Our Team

The Team

Christopher Gergen

Christopher Gergen

CEO & Co-Founder

Christopher Gergen

CEO & Co-Founder

Christopher Gergen is the CEO and co-founder of Forward Cities – a national learning collaborative of 33 cities focused on building more inclusive innovation economies that also helped launch InnovateNC – a similar multi-city learning collaborative in North Carolina. He is also a founding partner of HQ Community, the largest entrepreneurial co-working community in North Carolina including HQ Raleigh, HQ Greensboro, HQ Charlotte, Think House and Duke TeachHouse as well as the founder of Forward Communities, a non-profit that has launched community-based efforts to develop and scale high-impact social entrepreneurs including Bull City Forward in Durham, NC, Queen City Forward in Charlotte, NC, and Moore Forward in Moore County, NC.  Additionally, Christopher is a fellow and faculty member with Duke University’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship initiative, co-author of the nationally acclaimed book Life Entrepreneurs: Ordinary People Creating Extraordinary Lives, an alum of Leadership North Carolina (class 24) and a 2013 Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute.  Other entrepreneurial endeavors for Christopher include co-founding SMARTHINKING, a venture-backed on-line tutoring company that grew to over 1,000 universities before being acquired by Pearson in 2011, and Café Nunoa – a bar, restaurant, live music venue in Santiago, Chile that Christopher started when he was 24.    He lives with his wife and two children in Durham, NC.

Fay Horwitt

Fay Horwitt

President

Fay Horwitt

President

As President of Forward Cities, Fay Horwitt partners in mission, strategy for the organization, leads in program design and manages the Forward Cities’ community innovation team. As an accomplished ecosystem builder and inclusive entrepreneurship expert, she uses asset-based and creative approaches to help emerging innovation communities build inclusive strategies into their DNA as they grow.

Prior to stepping into this role, Fay most recently served as Executive Director of HUSTLE Winston-Salem, an initiative focused on increasing economic development by accelerating under-resourced entrepreneurs, with a focus on women and people of color. Fay has a passion for entrepreneurial program development and curriculum design, having served as the Program Director for the high-profile launch of Venture Cafe Winston-Salem. She has a passion to empower and uplift innovators from all walks of life and believes that entrepreneurial mindsets have the power to change the world for good.

Nic Gunkel

Nic Gunkel

Vice President

Nic Gunkel

Vice President

As Vice President of Forward Cities, Nic Gunkel partners in strategic planning, guides R&D for the organization and leads the Research & Evaluation team. He coordinates and collaborates with national and local research partners on mapping local innovation landscapes in Accelerator cities. With experience in evaluation at the UN and in the nonprofit field, he helps to design Forward Cities’ methodology of tracking progress towards target outcomes.

Prior to coming to Durham, Nic was the lead researcher at the Boston University Initiative on Cities, an urban leadership institute. He is co-author of the report “Cities Joining Ranks”, which for the first time systematically reviews city policy networks in the US. He holds an MPA degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science as well as an MPP degree from the Hertie School of Governance in Germany.

Brett Brenton

Brett Brenton

Senior Director of Learning Networks

Brett Brenton

Senior Director of Learning Networks

Brett Brenton splits his time overseeing North Carolina-based efforts at accelerating the creation and implementation of inclusive innovation districts as well as working with various communities nationwide on groundwork initiatives to help judge their readiness to activate inclusive growth efforts. Brett serves as a key partner to each stakeholder in these spheres, helping to familiarize them with a variety of resources to help them meet their goals.
Brett spent thirteen years in public education before starting a diversity-focused, STEM-themed career development non-profit for the Research Triangle Foundation. This led to other opportunities in program design and implementation, stakeholder engagement, and small business tenant recruitment for the Foundation. Brett is driven by work that helps present opportunity to segments of the population that face challenges to full and equitable access.

Michelle Benham

Michelle Benham

Marketing & Communications Director

Michelle Benham

Marketing & Communications Director

Michelle Benham is the director of marketing and communications at Forward Cities. She has a background in media, science, and organizational development, and has produced award-winning content for nonprofits, federal and local government agencies, and the private sector. Prior to Forward Cities, Michelle led the marketing and communications team at the  Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, an internationally renowned program of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.  Previously, she worked for NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Discovery Learning Alliance, and Discovery Communications. Michelle is an alumna of the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leaders program, and was a founding board member of the Conservation Leadership in the Caribbean fellowship, a capacity-building, networking, and leadership development program for emerging leaders in climate science and wildlife conservation in the wider Caribbean region. Michelle holds an M.F.A. in Film & Media from the School of Communication at American University and a B.S. in Ecology from the University of Georgia. She lives in Durham, NC with her husband and their two children.

