Below are a list of industry leading influencers who have been involved with one or more of our events:
Karyn Parsons is best known as the character “Hilary Banks” on the long-running television show, “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” Karyn created Sweet Blackberry after being inspired by the true tale of a determined enslaved man and the remarkable lengths he travelled to find his freedom. While growing up, Karyn’s mother, a librarian in the Black Resource Center of a library in South Central Los Angeles, would share stories of African American accomplishment with her daughter. A mother and an activist, Karyn believes that stories have the power to inspire youth.
Jonathan Soto is an experienced activist and leader committed to inclusivity and progress for communities throughout New York City, and particularly communities of faith. He has served as Borough Director for the Bronx Long Term Recovery Group, dedicated to physical and economic rehabilitation of communities affected by Hurricane Sandy, and partnered with the Mayor’s Office of Emergency Management and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Soto has also served as Policy Director for the Bronx Clergy Roundtable, where he helped communities of faith with various organizing efforts and youth mentoring programs. Soto is a graduate of Fordham University and will receive his J.D. from Brooklyn Law School in 2016.
State Senator Kevin S. Parker is committed to restoring the overall quality of life for the constituents of the 21st Senatorial District in Brooklyn. A lifelong Brooklyn resident, Senator Parker has been a Flatbush resident for more than 31 years -- nurtured, educated, and employed in the borough. Senator Parker is intimately familiar with the needs of the 21st District, which consists of many diverse communities: Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood, Ditmas Park, Kensington, Windsor Terrace, and Park Slope.
Miles’ leadership at FPWA has evolved over a period of four years where prior to her promotion, she was the Director of Policy, Advocacy and Research, and oversaw the development and implementation of FPWA’s policy agenda. In this position, Miles played a lead role in the development of several campaigns and initiatives focused on increasing economic equity across New York City and State, including the launch of #15andFunding and Restore Opportunity Now campaigns aimed at increasing wages and funding for the human services sector, as well as playing a lead role in releasing a joint study with UJA Federation of New York and Catholic Charities focusing on the expansion and implementation of key anti-poverty policies. In 2015, Miles was honored to be named a Next Generation Leader by the Human Services Council and a Top 40 Under 40 Rising Star by New York Nonprofit Media.
Prior to joining FPWA, Miles worked in the Obama Administration in the Office of the Vice President and in the U.S. Department of Education, managing gender-based violence initiatives; coordinating federal inter-agency workgroup activities targeted at reducing violence against women and girls; and organizing broad-based support for the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
Jennifer Jones Austin has more than 20 years of leadership, management and advocacy experience working for the advancement of underserved children, individuals and families.
Ms. Jones Austin is the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA), a prominent social policy and advocacy organization with 200 member human services agencies operating throughout New York City. Prior to joining FPWA, Ms. Jones Austin served as Senior Vice President of United Way of New York City, the City of New York’s first Family Services Coordinator appointed by Mayor Bloomberg, Deputy Commissioner for the City’s Administration for Children’s Services, Civil Rights Deputy Bureau Chief for New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, and Vice President for LearnNow/Edison Schools Inc.
Named “one of the most influential designers working today” by Graphic Design USA, and “one of the most creative people working in business” by Fast Company, Debbie Millman is also an author, educator, brand strategist and host of the podcast Design Matters. As the founder and host of Design Matters, the first and longest running podcast about design, Millman has interviewed nearly 300 design luminaries and cultural commentators, including Massimo Vignelli, Milton Glaser, Malcolm Gladwell, Dan Pink, Barbara Kruger, Seth Godin and more. In the 11 years since its inception, the show has garnered over 5 million downloads per year, a Cooper Hewitt National Design Award and—most recently—iTunes designated it one of the best podcasts of 2015.
Carmen’s most recent work is her role as the National Co-Chair of the Women’s March on Washington, drew over 5 million people across the globe who marched in resistance of hatred and bigotry, affirming women of all identities’ rights as human beings. Carmen received the Justice, Peace, and Freedom Award at the 2016 AFL-CIO Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Civil and Human Rights Awards and has been a featured speaker at Harvard University, Columbia University, and the University of California - Santa Cruz. In 2017 Carmen was named one of Fortune’s Top 50 World Leaders and one of TIME’s most influential people.
Kirsten is a political analyst and host appearing daily across cable news networks, including Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, MSNBC and CNN. Her perspective is sought on politics, faith and culture as a millennial, a speaker actively involved on university campuses nationwide, and as a mental health advocate and non-profit leader. Kirsten also hosts "The Sonder Podcast" on Faithwire.Com, which features interviews with thought leaders in politics, faith, mental health and culture.
She is also the Founder and President of the Kirsten Haglund Foundation, which provides financial assistance to families battling eating disorders. She and served as Miss America 2008, and lives in New York City with her husband Ryan and their fur baby, Elsa