// Team + Board
Meet Our Team
We are a team of narrative practitioners who have backgrounds in art, social justice, organizing, research, philanthropy, and more. We’re deep listeners who are committed to social justice. We take on ambitious projects and approach them with tenacity and curiosity.
Elizabeth has 20 years of experience working on building the internal capacities of small businesses.
Her work has focused on restructuring financially stagnant small businesses, helping them turn a profit and be more diligently engaged in the strategic and tactical facets of their business. Her greatest accomplishment has been to move small businesses from a “cigar box back office” to systems for effective management that play on the strengths of the entrepreneur.
Most recently, she brought those skills to the non profit back office, building and implementing systems to increase capacity including accounting, grants management, compliance and human resources, ensuring they support mission-driven work. Elizabeth graduated from American University in Washington DC with a BA in Communications, Law, Economics and Government (CLEG). While attending the University of Connecticut for graduate school, she met her husband and they now live in Brooklyn with their 10 year old son.
Jacob is an organizer, strategist, and trainer with almost a decade of experience working at the intersection of big ideas and collective action. In addition to his work as a social movement communications expert, he has worked to build the capacity of community organizations to understand the root causes of inequality and design campaigns to address them.
Prior to joining the Narrative Initiative, Jacob worked for national community organizing networks. Most recently, he served as Deputy Communications Director at People’s Action, where he did traditional communications and digital organizing and created trainings around narrative change, political education, and strategic organizing practices. Before that, he worked at Interfaith Worker Justice.
Jacob was a founding member of The People’s Lobby in Chicago, where he cut his teeth as a community organizer. He also spent five years at the University of Chicago where he studied the connection between ethics and politics in Aristotle and served as the membership coordinator for Graduate Students United.
Jacob holds a Master’s degree from the University of Chicago and earned his Bachelor's degree at Willamette University.
For the past two decades, Jee has been a movement builder, resource mobilizer and dot connector for social change.
Before leading the Narrative Initiative, Jee was part of the Civic Engagement and Government team at the Ford Foundation, where his work focused on increasing the political participation of under-represented constituencies and mobilizing the grassroots base for social change. Prior to Ford, Jee launched 18MillionRising.org, a platform built to increase the political power of Asian Americans using social media and technology.
Previously, Jee served as a program director at the Surdna Foundation, where he managed grant-making portfolios in youth engagement, post-Katrina New Orleans, and nonprofit infrastructure over his eight-year tenure. He also worked in New York as a racial justice and immigrant rights organizer and as a journalist, editing the 9/11 anthology Another World Is Possible and The Future 500, mapping youth activism in the United States. His background in media and technology includes stints at Pseudo.com (web radio), AsianAvenue.com and BlackPlanet.com (social media platforms for communities of color).
Jee received his Master's from Oxford University and his undergraduate degree from Columbia University.
Liz brings to the Narrative Initiative many years of experience in coalition building, policy advocacy and organizational change. An interdisciplinary systems thinker, she has spent over a decade in the public sector reflecting on how complex systems interact and inform each other.
Prior to joining the Narrative Initiative, Liz was a Program Associate at the California Community Foundation supporting civic engagement and immigrant integration efforts in Los Angeles. Before that she served as a legislative aide in the New York State Assembly, where she developed community coalitions and worked on affordable housing policy. In addition to her work in the public sector, Liz was the founder and co-host of the n+1 podcast, for which she regularly engaged writers, journalists and thinkers on the intersection of politics and culture.
Long committed to community building, Liz is active in local efforts in North Brooklyn. In addition to her obsession with the virtues of civic life, Liz devotes her time to music, writing and her two kids. She holds a BA in urban studies and literature from The New School.
Márquez brings to the Narrative Initiative team expertise in the strategic use of art and culture to shift policies and practices fostering justice and equity. Working in various social change arenas including race, labor, immigration, and health, they accomplish much of this through leadership and organizational development using popular education and other creative modalities.
Márquez served as the founding Lab Director of the Transmedia Story Lab within the University of Chicago using new media and novel storytelling methods to study health justice among adolescents in the U.S. and India. Prior to this role, they also worked as a Cultural Organizing lead for both Service Employees International Union and the Highlander Research and Education Center. Beyond cultural strategies, leadership, organizational, and curriculum development, Márquez has consulted with a number of culturally-specific and geographically-isolated arts organizations across the U.S.
