advisory council

Ché Abram

An Oakland native, Ché brings experience in higher education and community leadership to BlackFemaleProject. She considers herself a change maker as a designing and founding member of Oakland SOL Middle School, culture shifter moving diversity and inclusion initiatives forward, and servant leader by centering the needs of her partners in decision making.

Her career mostly centers in higher education with beginnings in admission and recruitment. Her in depth work as a Black woman and engagement with students of color lead to her current role as Associate Director of Diversity with Samuel Merritt University. In this role she focuses on implementation of system wide diversity and inclusion initiatives, providing impactful programming addressing the social determinants of health, and retention of students of color.

In her personal life she can be found organizing around educational needs in the Oakland Unified School District as a board member of Oakland Community Organizations/Faith in Action East Bay, parent voice with Californians for Justice, and can be found in numerous meetings with city, county, and state leaders gaining clarity and funding for schools. Her passion has been working closely with BlackFemaleProject because it has been a way to Pay tribute to the Black women who have guided her through every career and life choice she has made.

Ché holds both her Bachelor of Science in Business Management and MBA in Management and Leadership from Holy Names University. Personally, Ché is a the mother and bonus mother to 13 year old children, thrives on stand-up comedy, and her most sacred self-care practices are reading romance novels, travel near water, and spending times with close friends and family.

Location: Oakland, CA

Industry: Higher Education

Sheryl Davis

Sheryl E. Davis is the Executive Director of the San Francisco Human Rights Commission. Davis has been a school teacher and program director working with a diverse group of people from pre-school to senior citizens.

Davis encourages everyone to exercise respect, honor diverse experiences and to be inclusive. Over the last year Davis has been helping to build out an equity framework with community stakeholders and city departments in San Francisco.

Davis earned her BA from San Francisco State, an MPA from the University of San Francisco and is currently pursuing an Ed.D. from the University of Southern California.

Location: San Francisco, CA

Industry: Government, Public Service, Community

Leslie Fieldz-Cruz

Leslie began her tenure at Black Public Media (BPM), formerly National Black Programming Consortium, in 2001 managing its program development fund. She was promoted to Director of Programming in 2005 and oversaw the initial production of BPM’s award-winning series AfroPoP: The Ultimately Cultural Exchange, now in its 11th season. Leslie was also the co-executive producer of the Peabody Award-winning 180 Days: A Year Inside an American High School. Leslie became BPM’s third Executive Director in 2014.

She works diligently to grow the organization’s partnerships and resources so that it may continue its work to bring dynamic stories about the Black experience to the public. Leslie currently serves on the membership boards of New York Women and Film (NYWIFT) and New Era Creative Space (NECS).

Location: New York City, NY

Industry: MediaArts, Television, Film, Stage

Dania W. Frink

Dania W. Frink is a multidisciplinary artist and communications strategist. 

Dania’s communications journey has touched several industries, including education, philanthropy, medical technology, industrial automation, recruiting and staffing. For more than 10 years, she has advised organizations on their corporate, crisis, internal/employee engagement, executive thought leadership, and corporate social responsibility communications strategies. Dania is particularly invigorated by work that falls at the intersection of creativity and social good. 

Dania's artistic journey began at birth but was formalized over the past 15 years through group and solo exhibitions, teaching, commissions, and other creative ventures. Her primary mission as an artist is to celebrate the resilience and beauty of the African Diaspora. Two of Dania’s biggest artistic milestones are closely linked to the BlackFemaleProject. In 2015, her first solo exhibition (W-2 Warriors) was the visual manifestation of her BlackFemaleProject storytelling experience. In 2017, another series of work (inspired by BlackFemaleProject) was featured in the first all-Black female art exhibition in Northeast Florida: KESHA: A Black Female Experience of Identity and Race. To learn more about Dania's creative journey and art studio PEN + FRINK, Inc., visit

Dania earned a Master of Public Administration from the University of San Francisco, and a Bachelor of Arts in Animation with a Studio Arts minor from Loyola Marymount University. A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Dania currently resides in Jacksonville, Florida with her loving husband Sharif.

