Brent Ashton - Chair

Brent has been a partner at Ernst & Young LLP (EY) since 2006 and has been at EY since 1994. In his partner 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 technology, diversified industrial products, manufacturing and distribution. He previously ran the EY Entrepreneur of the Year program in New Jersey from 2011 to 2016.

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 Strategic Planning Committee for the New Jersey Society of CPAs (NJCPAS). He also currently serves as a Board Member for Junior Achievement of Central New Jersey.

Brent has been a volunteer with Minds Matter since 2010 and National Board member since 2015. Brent earned a BS in Business Administration from the Olin School of Business at Washington University in ST. Louis.
Why Minds Matter? Having been associated with Minds Matter for over 20 years I have witnessed firsthand the long term significant positive impact the program has on individual lives and their families from day one in the sophomore program to post college and beyond.

Peter W. Agnes III

Peter is a Consultant in the Boston office of the global Leadership Consulting firm Egon Zehnder where he advises clients on talent and leadership in the firm’s Financial Services, Private Equity and Sports practices.  Prior to Egon Zehnder, Peter was a Partner and Portfolio Manager at Caxton Associates, a global macro hedge fund headquartered in New York City.  Before joining Caxton, Peter was a Managing Director at Barclays Capital where he was the Global Head of the Credit Opportunities Group, a proprietary investing unit.  Earlier in his career Peter worked at the UBS Investment Bank in Stamford, CT and Wachovia Securities in Charlotte, NC.  He is a CFA charter holder. Peter earned his MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University and a BA from Dartmouth College where he also played varsity football.

Why Minds Matter?  Reflecting upon my own journey, I realized that college access is the launching pad for lifelong success.  I am passionate about leveling the playing field and how Minds Matter helps position young people to succeed through intensive mentorship and education.

Bob Alig

Bob is the Vice President of Alumni Affairs for St. George’s University. Formerly, he was the executive vice president, School Products Group, of the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) and vice president of the College Board’s middle states regional office, where he and his team promoted college and career readiness for all K-12 and higher education students. He also held numerous positions at his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, including Director of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid at the Wharton School and Assistant Vice President of Alumni Relations.
Why Minds Matter? I am committed to the work of Minds Matter because I do not believe that educational access and equity should be about a student’s zip code, but rather, about their talents and aspirations.

Avi Fernandes

Avi is a Senior Vice President and Founding Member at ICONIQ Capital, a privately-held investment firm based in San Francisco, CA that serves some of the world’s most influential families and organizations. Avi is primarily responsible for advising ultra high-net-worth families on their investment strategy, trust & estate structuring and philanthropy planning. Avi also serves on the Leadership Committee for the Family Office and ICONIQ Impact, the firm’s collaborative philanthropy platform to dramatically scale ‘big bet’ giving for social change.

Avi began his career at Goldman Sachs in their Investment Management and Investment Banking Divisions. In Investment Management, Avi was part of the Investment Strategy Group in New York where he advised ultra high-net-worth families on their portfolio strategy and served as the product specialist for the West Coast Region. In Investment Banking, Avi worked in the Industrials and Natural Resources Group in San Francisco where he advised companies on their M&A and financing strategy. After business school, Avi worked in Morgan Stanley’s Private Wealth Management Division before he and his team spun out to form ICONIQ Capital.

Avi earned his MBA at INSEAD and Bachelor of Arts in Economics-Philosophy at Columbia University.

Melanie Girton

Melanie Girton is a founding partner of Odell Girton Siegel, LLC advising startups and growth stage companies.  She focuses her practice exclusively on the entrepreneur's journey.  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 Articles Editor of the Law Review.  She comes from a family dedicated to the mission of education and shares their passion for the unique role it can play in unlocking opportunities through the realization of individual potential, and the aggregated power of a society equipped with learned citizens.

Why Minds Matter?  As a Minds Matter mentor 25 years ago, I felt first hand the compelling impact of connecting with a bright young student.  While much has changed in the decades since, the deeply meaningful experience of the personal connection that develops for thousands of mentors and mentees remains as rewarding as ever.