 

Stacey Williams

Stacey Williams

Director of Evaluation

Profile photo of Stacey

Stacey Williams

Director of Evaluation

Stacey recently completed her doctoral training at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. At Hopkins, Stacey was a recipient of the C. Sylvia and Eddie C. Brown Community Health Scholarship and received specialized training in health inequities and practices to improve quality of life and opportunities in urban centers. Prior to her doctoral studies, Stacey earned a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology at James Madison University and a Master’s degree in Public Health at the University of North Carolina.
Building on her experience engaging with community partners, Stacey works to support local community-based organizations and coalitions to strategically respond to evidence and improve access to resources that will optimize opportunities for success in entrepreneurial endeavors for all residents. At Forward Cities, Stacey applies her training in population health statistics with an eye towards upstream social determinants of health, including opportunities for economic prosperity for vulnerable and underserved communities.

Shayla Herndon-Edmunds

Shayla Herndon-Edmunds

Director of Talent Development

Shayla Herndon-Edmunds

Director of Talent Development

Hassan Bazzi

Hassan Bazzi

Director of Community Innovation

Hassan Bazzi

Director of Community Innovation

Hassan Bazzi is the Director of Community Innovation at Forward Cities, a national learning network that equips cities and micropolitans across the U.S. with tools and resources to accelerate inclusive innovation and grow and sustain more equitable entrepreneurial ecosystems.  In this role he oversees the delivery of the national entrepreneurial ecosystem capacity-building engagements in the national network of cities. Hassan is an entrepreneur and an entrepreneurial ecosystem builder.  Prior to joining Forward Cities, Hassan served for over a decade in Detroit’s non-profit sector working in partnership and collaboration with philanthropy, government and the private sector on ecosystem building projects, cross-sector economic development initiatives including commercial corridor development, talent pipeline development, and entrepreneur and small business development initiatives aimed at catalyzing neighborhood based businesses and under-resourced entrepreneurs.  Hassan serves as a Kauffman Foundation ESHIP Champion along with ecosystem builders from around the world who champion entrepreneurial ecosystem building.  He is an alum of Leadership Detroit, an Aspen Ideas Scholar, and serves on a number of boards including Eastern Market Corp. and Venture for America–Detroit.

Eric Renz-Whitmore

Eric Renz-Whitmore

Director of ESHIP

Eric Renz-Whitmore

Director of ESHIP

Eric is the Director of ESHIP at Forward Cities. He’s worked in a variety of economic development and ecosystem building roles in New Mexico where he was among the leaders building the state’s digital media business community as well as a statewide network of educators and media professionals as part of the state’s Media Industries Strategy project on behalf of UNM’s ARTS Lab. As Executive Director of the New Mexico Technology Council, a statewide trade association for IT and technology business, he led efforts to embrace and support startup community growth and collaboration among both Albuquerque area and statewide groups in technology and business.

More recently, he served with the City of Albuquerque’s Economic Development Department where he coordinated engagement with area incubators, accelerators and other community efforts. Additionally, he has participated in national work in the Ecosystem Building arena with Startup Champions Network and the ESHIP Goals initiative, focused on efforts around communications, and inclusion.

He lives in Albuquerque, NM with his wife and two children.

Kim Louis

Kim Louis

Project Manager, New Kensington/Arnold

Kim Louis

Project Manager, New Kensington/Arnold

Kim Louis is an entrepreneur and nonprofit director in New Kensington, PA with 25 years of experience working in the nonprofit sector and with at-risk youth. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Urban Studies from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master of Arts in Youth Ministry from Trinity School for Ministry. She has worked as a Behavioral Specialist in autism for Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic and a Youth Ministry Consultant for the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh. She is the Founding director of Sonward Youth Programs in New Kensington, PA, working with kids in the neighborhoods with the highest poverty rates in the county. She created a tiered mentorship program where kids can move from participants to interns to staff. Currently, the daily operations of the program are partially run by staff who started out as program participants. Kim has been married to her husband, Dave, since 2004 and together they are raising their four adopted children who are all middle school aged. She is a resident of New Kensington and hopes to be able to bring innovative redevelopment to her community through her work with Forward Cities.

