Staff

Biden Fellows

The Biden Fellows program supports a diverse group of new leaders who are dedicated to advancing rights for all people. As ambassadors for the Foundation, Fellows pass through a competitive application process to demonstrate their commitment to public service. The Biden Foundation provides Biden Fellows with financial support and access to a wide network of mentors, strengthening their efforts to address critical social issues. Pictured from left to right, the 2018 Biden Fellows are: Kendall LaVine, Silvia Zenteno, Maggie MacFarland Phillips, Lauren Ford, and Shear Avory.

Mala Adiga

Director for Higher Education and Military Families

Biden Foundation

Mala Adiga is the Biden Foundation’s director for higher education and military families. Previously she served in the U.S. Department of State in the Secretary of State’s Office of Global Women’s Issues as chief of staff and senior advisor to the Ambassador-at-Large and then as Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

In her role as DAS, she oversaw a wide range of international educational programs, including the Fulbright and Gilman Programs. Before this position, Mala served as Director for Human Rights in the National Security Staff’s (NSS) Multilateral and Human Rights Directorate at the White House. Prior to joining NSS, she was an attorney at the Department of Justice, where she served as Counsel to the Associate Attorney General.

Before entering government service, Mala worked for the Obama presidential campaign for nearly two years. Prior to the campaign, she worked as a litigation associate at Kirkland & Ellis LLP in Chicago and then clerked for U.S. District Court Judge Philip Simon in the Northern District of Indiana. Mala earned her J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School and her M.P.H. from the University of Minnesota. She graduated from Grinnell College in Iowa with a B.A. in Spanish.

Rory Brosius

Advisor for Military Families

Rory Brosius

Rory Brosius is a consultant focused on supporting the well-being of veterans, service members and their families.

From 2017 to 2018, Rory served as a Vice President at ScoutComms, Inc., where she managed communications, strategy, and outreach efforts for corporate and non-profit clients supporting service members, veterans, and their families. Prior to that, Rory served for four years as a policy advisor on veterans and military families to the Obama Administration as the Deputy Director of First Lady Michelle Obama’s and Dr. Jill Biden’s Joining Forces Initiative. Joining Forces was a national initiative launched to engage all sectors of society to support service members, veterans, and their families through concrete commitments in employment, education and wellness. Throughout her tenure, the initiative achieved success in advancing veteran and military spouse hiring efforts, reducing veteran homelessness, driving mental health awareness and engaging the healthcare and educational communities in support of the military and veteran communities.

Prior to joining the Obama Administration and while completing her master’s degree in social work, Rory completed clinical social work training in San Diego, California, and Washington, D.C. She also served as a Match Support Specialist for Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Diego County, where she was responsible for the growth of the Operation BIGS program, a mentoring program supporting children of deployable military personnel. Rory has also worked as a career civilian employee for both the Marine Corps and the Army.

She holds a bachelor’s degree from Clemson University and a master’s in social work from the University of Southern California. She is the recipient of a Presidential Volunteer Service Award, the Army Achievement Medal for Civilian Service, and a Marine Corps Certificate of Commendation. She serves on the boards of the Code of Support Foundation and Bastion Community of Resilience.

Kassamira Carter-Howard

Policy Associate

Kassamira Carter-Howard

Kassamira Carter-Howard is the Policy Associate for Violence Against Women Initiatives at the Biden Foundation. She works to end gender-based violence by creating cultural change and supporting survivors.

Before joining the Biden Foundation, Kassamira interned for U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon. There, she focused on policy issues such as budget and tax, civil rights and civil liberties, and foreign affairs. Prior to that, Kassamira served as a legal policy intern in the Office on Violence Against Women at the U.S. Department of Justice. In her role, she worked to create and expand resources to be inclusive of marginalized communities, in particular, women of color, queer and trans folks, people with disabilities, and the tribal community. She also served on the White House Task Force to Protect Students Against Sexual Assault in the Office of Vice President Biden.

Kassamira graduated magna cum laude from Santa Clara University with a B.S. in political science and ethnic studies with a minor in women’s & gender studies.

Melanie Fonder Kaye

Communications Director

Melanie Fonder Kaye | Biden Foundation

Melanie Fonder Kaye is a communications strategist with more than 20 years of experience in advocacy communications, media, and journalism. Before founding her communications firm MFK Strategies, she served as Director of Communications to Dr. Jill Biden. In the White House, Melanie developed and oversaw the communications strategy, which included Joining Forces, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Biden’s initiative to encourage all Americans to support service members, veterans, and military families; helping to raise the profile of community colleges as an innovative pathway to success; elevating the role of teachers; and raising awareness around women’s health, particularly breast cancer.

