Impact Center Staff
John Hart, Founder and Chair
As the Founder and Chair of the Impact Center, John Hart leads the Impact Center, a premier leadership development organization for high-impact individuals and institutions. The Impact Center’s mission is to empower emerging and accomplished leaders with the knowledge, skills and network they need to expand their impact on their organizations and our society.
John was selected by the Obama White House to serve as the principal Project Manager for the Presidential Appointee Leadership Program. The three year program launched with a Cabinet-White House retreat for President Obama, Vice-President Biden, Cabinet members and members of the senior White House staff. In his work with the White House, John was responsible for the design and facilitation of leadership programs for appointed leaders across the Obama Administration including the President, Vice-President, Cabinet Secretaries, the President’s Management Council at OMB, and the Office of the First Lady to strengthen individual leaders and their teams to institutionalize change.
Prior to founding the Impact Center, John advanced bi-partisan solutions to education as Director of Policy Implementation for the James B. Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Before joining the Hunt Institute, John served as Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Government Affairs for Ovations, a division of UnitedHealth Group, focusing on improving public, private and nonprofit sector partnerships in health care.
John served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House. An attorney by training, John practiced law in Washington, D.C. and served as Law Clerk to the Honorable James T. Turner of the United States Court of Federal Claims. He is a graduate of the Catholic University of America and the Fordham University School of Law.
Alecia Coffey, Facilitator of Women's Leadership Institute
Alecia Coffey has focused professionally for over three decades on career development as a counselor and trainer for the CIA. Her passion is helping others tap into their strengths while honoring their core values so they can craft both professionally and personally fulfilling lives. An experienced executive coach, Alecia is determined to spread the philosophy that the ultimate definition of career success is when you don’t know if you are working or playing. As a facilitator, she uses humor and candor to encourage participants to try new behaviors, consider other perspectives, and see new possibilities for themselves and others. Alecia is excited to help this impressive group of women think creatively not only about how they can grow individually as leaders, but how they can actively support each other in that endeavor.
Alecia has an MS in Counseling from Virginia Tech, attended Georgetown University’s program in transformational leadership coaching, and holds the Professional Coach Credential from the International Coach Federation. Married and a mom to fraternal twins, she hails from McLean Virginia
Board of Directors
In order to provide the high-level networking and programming that Impact Center has become known for, we are guided by an experienced and talented Board of Directors. These individuals are all accomplished leaders in their fields, and provide the Impact Center with unparalleled insight and guidance.
Our Board of Directors includes:
Pernille Spiers-Lopez was a top executive with IKEA for 21 years. Among her positions, Pernille served as President and CEO for IKEA North America and Global HR Manager for the IKEA Group and its 135,000 employees. She served as a member of The Executive Management Team of the IKEA Group for 10 years.
IKEA is the leading home furnishings company in the world and is recognized for offering well- designed, functional home furnishings products at low prices, for being a good company to work for and for a clear commitment to a sustainable social and environmental agenda.
During her tenure as President of IKEA North America (2001-2009), Pernille lead the fastest expansion within IKEA. IKEA US grew from a small ‘niche’ retailer with 15 stores to a nationally recognized ‘major player’ with 38 stores. She brought with her a wealth of experience in home furnishings retail, human resources and leadership. This experience was grounded in and enhanced by her commitment to the IKEA culture and values that are at the heart of the company and its success.
In her capacity as Global HR Manager for the IKEA Group, she developed and implemented a new business focused HR Strategy empowering the organization, it’s leaders and co-workers to grow business and people together.
It is through this humanistic way of doing business that Pernille has brought to IKEA perhaps her greatest asset: the ambition to foster an environment of growth, inclusion, balance and empowerment – while doing good business.
A native of Denmark with a Masters in Journalism, Pernille Spiers-Lopez has lived in the United States for 30 years. Prior to joining IKEA, Pernille was an entrepreneur with a Scandinavian design business and she held several leadership positions for different retail companies in Florida and California.
She has had numerous speaking engagements both in the US and internationally on topics focusing on global retailing, leadership, diversity and sustainability. Among some of the places she has spoken include: The Wharton School of Business at University of Pennsylvania, the MBA program at Columbia University in New York City, Women’s Leadership Exchange conference in Long Beach, California, International Women’s Forum in Miami, Boersen’s Executive Club in Copenhagen Denmark and for a newly formed group of female business leaders in Rome, Italy. Pernille published her first book on personal leadership in Denmark, April, 2012.
In addition to the Impact Center, Pernille serves on the boards of Meijer Corporation, Michigan, COOP DK, Copenhagen, Save The Children, US and GoodCity Chicago.