Location: Jacksonville, FL

Industry: Multidisciplinary Artist & Communications Professional

Debrah Giles

Debrah Giles is a philanthropic and non-profit management professional who serves as a Senior Program Officer for the East Bay Community Foundation in Oakland, CA. She specializes in supporting initiatives within EBCF that foster education and youth development. In her role, she serves as the Senior Program Officer for the Clorox Company Foundation’s Responsive Grantmaking Program and continues to lead the work that focuses on boys and men of color. Prior to joining the East Bay Community Foundation, for nearly 15 years Debrah worked for Sun Microsystems in their Global Community Development Group (Foundation).

At Sun Microsystems, she managed all aspects of their national and regional grant-making programs and developed strategies to improve their grant-making procedures. During her tenure with Sun Microsystems, she also developed and guided major funding programs, including their international disaster relief program, multi-year educational grants, and global gift matching programs. Additionally, she was responsible for regional and field management for both community relations and volunteer projects. Debrah received her bachelor’s degree in Business Management from St. Mary’s College. She is a native of Oakland.

Location: Oakland, CA

Industry: Philanthropy

Alicia Meeks Hunter

Alicia is the Executive Administrative Assistant on the Jewish grant making team for the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. Based in the Washington, DC office, Alicia supports Vice President, Lisa Eisen; Director, David Rittberg; and Abby Saloma, Director, Leadership and Talent. Prior to joining Schusterman, Alicia served as the Director of the Executive Office at Color Of Change where she provided high-level executive support to the president and managed the day-to-day operations for the office, serving as the primary contact for all internal and external requests. Prior to joining Color Of Change in 2015, Alicia served as Senior Administrative Coordinator to the national CEO at Girl Scouts of the USA and supported President Lee Bollinger as part of his executive support team in the Office of the President at Columbia University. There she provided executive level assistance and helped manage the information flow from all levels of the organization, working directly with a large network of internal and external stakeholders.

With over fifteen years of experience working in non-profit, higher education and the financial sector, she has also held extensive roles at the YMCA of San Francisco, investment consulting firm Callan Associates, Bank of America and Meals on Wheels of San Francisco. Highly driven and a dynamic team player, Alicia holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of San Francisco and an MBA from Walden University.

Location: Washington, D.C.

Industry: Philanthropy, Nonprofit Executive Management

Regina Jackson

Regina Jackson has made it her mission to invest in the future of children. She has taken on the challenge of molding, and mentoring young people in her hometown of Oakland, CA.

Regina believes her biggest challenge is combating hopelessness. When young people don’t have high expectations, they often won’t try. Because she and her staff believe that youth can perform at high levels, they often rise to meet and exceed those expectations.

Location: Oakland, CA

Industry: Youth Development, Nonprofit Executive Management

Salena Jegede

Salena is a fundraising professional who specializes in both non-profit and political fundraising. She began her career as a Teach For America (TFA) corps member teaching kindergarten and second grade in West Atlanta. Since her time in the classroom, Salena has worked in the education non-profit field coaching and supporting AmeriCorps members serving in high-need elementary schools across Metro Atlanta, then leading TFA-Metro Atlanta’s fundraising efforts with individuals. She married her love for education and public service as the Director of Fellowships with Leadership for Educational Equity before exploring advocacy and public policy work as the Legislative Coordinator for Planned Parenthood Southeast. Before leading fundraising efforts for gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams, she served as the Director of Development for AID Atlanta. Salena has participated in several leadership training programs, including the Women’s Campaign School at Yale and New Leaders Council. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she lives with her husband and son in Acworth, Georgia.

Salena holds a M.A. in political science with credentials in political communication and campaigning from Georgia State University and a B.A. in political science from Spelman College.

Location: Atlanta, GA

Industry: Fundraising

Renee Jones

Renee is a revenue-driven marketing executive who brings over 20 years of international expertise in demand generation, awareness and events. She has driven marketing strategy and execution for companies within a myriad of industries including enterprise software, SaaS, FinTech and consumer technology, publishing, and automotive.

Within all, her focus is building and executing marketing strategies to drive substantial pipeline growth for businesses at every stage.

