1. Skip to Menu
  2. Skip to Content
  3. Skip to Footer

Stay Connected:

FacebookTwitterYoutube

YES Board of Directors


Poonam Ahluwalia
President, Youth Employment Summit (YES) Inc., USA.

Poonam Ahluwalia is recognized as a global activist for youth employment and entrepreneurship. As President and Founder of YES, she has worked tirelessly for the past twelve years to successfully bring youth employment to the global agenda. Under her leadership, the work of YES has mobilized stakeholders in over 120 counties around the world to work toward finding innovative ways to promote youth entrepreneurship and employment – this is her contribution towards ending hunger and poverty.


Since founding YES in 1998, Ahluwalia’s has served as the mentor of over 55 YES Country Networks around the world, and organized five Global Summits, 5 Regional Summits and countless in-country forums. Through her innovative, low-touch, high impact approach to development there have been over 400 projects initiated and implemented by young people throughout the world. This year (2012) marks the final year of the YES Campaign, and Ahluwalia is passionately focused on building two global programs that educate and empower young people to be entrepreneurial and live the life of their dreams. Her most important contribution may become the innovative architecture of YouthTrade, a new social movement aimed at providing markets for goods and services of young entrepreneurs under the age of 35.


Ahluwalia is recognized as a catalyst leader both here in the U.S. and aboard. Some of her recent accomplishments include being named as one of the fifty most influential people in New England by India New England. She currently serves on the World Economic Forum’s Council on Youth Unemployment and was recognized as a Woman Creating History at the Women’s International Networking (WIN) Conference held in Rome, Italy in October 2011. Ahluwalia holds two Masters Degrees, one in Mass Communications from Boston University, and the second in Political Science from India.   

Dr. Akhtar Badshah
Sr. Director Community Affairs, Microsoft Corp

Akhtar Badshah is Senior Director of Microsoft Community Affairs, where he administers the company’s global community investment and employee programs. Last year the company invested $68million in cash grants and $331 million in software donations supporting more than 12,000 nonprofit organizations around the world.

Among his responsibilities, Dr. Badshah manages Microsoft Unlimited Potential (UP), a global program to promote digital inclusion and increased access to technology skills training in underserved communities. Dr. Badshah also oversees programs aimed at improving technology access and helping nonprofit organizations improve their effectiveness through increased technology capacity. This includes Microsoft’s signature relationships with organizations such as Boys & Girls Clubs of America and NPower

Prior to joining Microsoft, Dr. Badshah was the CEO and president of Digital Partners Foundation, a Seattle-area nonprofit organization whose mission is to utilize the digital economy to benefit the poor.

Dr. Badshah is a Board Member of the Global Knowledge Partnership and The Indus Entrepreneurs. He also serves on the Advisory Boards of the following organizations: World Affairs Council, Santa Clara University Center for Science Technology and Society, University of Washington South Asia Center, and University of Washington Business School. He has co-edited “Connected for Development – Information Kiosks for Sustainability,” and authored “Our Urban Future: New Paradigms for Equity and Sustainability” and several articles in international journals on ICT4D, megacities and sustainability, urban and community development, and housing.

Dr. Badshah is a doctoral graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the former president of the Lambda Alpha International New Jersey Chapter, an honorary land economic society. He is very active in the Seattle area community and serves on various local committees.

Cynthia Brandt
President, Brandt Associates Treasurer

Ms. Cynthia Brandt is the President, CA Brandt & Associates LLC., committed to providing practical and cost-effective solutions to clients using state of the art technologies that allow for the efficient delivery of tax and accounting products.

She also served for ten years as CFO and a key manager of a manufacturing company where she learned first hand the ins and outs of running a business.

Cynthia holds a Master of Taxation degree from Bentley College and an MBA from Northeastern University. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountant and the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants and is actively involved in the community.

She is also the president of the Boston Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners. Cindy is also the Secretary-Treasurer of the Peabody Mass chapter of BNI.


Van Jones 
Founder, Green for All and Special Advisor to the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Van Jones is founding president of Green For All and a senior fellow with the Center for American Progress. He is also the author of The Green Collar Economy (Harper One 2008), which is endorsed by Nancy Pelosi, Tom Daschle, and Al Gore. 

Green For All is a U.S. organization that promotes green-collar jobs and opportunities for the disadvantaged. Its mission is to build an inclusive, green economy - strong enough to resolve the ecological crisis and lift millions of people out of poverty.
In 2008, Green for All partnered with the Al Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection to launch the Green For All Academy. The Academy trains U.S. grassroots leaders to effectively advocate for an inclusive, green economy. 

On September 27, 2008, Green For All worked with national partners to produce "Green Jobs Now" � the first-ever "national day of action" calling for green-collar jobs in the United States. More than 600 communities in all 50 states participated, with more than 50,000 signing a petition that called for federal government action to spur green jobs. 

In 2005, Van produced the "social equity track" for the United Nations' World Environment Day 2005 summit, which was themed "Green Cities: Plan for the Planet." As a result of Van's advocacy, the resulting Accords called upon the world's mayors to: "Adopt a policy or implement a program that creates environmentally beneficial jobs in slums and/or low-income neighborhoods." The adoption of these accords marked the beginning of the global movement for "green jobs."

Van has won many honors, including: the 1998 Reebok International Human Rights Award; the International Ashoka Fellowship; selection as a World Economic Forum "Young Global Leader"; and the Rockefeller Foundation "Next Generation Leadership" Fellowship.

A 1993 Yale Law graduate, Van is a husband and the father of two small boys. He is a tireless advocate, committed to creating "green pathways out of poverty" and greatly expanding the coalition fighting global warming. 