Ramón Martín is the President, Merchant Services Americas, American Express Corporation.
A global executive, with solid consistent results during more than 25 years of professional experience, Ramon has worked in the areas of Financial Services, Travel, Logistics, Strategic Consulting and Manufacturing industries. He has an extensive international and multi-cultural business background, having worked and lived in several countries, with a diverse General Management experience, leading global multi-divisional, multi-product businesses serving millions of customers through tens of thousands of people.
An awarded leader, methodical change agent with thorough strategic thinker with proven execution discipline and ample experience on business turnaround, business innovation, startup and expansion, Ramon has managed both consumer and B2B products and driven major digital transformation.
He is committed to advancing a culture of Gender Intelligence and has demonstrated a strong capacity to build partnerships throughout his career.
Betsy Myers is an author, distinguished speaker and the founding director of the Center for Women and Business at Bentley University. Prior to her appointment, Betsy spoke around the world on the changing nature of leadership and women's leadership, work that continues in her role with the Center. Her book—Take the Lead—was released on September 2011.
Previously, Betsy served as a senior advisor to Barack Obama’s Presidential Campaign. She joined the campaign in January 2007 as the Chief Operating Officer and served in this capacity from the start-up phase of the campaign through the primary season. She is known for establishing the campaign with a business operational model and customer service mentality. During the general election campaign, Myers represented the campaign as Chair, Women for Obama. Prior to this appointment, Myers was the Executive Director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. As a senior official in the Clinton Administration, she was the President's senior advisor on women's issues and the first Director of the White House Office for Women’s Initiatives and Outreach (1995–1997).
Geronimo M. Rodriguez Jr. currently serves as Vice President of Diversity and Community Outreach with Seton Healthcare Family in Austin, Texas. He joined the Seton Family in June 2006 to help expand efforts across the hospitals in the areas of diversity, inclusion, cultural competence and workforce development.
Mr. Rodriguez has served as an Adjunct Faculty member at the LBJ School of Public Affairs teaching US Latino Policy Issues and as an Adjunct Faculty member at St. Edward’s University focused on Political Leadership, Political Management/Managing Crisis and Mass Media and Politics. Mr. Rodriguez is co-author of the Diversity chapter in Hospitals: What They Are and How They Work. Mr. Rodriguez has over fifteen years of public service experience advising federal, state and local elected officials and helping manage presidential, gubernatorial, and attorney general campaigns.
From 2001 to 2006, he was with Leonard Frost Levin Van Court & Marsh, P.C., in Austin. From 1999 to 2001, Rodriguez was Counsel to the Solicitor at the U.S. Department of Labor. Earlier he served in the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs at the U.S. Department of Labor, in the White House Office of Congressional Affairs and Presidential Personnel during the Clinton administration, and in the Office of the Texas Attorney General.
Rodriguez served as Chair of the Hispanic Bar Association of Austin Foundation, a member of the Board of Directors of the Texas Observer, the Texas Advisory Board of Environmental Defense, and a member of the American Swiss Foundation and the Embassy of Spain Young Leaders' Conferences. In addition to the Impact Center, he is also a Board Member of KLRU-TV, the local public television station, and the Seton Cove, a spirituality center.
He graduated from St. Edward's University with a bachelor's degree, cum laude, attended the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law.
Jan Gilbert, Secretary to the Board of Directors
Jan Gilbert has more than twenty years experience counseling franchisors and franchisees on all facets of domestic and international franchising, including structuring franchise programs, counseling with respect to federal and state regulatory issues associated with franchising activities and franchise relationship matters (e.g., transfers, terminations, renewals), drafting franchise- and distribution-related agreements (e.g., master franchise, franchise, development and area representative agreements, sales and service contracts, confidentiality and non-competition agreements, and distribution agreements), negotiating domestic and international agreements and disputes, franchisee compliance issues, franchise system mergers and acquisitions, drafting franchise offering circulars, responding to state and federal administrative inquires and investigations, obtaining exemptions and interpretive opinions from regulatory agencies, and establishing franchise advisory councils and cooperatives. He has worked with both start-up and mature franchisors. Gilbert is a member of the ABA Forum on Franchising, Antitrust Section, and the Legal/Legislative Committee of the International Franchise Association.
Leadership Advisory Council
- Laurel Blatchford, Senior Advisor, Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.
- Anand David, Global Director - Lateral Partner Recruiting, White & Case
- Julie Andreeff Jensen, Partner, Brunswick
- Heather King, General Counsel, Theranos Inc.
