worldwide music Television network.
Born in Washington, DC, Michelle privately studied classical music most of her young life with aspirations of becoming an Opera singer. However, it was her interest in Journalism, which eventually won over the majority of her time. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Journalism, with a minor in Music from Howard University. Michelle is the CEO of her own Communications company called, In The Spotlight, Inc., where she has lent her talents field producing for the E! Television Network’s, E! True Hollywood Story. She has contributed to stories for Us Weekly Magazine and also gained attention as a Columnist for her own Celebrity Buzz monthly column in Miami’s award winning Miami Metro Magazine.
Kristine G. Manoukian
Kristine Manoukian is a partner in the Business Reorganization Group at Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP. Her practice includes corporate restructurings (both in and out of court), with a particular focus on the representation of hedge funds, financial institutions, ad hoc creditor groups, companies and buyers in distressed situations across a wide array of industries. Kristine has substantial experience in advising a variety of clients in every phase of restructurings, workouts and distressed investing, including on financing and cash collateral, “credit bid,” plan confirmation and other issues arising in the context of Chapter 11 cases. Her notable recent representations include an ad hoc group of lenders comprised of major hedge funds in the Westmoreland Coal Company Chapter 11 cases, the prepetition secured lender, debtor in possession financing lender and purchaser of substantially all of the assets of Relativity Media and an ad hoc group of bondholders and new money lenders in connection with the multibillion-dollar global restructuring of the Abengoa group of companies.
Joshua Martin is a vigorous athlete, a social activist, and a financial literacy advocate carving out his place in the stadium, as well as in the community. As a dynamic five-year NFL veteran, Martin has thrived as an outside linebacker for the New York Jets since 2015. At just 25, this Texas native is consistently devoted to bettering himself, as well as the lives of his teammates and his world. The oldest of six kids, Martin first discovered his love of football during his freshman year at Cherokee Trail High School. He went on to receive an all Ivy League education from Columbia University, where he was deemed 2012’s Most Valuable Player of the year.
In addition to football, his passions are numerous. While serving as the NFL’s Personal Finance Bootcamp Player Ambassador, Martin believes in promoting NFL players’ endeavors off of the field, their involvement in their communities, and their preparation for careers after football.
Just as he set a good example for his younger siblings, Martin strives to be a role model for his fans. His volunteer work tackles much of his time away from the turf – he is an active volunteer for NFL PLAY 60 and a supporter of Project Rousseau. He has also served the Kansas City Chiefs Rookie Club and the Harvesters Community Food Network. He is committed to celebrating the arts in schools and empowering underprivileged youth to achieve higher education.
Martin’s hobbies include traveling the world, listening to jazz (he played three instruments as a child), attending various concerts and shows throughout New York City, and discovering the next best restaurants as a self-proclaimed foodie. He is a team player, a community leader, and an innovative entrepreneur. This savvy linebacker packs heart, hustle, and brainpower into a 6’3” frame and he’s just getting started.
Jason Mathews has been a partner at Goldman Sachs since 2017. He currently works on the Goldman Sachs Equity Derivative Sales desk, focusing on macro hedge funds, a role he assumed in 2006. Mathews joined Goldman in 2000 on the Global Futures Trading desk.
In 2003, he was selected to head an equity focused futures trading desk in the Equity Derivative department. Mathews earned a BA in Political Science (Cum Laude) from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.
Jason has an elementary school-age daughter, Sophia, and splits his time between Florida and NYC.
Rochelle McAllisterAttorney at Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Rochelle McAllister is an associate in the Investment Funds Practice Group of Kirkland & Ellis LLP. Ms. McAllister focuses her practice on the formation, structuring, marketing, management and regulatory compliance of private equity funds, real estate funds and other investment vehicles. She also advises fund managers on a variety of general corporate counseling matters and management company events. Ms. McAllister was previously a Risk Management Specialist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago where she was responsible for risk profiling, analysis and examination of large specialized and regional financial institutions subject to supervision and regulation by the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Beyond her commitment to her profession, Ms. McAllister is passionate about serving her community through pro bono and civic service. Her pro bono work includes drafting reconsideration briefs for Credible Fear Interviews to assist detainees seeking asylum with Project Corazon under Lawyers for Good Government. In terms of civic service, Ms. McAllister was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the Harlem School of Arts. Prior to that, Rochelle served on the Board of Directors for the Chicago Appleseed Fund For Justice. Prior to her legal education and related career path, Ms. McAllister obtained her MBA and spent nearly 10 years as a finance professional working across key industries including manufacturing, aviation, banking and non profit.
