The current YI Board of Directors, listed below, provides oversight and leadership for the organization.
Chairman, Young Invincibles
Program Officer, The Meyer Foundation
Julian A. Haynes is a program officer at the Meyer Foundation, where he focuses on the Foundation’s grantmaking in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties in Maryland. Before joining Meyer in 2016, Julian was an associate director of programs and policy at Achieving the Dream, a national reform network dedicated to community college student success and completion. In that role, Julian oversaw the day-to-day management of the Working Student Success Network, a national initiative focused on providing comprehensive nonacademic services to low-income community college students.
Prior to his role with Achieving the Dream, Julian was a program associate on the education team at the Kresge Foundation, where for three years he helped manage a national portfolio of grants supporting efforts to increase post-secondary degree attainment for traditionally under-served students. Previously, he was a research associate at Guttman Community College in the CUNY system, and a project coordinator with the United Way of Dane County in Madison, WI. He recently joined the board of Young Invincibles in Washington DC.
Julian holds a bachelor’s degree from Morehouse, and a master’s in nonprofit management from Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy.
Director of Government Relations, Project Lead the Way
Kernard Jones serves as Director of Government Relations for Project Lead the Way (PLTW). Kernard leads the organization’s efforts and strategy to build and maintain trust, messaging, and support among external audiences, including government affairs, policy, and community engagement in their central western region. He joined PLTW in February 2022.
Before PLTW, Kernard was a Director of Government Affairs at Notarize, Inc. and a partner consultant at Smith & Jones Consulting in Houston, TX. Kernard also spent time at bp America as a summer associate with their state & local affairs department and was a former fellow for President Barack Obama Organizing for Action organization.
In June 2018, Kernard was appointed by Governor Greg Abbott to serve on the Texas Southern University Board of Regents. As a Student Regent, Kernard fought to ensure that every student, faculty, and staff member would have a meaningful voice on campus and helped to create new policies to improve campus life. Kernard has also served on numerous other boards and committees including; the Young Invincibles National Youth Advisory Board, the City of Houston Mayor's Leadership Alliance Council, and currently serves on the Greater Houston Partnership Public Education Committee.
Kernard currently resides in Houston, TX with his wife Kaelah and son Kadence.
Education Policy Analyst, UnidosUS
Amanda Martinez is an education policy analyst focusing on higher education at UnidosUS (formerly National Council of La Raza). In her role, Amanda works to advance higher education policy priorities, including issues related to student debt by examining barriers to post-secondary success and advancing key legislative efforts with coalition partners.
Prior to joining UnidosUS, Ms. Martinez was an intern at New America, where she wrote and published blogs on higher education federal aid policies and issues facing underrepresented students. Before working at New America, she was a Young Invincibles Fellow, where her research on the contingent workforce was presented to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives legislative staff. Amanda holds a master’s degree in Public Policy from American University in Washington, DC and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from California State University at Fullerton.
Associate, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP
Ngozi is an Associate at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP in New York, focused on complex mergers, acquisitions, and other transactions for leading corporations, private equity sponsors, and financial institutions.
Ngozi previously served as Counsel at Protect Democracy, where his work included litigation and advocacy on issues concerning voting rights and election protection, the First Amendment, and accountability for the January 6th insurrection. Before practicing law, Ngozi served as a Senior Research Analyst at the Democracy Alliance, where he developed philanthropic strategy for high net-worth donors, foundations, and labor unions, and managed due diligence and impact assessments of public policy research institutes, public interest law firms, and issue advocacy organizations. Earlier in his career, he served as the Acting Head of Leadership at African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he researched, wrote, and designed the Academy’s two-year leadership curriculum and taught courses in leadership and entrepreneurship.
Ngozi graduated with a B.A. in political science from Yale University, an M.B.A. from the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management, and a J.D. (cum laude) from the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law.
Corporate Communications, LinkedIn
Leonna Spilman is a Senior Manager of Corporate Communications at LinkedIn, where she leads a team dedicated to protecting the brand’s reputation and building and safeguarding trust with the platform’s members. Before joining LinkedIn in 2017, Leonna was at The Greenlining Institute, an organization dedicated to building a future where communities of color thrive. In this role, she worked alongside the organization's policy experts to tell data driven and policy focused stories. Leonna is deeply committed to working with brands that promote economic opportunity and equity and began her communications journey as a Diversity Fellow with FleishmanHillard. She graduated with honors from the University of California Davis with a bachelor’s degree in English Literature.
Author, Consultant, Organizational Development Expert
Gia Suggs EdD, MPH, MA is an Organization Development Consultant. She manages a private practice and is an Adjunct Professor at Olivet Nazarene University and the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Dr. Gia combines her educational accomplishments and professional consulting experience to ensure she remains current in both the academic and business worlds. She brings her comprehensive consulting knowledge to the classroom setting and shares her academic acumen with professionals and business organizations.
Through her private practice, Dr. Gia Consulting, her clients benefit significantly from her 20 years of experience as an organization development professional, adult learner expert, skilled instructional designer and professional coach.
She has developed, designed and delivered over 1,000 business programs for the following client industries: Public Health, Food Service, Private Equity, Manufacturing, Healthcare, Insurance, Non-profit, Government, Academia, Associations, Commercial Banking, Financial Services, Sales, and Social Service.
Dr. Gia has a proven track record of effectively assessing organizational needs, developing and implementing recommendations for improving outcomes, and evaluating results. Highly engaging and extremely influential, Dr. Gia works with identified partners to design and apply highly successful organization development interventions.
Of all her roles, Dr. Gia is most proud of being GiGi to two beautiful young girls and quite the handsome little boy. She is also a loyal and dedicated fan of the Beloved Chicago Bears!