Scott Leland 
Executive Director,
Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business & Government, HKS

Scott Leland is the Executive Director of the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business & Government at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. In this role, he lends support to the Center's research programs, general administration, strategic planning, and day-to-day operations. 

Prior to joining M-RCBG, he was the Administrative Director of the Center for International Development at Harvard from 1998 to 2004 and manager of a workforce development project at the Education Development Center from 1996-1998, with programs in Peru, Namibia, and India. 

From 1992 to 1995, he worked as a Project Assistant with the Harvard Institute for International Development in Singapore where he taught courses in economics and policy analysis at the National University of Singapore. 
He has also worked as a Research Fellow with the Environmental Protection Agency in Seattle, a Program Coordinator for Vision Health International in Costa Rica, and Regional Director for South America and the Caribbean with Amigos de las Americas based in Houston, traveling extensively through Latin America. 

He is a graduate of Stanford University and has a Masters in Public Policy from the Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. 

Debra Deanne Olson 
Founding Chair and CEO, Green Century Solutions, LLC. 
Senior Strategist, The Women�s Peace and Business Summit 2009

She the chair of the YES fundraising committee and has participated and presented at the last two YES Summits, Nairobi, Kenya 2006, and Baku, Azerbaijan, 2008. Ms. Olson is the Founding Chair and CEO of Green Century Solutions, which develops and introduces �cleantech� green building systems, products and technologies to the marketplace. She has been a pioneer and advocate for the green collar movement and is instrumental in helping facilitate paradigm shifts in society for women and against civil and human rights violations. 

As a social activist and consummate connector of people, she is active in advancing grassroots� movements and strategic alliances, raising the bar of possibilities that will change the world for the better. With access at the top of the political and financial sectors worldwide, Debra uses her talents and passion to connect the best of the best in the world with the intention of bringing likeminded Stewarts together who want to leave their children and grandchildren a more loving and sustainable world, respecting each other�s differences, cultures, and ways of life. As a recognized trail blazer, she is deeply in process with others of designing systems and implementing compelling new systems as humanity struggles to find workable solutions for the 21st century. 

She was a key organizer and the lead fundraiser for The Women�s Peace Summit, 2003, in Geneva at the United Nations, bringing together 300 women leaders to discuss the future and how we can all live together in harmony and mutual respect. She has participated and presented at the last two YES Summits, Nairobi, Kenya 2006, and Baku, Azerbaijan, 2008. She also attended two Tallberg Forums in Sweden, 2007 and 2008, representing and speaking on behalf of YES, Inc., envisioning and sharing ideas of how to create a clean and green job market for youth and educate them in sustainable livelihoods. She serves as Trustee of the New Visions Foundation in Santa Monica, developing innovative educational opportunities for underserved youth, K-12. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Space Island Group, whose mission is to introduce space based Solar Energy Initiatives and put the first solar power satellites in orbit. Debra is a member of The Clinton Global Initiative in NYC and serves on the Hillary Women�s Business Council. She is also a member of the Hill Pac in Washington, D.C. and is looking forward to an Obama Administration which will bring forth many of the programs and solutions that will uplift and restore a quality of life in the US and restore Americas reputation worldwide. Debra is currently serving as Senior Strategist and on the Global Organizing Committee for The Women�s Peace and Business Summit, planned for Mothers Day, Istanbul, Turkey, 2009 with First Ladies, Heads of State and prominent women political and business leaders. 

Janet Whitla
President (1981-2006), Education Development Center

Ms. Janet Whitla is the President Emeritus of Education Development Center (EDC) Inc., an international Non-Governmental Organization conducting research and development, having 1200 staff worldwide with an annual outlay of over 130 million US dollar. From 1981 to 2006, Janet served as EDC's President and Chief Executive Officer and was responsible to its Board of Trustees for all aspects of the organization's operations with particular emphasis on overall leadership and direction. 

During Janet's 25 years as President, EDC has seen unprecedented growth, becoming one of the world's leading health and education research organizations. Her vision and outstanding leadership skills have guided EDC through unprecedented growth, including the spectacular expansion in EDC's international work. She was instrumental in laying the foundation for the YES Campaign, at its infancy stage, by hosting it at EDC for over 8 years, until it became an independent international organization, able to stand on its own. 

Janet promoted constructive dialogue and engaged in open and respectful discourse to bring out new concepts and ideas for development. She used this technique to distribute responsibility and authority to her colleagues. She was against too many rules, restrictions and hierarchies, which according to her can squash people's ideas, initiative and energy.

Current Service on Boards:

Member, and Past President, Board of Governors, Handel and Haydn Society 
Chair, Board of Trustees, New Bedford Whaling Museum 
Vice President, Board of Trustees, New Bedford Symphony Orchestra 
Member, Board of Trustees, Cambridge College 
Member, Board of Trustees Young Audiences of Massachusetts 
Member, Board of Trustees, ATLAS Communities ( NAS School Reform Program)

Publications, Research and Professional Presentations:

Janet has written and contributed to numerous publications, many research works and made a variety of professional presentations on a wide variety of educational topics at national and international platforms. Some of her important and co-authored publications are "School Reform Behind the Scenes", "Curriculum in ATLAS", The Diagnostic Teacher, Constructing New Approaches to Professional Development", Curriculum Materials and Teaching", Healthy Development: A Basic Goal for Education", "Social Studies Tests", "Classroom-Centered Evaluation: A Humanistic Approach for the Social Studies" and "Learning About Learning". Some of the other publications are  "The Evaluation Tool Kit", "Success or Failure in Curriculum Development: Six Ways to Know: A Workbook for Teachers and School Administrators", One Nation Indivisible: A Re-Evaluation", "Responsiveness and Reciprocity: The Role of the College Board in Puerto Rico" and "Testing in the Freshman Year, A Handbook for Harvard Advisors" to name a few of them.