Jean Huang

Jean Huang is a Principal and Financial Advisor in Bernstein’s Los Angeles office. She provides investment planning and management for high-net-worth individuals, families, foundations and endowments, and business owners. Prior to joining the firm in 2011, Jean was with media and distribution consultant Pride of Cleveland, Inc., where she was responsible for business development and strategy for clients that included the National Association of Television Programming Executives (NATPE). Previously, she was a VP of programming and development for 20th Century Fox Television and, before that, a VP with responsibility for the Los Angeles office of Distraction Formats, a distribution and production company based in Montreal and London. Earlier, Jean was a VP of international sales and distribution at Lions Gate Entertainment. She holds a BA, cum laude, in East Asian history from Harvard University. Jean was formerly a principal and chairman of the board of the Westside Chinese School in Los Angeles; board member and treasurer at Harriet Buhai Center for Family Law; and is a graduate of Team Beverly Hills. She also supports female entrepreneurs and chairs Women in LAVA for the LA Venture Association.

Why Minds Matter?
 I am passionate about giving back to the community and society through my work, resources, and relationships.

Access to education and educational resources changes lives. At Minds Matter I can support access to education for underprivileged youth and support the diversity inherent in Greater Los Angeles and our world at large.

Leanne Huebner - Founder

A first generation college graduate herself, Leanne is a nationally-recognized nonprofit leader and a seasoned social entrepreneur with over 20 years of nonprofit board experience.  In 1991, Leanne Huebner co-founded Minds Matter of New York City, the pioneering organization in college access & success and our founding nonprofit; later she was involved as Founding Board Vice President of Minds Matter's work in Southern California.  In 2013, as its Founding Board Chair, Leanne led efforts to launch a successful charter school in an underserved area of South Los Angeles.  In her earlier professional career before she devoted her time to philanthropic efforts only, she led Yahoo's Central Business Development where she closed $90 million in new business and oversaw a $500 million trading portfolio at Credit Suisse.  She serves or served on various educational nonprofit boards including:  Trustee's Council of Penn Women, University of Pennsylvania's Southern California Regional Advisory Board, Vistamar School Board of Trustees, Reach Higher Foundation, and the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation.  Leanne has received numerous recognitions for her volunteer work both nationally and regionally:  California State Assembly ("Women of the Year"), L'Oreal ("Women of Worth"), Points of Light Foundation (Daily Point of Light Recipient), Soroptimist International ("Woman of Distinction") and Tri Delta National (2020 Distinguished Delta).  Leanne holds a B.S. in Finance from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. degree from Harvard Business School.

Why Minds Matter? Minds Matter is a way to level the playing field for students from under-resourced communities, like where I grew up.  Over the years, witnessing the lives we have changed continues to warm my heart. Like myself years ago, first generation college hopefuls face many hidden obstacles; this organization knows barriers exist and does what it can to guide students to navigating them. Thankful for all the volunteers, leaders and staff who give so freely of their time towards this important work.

Deborah McGinn - Treasurer

Deborah McGinn retired in 2017 from the William T. Grant Foundation, where she held the position of vice president for finance and administration and assistant treasurer. Deborah has a strong track record in nonprofit finance and administration working in education and environmental organizations. She held the position of Vice President of Finance and Administration at the ExpandED Schools, the Fund for Public Schools, EDF and E+Co.  The first 25 years of her career were spent in the public sector at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, where she started her career as an accountant and rose through the organization to hold the position of Deputy Treasurer. Deborah earned a BA in Economics from Douglass College of Rutgers University.
Why Minds Matter? I was inspired to be a part of Minds Matter because, as a first generation college student myself, I understand the power of a college education as the driver for success in life.

Shari Noonan

Shari Noonan is Rialto Markets CEO and has more than 20 years of experience in the financial services industry. Rialto is a Finra registered broker dealer and SEC registered Alternative Trading System (ATS) focused on private market digital securities.  Shari has extensive experience in building and scaling operations and products with Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, and Instinet and was directly involved in the electronification of the Equities market.  She worked to develop many of the initial products in equities electronic trading, including the first ATS’s, advanced algorithms, and electronic negotiations.  She received a BS in Accounting from Marquette University and MBA from Columbia University and holds Series 3,7,24,55,63 registrations.

Why Minds Matter?  I believe strongly in the mission and ability of Minds Matter to enable capable students to reach new heights and experiences that will prepare them for lifelong success.  Having been involved with the organization for 25 years, I have seen firsthand the remarkable achievements of our students, who go on to act as role models within their community and beyond. 

Adaku Nwachukwu - Secretary

Adaku Nwachukwu is an IP, Technology Transactions and Privacy Attorney, with over 17 years of experience. She is the founder and managing partner at AN Law Firm, P.C. where she provides IP, Technology Transactions/Commercial Contracts, and Data Privacy & Cybersecurity services to start-up and established companies in various industries, including fintech, biotech/pharma, social media, telecommunications, and other technology spaces. Prior to starting her own firm, Adaku was an associate at Cooley LLP in the Technology Transactions and the Data Privacy & Cybersecurity practice groups. She is also a Certified Information Privacy Professional for the US (CIPP/US). Adaku holds a B.S. in Cell Molecular Biology and Genetics from the University of Maryland, College Park, an M.S. in Biotechnology from Johns Hopkins University, and a J.D. from the George Washington University School of Law.

