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News | Feb. 15, 2019

2019 Class of Presidential Leadership Scholars Announced

By Navy JAG Corps Public Affairs

The Presidential Leadership Scholars (PLS) program has announced that Lt. Ben Maddox -- a member of the Navy JAG community -- has been selected as one of the 60 Scholars chosen for the program’s fifth annual class.

PLS serves as a catalyst for a diverse network of leaders brought together to collaborate and make a difference in the world as they learn about leadership through the lens of the presidential experiences of George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Lyndon B. Johnson. The fifth class was selected after a rigorous application and review process. Scholars were selected based on their leadership growth potential and their personal leadership projects aimed at improving civic engagement or social good by addressing a problem or need in their community, the country, or the world.

"I'm honored to be a part of such an incredible leadership development program," said Maddox, Region Legal Service Office Naval District Washington. "During PLS, I hope to hone my leadership skills, learn from scholars in other professions, and help bridge the divide between civilian and military communities. In my own personal capacity, I aim to improve the military justice system by advocating for unconscious bias training for military decision makers."

Over the course of several months, Scholars will travel to each participating presidential center to learn from former presidents, key former administration officials, business and civic leaders, and leading academics. They will study and put into practice varying approaches to leadership and exchange ideas to help strengthen their impact in their communities. The program kicked off in Washington, D.C. on February 5.

The latest class joins an active network of 240 Scholars who are applying lessons learned through the program to make a difference in the U.S. and around the world. Examples of these Scholar-led efforts include providing employment and mentorship to veterans, helping developing nations access safe anesthesia services for effective surgical care, empowering women with economic opportunity through clean energy in Africa, and deploying much needed resources in the wake of natural disasters.

