Advisory Board

Michael Ashkar

Michael Ashkar serves as Senior Corporate Counsel at Marsh and McLennan Companies, Inc. He serves as lead counsel and is a member of the global Executive Committee for Marsh Risk Consulting, a global consulting organization. Mr. Ashkar is also responsible for evaluating and negotiating new business opportunities for the firm. Prior to his current role, Mr. Ashkar worked at Morrison & Foerster, LLP focused on representing start-up and emerging growth technology entities. At Minds Matter, Mr. Ashkar served as a mentor in New York and joined the fundraising team of the National Executive Committee last year. Mr. Ashkar holds a dual degree, JD and MBA from Boston University’s School of Law and School of Management. He graduated magna cum laude with a BA in American Studies also from Boston University.

Brent Ashton

Brent joined Ernst & Young LLP as a staff member in 1994 upon graduation from Washington University in St. Louis. He has been a Partner in the Assurance Services practice since 2006. In this role, Brent has served both publicly-owned and privately-held companies with regional, national and global presence. His client base is comprised of companies from a variety of industries including but not limited to industrial products, professional sports, consumer products, retail/wholesale, service, manufacturing and distribution. He has also been involved in numerous acquisitions and divestitures, public and private debt offerings and equity financing transactions. His clients include or have included: The New Jersey Devils, Red Bull New York, Aircast, Inc., dELiA*s, Inc., Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy, Tingue Brown, Siemens Corporation, United Rentals, Inc., Hanson PLC, Opnext Inc. and Emerson Radio Corp. While servicing these clients he has frequent involvement with the Audit Committees, CEOs and CFOs.

Brent currently serves as the Coordinating Partner for all Ernst & Young recruiting activities at Lehigh University. He is active in mentoring staff members, participates in various diversity initiatives and has been teaching various technical and non-technical topics, all at Ernst & Young.

In addition to his professional role as a CPA and partner at Ernst & Young, Brent is an active participant in a variety of non-profit organizations. Brent is a current member of The Board of Trustees for the New Jersey Society of CPAs (NJSCPA) Scholarship Fund. Most recently he completed a three-year term as the Chairman of both the NJSCPA?s Scholarship and Student Programs Committee and its Scholars Institute Program, a two-day fully funded professional development program for college students. Prior to this, he completed a two-year term as a Board Member of the NJSCPA. He also currently serves as a Board Member for Junior Achievement of North New Jersey.

Jon Bernstein

Vice Chair

Jon Bernstein serves as Executive Chairman of the Board of Cadec Global Inc., representing BlackBern Partners, Cadec’s principal investor. Prior to founding BlackBern, Mr. Bernstein was the second member of the Pershing Square Capital Management investment team and has also worked for First Manhattan Consulting Group and Founders Equity. He is currently the Vice Chairman of Corfin Industries LLC, Director of EOL Electronics LLC, Chairman of Minds Matter Inc., a member of the Columbia Business School Social Enterprise Program Alumni Circle, and a Director of NASDAQ-listed ARC Wireless Solutions Inc. He holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University and an MBA with Honors from Columbia Business School.

Melanie Girton

Melanie Girton is a Partner at Odell Girton Siegel, LLC. As a founding partner, Ms. Girton advises growth and later stage companies on transactional matters relating to various aspects of commercial operations, including the review and negotiation of contracts, business structuring and privacy matters. She has advised clients ranging from individuals to the Fortune 100.

Ms. Girton began her career at Kramer Levin Naftalis and Frankel LLP as a corporate associate in 1997. Ms. Girton continued her career as in-house counsel for Warner Music, Inc., where she assisted with employment matters, privacy issues, digital music licensing and joint ventures. Ms. Girton is a graduate of the University of Southern California and a magna cum laude graduate of the New York Law School, where she was an officer of the Media Law Project and an articles editor of the Law Review. Ms. Girton is a member of the ABA and its sections on Sports and Entertainment and Intellectual Property Law. She is admitted to practice in New York.

Ms. Girton is a former dedicated Minds Matter NYC volunteer who was involved for 7 years, first as a mentor and then building the program for seniors from its original informal arrangement to a more developed effort.

Leanne Huebner

Leanne Huebner is the Co-Founder of Minds Matter of New York City, our very first chapter, which started in 1991. She also served as the Founding Board Vice President for Minds Matter of Los Angeles for its first three years and has since served on our National Advisory Board. Leanne is an award-winning advocate for education, a start-up consultant, and a seasoned social entrepreneur — having recently helped launch a charter school for an underserved community in Los Angeles as its Founding Board Chair. Leanne previously led Central Business Development at Yahoo, Inc!, where she closed over $90 million in new revenue and oversaw a $500 million+ trading portfolio in her role as an Associate at Credit Suisse. Today, she serves on the boards of the University of Pennsylvania’s Southern California Regional Advisory Board, Trustee’s Council of Penn Women, and the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation. In recognition for outstanding community service, Leanne was bestowed “Woman of the Year” in 2014 by the California State Assembly; awarded “Woman of Distinction” by Soroptomist International and 66th Assembly District in 2013; and recognized by City of New York for her work with Harlem’s foster youth. A first generation college graduate herself, Leanne earned an B.S. in Finance from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. degree from Harvard Business School.

