Meet the Forum for Community Solutions Team:
Melody C. Barnes, Chair
Melody Barnes is the chair of the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions and Opportunity Youth Forum. She is co-founder and principal of MB2 Solutions, a domestic strategy firm, and a senior fellow and Compton Visiting Professor in World Politics at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center.
Melody was assistant to the president and director of the White House Domestic Policy Council from 2009 until 2012. Previously, she was the executive vice president for policy at the Center for American Progress and chief counsel to then-senator Edward M. Kennedy. Currently, Melody serves on the boards of Ventas, Booz Allen Hamilton, the Marguerite Casey Foundation, Year Up, the Institute forContemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. Melody began her career as an attorney with Shearman & Sterling in New York City after receiving her law degree from the University of Michigan and her bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she graduated with honors in history.
Stephen A. Patrick, Vice President (AI) & Executive Director (FCS)
Steve is a Vice President of the Aspen Institute and Executive Director of the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions. He oversees work that includes a focus on building the collective impact field, as well as launching and implementing the Opportunity Youth Forum in partnership with over 30 different foundations. His work at the Forum for Community Solutions has helped to grow the opportunity youth movement while also lifting up successful stories of civic engagement and community power building.
Prior to joining the Forum for Community Solutions, Steve served as a Senior Program Officer at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
His work at Gates included managing a portfolio of grants focused on supporting opportunity youth on pathways to and through postsecondary education, along with work focused on adult education populations and education for justice involved individuals. Steve also served as a Vice President at the Daniels Fund and as Director of Youth and Emerging Initiatives at the New Mexico Community Foundation.
Steve is the Co-founder of Rocky Mountain Youth Corps and spent several years leading youth programs for the San Juan Pueblo Tribe. Steve has served on a number of Boards including Grantmakers for Education, and Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE). He was selected as a Next Generation Leadership Fellow by the Rockefeller Foundation and was appointed by Governor Richardson to serve as the Co-Chair of the New Mexico Commission for Community Volunteerism (AmeriCorps). In 2008, Steve served on the Obama Transition Committee focused on Social Innovation and Civil Society.
Steve resides in Bainbridge Island, Washington, with his wife, Suzanne and sons, Jackson and Will.
Monique Miles, Vice President (AI), Director (OYF), and Managing Director (FCS)
Monique is a Vice President of the Aspen Institute, the Director of the Opportunity Youth Forum, and Managing Director of the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions.
Prior to joining the Forum for Community Solutions, Monique was the Director, Postsecondary Achievement at the National Youth Employment Coalition (NYEC). In her role at NYEC, Monique oversaw the Postsecondary Success Initiative, a national pilot that supported Community Based Organizations (CBOs) across the country to design and implement postsecondary programming, in partnership with local institutions of higher learning, for students who were disconnected from education.
Monique began her career in education reform working as a Literacy Instructor at Youth Opportunity Boston. In this role Monique worked directly with students remanded to the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS) to design and deliver education and career development curriculum. Monique went on to serve the same population of students through political advocacy initiatives at the Commonwealth Corporation (CommCorp).
Monique earned a Bachelor of Science from Springfield College and a Master’s in Education, Policy & Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Monique serves as the Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees at the Pomfret School. She also serves on the Advisory Board of Tulane University Cowen Institute of Public Education Initiatives. She is on the board of Independent Trust and the Corps Network.
Sheri Brady, Director for Strategic Partnerships
Sheri is the Director for Strategic Partnerships at the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions.
Prior to joining the Forum for Community Solutions, Sheri served as a Senior Policy Fellow at Voices for America’s Children. In that role, Sheri helped Voices’ members strengthen their advocacy support and expand state-level efforts to address the needs of at-risk children. Sheri accomplished this by delivering technical assistance and training to member organizations on various aspects of advocacy strategy including planning, implementation and evaluation, as well as developing capacity building and learning opportunities for members. In addition, she managed a policy portfolio on child welfare while providing internal consultation and management on a variety of policy issues.
Sheri was previously the Director of Policy at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, where she provided foundation-wide leadership and consultation on policy and advocacy grantmaking, working across programming units to develop policy-funding priorities and make connections that supported the larger organizational mission. In this role, she built public and political support for the Foundation’s programs and initiatives with internal and external stakeholders and provided capacity building activities and tools for grantees including training and consulting, while managing a portfolio of strategic grants aimed at strengthening and supporting the foundation’s policy goals. Additionally, Sheri’s prior work also includes serving as Director of Policy at the National Council of Nonprofits and Program Director at the Center for Policy Alternatives.
Sheri earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts and her law degree from the University of California at Berkeley.