Kaliah Ligon

Kaliah Ligon

Local Director, Indianapolis

Kaliah Ligon

Local Director, Indianapolis

Kaliah Ligon, the Indianapolis Inclusive Innovation Fellow, has served the Indianapolis community for the past ten years in several roles in grant-making, community building, outreach and organizing. Having worked for the city’s public transit system as the manager of outreach, Indiana’s largest non-profit hospital system as a community outreach project manager, and a capacity building director for a grassroots leadership development organization, Kaliah has touched the lives of thousands of Indianapolis residents. Kaliah is skilled in facilitating effective meetings, analytical and strategic thinking, and building relationships. Kaliah studied at the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs earning a master’s degree in public administration with a concentration in policy analysis. Kaliah is married to her childhood sweetheart, Chris, and they have three children ages 20, 15, and 13. She enjoys traveling and meeting new people. Her favorite side hustle is driving for Uber and Lyft rideshare services.

Gabriel Muñoz

Gabriel Muñoz

Local Director, ESHIP Kansas City/MO

Gabriel Muñoz

Local Director, ESHIP Kansas City/MO

Gabriel Muñoz is Kansas City’s Inclusive Innovation Fellow. As a Fellow, he serves as the central project manager for the “Forward Cities Community Innovation Accelerator” – a structured strategic planning, investment, and implementation process.

Prior to his role as a Fellow, he served as the Director of Sales and Small Business Advising for the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Greater Kansas City. In his role, he was responsible for cultivating and maintaining relationships with start-ups, government/non-profit agencies, community leaders and corporate America. During his 12 years at the HCC, he assisted over 1,000 micro-enterprises in getting licensed, certified as M/WBEs and connected in the community.

In addition, Gabe serves on various community boards and committees including Junior Achievement, Big Brothers Big Sisters Diversity Task Force, Olathe Latino Coalition, Olathe Hispanic Heritage Month Planning Committee, Minority Business Coalition, KCK Public Schools Economic Inclusion Committee. He is also the Founder of the Young Latino Professionals of Kansas City and Founding member of Starlight Theater Young Professionals.

Gabriel is the 2nd oldest of 9 children, was born and raised in Topeka, Kansas and has resided in Kansas City for 12+ years. He is a first-generation college graduate. Gabriel holds an associate’s degree from Allen County Community College, where he graduated summa cum laude and a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in finance and entrepreneurship from Washburn University, where he graduated magna cum laude. Gabe is an avid fan of the Kansas City Chiefs, Royals & KU Basketball. In his free time, you can find him playing soccer and spending time with his wife, Julia, and their four children, Devin, Diego, Daisy and Desiree.

LC Johnson

LC Johnson

Local Director, Franklin County/Columbus

LC Johnson

Local Director, Franklin County/Columbus

LC Johnson is an award-winning writer, entrepreneur, and activist with a passion for uplifting and empowering women and communities of color. She is a recognized subject matter expert whose work and writings on the topic of race and gender have appeared in outlets such as Forbes Magazine, Huffington Post, Black Enterprise, and Policy Mic. In addition to over ten years of experience developing and facilitating entrepreneurship, economic development, and social justice initiatives in a diverse range of communities, she is the founder of Zora’s House – a coworking and community space whose mission is to provide women of color with the clarity, confidence, and connections they need to amplify their authentic voices; grow and contribute their talents; and powerfully transform their lives, careers, and communities.

LC resides in Columbus, OH with her husband, her two-year-old son, and their dog Huey. When not at work LC enjoys reading, watching comic book movies, drinking beer, road trips, and eating ALL OF THE THINGS.

Erin Ortigoza

Erin Ortigoza

Local Director, ESHIP Rio Grande

Erin Ortigoza

Local Director, ESHIP Rio Grande

Erin has been involved with food community planning and development in a variety of capacities for over 15 years.  In 2002, she accepted an invitation to serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay. Her role was in the agricultural extension sector, and she enjoyed nearly 3 years of fulfilling work with community groups working toward increased economic security through agricultural initiatives in their rural region.

Prior to accepting her new role as the Ecosystem Builder/Local Director for ESHIP Rio Grande, Erin had been a Senior Planner with Santa Fe County for 5 years. Through this work, she was responsible for creating the Santa Fe County Agriculture and Ranching Implementation Plan, which is an action plan distilled from extensive community outreach, stakeholder input and County policy.  She also coordinated initiatives including numerous agricultural related demonstration projects and the AgriGate of Santa Fe County, which is an online clearinghouse of food and agricultural information designed to support food access and networking opportunities in the regional community.

