Staff


The staff of The Opportunity Agenda is composed of a diverse group of professionals who, together, bring experience and expertise in the areas of communications, research, policy, advocacy, law, fundraising, and administration.

Staff

    Ellen Buchman

    President

    Ellen Buchman brings to The Opportunity Agenda a breadth of knowledge, expertise, experience, and relationships having worked among leaders at local, state, national, and international levels for more than 25 years. Prior to joining The Opportunity Agenda in 2018, she served as Executive Vice President for Field and Communications at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, where she piloted the organization's field and organizing program, and developed and oversaw the vision for the integrated field, communications, and policy work at the center of the organization; led and put into place dozens of successful campaigns; spearheaded mobilization, training and support to national, state, and local coalitions; and created innovative organizing and communications training models for advocacy around the country and at the international level.

    Get to know Ellen

    Arnell Calderon

    Development Associate for Institutional Giving

    As the Development Associate for Institutional Giving, Arnell Calderon supports the Institutional Advancement team in foundation research, drafting and submitting grant reports and proposals, record keeping, and database management. Prior to joining TOA, she has professional and academic experience in education, publishing, academic libraries, writing, and transformative justice work.

    Get to know Arnell

    Esther Dunbar

    Operations Manager

    As Operations Manager, Esther Dunbar is responsible for ensuring high levels of organizational effectiveness, communication, and safety. She maintains the efficiency of business operations, systems and equipment. This includes vendor and facility management, ensuring adherence of HR, financial & IT policies and procedures as well as expense reporting, budget forecasting, and management.

    Get to know Esther

    Brian Erickson

    Multimedia and Communications Strategist

    Brian Erickson brings a firm belief in the power of story to drive narrative change and create political leverage for social change. In his role as the Multimedia and Communications Strategist, Brian combines traditional media advocacy tactics and messaging best practices with documentary film and emerging media trends to produce multimedia stories grounded in community-led campaigns for a more equitable and just future. 

    Get to know Brian

    Julie Fisher-Rowe

    Director of Narrative and Engagement

    Julie Fisher-Rowe oversees the organization’s strategic framing work, translating communications research and theory into practical messaging strategies for advocates and activists. In this role, she works with groups across the country to identify opportunities to build public support for social justice issues and policies. Through a mix of trainings, workshops, tool development and individual discussions, Julie helps social justice groups hone in on the right messages for their goals, audiences, and other organizational needs.

    Get to know Julie

    Jamela Irvin

    Human Resources Manager

    As HR Manager, Jamela Irvin is responsible for the overall administration, coordination, and evaluation of the human resources function, and oversees organizational HR systems and the entire employee life cycle.

    Get to know Jamela

    Elizabeth Johnsen

    Communications and Editorial Director

    As the Communications and Editorial Director, Elizabeth Johnsen oversees the organization's outward-facing platforms and content, including the website, digital programming, and printed and electronic publications. She manages the review and distribution process for the organization's distinctive editorial and messaging materials, while actively growing The Opportunity Agenda's national network of partners and stakeholders.

     

    Get to know Elizabeth

    Zeynep Kilik

    Executive Assistant

    As Executive Assistant, Zeynep Kilik supports smooth and efficient operations and communications for the President, and works closely with The Opportunity Agenda’s Board of Directors, staff, contractors, and partners.

    Get to know Zeynep

    Tad Kroll

    Development Manager, Institutional Giving

    As the Development Manager for Institutional Giving, Tad Kroll is responsible for researching and writing proposals, updates, reports, and other materials to funders. He works to help create and cultivate mutually satisfying relationships with foundation and individual funders through well-crafted and engaging materials and events. He also works with program staff to help improve tracking and evaluation systems to provide the best information to improve programming and demonstrate effectiveness to funders.

    Get to know Tad

    Adam Luna

    Vice President for Program Strategy and Impact

    Adam Luna serves as the Vice President for Program Strategy and Impact at The Opportunity Agenda where he oversees all aspects of the organization’s programmatic mission work. Adam brings over 20 years of experience in issue campaign management, overseeing strategic communications, policy & legislative work, coalition building, and project management across a wide range of long term systemic challenges such as retirement security and immigration.

    Get to know Adam

    Porshéa Patterson-Hurst

    Research Manager

    Porshéa Patterson-Hurst is experienced in the contextualization and communication of technical and complex research data into readily accessible language. In her position as the Research Manager at The Opportunity Agenda, she is responsible for envisioning and managing major research initiatives from start to finish. She uses insights from colleagues and partners within The Opportunity Agenda network to identify opportunities and strategies for groundbreaking research, having it disseminated, interpreted, and uplifted.