Gabriella E. Morris
Gabriella Morris has recently formed Connective Advisors, LLC, focusing three decades of leadership, experience and service in the nonprofit and corporate sectors into an integrated, comprehensive consulting practice. Connective offers a broad range of expertise to the public, private and independent sectors, including strategic planning, governance, fund development, philanthropy, networking and inclusion. Gabriella most recently completed over 26 years of service in senior legal, philanthropic and community relations positions at Prudential Financial, while volunteering on many national, state and local non-profit boards.
For more than seventeen years, she served as President of The Prudential Foundation and Corporate Vice President of Community Resources. In these positions, she directed all aspects of Prudential’s interface with communities, national and global philanthropies, non-profit organizations in addition to government, business, academic and community thought leadership. This included oversight of philanthropy, contributions, social investments, employee volunteerism, community relations and business diversity outreach.
Under Gabriella’s leadership, Prudential made significant contributions in policy and funding for education reform, youth leadership and economic development in local, national and global arenas. A champion of excellent educational opportunities for all children, she has demonstrated leadership on a wide variety of policy issues, including standards and accountability, school funding fairness, quality child care, adequate school facilities and universal pre-school access and curricula, reflecting the best research on brain development and learning. She has led the establishment of public education foundations and school advocacy organizations, supported alternate teaching and learning models and after school programs. She has been tapped to lead school superintendent searches and to serve on the state board overseeing the deployment of state school construction funds.
Gabriella and her team established one of the first charter school lending programs in the nation, supporting “education entrepreneurs” in their quest to improve educational outcomes for children in need. The program has supported more than half of all charter schools in New Jersey, and the nation’s largest and most successful charter school developers and intermediaries including LISC, the California Charter School Fund and KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program). She supported the development of environments and programs that support high achievers, particularly the expansion of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gifted and Talented students, in response to the Dodge Foundation’s expose’ “No Place to be Smart.”
She built Prudential’s reputation on the national education reform stage following leadership in establishing New Jersey’s first Statewide Education Summit, which resulted in the development of new state standards and broad, community-based dissemination. It also led to leadership by Prudential’s CEO on the National Governors Association and Business Roundtable in education efforts around standards and STEM education.
Her belief that children thrive best in functioning families led her to expand Prudential’s grant making strategies to include work opportunities for young adults, parents and improving living environments. Her policy involvements have been as varied as welfare to work issues, establishment of workforce investment one-stops and community economic development and revitalization. She honed her knowledge and involvement in the field of community economic development as a board member of the National Community Development Initiative, now Living Cities, an historic collaboration of private foundations and financial institutions now more than 20 years old. As Chair of the group, she led Capital Hill and thought-leader meetings and convenings to advocate for funding for comprehensive community development. These efforts were precursors to the development of Hope VI and Promise Neighborhood initiatives. She and her team demonstrated leadership in the field by investing with the Enterprise Foundation in the redevelopment of the Eastlake neighborhood of Atlanta, which became one of the first actual Hope VI projects. They further applied developing theories around placed-based strategies to create the Prudential Neighborhood Partnership, which for nearly a decade focused on improving neighborhood-designed outcomes rooted in community-based and community-led planning. It is now a well-established programming approach by noted philanthropists.
She has supported the further development of neighborhood empowerment programs globally in partnership with the United States Fund for UNICEF. Using the principals of community-led partnerships, she helped bring planning techniques to major favelas in Rio de Janeiro. These techniques were also used in Mexico City to help young people plan their futures through new education opportunities. She also worked with UNICEF to conduct research leading to new policy directives supporting universal education as a means of improving economic outcomes.
Gabriella and her teams also developed the Prudential Young Entrepreneurs program to train young people to be self-reliant and proactive participants in our economy. She built on this work by initiating a national entrepreneurship training pilot program with the National Urban League. She helped support and establish Youthbuild organizations in New Jersey, Brazil and Mexico, as well as local construction training programs. Building on the success of other collaboratives, Prudential was a founding funder of the National Workforce Collaborative, bringing best in class workforce training programs to light and to scale. Other support programs, including the development of Prudential Positive Parenting in partnership with the Child Welfare League of America, EITC support programs with The Children’s Defense Fund, and several “parents as first teachers” programs with Sesame Workshop complemented these efforts.