Erin was also the co-owner of Ancient Waters Farm, her family farm in La Madera, New Mexico, from 2012 through 2017. During this time, she worked as an intern for the Santa Fe Food Policy Council, then served as the coordinator for over 2 years. She was later appointed to the Food Policy Council as a representative for Santa Fe County in 2015 and has continued actively working with the council to the present.

Erin sincerely loves being a part of relationship building and cultivating connections in the regional food community.  She looks forward to her role of Ecosystem Builder to continue facilitating collective work supportive to a rich and resilient entrepreneurial environment for the food and agricultural community of New Mexico!

Megan Shuford

Megan Shuford

ESHIP Communications Manager

Megan Shuford

ESHIP Communications Manager

Megan comes to Forward Cities with over 15 years of non-profit experience including program design, storytelling, grassroots fundraising, communications and program management. Before becoming our ESHIP Communications Manager, Megan directly supported conscious and social entrepreneurs as a transformational coach. Megan is excited to uplift the stories of our diverse ecosystem builders, community leaders and entrepreneurs, while continuing to support the creation of healthy entrepreneurial ecosystems in our Forward Cities’ partner communities.

She is also a passionate and dedicated community builder, healer, storyteller, conscious co-creator and founder. Her life values are centered around compassion, love, honoring intuition, excellence, curiosity, community building and racial, economic and social justice. Megan is the founder of Dreams Followed, a community accelerator that empowers emerging change-makers with financial and strategic support, mentorship and coaching while they develop and implement their positive and powerful community programs, solutions and visions.

Her background includes a Masters of Science in Social Work with a concentration in Non-profit Management from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (2009) and a Bachelors in Peace and Global Studies from Earlham College in Richmond Indiana (2000).

Feel free to contact Megan at [email protected] with any questions or just to say Hello!

Rajah Satterwhite

Rajah Satterwhite

Content Marketing Manager

Rajah Satterwhite

Content Marketing Manager

Rajah graduated from Meredith College in 2016 where she double majored in Sociology and Criminology. While at Meredith, she was active in the formation of the first Black Student Union and developed a vested interest for research detailing the experiences of people of color and women.
As a recent Pipeline Engagement Coordinator for Public Allies North Carolina, Rajah discovered the power of intentional nonprofit work and its ability to address numerous social issues and the systems that sustain them.
In her free time, Rajah volunteers and hosts a podcast with her mother “Talking Brown Sugar” discussing life lessons, current events, and highlighting local businesses.

Garrett Raczek

Garrett Raczek

Senior Researcher

Garrett Raczek

Senior Researcher

Garrett Raczek is a Senior Researcher at Forward Cities. He graduated with a degree in economics from Duke University and an MBA from the Yale School of Management. He has spent time developing skills in non-profit management and data use, particularly focusing on moving organizations beyond data analysis and toward a more intentional use of findings. He is passionate about making data and decision-making more inclusive of all communities, particularly those most impacted by decisions. In his free time, Garrett is an active community organizer who works with others in collectively building a more just and representative community. At Forward Cities, Garrett wishes to leverage these skills to build local ecosystems grounded in economic, racial, and social justice.

Eliza Salmon

Eliza Salmon

Research Manager

Eliza Salmon

Research Manager

Eliza Salmon is a Research Manager in the Research Division of Forward Cities. She is a recent graduate of Duke University’s Public Policy Master’s Program, and has a special interest in research methods, data visualization, and mobility from poverty. Before starting at Duke, she was an Americorps member in Alamance County. She grew up in both Southern California and Vermont.

Laura Merryfield

Laura Merryfield

ESHIP Learning Network Manager

Laura Merryfield

ESHIP Learning Network Manager

As ESHIP Learning Network Manager at Forward Cities, Laura Merryfield works in Long Beach, California to grow the local entrepreneurial ecosystem and to build best practices across all ESHIP communities. Most recently, Laura completed a Master’s degree in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, with research and fieldwork spanning equity in disaster response, cross-sectoral partnership effectiveness, and civic innovation.

Laura has deep roots in Long Beach, having grown up in the city and its schools and spent years in the nonprofit sector. Laura worked both with Building Healthy Communities: Long Beach (now Long Beach Forward) and the Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition on community organizing campaigns around health equity, education justice, and immigrant rights. 

Laura is especially proud of their work with the community-based Long Beach Language Access Coalition to advocate for and partner in the implementation of the city’s Language Access Policy, allowing Long Beach residents and community members from all backgrounds to have greater voice in local governance. In addition to their MPP, Laura also holds a B.A. in Development Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.

