Sasha Ahuja, National Director, Strategic Partnerships, Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Sasha Ahuja is the National Director of Strategic Partnerships at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Prior to joining Andrew Yang’s mayoral 2021 campaign as its co-manager, Sasha served as the Chair of the NYC Equal Employment Practices Commission from 2019 to 2021 and as an adjunct professor at both the Graduate School of Social Work at Touro College and the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College. Since January 2022, Sasha has worked as an adjunct professor at the Columbia School of Social Work, where she continues teaching at the intersections of racial equity and social policy and serving as a trainer for a number of progressive leadership pipeline programs across the country. Sasha received her MSW from Columbia School of Social Work in 2011.
Eric Dinowitz, New York City Council Member, District 11
Council Member Eric Dinowitz was born and raised in the Northwest Bronx, and is raising his family in the district he grew up in. Eric is a community activist, former special education teacher and Chapter Leader for the United Federation of Teachers and former Aging Chair of Bronx Community Board 8.
Eric attended Bronx’s public schools, and has a personal investment in the success of our students. As a special education teacher for thirteen years in our community, he taught and counseled the students who needed the most support. Council Member Dinowitz made sure each of them had a fair shot to succeed and gave them the tools that they needed to do it.
As a Democratic District Leader, Council Member Dinowitz worked to make voting easier and more accessible. He also fought for transit accessibility by joining together a coalition of local advocates and elected officials to bring an elevator to the Mosholu Avenue subway stop. He looked out for seniors as Chair of the Aging Committee on Bronx Community Board 8, and spent hundreds of hours getting critical services to our older adults throughout the pandemic.
Andrew Gounardes, New York State Senator, 26th Senate District,
Andrew Gounardes represents New York’s 22nd State Senate District, which includes the neighborhoods of Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Sunset Park, Red Hook, Park Slope, Gowanus, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, Downtown Brooklyn, Fort Greene, Brooklyn Heights, Vinegar Hill, and DUMBO. He was elected in November 2018.
Senator Gounardes is the Chair of the Committee on Budget and Revenue and a strong champion for working families across New York. He has written and passed key legislation to fight skyrocketing hospital costs, expand school zone speed cameras, and protect workers’ rights. Since his first term in the State Senate in 2019, Senator Gounardes has worked tirelessly for a better New York that is fair, affordable, and gives everyone an opportunity to thrive.
Born and raised in Bay Ridge, Senator Gounardes graduated from Fort Hamilton High School and earned degrees from Hunter College and the George Washington University Law School. Senator Gounardes’ passion for public service began as an aide to former City Councilmember Vincent Gentile. He later served as Counsel to Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams for five years and a trustee of the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, one of the largest municipal pension funds in the country.
Kevin Jennings, CEO, Lambda Legal
Kevin Jennings is a longtime leader in the fight for LGBTQ equality. He became a high school history teacher after becoming the first member of his family to earn a college degree in 1985 when he graduated from Harvard (from which he received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2019), and helped students create the nation’s first Gay-Straight Alliance club in 1988 while a teacher in Concord, Massachusetts. He went on to found GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network) in 1990, the first national organization dedicated to fighting anti-LGBTQ bias in K-12 schools.
In 1994 Kevin was part of the committee which created LGBTQ History Month, now observed every October, and he authored Becoming Visible, the first textbook on the subject for young people. In 1996 he helped write and produce Out of the Past, the first documentary on LGBTQ history for young people, which won the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award for Best Documentary. In 2009 Kevin became the Assistant Secretary of Education for Safe & Drug-Free Schools, where he led the Obama Administration’s national campaign against bullying in schools, earning him the nickname of being the “anti-bullying czar.” Kevin went on from the Obama Administration to run the Arcus Foundation, the world’s largest private funder of LGBTQ rights, and the Tenement Museum, the nation’s premiere museum dedicated to the immigrant experience.