Why Minds Matter? I came from a low-income family, but I was fortunate enough to benefit from programs that identified talented youth and provided amazing academic opportunities that ultimately played a part in my current career success. Minds Matter provides similar opportunities to students across the country. I feel a special connection to Minds Matter and am honored to be a part of an organization that provides great support and opportunities, and positively impacts the lives of deserving students.

Francisco Paret - Vice Chair

Francisco is a Partner at Egon Zehnder, one of the leading executive search and leadership consultancies globally.  A member of the Board and CEO Practices, Francisco led the Firm’s Financial Services Practice in the Americas for over five years.  He is part of the Firm’s Global Financial Services Leadership Team and of the U.S. Diversity Advisory Board.  He has worked on a broad range of CEO, C-suite and Board director search, succession planning and consulting assignments for clients across the financial services ecosystem globally.  Francisco has also been involved in diverse civic and community endeavors.  He served on the U.S. President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans, and has served on several non-profit and community-based organization boards.  Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Francisco earned a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.  He is the proud father of two young women.
Why Minds Matter?  Because I believe in the power of education to make our worlds bigger.  Minds Matter is all about making students’ worlds bigger, and I believe that making worlds bigger holds the possibility for more good in the world.

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 12 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 Managing Director at TowerBrook Capital Partners. 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, is a Senior Director with CBRE Investment Management’s Client Solutions team. 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 and Tradeweb, as well as equity and fixed income research and trading roles at Adelante Capital Management, Bank of America, Barclays Capital, and Goldman Sachs Asset Management.

Mr. Rodriguez received his B.S. in Engineering from Columbia University and his M.B.A. 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 in a variety of roles. He is especially proud of having been a mentor to four students.

Why Minds Matter? Having participated in the mentorship program as a mentee and as a mentor, I believe Minds Matter is uniquely positioned to provide high-potential youth with the access and the tools necessary to achieve academic and professional success.

Ashish Shah

Ashish is co-head of Goldman Sachs Asset Management’s (GSAM) Global Fixed Income and Liquidity Solutions business. He also serves as global head of GSAM's Cross-Sector Strategy and is a member of the Fixed Income Strategy Group. Ashish joined Goldman Sachs as a partner in 2018.

Prior to joining the firm, Ashish was chief investment officer for Global Credit and head of Fixed Income for Alliance Bernstein, where he oversaw all credit-related strategies. He joined Alliance Bernstein in 2010 as the firm’s head of Global Credit. Prior to that, Ashish was a managing director and head of Global Credit Strategy at Barclays Capital from 2008 to 2010, responsible for the High Grade, High Yield, Structured Credit and Municipal Strategy groups and the Special Situations Research team. From 2003 to 2008, Ashish was head of Credit Strategy at Lehman Brothers.

Ashish has been a volunteer with Minds Matter since 1994 and National board member since 2015.

Ashish earned a BS in economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Why Minds Matter? I am inspired by our students, volunteers and leaders who all want to drive social mobility through education and community.

Philip Taylor

Mr. Taylor currently is the Chief Analytics Officer at FinMason. In his role, Taylor leads the firm’s elite analytics team in expanding the firm’s fixed-income and equity analytics offering from roughly 700 different analytics to more than 1400, and deliver sophisticated analyses on multi-asset, multi-currency portfolios to our swiftly-expanding global client base.

Mr. Taylor brings over 20 years of senior-level institutional investment experience, having run $1b+ portfolios at several prominent financial institutions across all asset-classes. Prior to joining FinMason, Taylor led the Capital Markets desk at Lazard. Before that, he worked for two decades as an arbitrage portfolio manager for prominent banks and hedge funds. He also recently served as Chair of the Board for the CFA Society New York. Taylor holds an M.A. and B.A. in Mathematics and Management from the University of Cambridge.

Ram Vittal

Mr. Vittal currently serves as the CEO with Marex North America, where he provides leadership and strategic direction, building a successful and strong business. Previously, Mr. Vittal worked as a Managing Director at J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs.

Mr. Vittal is a huge advocate for higher learning, as it is a passion of his. He earned his MBA from The Wharton School in 2002, a MS in Mechanical Engineering from Ohio State University in 1996, and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras in 1994.