Matt Hughes

Matt Hughes

Accounting and HR Manager

Matt Hughes

Accounting and HR Manager

Matt Hughes joins Forward Cities after working in campaigns and local and state government in North Carolina, including in business operations at his alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Previously at the Leadership Now Project, he has over ten years of experience working in organization operations, fundraising, advocacy, grassroots organizing, and legislative policy and implementation. Matt holds a BA in Political Science and an MPA, both from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Matt is a proud North Carolinian and Tar Heel.

Matt was appointed to a vacancy on the Hillsborough Board of Commissioners and was sworn in on April 9, 2018 by State Senator Valerie Foushee. Believing that people should be active members of their community, Matt serves on several non-profit and local government advisory boards and serves as one of Governor Roy Cooper’s appointees on the North Carolina Human Relations Commission. 

When taking a break from public service, Matt enjoys cheering on the Carolina Tar Heels. Matt lives with his partner Kevin and their bearded dragon and lack Labrador named Chloe and Charlotte, respectively.

Symone Fogg

Symone Fogg

AmeriCorps VISTA

Symone Fogg

AmeriCorps VISTA

Symone has a dedicated interest in social innovation and creating systems that amplify good in the community. She strives to help organizations and businesses eradicate intergenerational poverty, build equitable communities and break glass ceilings. For years, Symone has been doing just that by utilizing design thinking and methodologies to help organizations rethink their impact. First, as a Brand Designer and Illustrator for seven years working exclusively with nonprofits, then as Vice Chairman of a private elementary school, and now as a Business Designer – strategizing for local businesses on how to reach their greatest potential. She’s an avid researcher and lover of information. She wants Durham to thrive and to close opportunity gaps across communities. In her free time, she’s either reading news articles, rewatching Parks & Rec or writing.

Mike Green

Mike Green

Strategic Advisor

Mike Green

Strategic Advisor

Mike Green is a co-founder of ScaleUp Partners LLC, which has a commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative High Growth Entrepreneurship Working Group through its brand, ScaleUp America. Mr. Green is a New York Times Leadership Academy Fellow, award-winning print and digital journalist with 18 years experience, and former leading digital media innovations strategist for Dow Jones Local Media GroupAs a leading national voice on issues related to STEAM-powered education and economic competitiveness in the Innovation Economy, Mr. Green has been a consultant to educational, governmental and nonprofit institutions on issues of economic inclusion in the innovation economy.

Peter Carlson

Peter Carlson

Strategic Advisor

Peter Carlson

Strategic Advisor

Pete Carlson is president of Regional Growth Strategies. For the past 12 years, he has helped regional leaders assess, design and implement strategies to promote economic growth and shared prosperity. He has also conducted in-depth studies of over three-dozen regions, exploring what’s working and what’s getting in the way of growing inclusive economies, what kind of partnership structures they are putting in place, where the leadership is coming from for those efforts, what challenges they are facing, and what they are doing to address those challenges.

Currently, Pete is managing a national network of practitioners in the forefront of implementing innovative regional approaches to economic inclusion, in partnership with the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program. The participating regions serve as learning labs, testing out promising models and strategies, generating new insights into what works and what’s getting in the way. Earlier, Pete co-managed a similar national network as part of the Regional Prosperity Project. Prior to his consulting practice, Pete served as an advisor to the U.S. Secretary of Labor on strategies to promote skill-based economic growth.

Board of Directors

Brian Payne

Chair

Brian Payne

Chair

Brian Payne is president and CEO of the $725 million Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF) and president of The Indianapolis Foundation. 

H. Walker Sanders

Vice-Chair

H. Walker Sanders

Vice-Chair

H. Walker Sanders is president of The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro. The Foundation manages more than $200 million in assets through over 660 component funds.

Cathy Belk

Treasurer

Cathy Belk

Treasurer

Cathy Belk, President of Jumpstart, Inc. where she helps manage relationships with collaborators, funders, and other community partners.  Jumpstart is a leading national organization based in Cleveland, OH fostering entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Paul S. Grogan

Paul S. Grogan

Paul S. Grogan is the President and CEO of the Boston Foundation with assets of over $1 billion, and distributed $135 million to nonprofit organizations in fiscal year 2017. Previously, Paul was President and CEO of the nonprofit Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the nation’s largest community development intermediary.  

