JENNIFER BENNET has dedicated her career to organizations with a focus on social and economic justice. She is currently Executive Director of The Family Van in Boston, MA. The Van provides free and anonymous testing, screening education, and counseling to thousands of Boston residents each year who lack healthcare. Prior to joining The Family Van she served as the Chief Development Officer at the Center for Women & Enterprise (CWE). Jennifer was at CWE for six years and initially founded the Community Entrepreneurs Program. This program has successfully trained hundreds of low-income women in basic business, economic literacy, and the life-management skills they need to launch their own micro-enterprises. Jennifer’s diverse background also includes positions in operations, community relations, business development, management, and crisis intervention at both for-profit and nonprofit organizations. She holds a certification in mediation from UMass Boston and a bachelor of arts in women’s history from Williams-Smith College.
DEBORAH ZALESNE is a tenured professor of law at the City University of New York School of Law where she teaches in the area of corporate and commercial law. She earned a BA degree from Williams College, a JD from the University of Denver College of Law, and an LLM from Temple Law School, where she was an Honorable Abraham L. Freedman Fellow. Prior to teaching, she practiced law with a firm in Denver, Colorado, and clerked for a Colorado Supreme Court Justice. She also served as an advisor to the Russian Commission on Securities and Exchanges, where she helped to draft sections of the Russian Corporate Code under a USAID grant, and was an advisor to the Women’s Legal Center in Cape Town, South Africa, where she reviewed drafts of Equality Legislation introduced to Parliament. She is a member of the board of Iris House, a nonprofit that addresses the unique needs of women infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. She has published numerous articles on sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and poverty law in such journals as the Harvard Women’s Law Review, Yale Journal of Law and Feminism, Women’s International Net, Temple Political and Civil Rights Law Review, and South African Journal on Human Rights.
SHILPA PHADKE is the Director of the Women’s Initiative at the Center for American Progress, a think tank in Washington, DC. Her work focuses on a wide range of women’s issues, including women’s economic security, women’s health, and women’s leadership.
Prior to joining American Progress, Phadke served in the White House as the Special Assistant to President Obama for Cabinet Affairs. In that role, Phadke managed the relationship between the White House and more than 12 economic, domestic, and international agencies in order to advance the administration’s policy, communications, regulatory, and program implementation priorities. Phadke has also worked as a senior advisor at the US Department of State, as deputy director for legislative affairs at the Council on Environmental Quality, and as a senior legislative policy advisor for the US Department of Homeland Security. Prior to her work in the Obama Administration, Phadke served as a policy advisor on the Obama-Biden presidential transition team and as a member of the paid media and opinion research team for then-Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign for the presidency. Earlier in her career, Phadke worked at the Glover Park Group, a strategic communications firm headquartered in Washington, DC, where she provided strategic counsel to both corporate and nonprofit clients pursuing policy, legislative, or reputational goals.
A native of Massachusetts, Phadke began her career working for former Rep. Marty Meehan (D-MA) on Capitol Hill, where she played a key role in the congressman’s advocacy for families affected by 9/11. Phadke received a master’s in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree from Boston College.