Past Friars Leaders

Julia Roig 2015-2016
Julia Roig is President of Partners Global, a Washington-based non-governmental organization that works to resolve conflicts in fragile states by helping civic actors become leaders and peacebuilders. From modest beginnings in eastern Europe 25 years ago, Partners has grown into a network of 19 international affiliates linked by a unique philosophy and operational methodology. Julia’s leadership of Partners Global is an inspiring example of how intelligent civil society activism can help build a saner, safer world.

Anita Hill 2015-2016
Author of Reimaging Equality and Speaking Truth to Power, Professor of social policy, law, and women’s studies at Brandeis University. Anita Hill raised awareness nationwide on the issue of sexual harassment. Due to her efforts, Congress passed a law that allowed sexual harassment victims to seek damage awards as well as back pay and reinstatement.

Professor Hill’s commentary has been published in TIME, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and Ms. Magazine. She has appeared on national television programs including Good Morning America, Meet the Press, The Today Show, The Tavis Smiley Show and Larry King Live.

Professor Hill has received numerous honorary degrees and civic awards. She has chaired the Human Rights Law Committee of the International Bar Association. In addition, she is on the Board of Governors of the Tufts Medical Center and the Board of Directors of the National Women’s Law Center and the Boston Area Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights.

Laura Ling 2015-2016
Over almost two decades, award-winning journalist and web and TV host, Laura Ling has dedicated herself to exposing the world to critical global issues, including slave labor in the Amazon, the drug war in Mexico, Internet censorship in China, and women’s rights in Turkey.

As the Director of Development for Discovery Digital Networks, Ling oversees the creation and production of original web series. She is also the host of Going Off Grid and Rituals With Laura Ling.

In March 2009, Ling captured the world’s attention from a different standpoint, when she was arrested and held captive in North Korea for 140 days, after attempting to report on the trafficking of North Korean women. Granted a special pardon, she returned to the U.S. and documented her experience in her 2010 memoir, Somewhere Inside: One Sister’s Captivity in North Korea and the Other’s Fight to Bring Her Home, penned with her sister, Lisa.

Ling captivates audiences with a raw and candid look inside the life of an international journalist, including the importance of exposing critical global issues, the challenges faced in various parts of the world, and what she learned in one of the world’s most recluse countries.

Eboo Patel 2015-2016
Eboo Patel is a leading voice in the movement for interfaith cooperation and the Founder and President of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), a national nonprofit working to make interfaith cooperation a social norm. He is the author of Acts of Faith, Sacred Ground and the forthcoming Interfaith Leadership. Named by U.S.News & World Report as one of America’s Best Leaders of 2009, Eboo served on President Obama’s Inaugural Faith Council. He is a regular contributor to the public conversation around religion in America and a frequent speaker on the topic of religious pluralism. He holds a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University, where he studied on a Rhodes scholarship. For over fifteen years, Eboo has worked with governments, social sector organizations, and college and university campuses to help realize a future where religion is a bridge of cooperation rather than a barrier of division.

Michael Patrick MacDonald 2015-2016
Michael Patrick MacDonald grew up in South Boston’s Old Colony housing project. After losing four siblings and seeing his generation decimated by poverty, crime, and addiction, he became a leading Boston activist, helping launch many antiviolence initiatives, including gun-buyback programs. He continues to work for social change nationally, collaborating with survivor families and young people.

MacDonald won the American Book Award in 2000. His national bestseller, All Souls, and his follow-up, Easter Rising: A Memoir of Roots and Rebellion have been adopted by university curriculums across the country. MacDonald has written numerous essays for the Boston Globe Op-Ed Page and has completed the screenplay of All Souls for director Ron Shelton. He is currently Author-in-Residence at Northeastern University. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Carol Steinberg 2015-2016
Attorney for 35 years, specializing in personal injury, toxic torts, and disability employment cases; eight year member of the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board that has made buildings accessible since 1968; president of the board of the Disability Law Center and member of Board for 12 years (I'm term-limited out in September), and a long-time member of the Massachusetts Multiple Sclerosis Society’s government relations committee which advocates for legislation that helps people with disabilities.

Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes 2015-2016
Jessica Kensky, a native Californian, and Patrick Downes, a native Cantabrigian, met on Capitol Hill in Washington in 2006 after graduating from the University of Arizona and Boston College, respectively. Jess soon moved to Baltimore where she received a nursing degree at Johns Hopkins and then worked in the medical center's oncology department. Patrick returned to Boston to finish a doctorate in clinical psychology.