Tawanna Black

Tawanna Black

Tawanna Black is the founder and CEO of the Center for Economic Inclusion in the
Twin Cities.

Melissa Bradley

Melissa Bradley

Melissa Bradley is the founder and CEO of 1863 Ventures focused on increasing
entrepreneurs of color grow and scale their businesses through enhanced supply-chain
relationships

Maurice Jones

Maurice Jones

Maurice Jones is the CEO of Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC).

Advisory Board

Stephen Goldsmith

Advisory Board

Stephen Goldsmith

Advisory Board

Stephen Goldsmith, Director of the Innovations in Government Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government; former Deputy Mayor of New York City; former Mayor of Indianapolis

Jan Rivkin

Advisory Board

Jan Rivkin

Advisory Board

Jan Rivkin Professor of Strategy at Harvard Business School; Co-Chair of HBS’s project on the competitiveness of the U.S.

Sheila Herrling

Advisory Board

Sheila Herrling

Advisory Board

Sheila Herrling, Senior Fellow at Beeck Center for Social Impact & Innovation; former SVP of Social Innovation for the Case Foundation

Jim Bildner

Advisory Board

Jim Bildner

Advisory Board

Jim Bildner, CEO of the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation

Brad Segal

Advisory Board

Brad Segal

Advisory Board

Brad Segal, President of Progressive Urban Management Associates

Jeffrey C. Walker

Advisory Board

Jeffrey C. Walker

Advisory Board

Jeff Walker, Chair of New Profit, Inc., author of the Generosity Network, and investor.

Lee Fisher

Advisory Board

Lee Fisher

Advisory Board

Lee Fisher is the Dean and Joseph C. Hostetler-BakerHostetler Chair in Law at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University.

Fisher’s diverse career has spanned the private, public, nonprofit, and academic sectors. In addition to serving as Dean, He is Senior Fellow, Cleveland State University’s Levin College of Urban Affairs; and Urban Scholar, College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs and the Great Cities Institute, University of Illinois at Chicago. Fisher served as President/CEO of CEOs for Cities, nationwide innovation network for city success, for six years.

Fisher clerked for Judge Paul C. Weick of the U.S Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. He has decades of experience in legal practice, most extensively with Cleveland-based Hahn Loeser as Of Counsel from 1978-1990 and Partner from 1995-1999. He served as Ohio Attorney General and was the first Ohio Attorney General to personally argue cases before the Ohio Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit.

In addition to serving as Attorney General, Fisher has served as Ohio Lt. Governor; Director, Ohio Department of Development; Chair, Ohio Third Frontier Commission; State Senator; and State Representative. He also served as President and CEO of the Centers for Families and Children. Fisher is a graduate of Oberlin College and served on the Oberlin College Board of Trustees for 12 years. He earned his law degree from Case Western Reserve University School of Law; he was the first recipient of the School of Law’s Distinguished Recent Graduate Award and was inducted in the School of Law’s Society of Benchers. He also earned his Master of Nonprofit Organization from the CWRU Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organizations.

Fisher is married to Peggy Zone Fisher, President and CEO of the Diversity Center for Northeast Ohio. They have two children, Jason, an actor in Los Angeles, and Jessica, a senior at Cleveland State University.

Matt McKenna

Advisory Board

Matt McKenna

Advisory Board

Matt McKenna is an executive-in-residence overseeing the Rural Opportunity Initiative of Business for Impact. He recently served as senior advisor to the U.S. Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Tom Vilsack. In this role, McKenna worked to leverage federal resources with public and private partners to foster job creation, business development, and economic growth in rural America.

Prior to joining the USDA in 2013, McKenna served as president and chief executive officer of Keep America Beautiful, Inc., the nation’s leading nonprofit that brings volunteers together to build and sustain vibrant communities. Also, McKenna served as senior vice president of finance, senior vice president and treasurer and senior vice president of tax at PepsiCo. Before joining PepsiCo in 1993, McKenna served as partner with the law firm of Winthrop, Stimson, Putnam & Roberts in New York.

A graduate of Georgetown Law, McKenna is an active director of Foot Locker, Inc. and was chairman of the Board of the Ignatian Volunteer Corps. He has served on the board of trustees of several other for-profit and nonprofit organizations, including PepsiAmericas, Inc. and Hamilton College, where he graduated in 1972 and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Also, McKenna has served on the boards of Manhattanville College, the foundation for Purchase College of the State University of New York, and the Manhattan Theatre Club. He has been an adjunct professor at Fordham University since 1984.