In addition to focusing on the “drivers of change,” Gabriella included other quality of life funding in the portfolio, including the development of programs supporting arts and arts education, child advocacy around Kid’s Count research and data, community health and HIV/AIDS. She pioneered many technical assistance and capacity building programs and opportunities for non-profit organizations, mission critical for the health of the sector. This included introduction of competitive social entrepreneurship opportunities with Community Wealth Ventures and a branded “Breaking the Gala Addiction” program. She evolved Prudential’s philanthropic mission and strategy to align with its expanding global footprint. She was instrumental in establishing community involvement as an essential part of Prudential’s employee value proposition, with signature programs like Global Volunteer Day, Community Stewardship and Volunteer Match.
Gabriella joined Prudential as an associate regional counsel in the company’s Newark Realty Group Office, which managed all real estate investment activity in the eastern region of the country. She assumed various management positions in the legal department before assuming her role in Community Resources. Prior to joining Prudential, she served as counsel to The Southland Corporation in Dallas, Texas and Associate Counsel with the law firm of Baker & Botts in Houston, Texas.
Long involved in the non-profit sector, she assumed her first volunteer position at the age of nine, supporting her mother in launching a local Head Start program in Houston, Texas. She joined her first non-profit board, a mental health agency, as soon as she finished law school, and has continued to serve on numerous boards, agencies and public sector committees. She currently serves on the boards that reflect her interests and passions, including the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center Women’s Association, the Newark Trust for Education, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. She has been a founding board member of many organizations, including New Jersey Performing Arts Center Women’s Association, United States Artists, the Newark Trust for Education and Brick City Development Corporation.
Gabriella received an AB in Architecture and Urban Planning, as well as a Certification in African-American Studies, from Princeton University, and a JD from The University of Texas School of Law. She has received professional certifications from Harvard Business School’s Executive Education program in Corporate Social Responsibility and from Stanford University’s Center for Social Innovation.
Jacqueline Nickelberry is the creative force behind the lifestyle website, www.JackieUnfiltered.com and YouTube Channel, Jackie Unfiltered TV. Both are looking glasses into “Jackie’s World” where she creates content and curates information on fashion, food and fitness. Jacqueline is a frequently invited speaker at conferences and events.
She has also served in a leadership role in several philanthropic efforts. For 10 years, she has worked with the Apollo Theater in New York City to raise money in support of the Apollo’s art education programs which provide opportunities to over 10,000 students annually. Jacqueline was a founding co-chair of the Apollo Theater’s womens’ committee, “Apollo EmpowHer,“ one of the theater’s most successful donor programs. She served on the 2010 launch committee of the Apollo Diva’s Luncheon, a premier fundraising event held every February. She also co-chaired this luncheon for several years. In 2007, Jacqueline helped the theater create the Apollo’s Young Patrons‘ program which encourages younger generations to support the arts and engage in philanthropy.
In 2016, Jacqueline became involved with Honey Shine, Inc., a Miami, Florida non-profit providing character development programming to thousands of young women from under-resourced communities. Jacqueline served on the committee to plan and execute Honey Shine’s annual luncheon in 2016 and also in 2017 as it celebrated its 15th Anniversary.
Formerly, Jacqueline practiced law in New York City where she counseled entertainment companies, executives, music producers, recording artists, radio personalities, professional athletes, television/film producers and writers.
Jacqueline earned her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, 2003 and B.A. from Spelman College, magna cum laude, phi beta kappa, 1999.
David A. Picon
David A. Picon is a seasoned advocate for financial services firms, as well as public and private companies. He is a partner in the Litigation Department and a trial lawyer who has led dozens of trials and arbitration hearings, primarily for financial services firms. David’s practice covers a range of matters, including complex securities issues, fraudulent transfer actions, alleged Ponzi schemes, and contract and employment-related disputes. He is also co-chair of the Financial Services Group and a member of the Corporate Defense Group.
David appears in numerous judicial and administrative forums and represents financial services firms in investigations brought by the SEC, FINRA and other regulatory bodies. He also has broad experience in defending companies and directors in shareholder derivative actions and breach of fiduciary duty claims by shareholders.
In addition, David has substantial counseling and trial experience in the areas of general commercial and sports-related disputes. David is a frequent speaker on matters related to the financial services industry and the co-author of “Broker-Dealer Litigation and Arbitration,” Chapter 86 of the multi-volume treatise, Commercial Litigation in New York State Courts.
Rona Sebastian, President of the Herb Alpert Foundation, has played a significant role in the world of the arts and education. As President of the Herb Alpert Foundation, Sebastian defines, plans and administers the Foundation’s areas of funding and program development. In addition, she collaborates with partners, institutions and other foundations to strengthen and enhance current and future programs, and develop consortiums to address areas of shared interest.