Stewart Lee

A Vice President with Barclays Capital, Stewart Lee is currently the Vice Chair of the National Board of Directors of Minds Matter. Prior to assuming his role as Vice Chair of the National Board, Mr. Lee actively volunteered in the New York City Chapter as a mentor (’99-’02), Director of Alumni Relations (’02-’03), Director of Mentors and Alumni (’03-’04), Director of Senior Program (’04-’06), Chair of the New York City Board of Directors (’08-‘09), served on the New York City Board of Directors (’04-’09), and Chair of the National Board of Directors (’10-’11). Mr. Lee also served on the National Executive Committee as the Program Chair (’06-’07). Mr. Lee holds dual Bachelor’s degrees in Finance and Accounting from New York University’s Stern School of Business. Currently at Barclays Capital, Mr. Lee works in the Structured Credit Portfolio Group managing the group’s fixed income and equity portfolio. Prior to his current role, he worked in the firm’s CDO group trading and managing mortgage and commercial real estate bonds and also in the Risk Finance Portfolio Management group where he performed various functions including analyzing the group’s physical and synthetic residential portfolios and providing trade recommendations for the groups cash and synthetic transactions. Prior to Barclays, he spent over three years at Arthur Andersen in their Structured Finance Group analyzing various types of collateral.

Deborah McGinn

Vice Chair

Deborah McGinn is the vice president for finance and administration at the William T. Grant Foundation. She was formerly the vice president of finance and administration for The After-School Corporation (TASC). Ms. McGinn has a strong track record in nonprofit finance and administration. Prior to her tenure at TASC, she held senior-level positions at the Fund for Public Schools, EDF, and E+Co. She also spent many years at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, beginning her career as an accountant and, after several promotions, serving as a deputy director and deputy treasurer. Ms. McGinn has a BA in Economics from Douglas College of Rutgers University.

Connie Miller


Ms. Miller recently retired as the Managing Director and Head of Global Human Resources of PineBridge Investments, a company which at its founding in 2010 had 81 billion in assets under management in both traditional and alternative products across 32 countries. She was responsible for a staff of 17 HR professionals handling all functions relating to the management of people including but not limited to recruiting, compensation, benefits, and employee relations. Ms. Miller moved to PineBridge Investments, a company that was carved out of AIG and sold in 2010 to the Pacific Century Group located in Hong Kong. She joined the firm as part of AIG Investments in 1996 with 20 years of experience in human resources management in diversified financial services companies. At its peak AIG Investments had a population of 3000 people around the globe and $750 Billion in assets under management. Ms. Miller was a founding member of AIG Investments.

In addition, she held Human Resources Managerial positions with Wells Fargo Bank, Bank of America, and ITT Financial Services all in San Francisco. Ms. Miller holds a BS in English/Education from Western Connecticut University and an MA in English from George Washington University. Prior to her human resources career she taught high school English.

Shari Noonan

Shari is currently the COO for Global Equity Trading at Deutsche Bank. Prior to that role she held the posts of COO of Global Equity Derivatives and COO for Global Electronic Trading in Equities. Shari came to Deutsche Bank in 2010 from Goldman Sachs, where she served in a variety of roles including equity swaps sales trading, trading management, and product development. Prior to Goldman, Shari was at Instinet as the head of new product development and at KPMG as a consultant. She holds a degree in Accounting from Marquette University and a MBA from Columbia University. In addition to working with Minds Matter, Shari is a Fellow for The Sutton Trust and on the Dean’s Council of Excellence for Marquette University. Shari lives in New York City with her husband and two sons.

P. Hunter Philbrick

Mr. Philbrick is a Managing Director at Hellman & Friedman in the New York office. He is a Director of Hub International and Pharmaceutical Product Development, Inc., and was active in the Firm’s investments in Emdeon Inc., Grosvenor Capital Management Holdings, LLLP, and PARIS RE Holdings Limited. He was formerly a Director of GeoVera Insurance Group Holdings, Ltd and Sedgwick, Inc.

Prior to joining the Firm in 2003, Mr. Philbrick worked in the Mergers, Acquisitions and Restructuring and General Industrial Departments of Morgan Stanley & Co. in New York. Mr. Philbrick graduated magna cum laude from Dartmouth College where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He believes that the best way of addressing inequality is to make sure that all children can achieve a solid educational foundation.

Michael Recht

Mr. Recht has been actively involved with Minds Matter since 2005, when he began the process of co-founding the Chicago Chapter. Over the last 9 years, he co-founded the Chicago Chapter, served as its Director of Mentees and sat on both the Chicago and National Governance Boards.

Professionally, Mr. Recht is a Principal at TowerBrook. Previously, Mr. Recht was a Senior Associate with the Retail & Consumer team at Apax Partners. Before joining Apax he worked for Thoma Cressey Bravo, focusing on investments in the consumer products and services sector. Prior to Thoma Cressey, Mr. Recht was a member of the Technology & Defense teams at CIBC World Markets. Mr. Recht earned his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and his B.A. from Williams College.

