The Board

Martin Nesbitt

Board Chair

Martin Nesbitt

Martin Nesbitt is a longtime friend of President Obama and served as national treasurer for his two presidential campaigns. He is the co-founder and co-CEO of private equity firm The Vistria Group, and serves on the boards of the Noble Network of Charter Schools, Norfolk Southern Corp and Jones Lang LaSalle, a Chicago-based global real estate company.

Nesbitt has a Masters of Business Administration degree from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Science degree and honorary doctorate from Albion College in Michigan.

John Doerr

Board Member


Since joining venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in 1980, John Doerr has backed some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, including Jeff Bezos of Amazon, and Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Eric Schmidt of Google. His passion for helping entrepreneurs launch the “Next Big Thing” has created more than 200,000 new jobs.
Outside of his work at KPCB, Doerr serves on the boards of Amyris, Google and Zynga, as well as several private technology ventures. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. He holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees from Rice University, and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.

Thelma Golden

Board Member


Thelma Golden is the Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem. During Golden’s tenure as Chief Curator (2000 to present) and Director (2005 to present) the Studio Museum has gained international acclaim for its pioneering exhibitions by art by artists of African descent and role as a cultural anchor in the Harlem community.

From 1988-98 Golden worked at the Whitney Museum of American Art, where she organized numerous groundbreaking exhibitions. Golden was appointed by the President to the Committee for the Preservation of the White House in 2010, is the 2015–16 Chair of New York City’s Cultural Institutions Group and serves on the Board of Trustees of Creative Time. She was named a Ford Foundation Art of Change Visiting Fellow in 2015 and a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute in 2008.

She is a frequent lecturer, panelist, and juror at arts institutions and colleges and universities around the world. Golden received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History and African-American Studies from Smith College.

Governor Deval Patrick

Board Member

Originally from the South Side of Chicago, Governor Patrick came to Massachusetts at 14, when he was awarded a scholarship to Milton Academy through the Boston-based organization A Better Chance. After Harvard College and Harvard Law School, he clerked for a federal appellate judge and then launched a career as an attorney and business executive, becoming partner at two Boston law firms and a senior executive at Texaco and Coca-Cola.

In 1994, President Clinton appointed Patrick to the nation’s top civil rights post, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. In 2006, in his first bid for public office, he became the state’s first African-American governor. In his two terms as Governor, Patrick oversaw the expansion of affordable health care to more than 98 percent of state residents, launched initiatives stimulating clean energy and biotechnology, won a national Race to the Top grant, and steered the state out of recession to a 25-year high in employment.

Patrick currently serves as a Managing Director of Bain Capital Double Impact, where he focuses on investments that deliver both a competitive financial return and significant positive social impact. He is a Rockefeller Fellow, a Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute, and the author of two books, A Reason to Believe: Lessons from an Improbable Life and Faith in the Dream: A Call to the Nation to Reclaim American Values.

David Plouffe

Board Member


David Plouffe served as senior advisor to President Obama until January 2013 and as his campaign manager during the 2008 election. He has managed campaigns at all levels of politics, served as a consultant to leading Fortune 500 companies, and is a contributor for ABC News and Bloomberg Television.

Currently Plouffe is Senior Vice President of Policy and Strategy for ridesharing startup Uber. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Delaware.

J. Kevin Poorman

Board Member


Kevin Poorman is a founding board member and currently President of The Barack Obama Foundation. He is the President and CEO of PSP Capital Partners, CEO of Pritzker Realty Group and Executive Chairman of Vi Senior Living. Additionally, he is the prior Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Loyola University of New Orleans, and currently serves as a director of The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, Inc.

Previously, Poorman was a partner in the Dallas-based law firm of Johnson & Swanson, and he is a member of the American, Illinois and Texas Bar Associations. He received his Bachelor of Science and Juris Doctor degrees from the University of Oklahoma.

John Rogers

Board Member


John W. Rogers, Jr. is Founder, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and Chief Investment Officer of Ariel Investments in Chicago.

Beyond Ariel, John currently serves as a board member of Exelon Corporation and McDonald’s Corporation. Additionally, he is a trustee of the University of Chicago, a director of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

In 2008, John was awarded Princeton University’s highest honor, the Woodrow Wilson Award, presented each year to the alumni whose career embodies a commitment to national service. Following the election of President Barack Obama, he served as co-chair for the Presidential Inaugural Committee 2009.

In 2013, John was featured in the distinguished book: The World’s 99 Greatest Investors by Magnus Angenfelt.  John received an AB in economics from Princeton University, where he was also captain of the varsity basketball team.

Michael Sacks

Board Member

Ramzi Dreessen/Chicago Sun-Times 2012

Michael J. Sacks is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Chicago-based GCM Grosvenor.

In addition to his work at Grosvenor, Mr. Sacks serves as the Vice Chairman of World Business Chicago, as a member of the Mayor’s Economic Council and as Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs. Mr. Sacks funded the Greater Chatham Initiative and has been active in neighborhood economic development efforts throughout Chicago.

A native of Chicago, Mr. Sacks graduated from Niles West High School in 1980, received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Tulane University in 1984, a general course certificate from the London School of Economics for work completed in the 1982-1983 academic year, a Master of Business Administration from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University in 1988 and a J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law in 1988.

Julianna Smoot

Board Member


Julianna Smoot is currently a partner and co-founder of the Smoot Tewes Group, a Washington, D.C.-based political and public affairs consulting firm. Ms. Smoot has served in senior roles in President Obama’s Administration and on both of his presidential campaigns.

During the 2008 presidential election, Ms. Smoot served as National Finance Director for the Obama for America campaign. During President Obama’s first term, she served as Chief of Staff to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, and later, as White House Social Secretary and Deputy Assistant To the President. In 2011, Ms. Smoot was asked to serve as a Deputy Campaign Manager for President Obama’s re-election effort. During both election cycles, she set new fundraising records.

Ms. Smoot’s previous experience includes work for numerous prominent Democratic senators, including Senators Dick Durbin, Tom Daschle, and Chris Dodd.

Ms. Smoot received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Smith College in Massachusetts.

Maya Soetoro-Ng

Board Member


Maya Soetoro-Ng is President Obama’s sister and a specialist for the Matsunaga Institute for Peace. She is the co-founder of Our Public School, a non-profit that connects schools to their communities, and the co-creator of Ceeds of Peace, a peace education program that has been implemented in schools and communities around Hawaii.

Previously, Soetoro-Ng worked as an assistant professor at the University of Hawaii and taught in both private and public settings in New York City and in Hawaii. She also worked at the East West Center, promoting educational exchange between Asia and the United States. Soetoro-Ng received a Masters degree in Secondary Education from New York University and a PhD in Multicultural Education from the University of Hawaii.

Robert Wolf

Board Member

Robert Wolf

Robert Wolf is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of 32 Advisors and the Chairman of Measure – Drone as a Service®.

Prior to his role at 32 Advisors, Robert was CEO of UBS Americas and President of the UBS Global Investment Bank. Robert was appointed by President Obama to President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board from 2009 to 2011, the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness from 2011 to 2013, and the Export Council from 2013 to 2016.

Robert serves on the Undergraduate Executive Board of the Wharton School, on the Athletics Board of Overseers at the University of Pennsylvania and as Vice Chairman of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights. Robert also sits on the board of the Partnership for NYC, is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a graduate member of the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy. He is a contributor to Fox News and Fox Business.

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