Before that, Melanie was a vice president at GMMB, an agency dedicated to creating real and lasting change in the world, where she ran communications and branding campaigns on a wide range of issues, many of which were focused on improving public health outcomes. Melanie was press secretary for former Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, and was a reporter covering politics and government for The Hill, the Green Bay News-Chronicle, and WisPolitics.com. She has written for The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan.com, and Working Mother, among other publications.

Melanie graduated from St. Norbert College, and attended the University of Wisconsin’s Robert M. LaFollette School of Public Affairs. She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with her husband and three children.

Ben Harris

Chief Editor of the Biden Forum

Ben Harris is a Visiting Associate Professor at the Kellogg School of Business and the chief economist to the evidence-based policy organization Results for America. He recently served as the Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to the Vice President of the United States.  He was also previously the Policy Director of The Hamilton Project; a Fellow in Economic Studies at Brookings; and Deputy Director of the Retirement Security Project at Brookings.

Earlier in his career, Harris was a Senior Research Associate with the Urban Institute and the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. Prior to joining the Urban Institute, Harris worked at the White House as a Senior Economist with the Council of Economic Advisers, where he specialized in fiscal policy and retirement security. He has also served as a Research Economist at the Brookings Institution and as a Senior Economist with the Budget Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. Harris has also taught as an adjunct professor at the policy schools at the University of Maryland and Georgetown University.

Harris’s primary areas of focus are tax, budget, and retirement security. He has published a variety of papers and policy briefs related to topics in public finance and is regularly cited in media reports related to fiscal policy.

He holds a Ph.D. in economics from George Washington University, in addition to a master’s degree in economics from Cornell University and a master’s degree in quantitative methods from Columbia University. He earned his B.A. in economics at Tufts University. In 2000, Harris was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to Namibia.

Emily Hecht-McGowan

Director for LGBTQ Equality

Biden Foundation

Emily Hecht-McGowan is the Director for Equality and will lead the Foundation’s LGBTQ work, building on the Vice President’s longstanding commitment to equality and progress for all. Prior to joining the Biden Foundation, Emily spent almost eight years as Family Equality Council’s Chief Policy Officer, where she led the organization’s efforts to ensure full legal recognition and protection for LGBTQ parents and their children through advocacy, grassroots mobilization, and public education campaigns. During her tenure, Emily spearheaded Family Equality’s work in the movement for nationwide marriage equality both in the courts and at the legislative level, worked across federal agencies to expand access to public benefits and programs, and advanced pro-LGBTQ legislation in Congress and state legislatures across the country.

From 2006 to 2009, Emily served as a Senior Staff Attorney and then as Legal Director for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, where she assisted service members and veterans in all branches of the U.S. military impacted by “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and related forms of discrimination. Before joining SLDN, Emily was the Assistant Section Director for the American Bar Association’s Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities where she coordinated the ABA’s civil rights, human rights, and social justice policy work.

Emily holds a J.D. from Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law and B.A. in history from American University. In 2013, she was recognized by the National LGBT Bar Association as one of the “Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40.” Emily is admitted to the bar in both Virginia and the District of Columbia and lives in Takoma Park, MD, with her wife Sharon and their two daughters.

Thomas Hudson

Policy Associate

Thomas Hudson - Biden Foundation

Thomas Hudson is an esteemed public policy and child welfare advocate from the state of Oklahoma. Throughout Thomas’s undergraduate career, he held a statewide officer position in Foster Care Alumni of America’s Oklahoma Chapter. He has developed and coordinated statewide trainings for child welfare professionals. He continues to be a mentor for LGBTQ+ youth with experiences in the child welfare system. Thomas has successfully coached youth to strategically share their personal stories to impact and transform the lives of youth in foster care. In 2015, Thomas was recognized by FosterClub as an Outstanding Young Leader for his work in the community. Thomas believes that there is no greater gift than having the opportunity to empower young leaders to utilize their stories to inform and reform the child welfare system.

Before joining the Biden Foundation, Thomas served as a Congressional Intern for Congresswoman Karen Bass. He also works as an advocacy consultant for organizations including National Foster Youth Institute, National Resource Center for Youth Services, and Interagency Working Groups on Youth Programs. His areas of expertise include child welfare, LGBTQ+ rights, human rights, and more. Thomas continues to use his personal experience and knowledge to educate and ignite change for all youth. Thomas graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma where he studied in musical theatre performance. He has studied many forms of arts which include, ballet, jazz, tap, Aerial and silks.

Thomas hopes that his story inspires young leaders to embrace who they are, to chase their dreams, and to work with their networks of support to reach them!

