Board of Directors

Shishir Agarwal

Shishir is a Managing Director and Senior Partner in the Consumer and Operations practices of Boston Consulting Group. He has more than 25 years of consulting and industry experience. Shishir has served clients globally across a broad range of industry sectors including retail, consumer packaged goods and pharmaceuticals. Shishir leads Operational Transformation topic globally and is a member of Global Retail Sector Leadership team.

Lauren Blum 

Lauren Blum is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner with The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, Butler Child Advocacy Center and with Central Avenue Pediatrics in the Bronx, NY. Lauren has been a longtime volunteer with the Books for Boys program at The Children’s Village in Dobbs Ferry, NY, where she serves on the Community Advisory Committee. Lauren also volunteers with Hands up for Haiti, joining teams of healthcare professionals on medical missions in Northern Haiti. Lauren holds a B.Sc. in Nursing from Emory University, Atlanta and a M.Sc. in Nursing from Columbia University, New York. Lauren lives with her husband Paul and son Nathan in Westchester, NY, where they also raised their two daughters, Liana and Eliza.

Amy Yates Capone

Amy Yates Capone is the Head of Human Resources at a large global hedge fund. Previously she was Chief of Staff at Hutchin Hill Capital where she acted as a strategic partner and adviser to the President and senior leadership team with a focus on strategy, people, culture and communications. Prior to that, Amy was Managing Director and Chief Administrative Officer at Highbridge Capital Management, a $29 billion alternative asset manager and subsidiary of J.P. Morgan Asset Management. At Highbridge, she managed the firm’s global HR function and also had responsibility for corporate communications and real estate. Beforejoining Highbridge, Amy was Director of Human Resources at Andor Capital Management. Earlier in her career she held various senior HR generalist and staffing positions at DoubleClick, UBS and Citibank. Amy is a frequent speaker at industry conferences, and is a contributor on a recently published book titled ‘The Insider’s Guide to Hedge Funds – Successfully Managing the Middle and Back Office’. She was formerly the Board Chair of The Family Center. Amy holds a B.F.A. degree from Wright State University.

Christine J. Chao

Christine J. Chao is currently General Counsel of the Foremost Group, an international shipping company.  Christine has extensive corporate and commercial law experience having worked in senior legal positions for three Fortune 100 companies:  GE, Federal Express and Ultramar Corporation. Christine began her legal career upon graduation from Columbia Law School with the Wall Street law firm of Dewey & LeBoeuf focusing on M&A, US securities, leasing and project finance. Christine holds a Bachelor of Arts from Colgate University and currently serves as a Trustee for her alma mater as well as the Foremost Foundation, which strives to help young people access higher education and greater opportunities generally, and The One Love Foundation, which promotes healthy relationships, especially among our young people. After living abroad in Hong Kong, China and London, England, Christine now resides in Greenwich, CT. with her husband Jos Shaver and their two sons, Ben and Tyler.  

Ellen Fredericks (Chair)        

Ellen Fredericks is an executive coach and founder of Partners in Possibility, a consulting company focusing on executive and leadership development.  Prior to starting her own business, Ellen held executive positions in marketing and product management in the telecommunications industry. She is one of several hundred coaches worldwide awarded the designation of Master Certified Coach by the International Coach Federation (ICF). Ellen holds a certificate in coaching, a BS in Computer Science and an MS in Management. She attended Executive Management Training Programs at Duke University and Arizona State University. Ellen is a contributing author to the ASTD published book, “Coaching for Extraordinary Results” and the co-author of three books on executive development.  Ellen is also on the faculty for the Certified Professional Coach Program at the University of Miami. She resides in Warren NJ with her husband Tom and 4 English Cocker Spaniels.  

Qian A. Gao

Qian Gao is a litigation Partner at Boies Schiller Flexner LLP, specializing in commercial litigation and investigations and white collar defense.  Qian holds a J.D. from Columbia Law School, where she served as Articles Editor of the Columbia Law Review and Co-Chair of the Asian Pacific American Law School Association.  Prior to law school, Qian obtained an A.B. from Harvard University, where she served in various roles on The Harvard Crimson and Harvard Student Agencies.  Qian resides in New York City with her husband Mike, their daughter Darcy, their son Teddy, and their dog Charlie.