Elvis Rodriguez

Elvis Rodriguez, Research Associate, is a member of Adelante’s research team. Mr. Rodriguez joined the firm in December 2015. He began his career at Morgan Stanley, where he interned while completing his undergraduate studies. Mr. Rodriguez has worked in market data sales roles at Bloomberg, Interactive Data, and Tradeweb, as well as trading roles at Goldman Sachs Asset Management as a High Yield Trader and Barclays Capital in Electronic Trading.

Mr. Rodriguez attended Columbia University and received his B.S. in Engineering. He earned his M.B.A. in Finance from the Darden Graduate School of Business, University of Virginia. Mr. Rodriguez has been an active Minds Matter alumnus and Advisory Board member, having served as a mentor and active donor. Mr. Rodriguez has also been an active Darden alumnus and Alumni Board member. He is an alumnus of the Minds Matter NYC program.

Jordan Sedrish

Jordan Sedrish is a Strategic Account Executive with Workday, Inc. in New York. He has worked in the human capital and technology space for over 14 years and brings a wealth of knowledge, relationships, and industry experience. With a focus on strategic account management in the HR and financial technology software space, he works across verticals with global organizations to manage their people and business through technology and services. Prior to his existing position at Workday, he worked at Oracle on global enterprise accounts. Prior to that, he was a Sales Executive at Kronos and a District Sales Manager in the National Accounts group at ADP. Mr. Sedrish holds a BA from the University of Wisconsin Madison. Jordan looks forward to supporting Minds Matter’s human resources and fundraising efforts.

Ashish Shah


Ashish Shah is Chief Investment Officer of Global Credit and Head of Fixed Income for AB. He is also a Partner of the firm. As CIO of Global Credit, Shah oversees all of AB’s credit-related strategies, including all global and regional investment-grade and high-yield strategies. In this capacity, he leads AB’s internal Credit Research Review Committee, the primary investment policy and decision-making committee for all credit-related portfolios managed by AB. As Head of Fixed Income, Shah is responsible for the management and strategic growth of the overall business. He is the author of several published papers and blogs, including those highlighting high-yield bonds as attractive substitutes for equities (June 2015), concerns around the bank loan market (November 2013) and the dangers in reaching for yield in the high-yield market (August 2013). Shah joined AB in 2010 as the firm’s head of Global Credit. Prior to that, he was a managing director and head of Global Credit Strategy at Barclays Capital (2008–2010), where he was responsible for the High Grade, High Yield, Structured Credit and Municipal Strategy groups and the Special Situations Research team. From 2003 to 2008, Shah was the head of Credit Strategy at Lehman Brothers, leading the Structured Credit/CDO and Credit Strategy groups and covering the cash bond, credit derivatives and CDO product areas for global credit investors. He holds a BS in economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Michele Michaelis Slifka

Michele holds a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and a Bachelor of Music in Violin performance from Indiana University (Bloomington), a Doctorate from the City University of New York, and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Michele is the Founder and CEO of IvySage Education, a high-end, real-time, synchronous and completely online academic tutoring, test-prep tutoring, and admissions advisory service. She also runs the IvySage Foundation, which seeks to bring best-in-class tutoring and admissions advisory to economically challenged students demonstrating great academic promise and commitment.

Prior to founding IvySage, Michele spent nearly a decade on the music faculty of Hunter College (NY), while actively performing with companies at Lincoln Center and on Broadway.
She subsequently completed an MBA, and became a consultant for the Boston Consulting Group in NY. While with BCG, her casework was in practice areas including finance, personnel optimization and talent management, strategic planning, and business practice optimization. She worked primarily with financial and pharmaceutical companies, but has supported organizations across a broad span of industries.

Michele has been a member of the Board of Trustees of the Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale since 2012. During this time she chaired the Jewish Life and Education Committee, and worked closely with the staff and leadership at the Center to help improve operational and organizational components of Yale Hillel. She has also been a member of the Board of Governors of Hillel International since 2013 and currently serves on the Executive Committee.

Tina Steck

Tina Steck is an attorney currently residing in Manhattan Beach, CA and New York, NY and a member of the California State Bar and the New York State Bar. Her legal career is highlighted by her service as an Assistant District Attorney for the County of New York (1984 – 1987) and as a federal prosecutor for the U.S. Department of Justice in the Environmental Crimes Section (1990 – 1994). Tina also served as a staff attorney in the Civil Division of the DOJ, defending the U.S. in toxic tort litigation (1998 – 1990). After moving to Los Angeles with her family in 1995, she worked part time doing corporate litigation (1996-1998).

Tina currently serves as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Learning Rights Law Center in Los Angeles, a legal services nonprofit that protects a child’s right to learn by serving low income, at risk children and their families through direct representation, education advocacy, training and outreach. She is also a member of the Women’s Leadership Council supporting women’s athletic programs at Columbia University.

Tina was born in Summit, NJ, and attended Newark Academy (1976). She graduated magna cum laude from Barnard College with a B.A. in Political Science (1980) and received her J.D. from George Washington University in Washington D.C. (1984).