Gina Lee

Policy Associate

Gina Lee

Gina Lee is a Policy Associate at the Biden Foundation, working to support the higher education and military families pillars.

Before joining the Foundation, Gina worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign as scheduler to the running mate, Senator Tim Kaine. Prior to the campaign, she served in the Obama Administration in the White House Office of Legislative Affairs as Associate Director for Confirmations. She also previously worked in the White House Office of Presidential Personnel, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the 2013 Presidential Inauguration and 2012 Democratic National Convention.

Gina was born in South Korea and immigrated with her family to the United States in 1990. She was raised in New York and earned a B.S. in journalism from Boston University.

Brian McKeon

Advisor for Foreign Policy

Brian McKeon | Biden Foundation

Brian McKeon is an Advisor for Foreign Policy at the Biden Foundation. He comes to the foundation with over 30 years of experience in all three branches of the federal government, including high-ranking national security positions in the White House, the Defense Department and the U.S. Senate. ­

Brian served in several positions in the Obama administration. At the Defense Department, he served as Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Policy (2014-2017), and concurrently as Acting Under Secretary for the final seven months of the President’s tenure. In the White House, McKeon served as Deputy Assistant to the President, Executive Secretary and Chief of Staff of the National Security Council (2012–2014), and as Deputy National Security Adviser to Vice President Biden (2009–2012).

In the Senate, Brian served for 12 years as chief counsel to the Democratic members of the Committee on Foreign Relations (1997–2009), and concurrently as Deputy Staff Director for two years. Prior to service on the Committee staff, McKeon served as a legislative assistant for foreign policy and defense to Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (1988–1995). In between his two Senate positions, Brian was a law clerk to U.S. District Judge Robert Doumar and worked in the foreign policy office of the Clinton/Gore ’96 campaign.

Brian has written on national security issues for various publications, testified before the Congress on several occasions, and appeared on MSNBC, Vice News, Fox News, Al Jazeera and Alhurra TV. Brian is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the Georgetown University Law Center.

Jordan Montoya

Policy Associate

Jordan Montoya | Biden Foundation

Jordan Montoya is a Policy Associate at the Biden Foundation, working to support and further develop the foreign policy pillar as well as the higher education and military families pillars.

A Colorado native, Jordan graduated from Stanford University with a B.A. in international relations and minor in Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies. Following college, Jordan joined the 2008 Obama/Biden campaign and traveled domestically as part of the national advance team. From 2009 to 2012, Jordan worked at the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) for Secretary Ken Salazar as advance staff, and later, as Deputy Press Secretary. Following her time at DOI, Jordan transitioned to the White House where she served for three years as Deputy Director of Advance for Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden. Most recently, Jordan was an Associate Director at Save the Children, an international nonprofit organization dedicated to serving and protecting children in the U.S. and around the world.

Katie Petrelius

Development Advisor

Biden Foundation

Katie serves as the Development Advisor for the Biden Foundation. She is responsible for overseeing all major donor and direct marketing fundraising for the organization.

Most recently, Katie was the Deputy National Finance Director at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Prior to that, she oversaw the Northeast region for the Committee, encompassing the New York tri-state area and New England. Katie played a pivotal role in managing high-level donor relationships, while also planning and executing events with Fortune 500 CEOs and surrogates such as former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, Dr. Jill Biden, and members of the Democratic Senate caucus.

Prior to the DSCC, Katie worked for Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III as his National Finance Director. Katie also spent time as a fundraising consultant for various House campaigns and initiatives. She started her career in fundraising as an intern for Biden for President in 2007.

Katie holds a B.A. in political science and French from Drew University. She is a proud native of Haddonfield, N.J., and resides in Washington, D.C.

Gautam Raghavan

Advisor for LGBTQ Equality

Biden Foundation

Gautam Raghavan is an independent consultant who works with progressive organizations focused on securing political power and social change.

Most recently, Gautam served as Vice President of Policy for the Gill Foundation, where he managed multimillion-dollar investments to secure federal and state-level policies that ensure a level playing field for all LGBT Americans. From 2011 to 2014, Gautam served as President Barack Obama’s liaison to the LGBTQ community as well as the Asian American & Pacific Islander community. And from 2009 to 2011, he was White House Liaison for the U.S. Department of Defense and as Outreach Lead for the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Working Group. Prior to joining the Obama Administration, Gautam worked on the 2008 Obama campaign and at the Democratic National Committee.

A first-generation immigrant, Gautam was born in India, raised in Seattle, graduated from Stanford University, and currently lives in Washington, D.C., with his husband Andrew and daughter Maya. He also serves on the boards of CenterLink and OptionB.org.