- Emily Lenzner, Vice President, Global Communications, Atlantic Media Company
- Anne Madison, Chief Communications Officer, Brand USA
- Jackie Norris, Executive Director, Points of Light Corporate Institute
- Kathleen Sack, Vice President, Talent & Organization Development, American Red Cross
- Elizabeth Sears Smith, Managing Director, Kent Strategies
- Patricia McGinnis, Professor, George Washington University The Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration
- Susan Kayser, Partner, Jones Day
Laurel joined Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. in January 2014 as senior advisor to the president and CEO. Prior to joining Enterprise, she held a number of senior roles in government and the private sector, including senior leadership roles at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and in the Bloomberg Administration.
She was appointed by President Obama as Chief of Staff to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan in January 2009, and served in this role until January 2013. In her capacity as Chief of Staff, she worked closely with the Secretary and the White House to execute key Obama Administration priorities, as well as with HUD’s senior management team and all agency political appointees on a wide range of policy and management priorities. During her tenure she was involved in crisis management, as well as many groundbreaking policy initiatives, including HUD’s sustainable communities work. Recognized across the Administration as a highly effective leader, she was tapped to be a member of the President’s Innovation Cohort and as a mentor and sponsor to political appointees around the Administration.
In December 2012, the President and Secretary Donovan asked Laurel to serve as Executive Director of the Hurricane Sandy Task Force. The Task Force was an interagency effort created by Executive Order to lead the long-term recovery effort and to set a new course for recovery by defining principles for investment of the $60 billion in federal funding dedicated to Sandy response and recovery. The Task Force delivered its strategy in August 2013, which made 69 groundbreaking recommendations to guide the investment of disaster funds and included new policy initiatives such as the Rebuild by Design competition, recently named one of The CNN 10: Ideas, celebrating 2013’s bold and innovative ideas.
Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Laurel was vice president of development and project director for the South Street Seaport Redevelopment at General Growth Properties (GGP), a Chicago-based real estate investment trust. Before her tenure at GGP, Laurel spent six years working for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, first as a senior policy advisor to Daniel L. Doctoroff, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding, then as a member of the senior team at the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
Laurel, a New York native, graduated cum laude from Williams College and received a master’s degree in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School. She lives with her husband, Bernie Kluger, and their daughters, Eleanor and Lucinda, in Washington, D.C.
Anand David is Global Director of Lateral Partner Recruiting at White & Case, LLP. Prior to joining White & Case, LLP Anand was the Global Head of Attorney Recruiting for Morrison Foerster LLP, a premier international law firm with over 17 offices and 1,000 attorneys.
Mr. David has over 20 years of experience developing and implementing strategic global staffing initiatives for a broad range of industries including energy, financial services and legal. In addition to the United States, Mr. David has had on the ground recruiting experience in South America, Europe and Asia.
Prior to joining Morrison Foerster in 2007 as their first global head of attorney recruiting, he spent seven years with UBS Investment Bank, where he held a succession of leadership recruiting positions in the U.S, culminating in a role as Global Head of Recruiting (campus & professional) for UBS, based in London. Mr. David joined UBS, in August 2000, after five years at Enron Corp where he began his recruiting career in hiring both campus graduates and lateral hires for the energy and broadband businesses, respectively.
Mr. David received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Houston in 1990, and spent several years in the public sector, including political staff roles in the Texas State Senate and Office of the Mayor of Houston, as well as serving as the Assistant Director of the Asia Society's Texas Center.
Mr. David serves on the Board of Directors of SW Global Credit Opportunity Fund Ltd - a fund managed by SW Asset Management, LLC. He is also a member of the Leadership Advisory Council of the Impact Center- a premier leadership development organization for high-impact individuals and institutions. Mr. David serves as an Advisor for 43 Partners – a strategic consulting and advisory firm with focus on providing management solutions and making strategic introductions to clients. Finally, he also serves on the Board of Directors of Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow, a non-profit organization whose mission is to help disadvantaged youth and adults recognize their own self-worth.
Mr. David is married to Gigi Gohal David, a hair colorist in Manhattan. They reside in Montclair, New Jersey with their two children, Simran Alexandra (10) and Jai Aryan (8).
Suzy George is a Principal of Albright Stonebridge Group (ASG), a global strategy and commercial diplomacy firm, and a member of the Operations Committee of Albright Capital Management, an affiliated investment advisory firm focused on emerging markets. Providing strategic advice and counsel to business, non-profits and government for over twenty years, Ms. George brings seasoned judgment and insight to solve complex problems. She oversees the firm’s global network and partnerships as well as directing convening initiatives and thought leadership opportunities for ASG’s clients. Ms. George works to bring clients together and maximize their opportunities by broadening access to key forums and opinion leaders, generating the synergy necessary to leverage the strengths of the firm to the benefit of its clients.
