Effective April 25, 2019, the Biden Foundation suspended operations. Read more.
The Biden Foundation builds upon Vice President and Dr. Biden’s lifelong commitment to public service. Through educational programming and public policy analysis, we’re working to build a world where all people are equal in dignity and opportunity.
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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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!
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.
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 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.