Lynn Rosenthal

Director for Violence Against Women Initiative

Biden Foundation

Lynn Rosenthal is the Director for Violence Against Women Initiative at the Biden Foundation. She leads the Foundation’s work to prevent sexual and domestic violence through cultural change and support for survivors.

From 2009 to 2015, Lynn served as the first-ever White House Advisor on Violence Against Women.  She co-chaired the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault on behalf of Vice President Biden and was the key advisor on its recommendations. Lynn represented the Vice President on the White House Council on Women and Girls and co-chaired the Federal Interagency Group on HIV/AIDS and Violence Against Women. After leaving the White House, Lynn was the Vice President for Strategic Partnerships at the National Domestic Violence Hotline.  In 2015, Lynn was honored as a Woman of Distinction by the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders and received the Jeanne Clery Campus Safety Award.

From 2000 to 2005, Lynn served as the executive director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence where she played a key role in advocating for the Violence Against Women Act and worked closely with corporate leaders to develop new initiatives addressing domestic violence. She was the executive director of state domestic violence coalitions in Florida and New Mexico, and began her work at the grassroots as a women’s health activist and organizer. Lynn was born in New Mexico, raised in beautiful Miami and today lives in Mount Rainier, MD.

Louisa Terrell

Executive Director

Biden Foundation

Prior to starting her role as the Executive Director of the Biden Foundation, Louisa most recently served as Advisor to the Chairman at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) where she guided policy development, operations and personnel, as well as managed Congressional outreach and coordination with other federal agencies and Administration offices.

Prior to her work at the FCC, Louisa served as Chief of Staff to Senator Cory A. Booker, establishing the Senator’s Washington, DC, and New Jersey offices immediately after the 2013 special election, and shaping legislative strategy.

In 2011, she joined Facebook as the Director of Public Policy, leading the company’s Congressional outreach efforts. Prior to that, Louisa spent two years at the White House serving as the Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs where she acted as a primary liaison with the U.S. Senate.

In 2008, Louisa joined the Obama/Biden presidential transition team from Yahoo! Inc. On the transition team, she served as a Congressional relations advisor to the Vice President-Elect’s transition team.

In 2006, she worked as the Deputy Chief of Staff to Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. From 2001 – 2006, she served as Counsel to the Committee on the Judiciary where she drafted legislation, including the Violence Against Women Act of 2005. Prior to that, Louisa worked at the Office of the Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and at Seyfarth Shaw in Boston, MA.

Louisa holds a J.D. from Boston College Law School and a B.A. in American Studies from Tufts University. As a native of Wilmington DE, Louisa is a regular on the Amtrak route between Wilmington and Washington, DC, where she currently lives with her husband and two daughters.

Lauren Thurman

Digital Communications Specialist

As the Biden Foundation’s Digital Communications Specialist, Lauren helps to promote online engagement through digital strategy, social media management, and web content development.

Prior to joining the Foundation, Lauren worked as a public affairs trainee and junior associate at the public relations firm Kivvit, where she helped clients with digital media solutions through content contributions and brand strategy recommendations. She also ghost-wrote and placed editorial content for a wide range of organizations, from household-name nonprofits to multinational corporations.

Before she moved to Washington, Lauren worked on political campaigns as a campus and field organizer, managed local businesses’ social media profiles, and edited the Opinion section of her university’s newspaper. She got her start knocking doors for President Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012.

Lauren grew up in Boulder, CO, where she developed a love of hiking and good coffee, and currently lives in Arlington, VA. She holds a B.A. in English literature from the University of Colorado—Boulder.

Jacob Wellner

Special Assistant

Jacob Wellner - Biden Foundation

Jacob Wellner serves as the Special Assistant for the Biden Foundation. He supports the Executive Director and policy directors with strategic planning, memo writing, and various research projects. He also serves as an assistant to the Chief Editor of the Biden Forum and works to support the Foundation’s Strengthening the Middle Class pillar.

Jacob most recently was a Fellow at Atlantic Media’s Ballast Research, a strategy consulting firm that works directly with senior policymakers across sectors to inform advocacy and engagement in federal and state policy. In that role, Jacob reported directly to the President and General Counsel of the firm. Prior to his fellowship, Jacob was a White House intern with the National Economic Council, focusing on financial regulation, housing finance, and consumer protection. He also interned with the Hillary for America finance team in Brooklyn, at Promontory Financial Group in D.C., and in Senator Dick Durbin’s Capitol Hill office.

Jacob received his B.A. in philosophy, politics, and economics from the University of Michigan, and is a proud native of Washington, D.C.