From 1997 to 2001, she served as the Deputy Chief of Staff at the Department of State for Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Ms. George served as a liaison to the White House and other Cabinet agencies for the Secretary of State. From 1995 to 1997, Ms. George served as Special Assistant and Assistant Counsel in the Office of the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations. From 1990 to 1993, Ms. George worked for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs on a wide range of projects including coordination of election monitoring missions, development and fundraising. She has traveled to and worked in over a hundred countries on six continents.
Ms. George received a B.A. from Mount Holyoke College and a J.D. from George Washington University Law School. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of Mount Holyoke College and the Board of Directors of the National Democratic Institute.
Julie Andreeff Jensen
Julie is an expert in reputation management, crisis communications and stakeholder engagement. She specializes in developing complex public affairs and corporate reputation campaigns for her clients.
Julie brings a wealth of political, legal and strategic campaign expertise from both inside and outside Washington. Prior to joining Brunswick she helped lead several successful political and public affairs campaigns including President Obama’s 2008 victory and Senator John Kerry’s 2004 Iowa Caucus upset. Julie is also an attorney and practiced law and government relations in Washington, DC where she advised clients on regulatory and litigation matters. Julie started her career as an aide to the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy. She holds both an undergraduate and a law degree from American University in Washington, DC.
She has worked on behalf of several private clients and Fortune 100 companies including GE, Microsoft, Pfizer, Cisco and PepsiCo.
Heather King serves as Partner in Boies, Schiller & Flexner's Washington, DC office. She focuses her practice on the intersection between public policy and complex litigation matters. Ms. King joined the firm from the U.S. Congress, where she served as Special Assistant and Policy Advisor to U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, and helped lead Senator Clinton’s campaigns. In that capacity, she helped run the Senator’s Washington office, lead the Senator’s foreign relations work, and liased on behalf of the Senator with other government bodies and a large team of legislative and strategic advisors.
Since joining Boies, Schiller & Flexner, Ms. King has worked on a variety of public policy and litigation matters including federal government and corporate defense work. She led the successful public policy strategy and execution for The Bank of New York Mellon in its defense of a $22.5 billion claim filed by the Russian government in Russian court. She has also assisted and advised clients including the New York Yankees, CBS, C.V. Starr & Co., Goldman Sachs, Northwest Airlines, and DuPont and Pioneer about issues related to the legislative process, congressional testimony, congressional investigations, responding to government subpoenas, federal government agencies, international treaties and antitrust. Ms. King’s work has involved meeting with various branches of the U.S. and foreign governments, and working with Congressional members, Executive branch officials and foreign officials on behalf of firm clients.
Emily oversees communications for all divisions of the Atlantic Media Company, includingThe Atlantic, National Journal Group, Quartz, Government Executive Media Group, Defense One, and Atlantic Media Strategies. Prior to joining Atlantic Media in 2013, Emily was a managing director for public affairs and political consulting firm SKDKnickerbocker, where she strategized and managed a variety of national media campaigns for various corporations and non-profit organizations. She spent six years as the executive director of communications for ABC News in Washington, managing PR for programs This Week with George Stephanopoulos and Nightline and the network’s political coverage.
Anne Madison is chief communications officer for Brand USA, the public-private partnership responsible for launching the United States’ first-ever nationally coordinated tourism marketing effort. In this role, Anne is responsible for leading the global communications strategies that advance Brand USA’s mission and funding, raise its visibility worldwide, and build engagement with industry and other business leaders. Her leadership includes oversight for external and internal communications, media relations, business-to-business (B2B) marketing, and public policy educational outreach and relations.
Over the past 25 years, Anne has led and supported a number of areas from strategic planning to business development, B2B marketing and multicultural marketing to media relations, digital marketing and public relations, to media and crisis communications to investor relations, events, and corporate social responsibility. Prior to joining Brand USA, she was senior vice president for Choice Hotels International (one of the world’s largest hotel companies) and previously led the communications strategies as vice president, marketing and communications for Enterprise Community Investment (a leading provider of community development capital for affordable housing) and as vice president, communications of The Ryland Group (one of the nation’s largest homebuilders).
She has served on the boards of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), as well as a variety of community nonprofit organizations, including the National Family Resiliency Center, the Domestic Violence Center of Howard County, and The Norbel School. In addition, she is a member of the Harvard Kennedy School Women’s Leadership Board and the Leadership Council of the IMPACT Center in Washington, D.C.
