Together, we’re building people power and using this power to transform our society into one that is liberated and free. The guidance and support of the State Voices’ Board helps make this happen, which is why we are thrilled to share this news.

We’re pleased to announce that four incredible advocates, change makers, and social justice champions have been unanimously voted to join the State Voices Board.

Karundi Williams, Executive Director, re:power; Alejandra Ruiz, Executive Director, Youth Engagement Fund; Jamal Watkins, Vice President of Civic Engagement, NAACP; and Tyler Nickerson, First Vice President, Amalgamated Bank are the incoming class who join our current board members.

We’re excited for their vision. Learn more about these new board members below!

Karundi Williams: Executive Director, re:power

Karundi Williams (She/Her/Hers) is the Executive Director of re:power, a national progressive training and capacity building organization. She is based in Washington, D.C. and leads a national team of strategists, organizers, and technologists towards re:power’s bold mission of building transformative political power with and for communities of color, at all levels in our government and power structures.

She brings two decades of experience in local government, the labor movement, and the progressive ecosystem to re:power. Her focus on creating systems for communities of color to build their political power to create social change – whether it be community organizing, connecting everyday people to policy platforms or investing in infrastructure and resources — is well aligned with re:power’s mission to build and train leaders of color.

Previously, Karundi held multiple leadership positions at SEIU (Service Employees International Union) as the Political Director for the Midwest initiative and the Director of State and Local Programs. Prior to SEIU, she was the Deputy Director for Government Affairs for the State of Ohio. Karundi is based in Washington, D.C. with her daughter Zoya and her partner Rafiq. In her spare time she enjoys hiking, nature photography, traveling and spending time with friends and family over a good meal.

Alejandra Ruiz: Executive Director, Youth Engagement Fund

A native of Colombia, Alejandra Ruiz (She/Her/Ale) migrated to the United States at the age of seven with her mother and younger brother. She was raised in Jackson Heights, Queens and became an immigrant rights advocate as an undocumented high school student. As the Executive Director of the Youth Engagement Fund, Alejandra aims to expand and strengthen funding resources and capacity building to the youth civic engagement sector to increase civic participation among marginalized and youth of color in the United States.

Prior to joining the Youth Engagement Fund, Alejandra was the Director of Donor Organizing and Advising for the Movement Voter Project (MVP) where she engaged donors to support groups advancing work at the intersection of grassroots organizing and electoral politics. Previously, Alejandra served as the Development Director of United We Dream (UWD), the nation’s largest immigrant youth-led network. During her time at UWD, Alejandra was instrumental in developing strategies to build relationships and infrastructure for long term organizational sustainability, and supported local groups in advancing their fundraising plans. She also coaches youth on fundraising, career and workforce development.

Alejandra has worked as an education organizer at Make the Road New York, served with AmeriCorps VISTA, was a leader of the New York State Youth Leadership Council, and is a graduate of the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs. She holds a B.S. in Urban & Regional Studies, a B.A. in Spanish Area Studies and concentrations in Inequality Studies, Latino Studies and Latin American Studies from Cornell University.

Jamal Watkins: Vice President of Civic Engagement, NAACP

Jamal R. Watkins (He/Him/His) serves as the Vice President of Civic Engagement at the NAACP, leading the Association’s efforts to maximize the African-American community’s participation and representation in our democracy.

Mr. Watkins previously served as National Outreach Director for the AFL-CIO. In this role, he was responsible for strengthening and growing national strategic partnerships with the labor movement across a range of priority campaigns and program work.

Prior to joining the AFL-CIO, Mr. Watkins held leadership positions in a number of organizations dedicated to community organizing and civil and human rights. These include Deputy National Political Director at Service Employees International Union; Chief of Staff at the Center for Social Inclusion; Managing Director for Campaigns for Amnesty International, the world’s largest grassroots human rights organization; and, Deputy Director and Interim Executive Director of City Year Los Angeles, a national non-profit AmeriCorps organization.

Mr. Watkins has worked in several distinct arenas, including politics, campaigns, communications, education, human resources, and fundraising. He played key roles as a National Recruiter for the DNC, Fundraising Canvass Director for Grassroots Campaign, Florida State Director of the Young Voter Alliance during the 2004 Presidential Election, Regional Coordinator on the “Yes on Proposition 79” Campaign for Health Access of California, and has developed a voter mobilization and engagement field strategy for the 2014, 2016, and 2018 election cycles.

A native of California and a resident of Washington, D.C., Mr. Watkins earned his B.A. in Philosophy, with a minor in Political Science, at Stanford University and completed graduate-level work at New York University for Speech and Interpersonal Communication. As a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., his motto is “onward and upward.”

Tyler Nickerson: First Vice President, Amalgamated Bank

Tyler Nickerson (He/Him/His) is First Vice President at Amalgamated Bank where he leads the bank’s brand, public relations, public policy, corporate social responsibility, and thought leadership strategies. Tyler also serves as the Senior Director of Programs at the Amalgamated Charitable Foundation. Previously, he led the commercial banking strategy for its foundation and family office clients.

Formerly, Tyler served as the director of investments and state strategy at The Solutions Project, a philanthropic and cultural campaigning initiative sparked by Leonard DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, and others accelerating the transition towards 100% clean energy for 100% of people. Tyler led the development of Solutions Project’s award-winning grantmaking strategy, which invested nearly $4M nationally and helped break the mold for moving more money to social movements.

Prior to joining The Solutions Project, Tyler served as a program manager at the Dyer-Ives Foundation and as founder & CEO of Motu Communications, which supported clients in public affairs, program design, and evaluation. He has also led a community-based organization responding to the Foreclosure Crisis, successfully advocated for stronger state housing policies, and consulted on more than two-dozen electoral campaigns. Tyler’s work featured in media outlets such as The New York Times, The Guardian, CNN, Forbes, Associated Press, NPR, Inside Philanthropy, and more. He is a regular contributor to the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Tyler holds a Bachelor’s Degree with honors from Grand Valley State University and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Pennsylvania State University. He serves on the Andrew Goodman Foundation’s Associate Board and the Board of Directors for the Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative. In 2017, Tyler and his team were given an Impact Award from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy. Tyler is also the co-founder of City Built Brewing in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

 

Join me in welcoming these incredible advocates to the State Voices Board!

—Alexis Anderson-Reed, Chief Executive Officer of State Voices