When Art Imitates Life
Define American was founded in April 2011 by Jose Antonio Vargas with Jake Brewer, Jehmu Greene, and Alicia Menendez.
Board of Trustees
Jose Antonio Vargas, Founder and Co-Chair
Lori Brewer Collins
Rev. Ryan M. Eller, Executive Director, Louisville, KY
Responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations of Define American. Eller holds a B.S. in Political Science from Appalachian State University, a Masters Degree in Divinity from Wake Forest University, and a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Penn State University. Prior to joining Define American, he was the U.S. Campaigns Director at Change.org. For four years prior to that, he was the Executive Director of CHANGE in North Carolina—the largest broad-based community organizing group in the southern United States (a 501c3). He has extensive experience in the campaign arena as well, having managed political campaigns at both the local and federal level.
Saadia McConville, Chief Communications Officer, New Orleans, LA
Responsible for Define American's strategic communications and media relations. Saadia comes to Define American from Malaria No More, where she headed up communications for the global health NGO. She previously worked at Bloomberg News as a television reporter and producer, covering financial news stories for stations across the country and internationally. In addition to her experience in news, Saadia served as Communications Director for Economic Fairness Oregon, where she helped pass key consumer protection laws in the wake of the financial crisis. She earned a B.A. from the University of Washington and an M.A. from the University of Miami.
Nadia Ammar, Development Director, Los Angeles, CA
Responsible for Define American’s fundraising and development initiatives. Nadia brings 14 years’ experience in fundraising for international nonprofits. Before joining Define American, she served as Head of Philanthropy at Teach First, where she started up the major gifts team from scratch and raised over $2MM annually to help combat educational inequality in the UK. Nadia also worked in international development for Save the Children and CIDA City Campus, a virtually free university for the poor in Johannesburg. In addition to her experience in education and international development, Nadia served as Director of Development and Marketing for the London Philharmonic Orchestra from 2002-2004 and worked with the founders of Zennström Philanthropies to establish their grantmaking foundation. Nadia was born in London to Egyptian parents who later immigrated to the United States, where her father set up a medical practice in an under-served community in rural North Carolina. Her most vibrant childhood memory is of her entire 5th grade class attending her family’s naturalization ceremony to become US citizens.
Michael Conti, Digital Production Manager, San Francisco, CA
Responsible for creating original content through all forms of media for Define American. Conti holds a B.F.A. in Photojournalism from Rochester Institute of Technology and has worked both in newsrooms and for custom publishers. Prior to joining Define American, he photographed for national and international non-profits, and documented agricultural and industrial life in small towns throughout the United States. He contributes his passion for meaningful journalism to Define American’s storytelling, and uses his experience in stills, video, writing, and graphics to find inventive ways to reach new audiences.
Julián Gómez, Campus Engagement Manager, Washington, D.C.
Responsible for the management Define American College Chapters. Gómez holds a B.A. in Film and Media Arts from American University and comes to Define American from Fission Strategy, where he was a Digital Strategy Fellow and managed the organization’s email strategy. His previous experience includes working on political ads during the 2014 midterm election at MeanGreen Media in Washington, D.C. and curating social media for The Harry Potter Alliance, an innovative fan-activist nonprofit. He has also worked as a freelance videographer and editor on many projects including the Student Emmy-winning film “Chesapeake Villages.” Having moved to Miami, FL from Argentina at a young age, Julián is a proud advocate for immigrant and minority rights and is currently a recipient of DACA.
Marin Hope, Media and Entertainment Associate, Los Angeles, CA
Responsible for executing Define American’s entertainment media strategy. Prior to joining the Define American, Marin studied performing arts at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and has worked extensively as a casting associate in both New York and Los Angeles since 2009.
Jonathan Yu, Operations Manager
Responsible for supporting the staff of Define American and founder Jose Antonio Vargas.
Responsible for supporting Rev. Ryan Eller and the staff of Define American. Christine holds a B.S. in Business Administration with an emphasis on Social Entrepreneurship from the University of Southern California, and comes to Define American with diverse experience in nonprofit, philanthropy, social enterprise, and design thinking for social good. Her past work includes implementing social impact programming at Impact Hub LA and expanding educational opportunities for farmworker families in Central California through The Wonderful Company. Born and raised in Arcadia, CA, Christine is second-generation Chinese-American and a proud supporter of mental health advocacy and education.
Yosimar Reyes, Arts Fellow, Los Angeles, CA
Responsible for managing the Arts component of Define American. Yosimar graduated from San Francisco State University with a B.A in Creative Writing. His work as a poet has been published in numerous anthologies. He joined Define American with experience in the non-profit arts sector as well as a performance arts background. He is currently working on a one man show that will premier in the near future.
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