Sebastian is a senior executive with national and international experience in non-profit arts and cultural organizations, philanthropy, higher education, and consulting.
Sebastian, a trained classical pianist, ran two Yamaha music schools for preschoolers while pursuing her degree in Social Psychology at Cal State Northridge (Class of 1972; summa cum laude).
Sebastian holds an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management, and attended the Institute of Educational Management at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.
1985 – 2000 Sebastian established a diverse set of skills in a succession of senior leadership positions for the J. Paul Getty Trust in Los Angeles. Throughout her 15 years at The Getty, she pioneered several institutional initiatives and developed the Office of Strategic Partnerships. As Deputy Director, she also led the Getty Conservation Institute through a period of rapid growth and expansion, developing the GCI’s first strategic plan.
In 2000 Sebastian was named the Vice President of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. During her four years in the role she was responsible for strategic planning, public affairs and publications, development, alumni relations and community outreach.
As President of the Herb Alpert Foundation since 2004, Rona sees her role as the conduit through which to actualize the Alperts’ desire to give back and help make the world a more vital and compassionate place to live.
Kenneth W. Taber
Mr. Taber is co-leader of Pillsbury’s Litigation practice from our New York office, which was recently named by U.S. News & World Report as one of only 16 “Tier One” Firms in New York City for Commercial Litigation. Mr. Taber has extensive experience in litigating high-profile matters of public interest, trade secrets litigation, employment matters, product liability cases, defamation claims, and other civil litigation matters. His recent experience includes representation of the City of New York and Mayor Michael Bloomberg in what The New York Times has called “landmark” litigation brought by the City to stem the flow of illegal guns. In an unrelated representation, New York City has also retained him to advise the City in connection with the legal issues pertaining to the City’s disaster planning efforts. He has litigated and advised clients in a wide range of employment matters, including cases involving claims of sexual harassment, discrimination, wrongful termination, the enforcement of non-competition and non-solicitation agreements, and trade secrets litigation.
Mr. Taber is a nationally-recognized commentator on employment litigation. His litigation credentials also include defending, as national trial counsel, a Fortune 500 company in its mass tort product liability litigation.
Honors & Awards
• 2011 PLC Which Lawyer?, Employment Litigation—New York (2007-2011)
Stephen S. Usher
Stephen Usher is a partner at Standard General a New York based, event driven hedge fund that was established in 2007.
He was formerly a founding partner of Serengeti Asset Management, a New York based hedge fund, where he managed the firm’s marketing activity and developed its credit trading business.
Stephen spent more than a decade at Goldman Sachs, during which time he built out Goldman’s European distressed bond and bank debt sourcing effort in London, he continued his work on Goldman’s distressed bond sales and trading group in New York. Stephen joined Goldman Sachs in 1997 as Vice President in their bank loan sales group.
Stephen began his career at Citibank on the leveraged loan sales and trading desk.
He received his BA from Wesleyan University and currently sits on the Presidents Council.
A Vassar alum, Wendy Washington has earned a solid reputation as a highly esteemed entertainment executive. With a career spanning two decades, she has served as the Senior Vice President of public relations for Universal and Motown, and was the Executive Vice President at Jive Records publicity departments. She also oversaw marketing and operations for Sony Music’s RED Associated labels.
The publicity veteran has launched, oversaw and executed media strategies for such artists as Lil Wayne, Britney Spears P!nk, Chris Brown, Stevie Wonder, Erykah Badu, Nelly, Heavy D, OutKast, The Notorious B.I.G and Rakim, alongside managing corporate media initiatives.
In addition to her public relations expertise, the Colorado Springs native evolved into a cross-functional entertainment executive involved in business development, signing and managing global distribution deals and overseeing marketing, social media strategy, sales, and digital marketing departments.
In 2016, Washington transitioned from a seasoned music industry veteran into a successful entrepreneur — launching her own marketing/media relations firm, The TID Agency (This is Dope, LLC).
The TID Agency offers a range of services including PR, marketing and sales consulting, and also specializes in community- driven experiences (experiential marketing, events and pop-up activations) that foster sales, promotions and social media engagement. In its first year, the agency has executed successful campaigns that have delivered results for clients including Maxwell, 2 Chainz, Hana Road Music Group, BET, Hezekiah Walker, Thread Shop and Urban One (Interactive One, Radio One and TV One) among others.