Location: San Francisco, CA

Industry: Marketing Executive


Charmaine McClarie

Charmaine McClarie is a C-suite advisor, keynote speaker, author, executive coach and executive presence authority who helps leaders have their best year ever. She has worked with leaders in 27 industries across five continents. Her clients include top executives from Coca-Cola, Gilead Sciences, Humana, Johnson & Johnson, MasterCard, Starbucks and T-Mobile. For more than two decades, 98% of Charmaine’s clients are promoted within 18 months. For CEOs, that might mean a promotion to corporate directorship. For other senior leaders, that might mean a promotion from SVP to EVP or even CEO. Charmaine works predominately with C-suite leaders and executives with demonstrated readiness to be in the C-suite, coaching them on leadership acumen, communications ability and executive presence. Learn more at

Charmaine and her work have been profiled in People, Forbes, Harvard Management Update, The London Times and The New York Times. She is on the faculty as a leadership and communications expert at the University of Missouri Kansas City Bloch School of Management, EMBA program, and is a visiting lecturer at the Smith College Executive Education program. She is a board advisor to Impact America Fund, which is a leading source for venture capital for entrepreneurs who are building tech-enabled businesses that create a more just and equitable future for low and moderate income people in America.

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Industry: Executive Coach, Keynote Speaker

Tameka McGlawn

Dr. Tameka McGlawn, Public Education Transformation, Research and Evaluation Dr. Tameka McGlawn serves as the Executive Director of the University of California Berkeley’s College and Career Academy Support Network (CCASN). Dr. McGlawn has provided a servant and transformational leadership approach to urban learning communities for nearly twenty-five years. Having served at every institutional level (K-20), in a myriad of settings and professional roles, Dr. McGlawn offers a unique perspective on student-centered assets and achievement, leadership optimization, equity-based outcomes and intersectionality.

Her actionable research interests, where she has served and facilitated professional development, learning and capacity building includes, strategic reform implementation, systemic mechanisms of accountability, culturally responsive pedagogy and leadership, building network-community alliances through innovative collective impact initiatives and Design-Based Implementation Research and Improvement Science. Dr. McGlawn is a proud graduate of both the CSU San Diego’s Community Based Block Multicultural & Social Justice Master’s Program, and the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California where she earned her doctorate in Educational Leadership. She also holds credentials in Administrative Services and Pupil Personnel Services.

An effective consensus builder and action-oriented researcher, Dr. McGlawn brings an ideal synthesis of research savviness, practical application and a deep devotion to increased equity and economic opportunities for all students, their families and communities.

Location: Bay Area, CA

Industry: Public Education Research, Evaluation and Assessment

Charmaine Mercer

Charmaine Mercer is a Program Officer in Education at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, focused on advancing educational experiences and outcomes, especially for those furthest from opportunity. Charmaine was previously a director and senior researcher for the Learning Policy Institute; has served as vice president for standards, assessment, and deeper learning at the Alliance for Excellent Education; and has held various positions on Capitol Hill, including senior staffer for the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies; senior staffer for the Education and Labor Committee; and researcher for the Congressional Research Service. She holds a Ph.D. in politics and education policy and master’s degree in political science from Claremont Graduate University, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from San Diego State University. Charmaine is a native Californian, home after being on the East coast since 2002, and the shamelessly proud mom of adorable twin boys.

Prior to joining the foundation, Charmaine was a director and senior researcher for the Learning Policy Institute, where she led a small team of dedicated researchers, policy advocates, and communication specialists. In a previous role, she served as the vice president for standards, assessment, and deeper learning at the Alliance for Excellent Education, a national policy and advocacy organization that focuses on secondary schools. Charmaine has also held various positions on Capitol Hill, including as a senior staffer for the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, a senior staffer for the Education and Labor Committee, and a researcher for the Congressional Research Service.

Charmaine received her Ph.D. in politics and education policy from Claremont Graduate University, as well as her master’s degree in political science. She received her bachelor’s degree in political science from San Diego State University. Charmaine is a native Californian, finally returning home after being on the East coast since 2002, and the shamelessly proud mom of adorable twin boys. She also enjoys running.

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Industry: Education Policy, Philanthropy

Nicole Norlfes

Dr. Nicole Norfles facilitates Council for Opportunity in Education’s (COE) STEM Community of Practice; is co-Principal Investigator on multiple National Science Foundation grants; directs and coordinates multiple U.S. Department of Education grants; and directs COE’s Onboarding Professional Development and TRIO Chicago Collaborative.