Through the course of her career, she has won numerous awards, including those from the Public Relations Society of America, Financial World magazine, and the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International. In addition, she has been recognized as one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women.
An inspirational, collaborative and innovative leader, Anne has mentored others along their career paths, and is a passionate advocate for building diverse teams as an essential element for creating strategies that drive results.
Anne is a graduate of Wittenberg University where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in communications with a concentration in English and journalism and is currently pursuing her master’s degree at The George Washington University. She and her husband, Dave, have four children.
Jackie Norris, Chairperson
Jackie Norris has 20 years of experience in managing high-profile public affairs and corporate initiatives. Combining her experience in federal government, national and statewide political campaigns, nonprofit and academia, she has incubated, developed and managed numerous campaigns and initiatives from inception to implementation.
She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Points of Light Corporate Institute, the go-to resource for community minded companies looking to build and expand effective employee volunteer programs. Ms. Norris leads corporate strategy and employee engagement programs and advises America’s most respected brands on how to use the time and talent of their employees in volunteer service.
Ms. Norris has served as the Senior Advisor to the CEO at the Corporation for National and Community Service. Prior to that, she served as Assistant to President Obama and Chief of Staff to First Lady Michelle Obama. Ms. Norris developed a strategic plan to address the issues the First Lady is involved with including healthy eating and supporting America’s military families. She has served as a trusted advisor to various political candidates and their families including leading Barack Obama’s winning effort in the 2008 presidential campaign as the Iowa State Director.
Norris began her career in Washington serving on Capitol Hill for Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, then served as a White House scheduler for Vice President Al Gore and later worked as Director of Scheduling and Advance at the Department of Housing and Urban Development for Secretary Andrew Cuomo.
Ms. Norris has a passion for working with young people and has served as a high school government teacher and adjunct professor at American University. She was awarded the James Madison Fellowship in 2005, which supports the graduate study of U.S. history by aspiring and experienced secondary school teachers of history and government. She serves as an informal advisor to the Impact Center and has been appointed to the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars and the DC Service Commission. Ms. Norris has a Bachelor’s degree from SUNY: College at Geneseo, and both a secondary education certification and a Masters in Political Science from Iowa State University.
Kathleen Sack joined the American Red Cross in October 2010. In this position, she and her team provide enterprise wide strategic solutions for leadership and talent development, organizational assessment, performance management, and succession planning – all aligned to the mission and goals of the organization.
Prior to joining the American Red Cross, she worked as a Managing Principal in Korn/Ferry International’s Leadership and Talent Consulting group for 15 months, and owned her own consulting company for four years, focusing on talent management, learning solutions, and performance strategies.
Ms. Sack has experience in a variety of industries including retail, petroleum, aerospace, pharmaceuticals and manufacturing, including working for four Fortune 500 companies. In her career, she has successfully designed and implemented enterprise-wide talent management systems, large scale leadership development programs, and performance management processes.
As an adjunct faculty member, Ms. Sack teaches in the human resources curriculum at Peace College in Raleigh, North Carolina. She has also been a guest lecturer at Rutgers University and has spoken at several national conferences about her work in the areas of talent management and leadership development.
Ms. Sack earned her master’s degree in human resource management from Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia and a bachelor’s degree from Radford University in Radford, Virginia.
Elizabeth Sears Smith
Elizabeth Sears Smith brings more than 20 years of management and strategic planning experience bridging the public and private sectors.
She is currently Managing Director at Kent Strategies.
Liz served as Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy White House Cabinet Secretary, managing key issues between the Cabinet and senior White House staff. In this role, Liz managed day-to-day policy development and problem solving on a large range of issues to facilitate resolution and deliver results for the President.
As Chief of Staff for former Congressman Rahm Emanuel, Liz built the operation, ran the day-to-day, and worked closely with public and private sector constituencies. Her operation was always singled out as one of the most efficient and effective on the Hill.
As Deputy Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of Commerce, Liz managed a division of The U.S. Commercial Service. She reinvented the agency in the face of outside competition, and, among her many accomplishments, Liz spearheaded a new (at the time) e-strategy for The Commercial Service. She participated in senior level conferences on globalization and trade issues, and she led business development missions. She helped create unique opportunities for US companies which saw their export sales more than quadruple under Liz’s leadership.
Liz is a member of the Public Policy Committee for Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago. She serves on the Leadership Council for the Impact Center, a leadership and mentoring non-profit. Additionally, she is on the regional panel for the White House Fellow’s Program and is a member of Northwestern University’s Council of 100.
Liz is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and received her MBA from the JL Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. A native of Chicago, Liz and her family live in Washington, DC.