Since the program began in 2015, Scholars have consistently reported remarkable growth in skills, responsibilities, and opportunities for impact. For example, 95 percent of Scholars reported their sense of confidence or purpose as a leader changed since beginning PLS, and 68 percent of Scholars reported new responsibilities or a role change in their work or career since beginning PLS. 2019 Scholars:
  • Kevin Adler, Founder and CEO, Miracle Messages, San Francisco, Calif.;
  • Nuno Alves, Senior Business and Technical Advisor, BP, Falls Church, Va.;
  • Whitney Armstrong, Vice President of Programs and Operations, Military Spouse Advocacy Network, Dayton, Ohio;
  • Bahar Atvur, Founder and Executive Producer, Lolane Christopher Creative, Inc., Los Angles, Calif.;
  • Maya Babu, Director of Adult Neurotrauma, Massachusetts General Hospital at Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass.;
  • Rye Barcott, Co-Founder and CEO, With Honor, Charlotte, N.C.;
  • Aaron Bernstine, State Representative, the 10th District of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, New Galilee, Pa.;
  • Bill Berrien, CEO, Pindel Global Precision, Milwaukee, Wis.;
  • Carrie Bischke, Marketing Consultant, Bischke Consulting, Burlingame, Calif.;
  • Tanya Burnell, Director of CC Industries, Henry Crown and Company, Chicago, Ill.;
  • Erin Butler, Director of Volunteer Services, City Harvest, Brooklyn, N.Y.;
  • Lynn Chehab, Pediatrician, NorthShore University Health Systems, Evanston, Ill.;
  • Alan Cohen, CEO, Child Poverty Action Lab, Dallas, Texas;
  • Ricardo Correa Marquez, Diabetes and Metabolism Fellowship Director, University of Arizona College of Medicine Phoenix , Phoenix, Ariz.;
  • Ian Dailey, Chief of Staff, Linking the World, Little Elm, Texas;
  • Kim Davis, Senior Program Officer, Walton Family Foundation, Fayetteville, Ark.;
  • Conor Donahue, Senior Director of Portfolio Management, Ashford, Inc., Coppell, Texas;
  • Matt Driskell, Deputy Program Manager for Advanced Development, U.S. Navy, Leonardtown, Md.;
  • Scott Eisner, Senior Vice President of African Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Washington D.C.;
  • Drew Erdmann, Chief Operations Officer, State of Missouri, St. Louis, Mo.;
  • Chris Flaherty, Division Chief and Global Operations Directorate, U.S. Navy, Cleveland, N.Y.;
  • Jill Floyd, Project Manager and Director of Community Outreach, CDI Contractors, Little Rock, Ark.;
  • Erika Gonzalez, President and CEO, South Texas Allergy Asthma, San Antonio, Texas;
  • Vivian Greentree, Senior Vice President and Head of Global Corporate Citizenship, First Data, Alexandria, Va.;
  • Adeeti Gupta, Founder and Director, Walk In GYN Care, New York, N.Y.;
  • Mark Haidar, CEO, Vinli, Inc., Dallas, Texas;
  • Sumera Haque, Executive Director of Sibley Hospital, John Hopkins Medicine, Rockville, Md.;
  • Jeannette Gaudry Haynie, Research Scientist, U.S. Marine Corps, New Orleans, La.;
  • Michael Hole, Director of Social Entrepreneurship of Texas Health CoLab, The University of Texas, Austin, Texas;
  • Todd Huber, Founder and President, Cattellyst, Ann Arbor, Mich.;
  • Tom Huntley, Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Coast Guard, Kodiak, Alaska;
  • Alfia Ilicheva, Managing Director, R/GA, Brooklyn, N.Y.;
  • Seth Jordan, Founder and Director, Bearmat Group, Belgrade, Mont.;
  • Dilafruz Khonikboyeva, Director of Public Affairs, Strategic Communications, and Policy, Aga Khan Foundation, Washington, D.C.;
  • Erik Korem, Associate Athletics Director of Student-Athlete High Performance, William & Mary, Williamsburg, Va.;
  • Jolene Loetscher, CEO, Mud Mile Communications, Sioux Falls, S.D.;
  • Nancy Lue, Head of Strategy and Operations, Advanced Education Research and Development Fund, Mountain View, Calif.;
  • Ben Maddox, Lieutenant, U.S. Navy, Alexandria, Va.;
  • Roya Mahboob, CEO, Digital Citizen Fund, New York, N.Y.;
  • Katie Martin, Vice President for Health Policy and Programs, National Partnership for Women and Families, Falls Church, Va.;
  • Jamala McFadden, Owner and Partner, The Employment Law Solution: McFadden Davis, LLC, Atlanta, Ga.;
  • Shruti Mehrotra, Director of Policy, Open Society Foundations, London, U.K.;
  • Willie Montgomery III, Director and Data Scientist, Walmart, Inc., Rogers, Ark.;
  • Kat Murray, UX Research Manager, Lyft, San Francisco, Calif.;
  • Desmond Patton, Founding Director, SAFElab, New York, N.Y.;
  • Francisco Pineda, Academic Program Director, Columbia University, New York, N.Y.;
  • Gita Pullapilly, Screenwriter and Film Director, Center for International Training, Education, and Development, Inc., Los Angeles, Calif.;
  • Ajay Sahajpal, Medical Director of the Transplant and Hepatobiliary Program, Advocate Aurora Health, Milwaukee, Wi;
  • Maryum Saifee, Council on Foreign Relations and International Affairs Fellow, Human Rights Foundation, New York, N.Y.;
  • Joseph Sakran, Trauma Surgeon, John Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Md.;
  • Dan Savage, Head of Military and Veteran Programs, LinkedIn, San Francisco, Calif.;
  • Melissa Simon, Professor and Physician, Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, Chicago, Ill.;
  • Sherry Skaggs, Assistant Professor of Criminology, University of Central Arkansas, Conway, Ark.;
  • Bayeté Ross Smith, Interdisciplinary Artist and Educator, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, New York, N.Y.;
  • Liza Smoker, Managing Director, The John J. Brunetti Human Trafficking Academy at St. Thomas University School of Law; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.;
  • Jeff Stine, Managing Director, VestedWorld, Chicago, Ill.;
  • Jesse Sullivan, Founder and CEO, Alter Global, Petersburg, Ill.;
  • Thear Suzuki, Americas Advisory Talent Leader, Ernst & Young, Plano, Texas;
  • Jamila Thomas, Director of the Racial Equity Office, Dallas Independent School District, Cedar Hill, Texas;
  • Eugene Yi, Co-Founder and President, Cortico, Boston, Mass.
Presidential Leadership Scholars is a partnership among the presidential centers of George W. Bush, William J. Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Lyndon B. Johnson. To learn more, visit For updates about the Presidential Leadership Scholars, use #PLScholars and follow @PLSprogram on Twitter.
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