Yelena Nemoy, Senior Program Manager
Yelena is the Senior Program Manager for the Opportunity Youth Forum at the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions.
Prior to joining the Forum for Community Solutions, Yelena was the Project Manager at the National Youth Employment Coalition (NYEC). In this role, Yelena oversaw NYEC’s expanding education options work and focused on issues of policy and practice that promote quality secondary and postsecondary education and training options leading to living wage careers. While with NYEC, Yelena worked with the Postsecondary Success Initiative, a national pilot that strengthened the ability of ten Community Based Organizations (CBOs), in partnership with local community colleges, to provide postsecondary transition support, college bridge programming, and personal and academic supports to students formerly disconnected from education. In this role, Yelena developed papers and briefs, planned convenings, delivered technical assistance, and supported the grantees’ data collection and analysis efforts.
Previously, Yelena was a youth services provider with CBOs that focused on dropout prevention and homelessness. Yelena coordinated a student internship program for youth at risk of dropping out of high school and conducted outreach to educate the business community about the value of youth in the workforce at the Goodwill Industries of Denver in Denver, Colorado. Prior to that, Yelena provided crisis intervention support and transitional living case management to homeless and marginally housed youth in shelter and transitional housing programs at Urban Peak Denver in Denver, Colorado.
Yelena earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Pace University and a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Colorado in Denver.
Jamiel L. Alexander, Program Manager
Jamiel is a Progam Manager for the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions. In this role he coordinates the Forum for Community Solutions youth led change strategy.
Prior to joining the Forum for Community Solutions, Jamiel was a Manager of Youth and Family Programs at Crispus Attucks Association for 12 years. While at the Crispus Attucks Association, Jamiel was responsible for a variety of tasks including managing after school and summer programs, professional and leadership development, youth and family workshops and various community service projects.
Jamiel is a Rising Star award recipient in his community and currently serves as a committee member for the York City General Authority Commission, NAACP, Ancestors Dream Organization and Helping Offer Options & Directions LLC in York, PA. In 2012 he was appointed to serve on the National Council of Young Leaders as an advisor to our policy makers and in 2013 was chosen to speak at the 50th Anniversary March on Washington. Additionally, earlier this year, his colleagues on the YouthBuild National Alumni Council elected him as their President.
Jamiel continues to engage and serve with many organizations but makes it a priority to take care of “home” first. Jamiel resides in York, Pennsylvania.
Jamie McAuliffe, Director, Global Opportunity Youth Network
Jamie is the Director of the Global Opportunity Youth Network at the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions, and focuses on global youth employment programming.
Previously, Jamie was President & CEO of Education For Employment (EFE) where he led the organization during a period of dramatic growth to provide job opportunities for tens of thousands of youth across 8 affiliated nonprofits in the Middle East & North Africa. Prior to EFE, Jamie was Portfolio Manager at the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, a foundation dedicated to scaling solutions to help vulnerable youth become successful adults. Early in his career, Jamie worked with Ashoka to support leading social entrepreneurs globally.
Jamie is an alumnus of Teach for America and the Coro Fellows program. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He is a Schwab Foundation Global Social Entrepreneur and a Life Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Jamie is an avid cyclist and resides in Bethesda, Maryland, with his wife, Lara Goldmark, and their two children, Kevin and Georgia.
Tracee Fisher, Executive Assistant
Tracee is an Executive Assistant at the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions.
Prior to joining the Aspen Institute, Tracee worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) in Learning and Development as a Senior Associate in Market Implementation for the Washington Metro market, and later as a Senior Associate in Registration Website Design, building learning websites for the Tax, Advisory and Assurance groups.
Tracee earned a bachelor’s degree from Norfolk State University, and a master’s degree from the George Washington University.
Nanette Antwi-Donkor, Senior Program Manager
Nanette Antwi-Donkor is a Senior Program Manager for Data, Equity & Impact at the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions.
Prior to joining the Forum for Community Solutions, Nanette was a Senior Consultant of Learning and Evaluation at Community Wealth Partners. In this role, Nanette led client engagements focused on measurement, evaluation, and learning; designed and carried out evaluations; helped clients develop learning cultures and systems; and helped build the firm’s learning and evaluation practice.
Previously, Nanette worked at ICF where she led a portfolio of evaluation projects to assess the impact of safety-net and social support programs and test the fidelity of the program model for both public and private organizations. She helped government agencies and organizations identify knowledge gaps in their own and their grantees’ approaches, ultimately helping to inform their learning efforts to improve their program design and implementation, and data collection and use.
Nanette earned her bachelor’s degree in economics and business administration from Wesleyan College, and her Master’s in Public Policy from the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University where she also received a Certificate in International Development Policy.