Interminably fascinated with creative engagement strategies, the locus of their passion has come from writing, performance, media, and visual arts since childhood. When not thinking critically about how to bring about healing and transformation, Márquez finds respite in Pinterest, Netflix, and volunteering.
Rachel is an artist, researcher, and organizer using all three of those lenses to illustrate what is possible and to build patterns for broad, mutual survival.
In 2011, Rachel founded Upwell. (The ocean was our client.) As executive director, she led the development of Big Listening practices, coupled with campaigning across a distributed network of influencers. The project aggregated power for movements and immediately redistributed that power through networks. Upwell's groundbreaking narrative work was grounded in both offline community organizing and online community management.
Recent appointments include an arts residency at Monson Arts, Creative Dissent Fellow at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Arts & Culture for Economic Development Residency at PolicyLink, and Growth Hacking Fellow at the Energy Foundation.
Rachel holds an MFA-Social Practice from the California College of the Arts, a B. Phil in Interdisciplinary Studies from Miami University, and completed coursework for an MA in Arts Policy & Administration at Ohio State.
Our Advisory Board
Our advisory board is a diverse group working in advocacy, storytelling, strategic communications, nonprofit leadership, law, academics and other fields.
Ai-jen is executive eirector of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) and co-director of Caring Across Generations. She is an award-winning activist, thought leader, and social innovator, and a leading voice in domestic workers’ rights and family care advocacy. Ai-jen’s numerous accolades include recognition as a 2014 MacArthur Foundation “genius” fellow, a 2013 World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, and one of TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2012. She is the author of The Age of Dignity and serves as a trustee of the Ford Foundation.
Alexis is executive director and co-founder of Perception Institute. A thought leader and a bridge builder whose work spans politics, academia, social activism, and cultural strategies, Alexis has always focused on improving the lives of young people, with an emphasis on youth of color. Throughout her research and writing, Alexis has explored the shifting paradigms of identity politics in the post-civil rights era, increasing civic engagement among youth and people of color, and the implications for demographic and ideological changes of these constituencies on national politics.
Alfred is vice president for global communications at Ford, where he oversees communications, strategic partnerships, government relations, and public affairs. As part of the foundation’s executive leadership team, Alfred works on strategic planning and global brand management and partners with program teams to advance the foundation’s grant-making strategies and priorities.
Alvin is the program director of the equality team of the Open Society Foundations’ U.S. Programs, overseeing grantmaking related to racial justice and racial narratives. He is a progressive racial justice thinker, writer, and strategist whose work supports a new generation of ideas and organizations to explore the intersection of human rights, racial justice, cross-movement building, and gender equity.
Eric is principal at Brownbridge Strategies, a firm providing comprehensive communications and fundraising strategies for progressive organizations and movements. Previously, Eric was the communications director for the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, where he created strategies for the foundation’s communications and worked closely with grantees to design and implement communications strategies in global development, reproductive health, environment, education, philanthropy, and the performing arts.
Jeff is the vice president for Narrative, Arts, and Culture at Race Forward. A celebrated journalist and music critic on hip hop music and culture, his 2005 book, Can't Stop Won't Stop, won the Before Columbus Foundation's American Book Award. His writings have appeared in publications such as URB, San Francisco Chronicle, the Village Voice, Vibe, Spin, The Nation, and Mother Jones. Jeff was previously the executive director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts + Committee on Black Performing Arts at Stanford University.
As the founder and president of Spitfire Strategies, Kristen has extensive experience conceiving, implementing and managing smart programs that create lasting social change. She has helped hundreds of nonprofits and foundations develop winning communication and campaign strategies to spur action around some of today’s most pressing problems and critical issues ranging from restoring the Gulf of Mexico after the BP oil spill to protecting Americans’ online privacy rights to making sure all kids have access to a good education, nutritious food and quality health care.
Liz is a seasoned cultural producer, change-maker, and strategist who has spent her career at the nexus of film and social impact. She is an independent consultant and co-founder of The Culture Group. Previously she served as executive director of FilmAid; advisor to HBO Films; executive vice president of programming and marketing at Sundance Channel, and co-founder and executive vice president of marketing for Fine Line Features. She was a member of President Obama’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities and a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Sabeel is an associate professor of law at Brooklyn Law School and president of Demos. He previously has been a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, visiting professor of law at Harvard Law School (2017), and a fellow at New America. Rahman’s research focuses on the themes of democracy, economic inequality, exclusion, and power. Rahman has worked extensively with policymakers, funders, and advocacy groups in developing strategies and novel approaches to questions of democracy and economic inequality.