After a few years in a long-distance relationship, Jess moved to Boston and continued her oncology nursing at Massachusetts General Hospital. Jess & Patrick were both injured during the Boston Marathon bombing; Jess losing both of her legs below the knee and Patrick losing one leg below the knee, among other injuries.

Jess and Patrick have spent the last year at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland after receiving special permission from the Secretary of Defense. In addition to working toward their own recoveries, the couple has devoted themselves to advocating for Wounded Warriors and people with disabilities. They have a home in Cambridge that they will return to after their rehabilitation at Walter Reed.

Will Lautzenheiser 2015-2016
Will Lautzenheiser was a filmmaker and professor of film production and screenwriting before a group A strep infection struck him in the fall of 2011, leaving him a quadrilateral amputee. The challenges, frustrations, and absurdities of this situation sent him in a new direction, arming him with material to perform stand-up and sketch comedy... or, rather, disarming him into doing sit-down comedy (at least in accessible venues). In the fall of 2014, he underwent experimental transplant surgery, receiving bilateral upper extremities from a donor. He is still in the rehab process for his new arms.

Synthia SAINT-JAMES, 2014-2015
Synthia SAINT JAMES is a world renowned multicultural visual artist, an award winning author and or illustrator of 17 children's books, and author of 3 poetry books, a book of affirmations, a cookbook, a play, and the autobiographical book titled Living My Dream: An Artistic Approach to Marketing. She is also a popular speaker, educator and architectural designer who has garnered numerous awards. SAINT JAMES also serves as a Global Ambassador for Susan G. Komen for the Cure's "Circle of Promise." She is most celebrated for designing the first Kwanzaa Stamp for the United States Postal Service in 1997, for which she received a History Maker Award, and for the international cover art for Terry McMillan's book Waiting to Exhale

Abigail Disney, 2013-2014
Abigail Disney's longtime passion for women's issues and peace-building culminated in her first film, the acclaimed Pray the Devil Back to Hell. Abigail produced the groundbreaking PBS mini-series Women, War & Peace, the most comprehensive global media initiative ever mounted on the role of women in peace and conflict. She is currently at work on a film that highlights the key role of women in the Arab Awakening. She founded the Daphne Foundation, Peace is Loud and co-founded, along with 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee, the Gbowee Peace Foundation, USA.

Jill Iscol, 2012-2013
As leader-in-residence, Jill Iscol, author of Hearts on Fire: Twelve Stories of Today's Visionaries Igniting Idealism into Action, gave a lecture entitled "Hearts on Fire: Turning Your Idealism into Action." Iscol shared personal messages of hope intended to instruct and inspire the audience.

Robin Holder, 2011-2012
Holder has been sought after as a panelist, lecturer, and consultant by a variety of cultural and educational institutions, such as Pratt Institute, New York State Council on the Arts, The Center for Arts Education and Parsons School of Design. Ms. Holder has completed several large scale site specific public art projects for The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Connecticut State Arts Commission and New Jersey Transit. Her work has been presented in numerous institutions including: The Parish Gallery, Washington DC; The Woodruff Arts Center, Atlanta; The Stella Jones Gallery, New Orleans; The International Print Center, New York City; Hammonds House Museum, Atlanta and Kent State University, Ohio. She was awarded an Individual Visual Artist Grant by The Brooklyn Arts Council to create Behind Each Window a Voice, a series of works inspired by oral histories of residents in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Bette Uhrmacher, 2010-2011
Bette Uhrmacher was a Judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey for more than 15 years. Seven of those years were served in the Civil Division, where she recently managed the medical malpractice calendar, as well as a complex civil calendar. Judge Uhrmacher has handled a broad spectrum of civil cases as well as handling some probate and general equity matters. For four years, Judge Uhrmacher was Presiding Judge of the Criminal Division. Prior to joining the bench, Judge Uhrmacher served as the Chief of the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey. Additionally, she was Attorney-in-Charge of the Trenton U.S. Attorney's Office, and appointed to a Senior Litigation Counsel position. She also served an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. Throughout her career, Judge Uhrmacher has been active in Teaching and Continuing Legal Education programs. She then served as Chair, Haydn Proctor Inn of Court, Monmouth County and is teaching Trial Presentation at Rutgers Law School–Newark. Currently she is engaged in an ADR private practice. Judge Uhrmacher received a J.D. from the University of Texas at Austin and a B.S. from Simmons College.