She previously served as Education Program Officer with the Oprah Winfrey Foundation; Policy Consultant with Casey Family Programs; Special Assistant to the founding President of COE; and Fellow at the Pell Institute. She co-taught a Michigan State University South Africa study abroad course; a Drexel University online leadership course; and George Washington University courses in educational foundations, leadership, and supervision.

Dr. Norfles presents at numerous national and international conferences, and serves on multiple boards; she received her doctorate from The George Washington University.

Location: DC Metro Area

Industry: Education

Freda Statom

Freda Statom is an experienced Executive Director with a demonstrated history of working in the non-profit industry. Skilled in Nonprofit Management, Major Gifts, Corporate Partnerships, Grant writing , Planned Giving, Event Planning, Grassroots Organizing, and Community Outreach. Strong relationship-building skills.

Location: Oakland, CA

Industry: Nonprofit Executive Management, Fundraising, Board Development

Leslie Stoval

While living in staid Columbus, Ohio, Leslie Stoval would escape the Midwest via nightly AM Radio broadcasts from legendary outlets WLS, Chicago; WABC, New York and CKLW, Windsor (Detroit). She was literally sprung. These nightly broadcasts gave her a thrill and exhilaration, which she had never felt before. What an epiphany! From that moment on Leslie knew that she had to get into radio.

In the 70s, Leslie enrolled at Stanford University. While there, she announced News at KZSU. Post-graduation, with her Communications degree in hand, she set her sights on her first professional radio gig. It came in the form of a DJ at WVKO in Columbus, where she hosted a very popular overnight Jazz-Fusion program to the Ohio State University listening audience.

Six months later, she arrived at KRE-AM/FM, on the shores of Berkeley, California, where she became an announcer, programmer and curator. KRE morphed into KBLX and into Leslie's "Quiet Storm" period. Leslie's proud to say she helped introduce that format. Along with many other talented individuals, she also helped introduce crossover radio at KMEL.

Leslie had the honor of being the first solo female morning show host in the Bay Area. Throughout her radio stops, Jazz has always been her Musical Love. Since arriving at KCSM, she feels that her career has come full circle. She looks forward to collaborating with the creative erudite announcers and staff at the Bay Area's Jazz station, KCSM.

You can hear Leslie Stoval every Tuesday night from 6-9PM on The Jazz Oasis.

Location: BayArea,CA

Industry: Radio/Media/Entertainment


Fern Stroud

Fern A. Stroud, a gifted musician and tenure of IT Software Development Project Management, Fern's life work is to bridge the gap between business, art, and community. Her vision has been realized through successful partnership, board service, and other initiatives including production of Black Vines - A Toast to Black Wineries and Diverse Art.

Fern earned a B.S. in Computer Information Systems and completed a software development internship at National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in Palo Alto, California. She currently manages Big Data related efforts in Silicon Valley.

Location: Oakland, CA

Industry: Information Technology, Wine Educator

Sandra Varner

Sandra Varner established Varner PR Agency in 1991, to develop and implement community, media and public relations objectives for businesses and organizations. Varner has invaluable experience in newspaper, radio, television, travel, tourism, sports, cultural and performing arts, political, faith-based, healthcare and private sector initiatives. In 2008, Varner established Talk2SV, a broadcast and digital platform to address and fill an important gap in the Bay Area’s TV and digital programming environments for local, small businesses. Nationally and internationally, Varner has coordinated substantial media relations campaigns, as well, engaged hundreds of top celebrities, clergy, newsmakers, elected officials, athletes, corporate executives and community leaders in dynamic conversations about their career endeavors.

Collectively, Varner has over 20 contiguous years of dedicated pursuit, illuminating causes that affect underserved and vulnerable populations along with elevating the visibility of nonprofit organizations. The unique combination of an accomplished Public Relations background and an esteemed journalism track record, Varner PR Agency and Talk2SV are recognized entities with specialized proficiencies. Varner is a graduate of Southern University (Baton Rouge, LA), a registered Small Local Enterprise Business with Alameda County, a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the Bay Area Business Roundtable, Women Film Critics Circle and the Center of Hope Community Church in Oakland, CA.

Location: Oakland, CA

Industry: Public Relations