Mike Swigert, Senior Program Manager
Mike Swigert is the Senior Program Manager for Youth Employment at the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions.
Prior to joining the Forum for Community Solutions, Mike was the Director of College and Academic Services at The Door – A Center of Alternatives in New York City. In this role, he led a team of college and career counselors and educators serving over 1,200 high school and college students and opportunity youth through programs that included the city’s first charter school-based summer youth employment program. Mike represented The Door in multiple communities of practice and he collaborated with leaders from other CBOs and the College Access Consortium of New York (CACNY) to launch and steer the NYC College Access Anti-Racism Coalition.
Mike was previously the Assistant Director for Program Planning, Evaluation and Improvement with the Workforce, Education and Youth Services division of FEGS Health and Human Services. There, he worked with alternative high schools and training sites for opportunity youth across New York City to improve career and education outcomes using data-informed practices. Mike started his career in youth development with the District of Columbia Public Schools Office of Special Education, where he served as a community liaison and project coordinator.
Mike earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Tufts University and a Master’s in Public Administration from the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
Juan D. Martinez, Senior Program Manager
Juan D. Martinez is a Senior Program Manager at the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions.
He is a co-founder of Fresh Tracks, a youth-led cross cultural revolution, rooted in the healing power of the outdoors, as well as implementing the tribal and indigenous community of practice for the Opportunity Youth Forum. His work has helped to grow the silo-breaking strategy for systems change and youth power building while also lifting up successful stories of civic engagement and community organizing.
Juan has over 15 years of nonprofit management and implementation of strategy and was named a National Geographic Explorer in 2011 for his work to engage the rising generation of youth to the healing power of the outdoors.
Juan also serves on The Wilderness Society’s governing council, is a TED Speaker and author, and is dedicated to bringing the power of equity and justice to life through youth and community-driven solutions. Juan has committed to help empower the next generation of leaders dedicated to addressing systems of inequity and access to opportunities by working with community leaders, non-profits, and businesses across the country. Juan resides in Springfield, Illinois, with his wife, Vanessa.
Bakhtawer Abbasi, Program Associate
Bakhtawer Abbasi is a Program Associate at the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions, where she provides programmatic support to global and domestic youth-led change and employment pathways programs.
Prior to joining the Aspen Institute, she worked as a Youth Trainer in Pakistan, leading trainings on conflict resolution, critical thinking skills and inclusion strategies. She has also worked at Brandeis University to coordinate community development and youth engagement programs in the Greater Boston Area and most recently worked with the International Center for Religion & Diplomacy here in Washington, D.C., providing programmatic support for interfaith and educational track II diplomacy programs in the MENA Region.
Bakhtawer earned a Bachelor’s in Business Administration and Marketing from SZABIST University in Karachi, Pakistan, and a Master’s in Conflict Resolution & Coexistence from Brandeis University. Her professional and personal experiences in Pakistan and the United States, spark her passion and interest of working with diverse community segments for community building, social cohesion, and social justice causes.
Ken Thompson, Senior Fellow
Ken’s work at the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions, and his prior two decades in philanthropy, have focused on supporting teens and young adults to connect to education and opportunity. As a Senior Fellow he focuses on strategy, planning and management support for the Forum for Community Solutions team, including support for the measurement, learning and evaluation activities of the team, re-granting strategies and grant program design, and communications strategy.
Ken is a also an independent philanthropic-sector consultant; he supports multi-sector collaboratives and individual funders to think strategically and design new approaches to funding programs. His recent employment experience includes an 18-year stint at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he focused on youth and education success in Washington State. He has master’s degrees from the University of Washington and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He lives in Seattle with his husband and their somewhat spoiled cat.
Nilanj Desai, Partnerships and Strategy Advisor (GOYN)
Nilanj Desai is a Partnerships and Strategy Advisor to the Global Opportunity Youth Network of the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions. Additionally, Nilanj is leading a study on how COVID-19 has affected the global Hospitality and Tourism sector’s ability to provide opportunity youth with employment and livelihoods.
Previously, Nilanj co-managed and secured funding for United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) projects to rebuild four major hospitals in Iraq, to ensure local access to jobs being created by foreign petroleum companies at Iraqi oil fields, and to help rural Iraqi women to better support their families. He also helped Education For Employment (EFE) broaden its funding model and strategy, helped lead its 2020 strategic planning process, and oversaw and secured funding for one of the first ever US-funded jobs programs in Algeria. Additionally, Nilanj has advised several other nonprofits in the US and abroad on strategy, fundraising, and board development. Nilanj holds a Bachelor’s degree from Yale University and a Master’s degree in Economics and Development from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Nilanj is an avid long-distance hiker, having crossed Spain, England, Scotland, and Portugal entirely on foot.