Most recently he served as an Executive Producer of the 2019 PBS documentary The Lavender Scare, which details the McCarthy-era witch hunts for LGBTQ people, and the 2020 HBO documentary Welcome to Chechnya, which documents the ongoing horrific pogrom against LGBTQ people in the Russian Republic of Chechnya and was short-listed for the 2021 Academy Award for Best Documentary. In 2019 Kevin became the CEO of Lambda Legal, the nation’s oldest legal advocacy group fighting for full legal equality for LGBTQ people and everyone living with HIV.
Carolyn Maloney, Eleanor Roosevelt Distinguished Leader in Residence at Roosevelt House
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.. 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.
Jessica Neuwirth, Distinguished Lecturer and Rita E. Hauser Director, Human Rights Program
Jessica Neuwirth is an international women’s rights lawyer and activist. She is one of the founders of Equality Now, an international women’s rights organization established in 1992, and the founder and Director of Donor Direct Action, an offshoot project now hosted by the Sisterhood is Global Institute to support women’s rights organizations around the world. She is also a founder and Co-President of the new ERA Coalition, mobilizing a renewed effort to get the Equal Rights Amendment into the United States Constitution. To aid this effort, she has also written a book Equal Means Equal, Why the Time for the ERA is Now.
Jessica holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a B.A. in History from Yale University. She has worked for the human rights organization Amnesty International, for the Wall Street law firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, and for the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs, as well as the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. She served as a special consultant on sexual violence to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda for its landmark Akayesu judgment holding that rape is a form of genocide, and again worked for the Rwanda Tribunal on the Media judgment holding print and radio media accountable for their role in the Rwandan genocide. More recently she directed the legal team that drafted the judgment of the Special Court for Sierra Leone convicting former Liberian President Charles Taylor of war crimes and crimes against humanity. As a guest lecturer, Jessica has taught international women’s rights at Harvard Law School
Matthew S. Washington, Vice President & Chief of Staff, Phipps Houses
Matthew S. Washington is currently Vice President & Chief of Staff at Phipps Houses. In this role, he is responsible for overseeing internal and external communications, including all digital and print media across Phipps affiliated entities. He also supports efforts that strengthen stakeholder relationships on land use and programmatic objectives. Matthew also assists in the overall coordination and integration of activities between Phipps Houses and its affiliate, Phipps Neighborhoods. He has a wealth of experience in government, real estate, and nonprofit sectors.
Prior to joining Phipps, Matthew served as Deputy Manhattan Borough President in the office of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. In that role, he oversaw the distribution of over $130 million in funding to enhance parks, theaters, hospitals, museums, affordable housing developments, community centers and public schools. He was also a member of the boards of more than 15 organizations, including Business Improvement Districts, Park Conservancies, Economic Development agencies for New York City and New York State and Other. Notably, he served as a trustee to New York City Employees’ Retirement System which has over 350,000 members and is a fund of over $80 billion. Matthew was named to the 2018 New York City 40 Under 40 Rising Stars list published by City & State New York.
Matthew has a diverse professional background in real estate and non-profit organizational management. He was Deputy Director of External Affairs at The Durst Organization where he managed public affairs for new development in Queens, worked with the construction and marketing teams to complete and lease One World Trade Center and worked on other projects including managing New York Water Taxi. Matthew was previously the Executive Director of Friends of the High School for Environmental Studies where he built relationships with other organizations to help students gain experiential learning opportunities across 26 different states in the summer while students were on break. He was also Deputy Director of Friends of Hudson River Park where he was a part of the team that successfully advocated for the funding to build Hudson River Park on Manhattan’s West Side.
Matthew is particularly proud of the 10 and a half years he was on Manhattan’s Community Board 11 which represents East Harlem where he was born and raised. During his time on Community Board 11, Matthew was elected as the Chair when he was 26 years old, making him the youngest community board chair throughout New York City and he remained the city’s youngest chair for the entire 6 years that he served in that position.
Matthew is still active with numerous organizations as a member of the Board of Directors of the Trust for Governors Island, Manhattan Community Board 10’s Exonerated 5 Task Force, Friends of La Marqueta, CIVITAS and Association for a Better New York’s Young Professionals Steering Committee. Matthew also serves as a trustee on the Board of Trustees at Alfred University where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Comparative Cultures.