Meet the 2021 American Express NGen Fellows

Building stronger, more effective next generation leaders. That’s the goal of Independent Sector’s initiative, NGen: Moving Nonprofit Leaders from Next to Now. And as part of the initiative, we welcome our new 2021 cohort of the American Express NGen Fellows program, part of the American Express Leadership Academy.

This group of 12 charitable and community-building leaders age 40 and under – who, coincidentally, are starting their Fellowships in the program’s 12th year – will be expanding their access to networks, knowledge, and resources that will enhance their work in communities nationwide. They were selected following an extraordinary response to the call for nominations and a rigorous review process.

“Ensuring that everyone in the U.S. thrives is a collective effort. The American Express NGen Fellows program is an important part of this goal because it provides emerging leaders with invaluable community-building skills to address systemic inequities,” said Daniel J. Cardinali, president and CEO of Independent Sector. “These leaders reflect the nation’s diversity. They’re making sure the social sector and our communities are healthy and equitable for years to come.”

Like last year, to ensure their health and safety, the cohort will convene virtually, immersing themselves in a range of sessions focused on adaptive leadership, racial equity, systems change, results based practices, with learning rooted in building self-awareness and a network of peers. There are a variety of session formats, including two-hour Pop-Ups, as part of Upswell, and day-long, deep-dive discussions.

So, who are these amazing next-generation leaders?

It’s our pleasure to introduce to you our 2021 cohort of the American Express NGen Fellows program, listed below:

  • Jazmín Chávez, Associate Vice President of Public Affairs, Hispanics in Philanthropy (Denver, Colorado)
  • Dion Dawson, Founder and Executive Director, Dion’s Chicago Dream (Chicago, Illinois)
  • M. Michelle Derosier, Chief Program Officer, (New York City, New York)
  • Tasha R. Fridia (Sacred Medicine Circle Woman), Assistant Director, Tribal Youth Resource Center (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma)
  • Kahina Haynes, Executive Director, The Dance Institute of Washington (Washington, DC)
  • Gabriel Maldonado, Chief Executive Officer, TruEvolution (Riverside, California)
  • Melaak Rashid, Development Director, Smart Development (Cleveland, Ohio)
  • Erica Reid, National Director of Programs, Friends of the Children (Charlotte, North Carolina)
  • Sundiata Salaam, Chief People Officer, Freedom Preparatory Academy (Bartlett, Tennessee)
  • Yadira Sanchez, Co-Executive Director, Poder Latinx (Seattle, Washington)
  • Jimmy Simpson, Jr., Manager of Partnerships, The Center for Effective Philanthropy, YouthTruth (Oakland, California)
  • Nellie Tsai, Social Innovation Officer, Michigan Nonprofit Association (Detroit, Michigan)

This year, there will be a continuation of a program extension that will engage up to 40 leaders who presented strong applications through monthly cohort meetings and completion of online coursework from The Self-Aware Leader. This tailored virtual learning experience is produced in partnership with the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance, an Independent Sector member.

Learn more about the 2021 NGen Fellows announcement here.


Types: Blog
Global Topics: Leadership Development
Focus Areas: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion