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Amir Farokhi

Director of the Corporate Council, CARE USA

Amir Farokhi is Director of the Corporate Council at CARE USA and serves on the Atlanta City Council. He has served as a Director of Strategy at Boston Consulting Group's BrightHouse division; Chief Operating Officer of College Advising Corps, an education non-profit; Founder and Executive Director of GeorgiaForward; and, as an attorney with an international law firm.

A graduate of Duke University and Duke University School of Law, he was a 2011 Marshall Memorial Fellow and Term Member with the Council on Foreign Relations. He lives in Atlanta with his wife, their dog, and two cats.

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Kweku Forstall

Director, Atlanta Civic Site of the Annie E. Casey Foundation

Kweku Forstall has been the director of the Atlanta Civic Site of the Annie E. Casey Foundation since 2014. The Annie E. Casey Foundation is devoted to developing a brighter future for millions of children at risk of poor educational, economic, social, and health outcomes. Its work focuses on strengthening families, building stronger communities, and ensuring access to opportunity, because children need all three to succeed.

Since 2001, the Atlanta Civic Site is a place where the foundation has a long-term commitment to improving the futures of at-risk children and their families in five neighborhoods just south of downtown Atlanta—Summerhill, Capitol Gateway, Peoplestown, Adair Park, Pittsburgh, and Mechanicsville.

Prior to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Mr. Forstall served as the startup Executive Director of Year Up Atlanta from 2008 to 2013. From 2000 to 2008 he was the founding Executive Director of Project GRAD Atlanta, Inc., a public school reform initiative operating in partnership with the Atlanta Public School system. He has also served as a Vice President for Community Investments for the United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta, and Director of the Emma and Joe Adams Public Service Institute at Morehouse College. Forstall began his career in 1985 as a staff and managing attorney with Atlanta Legal Aid Society.

In addition to serving on the MDC board, he is on the Executive Committee and Board of the Aerotropolis Atlanta Alliance. He also is a Foundation Center South Advisory Board member, an Atlanta CareerRise Leadership Council member, and a Friend of the A-Lab/Center for Civic Engagement at Oglethorpe University, all in Atlanta.

Mr. Forstall and his wife, Adrienne, live in Tucker, Ga., and have three adult daughters.

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Darrin Goss Sr.

Chair, MDC Board of Directors
President and CEO, Coastal Community Foundation

Veteran nonprofit leader Darrin Goss Sr. serves as president and CEO of Coastal Community Foundation since 2015. The foundation empowers individuals, families and organizations to make a lasting impact through permanent, endowed funds for charitable giving. It serves the low-country of South Carolina counties of Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester, Georgetown, Hampton, Horry and Jasper.

Mr. Goss brings years of professional experience in higher education, government, and industry to this work. He previously served as head of the Capital Area United Way in Baton Rouge, La., led community impact at the United Way of Greenville County and directed multicultural affairs at Wofford College. Prior to that, he implemented training programs for Sunoco Inc.

Raised on James Island, S.C., Mr. Goss is a graduate of Wofford College and North Greenville University, and a United States Army veteran. He is also a graduate of The Riley Institute’s Diversity Leadership Initiative and Clemson University at the Falls Leadership Summit.

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Christopher King, Ph.D.

Senior Researcher, Ray Marshall Center, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, The University of Texas at Austin 

Labor economist Dr. Christopher King served as lecturer at The University of Texas at Austin’s Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and senior research scientist at the School’s Ray Marshall Center, which he directed from 1991 to 2014, until his retirement in June 2017. He currently serves as a senior researcher on several center projects on workforce development and 2-generation antipoverty policy.

In 2012, Dr. King was selected as one of 20 leaders in the Aspen Institute’s inaugural class of Ascend Fellows. In 2009, he co-led a team that designed and implemented CareerAdvance®, Tulsa’s award-winning 2-generation program and, since 2011, has been part of the team evaluating the program with colleagues at Northwestern, New York and Columbia universities. He initiated and co-chairs Austin’s 2-Generation Advisory Committee. He serves on the boards of MDC, as well as the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce and The Austin Project.

Dr. King was assistant professor of economics at the University of Utah (1973-1976), an economist with the U.S. Secretary of Labor (1976-1980), and director of research and evaluation for job training programs in the Texas Governor’s Office (1983-1985).

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Bill Purcell

Counsel to FrostBrownTodd, LLC
Former Mayor of Nashville (1999-2007)

Counsel to FrostBrownTodd LLC in Nashville, Tenn., and a founding partner of Farmer Purcell White & Lassiter PLLC, Bill Purcell has spent more than 30 years in law, public service, and higher education. During his eight-year tenure as mayor of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tenn. (1999-2007), the city saw unprecedented economic expansion, an increase in Metro school funding of more than 50 percent, and the development and preservation of more than 26,000 affordable housing units. He was elected to his second term as mayor by a record-setting 84.8 percent of the vote. Mr. Purcell’s accomplishments as a civic leader earned him Public Official of the Year honors in 2006 by Governing magazine. During his term, Nashville was ranked as the number one city for corporate headquarters and twice ranked as the hottest city in America for expansion and relocation of business.

Following his service as mayor, Mr. Purcell was named a Harvard University Institute of Politics Fellow in 2007. He then served as founding and interim dean of the College of Public Service and Urban Affairs at Tennessee State University before returning to the Harvard Institute of Politics as Director (2008–2010), and a Lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Purcell served as founder and director of the Child and Family Policy Center at Vanderbilt University (1996-99), a nationally recognized center building a bridge between academic research, politics, and best practices to benefit children and their families.

Mr. Purcell was elected to five terms in the Tennessee House of Representatives (1986-96), serving as Majority Leader (1990-96). During his decade in the General Assembly, he sponsored and passed legislation undertaking major reforms in Tennessee’s schools, courtrooms, industrial plants and boardrooms, criminal and juvenile justice, hospitals, and voting booths. He served as Chair of the House Rules Committee, Committee on Open Records, and the Select Joint Committee on Children and Youth, and as a member of the Judiciary, General Welfare, Finance Ways and Means, and Ethics Committees. During his service Tennessee was twice ranked the best managed state in America.

Purcell earned his bachelor’s degree at Hamilton College and his law degree at Vanderbilt University School of Law, where he was honored as the 2004 Distinguished Alumnus.

Wendy D. Puriefoy

Former President, Public Education Network

Wendy D. Puriefoy is a nationally recognized expert on issues of school reform and civil society. Ms. Puriefoy is well known for her passionate advocacy of education equity for poor and disadvantaged children and has written and spoken extensively on the issues.

She was the president of Public Education Network (PEN) from 1991-2012. PEN is the nation’s largest network of community-based school reform organizations, founded in 1991. Under her visionary leadership, PEN grew into a national network of local education funds reaching more than 11 million children in 1,220 school districts and 18,000 schools nationwide.

Ms. Puriefoy has been deeply involved in school reform since the 1970s, when she served as a special monitor of the court-ordered desegregation plan for Boston’s public schools. As president of PEN, Ms. Puriefoy was been the leading force behind systemic reform initiatives in school finance and governance, curriculum and assessment, parent involvement, school libraries, and school health. With support from national foundations, PEN launched multi-million dollar public engagement initiatives focused on teacher quality, standards and accountability, and schools and community services.

Ms. Puriefoy is also a noted leader in the philanthropic world. Prior to being recruited as president of PEN, Ms. Puriefoy was executive vice president and chief operating officer of The Boston Foundation, a community foundation with an endowment of over $750 million supporting public health/welfare, educational, cultural, environmental, and housing programs in Boston, Mass.

Ms. Puriefoy serves on the boards of numerous high-profile national organizations including DEMOS, Hasbro Children’s Foundation, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), and National Center for Family Philanthropy. In the past, Ms. Puriefoy served on the boards of FairTest, Jobs for the Future, Milton Hershey School, Ms. Foundation for Women, The PEW Forum on Standards-Based Reform, Women and Philanthropy,  National Charities Information Bureau, Council on Foundations, Teach for America, Children’s Express, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and Boston Annenberg Challenge.

Ms. Puriefoy received a Bachelor of Arts degree from William Smith College and holds three Master of Arts degrees—in African American Studies, American Studies, and American Colonial History—from Boston University.

John L.S. Simpkins

President, MDC

John works with the entire MDC team to set strategy, shape our portfolio of work, and engage with partners and the public around the urgent challenge of eliminating disparities to build a South where all people can thrive.

Before coming to MDC in 2020, John held various leadership roles in efforts to promote equity, access, and inclusion at the state, national, and international level. Most recently he was Vice President of the Aspen Global Leadership Network at the Aspen Institute, where he mobilized the more than 3,000 Fellows around the world to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and its attendant economic effects.

A constitutional scholar and practicing attorney, John served in the Obama Administration as deputy general counsel for the White House Office of Management and Budget and general counsel for the U.S. Agency for International Development. After leaving government service, he joined Prisma Health as an executive and led collaborative, evidence-based efforts to promote health innovation, access, and equity in South Carolina’s largest private-sector employer. While serving in this role, Simpkins facilitated community conversations throughout the Upstate on racial equity in healthcare, housing, and education.

John grew up and attended public schools in Lexington, S.C.  After beginning his legal career in Washington, D.C, he returned to his home state as a faculty member in political science and Associate Director of the Richard Riley Institute at Furman University, where he focused on youth leadership, public school education practice and policy, and diversity programming for community and business leaders. He also was an assistant professor and director of diversity initiatives at the Charleston School of Law.

“The South belongs to all of us, and it matters a great deal to me. Through the work of MDC and our community partners throughout the region, we seek to be a model not just for the South, but for the rest of the country, and perhaps the rest of the world.”

Simpkins received his AB in government from Harvard College and a JD and LLM in international and comparative law from Duke University School of Law. He is a Senior Lecturer at Duke Law School and is a member of the Liberty Fellowship, a program in the Aspen Global Leadership Network dedicated to moving South Carolina forward.

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Dr. William Spriggs

Professor of Economics, Howard University
Chief Economist, AFL-CIO

Dr. William Spriggs is a professor in, and former chair of, the Department of Economics at Howard University and serves as chief economist to the AFL-CIO. In his capacity with the AFL-CIO he serves as chair of the Economic Policy Working Group of the Trade Union Advisory Committee (TUAC) to the OECD, and on the board of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). He also serves on the Advisory Board to the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute and is on the editorial board for the Public Administration Review.

From 2009 to 2012, he served as assistant secretary for the Office of Policy at the Department of Labor, having been appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. At the time of his appointment, he also served as chairman of the Health Care Trust for UAW Retirees of the Ford Motor Co.; chairman of the UAW Retirees of the Dana Corporation Health and Welfare Trust; vice chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Political Education and Leadership Institute; on the joint National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Public Administration’s Committee on the Fiscal Future for the United States; senior fellow of the Community Service Society of New York; and served on the boards of the National Employment Law Project and very briefly for the Eastern Economic Association. He is a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance and the National Academy of Public Administration.

He graduated from Williams College in Massachusetts and holds a doctorate in economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Marie Washington

Treasurer, MDC Board of Directors
Former Financial Services Executive

Marie Washington over a 30-year professional career has held senior financial leadership positions within the corporate and nonprofit sectors in New York City and San Francisco.

Following extended tenures at JP Morgan in corporate financial services and Pacific Telesis in corporate financial planning and strategy, she led treasury organizations for technology startups in Silicon Valley. Subsequently she held CFO positions at the KIPP Foundation and Stuart Foundation. 

While residing in San Francisco and later in Los Angeles, Mrs. Washington also served on the boards of several educational nonprofit organizations, the California Community Foundation and Engender Health, an NGO working in some of the poorest countries in the world.

Since relocating to Durham, Mrs. Washington volunteers on the boards of the Center for Documentary Studies and Friends of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University and serves on the board of MDC Inc.

She completed her undergraduate degree at Wellesley College and earned an MBA from Stanford University.



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Leslie J. Winner

Vice-Chair, MDC Board of Directors
Former Executive Director, Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation

Leslie J. Winner is a lawyer with a 40-year career of public service, primarily in North Carolina. She works as a consultant to nonprofit organizations on strategic planning and issues related to bridging divides. Previously, she served as executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and as a member of the North Carolina Senate.

Ms. Winner is currently engaged in many civic leadership roles, serving as the co-chair of the North Carolina Leadership Forum, an effort to increase bi-partisan dialogue and cooperation. She leads a local interfaith scriptural reasoning group. She serves on the boards of the North Carolina Justice Center and MDC, organizations that promote equity and reduce poverty in North Carolina and the U.S. South. She also serves on the Executive Committee and as chair of the Interfaith Working Group of Beth El Congregation.

Ms. Winner served three terms in the North Carolina Senate during the 1990s, representing a portion of Mecklenburg County. During this time, she served as Majority Whip, Education/Higher Education Committee co-chair, Appropriations--Education Subcommittee co-chair, and Judiciary Committee vice-chair. She served for seven years as vice president and general counsel to the University of North Carolina and three years as general counsel for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education.

She worked for 16 years as a public interest trial lawyer. As a partner at Chambers, Ferguson, Watt, Wallas, Adkins & Gresham, P.A. she served as lead attorney on cases involving voting rights and other civil rights issues.

Ms. Winner received an A.B. from Brown University and J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law. She is a native of Asheville, N.C.

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Ambassador James A. Joseph

Chair Emeritus, MDC Board of Directors
Emeritus Professor of the Practice of Public Policy, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University

Ambassador James A. Joseph is Emeritus Professor of the Practice of Public Policy at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. Leader n residence for the Hart Leadership Program for many years, he was founder of the United States – Southern Africa Center for Leadership and Public Values at Duke and the University of Cape Town.

Ambassador Joseph has served in senior executive or advisory positions for four U.S. presidents, including appointments by President Jimmy Carter as Under Secretary of the Interior and President William Clinton as U.S. Ambassador to South Africa.
In 1999, the Republic of South Africa awarded Ambassador Joseph the Order of Good Hope, the highest honor bestowed on a citizen of another country. In 2008, he was inducted into the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame and in 2010 he was honored by the United States Peace Corps for his life-long contributions to voluntarism and civil society.

In the fall of 2013, he received the Lux et Veritas Yale Divinity School Alumni Award and the Citizen of the World Award from the North Carolina International Affairs Council. The founding chair of the Commission on National and Community Service that established AmeriCorps, he serves presently as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Foundation for Louisiana (formerly the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation), and as a member of the board of directors of the Heron Foundation in New York City.
Ambassador Joseph has had a distinguished career in business, education, and civil society. From 1982-1995, he was president and CEO of the Council on Foundations. He served as a vice president of Cummins Engine Company and president of the Cummins Foundation. An ordained minister, he has taught at Yale Divinity School and the Claremont Colleges, where he was also University Chaplain. In 1985, he was a Distinguished Visitor at Nuffield College at Oxford University and serves presently as an Honorary Professor and a member of the Board of Advisors of the Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town.

After graduating from Southern University and Yale, Ambassador Joseph began his career at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 1963, where he was founding co-chair of the local civil rights movement. A frequent speaker to academic, civic and religious audiences, he is the author of three books, The Charitable Impulse, Remaking America and Leadership as a Way of Being. His fourth book, Saved for a Purpose: A Journey from Private Virtues to Public Values, was published by Duke University Press in 2015. He is the recipient of nineteen honorary degrees and his undergraduate alma mater, Southern University, has named an endowed chair in his honor. The Board of Directors of the Council on Foundations appointed him President Emeritus and the Association of Black Foundation Executives established the James A. Joseph Lecture on Philanthropy. He is also chairman emeritus of the NHP Foundation.