Rhonda L. Seegal, 2009-2010
Rhonda L. Seegal is Treasurer of Xerox Corporation, Norwalk, Connecticut. She is also a Corporate Vice President. Seegal oversees the capital structure of the corporation, including developing worldwide funding strategies and serving as the primary interface to the capital markets and credit rating agencies. Seegal joined Xerox in 2003 from Avaya Inc., where she was Vice President and Treasurer since 2000. Prior to Avaya, Seegal served as Deputy Treasurer of General Electric Co. from 1996-2000, and was responsible for developing financing for GE's industrial businesses. Seegal earned her M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School in 1979, and a B.A. in Communications and Spanish from Simmons College in 1972. 

Pauline Chen, 2008-2009
Award-winning physician and author, Dr. Pauline Chen completed her general surgery training at Yale University and specializes in liver and kidney transplants and the treatment of cancer. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the UCLA Outstanding Physician of the Year Award in 1999 and the George Longstreth Humanness Award at Yale University. Chen is passionate about improving healthcare, with a particular focus on end-of-life patient care. She is author of Final Exam: A Surgeon's Reflections on Morality, a book that focuses on palliative patient care and the way surgeons handle the death of a patient.

Denise di Novi, 2007-2008
Denise Di Novi is considered one of Hollywood’s top producers and has been instrumental in bringing to the screen the work of several of today’s most imaginative filmmakers. Di Novi began her career in journalism, rising from Copy Editor at the National Observer to Staff Writer for Canada AM in Toronto. Her writing skills and extensive experience with the media prompted her segue into the film industry, where she began as a Unit Publicist. Di Novi counts among her producing credits such diverse motion pictures as HeathersLittle Women and a number of films during her producing association with Tim Burton, including Edward ScissorhandsBatman ReturnsTim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas,Ed Wood and James and the Giant Peach.

Tina Packer, 2007-2008
Tina Packer the artistic director and founder of Shakespeare & Company, and is one of the country's foremost experts on Shakespeare and theatre arts. She is the recipient of more than 18 awards, honors, and fellowships including the 2001 Elliot Norton Award for Continued Excellence in Theatre. She also received Guggenheim and Bunting Fellowships for her own performance piece exploring Shakespeare's women, "Women of Will: Parts I, II and III." She is the author of Tales from Shakespeare, which won a Parents' Choice Award, andPower Plays: Shakespeare's Lessons in Leadership and Management.

Evelyn Murphy, 2005-2006
Evelyn Murphy is President of The WAGE Project, Inc., a national organization to end wage discrimination against working women, and Resident Scholar in the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University, where she has researched and authored a book on women’s wages entitled Getting Even: Why Women Don’t Get Paid Like Men and What To Do About It, published by Simon & Schuster in October 2005. She is a corporate director of SBLI USA Mutual Life Insurance Company and Citizens Energy Corporation. 

In her civic role, she serves as a founding director of The Commonwealth Institute, a trustee of Regis College, Honorary Chair of the Lost Coin Women’s Fund, Inc., a director of The Polaris Project, and a visitor of Boston University’s School of Public Health. In the late 1970s, she served as Massachusetts Secretary of Environmental Affairs with responsibility for the state’s environmental policy. After an unsuccessful campaign for Lt. Governor in 1982, she was appointed the state's Secretary of Economic Affairs from 1983-1985. In 1986, Evelyn Murphy was elected Lt. Governor and became the first woman in the state’s 210 year history to hold constitutional office.

Trudy Coxe, 2004-2005
Ms. Coxe is the Chief Executive Officer of the Preservation Society of Newport County, the largest cultural organization in Rhode Island protecting and preserving that area’s architectural heritage, which includes the famous Newport mansions. Her positions in government include five years as the Massachusetts Secretary of Environmental Affairs and 11 years as Executive Director of Rhode Island’s Save the Bay. She has been honored for her environmental work and serves on many non-profit boards including the Appalachian Mountain Club and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. She also has the experience of running for Congress in Rhode Island.

Flori Roberts, 2003-2004
After appearing in several Broadway productions, Flori changed careers, embraced entrepreneurship, and formed her own fashion consulting firm. In 1965 she became a pioneer of niche marketing by co-founding Flori Roberts Cosmetics for the African-American Woman, with her husband Dr. Craig Roberts. They continued to set trends and standards in the beauty industry by developing Dermablend Corrective Cosmetics, for people with serious to small skin flaws. The company was later sold and Flori continued as an authority in camouflage make-up. Flori Roberts has also been influential in developing mentoring programs for entrepreneurial women and has become an activist in helping women advance to positions of leadership in business, as well as philanthropy. She is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University. 

Paula A. Sneed, 2001-2002
Paula Sneed graduated Simmons College in 1969 and currently sits on the Simmons College Board of Trustees. She was the Group Vice President at Kraft Foods North America and President of E-Commerce and Marketing Services.