Ernest Morrell   

Dr. Ernest Morrell is the Macy professor of English Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, a class of 2014 Fellow of the American Educational Research Association, and the Past-President of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). He is also the Director of Teachers College’s Institute for Urban and Minority Education (IUME). Prior to this, Dr. Morrell was an award winning high school English teacher in Northern California, and he continues to work with teachers, schools and adolescents across the country to infuse multicultural literature, youth popular culture and media production into standards-based literacy curricula and after school programs. Dr. Morrell received his Ph.D. in Language, Literacy and Culture from the University of California at Berkeley where he received the Outstanding Dissertation Award. He is an award-winning published author, and his books include Critical Media Pedagogy: Teaching for Achievement in City Schools and New Directions in Teaching English. In his spare time, he coaches youth sports and writes poems and plays.    

Samantha Siegal

Samantha Siegal is the Director of Commercial Marketing for PepsiCo’s North American portfolio of water brands. In this role, Sam and her team are responsible for building marketing plans and setting the executional strategy for the portfolio across all key Retail, eCommerce & Foodservice channels. Since joining PepsiCo in 2012, Sam has held roles across brand finance, global strategy and global foodservice marketing. Sam graduated cum laude from Amherst College with a dual bachelor’s degree in Economics and Law, Jurisprudence & Social Thought. She began her career in equity sales at Barclays Capital, before completing her MBA from the Yale School of Management. In her free time, Sam enjoys yoga, reading, reliving her years as a modern dancer, brewing beer, traveling and, of course, working on behalf of LitWorld. She resides in Manhattan with her fiancé, Mike.

Donna Duskin Stein

Donna Duskin Stein is a senior financial and operations officer, who has served in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors.  Since 2007, she has been the Chief Financial Officer of the Union for Reform Judaism, the congregational arm of the Reform Jewish Movement in North America. Immediately prior to joining the Union, Donna had served as Senior Vice President, Finance and Administration, of the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia since 2003.  She had held a similar position at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts from 2001-2003. From 1978-2000, she held a number of increasingly responsible positions with Sunoco, Inc., serving finally as Director of Finance and Planning. She also served as a member of the Form 990 Reform Advisory Committee to a US Congressional Committee; founder of the Alliance of Nonprofit Financial Officers, Southeast Pennsylvania; member of the Greater Philadelphia United Way Allocation Committee; Trustee and Treasurer, Bucks County Family Service Association; President, Philadelphia Finance Association; and Treasurer/Vice President of two synagogues. Donna graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Buffalo. She received an M.A. in social studies education from Columbia University Teachers College, and her M.B.A. from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, where she was awarded the Adam Averill Ross Prize in Accounting.

Hilary Vartanian

Hilary Vartanian is a global business executive and founder of MERIS VENTURES, a branded entertainment and marketing partnership company. She has held corporate management positions at Time Inc., Meredith, Hearst, and Conde Nast. She was the first female Vice President of Business Development for Fortune conferences and led partnerships for the Fortune Global Forum, Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit and other by-invitation-only Fortune 500 CEO events. In philanthropy, Ms. Vartanian led development for The Film Society of Lincoln Center/New York Film Festival, the Independent Filmmaker Project/Gotham Awards, and Made in NY Media Center. Hilary is a sought after film executive whose credits include Hide Your Smiling Faces (Daniel Radcliffe, 2016 New York Film Festival) and Write When You Get Work (Emily Mortimer, Finn Wittrock, SXSW 2018). Ms. Vartanian is co-author of Peace Prayers (HarperCollins) proceeds benefit UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders, and the Children’s Defense Fund. She is a graduate of the University of Colorado, Boulder and is active with the Camp Dudley Association and University of Colorado Leadership Society. Ms Vartanian lives in Manhattan with her husband Andy Borinstein and son Alex (CU Boulder 2022).