Legacy Leaders Examine Social Change Through Board Service

Alums, Updates

Above: The first cohort of Legacy Leaders following an panel discussion with Hunger Fellow alums.

On June 22 and 23, the first cohort of Legacy Leaders gathered at our offices in Washington, D.C., for a professional development institute on pursuing nonprofit board service as a lever for social change. Thirteen Hunger Fellow and Zero Hunger Intern alums joined us from across the U.S., representing two decades of Hunger Center history.


Legacy Leaders Michelle Fausto (Emerson ’22), Nesreen Abu Khalaf (Zero Hunger Intern ’18), Jonathan Dabel (Zero Hunger Intern ’21), and Laura Harker (Emerson ’13) in discussion on day one.


Legacy Leaders, the newest program of the Congressional Hunger Center, builds on our initial investment in our program participants by providing them with tools and resources to grow their professional capacity and find new ways to have an impact in the movement against hunger. Each cohort of Legacy Leaders will focus on a different on critical topic that is mission relevant and advances alums’ professional goals as change agents.

The leaders’ learning agenda included:

  • Monisha Kapila (founder and co-CEO, ProInspire), who discussed the state of non-profit boards in 2023, and how nonprofit leaders are navigating overlapping global crises, the charity-to-justice shift, and operationalizing equity as a principle within their organizations.
  • Gerri Mason Hall (Equity Strategist and Hunger Center Board Member) and Aimée Meher-Homji (SVP of Global Talent Acquisition, Nielsen), who discussed the importance of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) in nonprofit boards, and potential challenges, opportunities, and strategies related to DEIB efforts.
  • Arthurine Walker (chief changemaker, Resiliency Blueprint), delivering a crash course on board basics, including roles, responsibilities, pitfalls, and the differences between non-profit and for-profit boards.

The cohort also sat for a professional headshot session with Hunger Center Board Member, alum, and photographer Eric Steiner (Emerson ’03).

The first day wrapped up with a panel discussion of Hunger Center alums moderated by Hunger Center Board Member and Executive Director of the Flamboyan Foundation, Patience Peabody (Emerson ’04). It featured Indivar Dutta-Gupta (Emerson ’06), Sofya Leonova (Emerson ’08), Jeremiah Lowery (Emerson ’13), and Emily Price (Emerson ’01), who shared their perspectives and experiences with board service.

In addition to professional and leadership development, there were moments of community building, including enjoying lunch with the 29th class of Emerson Fellows, who will finish their fellowships at the end of July 2023.


Legacy Leaders Beth Brockland (Emerson ’01) and Emma Peterson (Zero Hunger Intern ’20) discuss a case study in board leadership.


The two-day initial gathering concluded with a session on goal-setting and planning. Over the next six to 12 months the cohort will form a community of practice and peer support group to help one other achieve their professional goals around board service.

This first cohort of Legacy Leaders did a phenomenal job at thinking both critically and systematically about board service in a way that honors their initial exploration of equity, power, and privilege, their own personal values, and our shared commitment to ending hunger and poverty. As participant Kat Vang (Emerson ’19) reflected, “I’m so grateful for this past week spent in community with the incredible alum network spanning the Congressional Hunger Center’s 30 years of investing in multi-sector social change leaders. I’m looking forward to this next year of deep diving into effective board service and governance frameworks together as a cohort.”


The Inaugural Cohort of Legacy Leaders is made possible with the generous support of the Kroger Co. Foundation

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