    Get to know Porshéa

    Christiaan Perez

    Manager of Media Strategy

    Christiaan Perez collaborates with the training and research teams to develop communications strategies to help elevate materials and messaging that augments on-the-ground struggles for racial and social justice.

    Get to know Christiaan

    Sughey Ramirez

    Cultural Network Strategist

    Sughey Ramirez brings extensive experience translating language and culture for social change to her Cultural Strategies role at The Opportunity Agenda. Over the years, through positions in research and strategy, development, and community outreach, she has worked with public and private sector leaders to advance issues such as health equity, affordable housing, immigrant rights, and racial justice.

    Get to know Sughey Ramirez

    J. Rachel Reyes

    Digital Communications Manager

    As the Digital Communications Manager, J. Rachel Reyes leads the creation, development, and implementation of dynamic digital strategies across all of The Opportunity Agenda’s online platforms and social media networks. An attorney by training and a former communications director, Rachel brings significant experience in communicating law and policy for digital spaces.

    Get to know Rachel

    Betsy Theobald Richards

    Director of Cultural Strategies

    Betsy Theobald Richards leads the organization’s Creative Change efforts with artists, influencers, and advocates to shift narrative, culture, and policy towards greater and more equal opportunity for all. Betsy brings over two decades of experience in philanthropy, performing arts, Indigenous cultures, museums, arts education, media, and community advocacy to her role.

    Get to know Betsy

    Chrystian Rodriguez

    Training and Partner Engagement Manager

    As the Training and Partner Engagement Manager, Chrystian Rodriguez is responsible for advancing The Opportunity Agenda’s mission to provide quality training, systems, and support to aid our partners in designing effective media communications strategies. Chrystian also manages collaborations and coordination of The Opportunity Agenda’s organizational partnerships around the country.

    Get to know Chrystian

    Charlie Sherman

    Research and Evaluation Coordinator

    Charlie Sherman brings experience at the intersection of social science research and strategic communications to his role as Research and Evaluation Coordinator. In this role, he helps manage the Narrative Research Lab (NRL), overseeing the digital library, moderating monthly research presentations, as well as outreach efforts to the NRL’s network. Charlie supports additional Opportunity Agenda original and collaborative research projects, serving as a connective tissue from project design through outreach and distribution efforts. Additionally, he tracks and analyzes The Opportunity Agenda’s organizational and event metrics.

    Get to know Charlie

    Erin Strek

    Development Associate, Individual Giving and Events

    As Development Associate for Individual Giving and Events, Erin Strek plays a crucial role in supporting the Advancement Team, including resource development, database management, donor relations and event coordination. Prior to joining the Opportunity Agenda, Erin spent time developing her fundraising skills at Culver Place Strategies, a fully LGBT owned, New York City and State based, political consulting firm. Additionally, Erin spent over two years as Search Manager at Hedley May, a global boutique executive search firm.

    Get to know Erin

    Leslie Weber, CFRE

    Vice President for Institutional Advancement

    Leslie Weber brings to The Opportunity Agenda a broad range of non-profit executive and development experience. She has been instrumental in expanding revenue for organizations as diverse as The American Place Theatre, The National Council for Research on Women, and the Prospect Park Alliance, where she served as Vice President of Development and played a key role in the Park’s $74 million Lakeside Campaign.

     

    Get to know Leslie

    Jade Wilenchik

    Movement Capacity Coordinator

    As Movement Capacity Coordinator, Jade Wilenchik works to support and enhance The Opportunity Agenda's training, media, and partner engagement strategies. Much of her academic and professional experience has been rooted in worker’s rights and economic justice, having held leadership roles in Emerson Progressives and Radicals in Defense of Employees (USAS Local 196), sat on the Executive Committee of the Newsguild of New York, and worked in the offices of Jobs with Justice MA. Prior to joining The Opportunity Agenda, she was the Network Policy Manager at the Roosevelt Institute, an organization committed to rewriting the rules that define our social and economic realities. 

    Get to know Jade

    Erika Williams

    Chief Operations Officer

    As Chief Operations Officer, Erika Williams oversees functions which include: the administration of organizational policies/procedures, employee performance management, employee satisfaction/engagement, training/development, legal compliance, contract engagement, vendor relationships and organizational accounting/finance, among other activities.

    Get to know Erika

Interns

Summer 2021 Abrielle De Veaux, Social Media Intern

Communications Institute Fellows

The 2019 Communications Institute will focus on The Power of Voice in a time when social justice leaders are being actively silenced. The Opportunity Agenda is proud to launch these voices into the discourse to reframe the debate for social justice in the United States.