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Faculty | 2020 Rising Leaders Cohort

Melissa Johnson Hewitt, MSW, Forward Movement Consulting

Melissa Johnson Hewitt is the Founder and Principal of Forward Movement Consulting, LLC. With over 20 years of experience in the nonprofit and philanthropic sector, Melissa brings strong relationships, passion, and commitment to FMC’s consulting and coaching practice. Melissa focuses her coaching practice on supporting primarily women leaders of color in executive roles to fully claim their power in their workplace through aligning their personal and professional values. FMC’s consulting has developed deep expertise in the reproductive rights, health, and justice area, national civil rights organizations, education advocacy organizations, and organizations that seek to deepen their understanding, analysis, and values around racial equity. With a clear focus on organizations that support and serve communities of color, Melissa brings a thoughtful approach and grounded analysis to her work, always keeping community at the center.

A trained social worker, Melissa values openness, transparency, flexibility, and inclusivity. Former posts include Program Officer at Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, Field Director at National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, Executive Director of Neighborhood Funders Group, and Senior Director of Foundation Relations at NAACP national office. Melissa consistently serves as a mentor to new and emerging leaders in the philanthropy field as is former board Co-Chair of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy. Melissa holds a B.A. in English and Sociology from Wake Forest University and a Masters of Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she serves as an advisory board member. She has a masters certificate in diversity, equity, and inclusion and is a certified professional diversity coach. A proud North Carolina native, she resides in Silver Spring, Maryland, with her beloved husband Damon and their three children–Aminah, Avery, and Desmond.

Headshot of Chris MurchisonChris Murchison, Workplace Connection and Community Consultant

Chris Marcell Murchison is a passionate advocate for positive workplace culture. In his broad career spanning the higher education, for-profit, not-for-profit, and foundation sectors he has focused his energy on developing creative means to build community at work and practices that support an employee experience of respect, connection, joy, and generative learning.

In 2014, Chris was named the first Visiting Leader at the Center for Positive Organizations in the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, where he advises, connects and convenes faculty and students to explore practical applications of Positive Organizational Scholarship. In January of 2018 Chris was additionally appointed to the Advisory Board of the International Positive Psychology Association’s Work & Organizations Division.

Chris currently works as an independent creative thought-partner, experience designer, and advisor to organizations ready to re-imagine the possibilities of their cultures.

Headshot of Kate SeelyKate Seely, Leadership, Culture, and Community Senior Director, Northern California Grantmakers

I support and encourage the leadership and cultures that are needed for communities to thrive. As leadership is about harnessing energy so that we can accomplish what we set ourselves to do, in my work I aim to create spaces that fuel co-creation, engagement, and impact, so that we are creating the future that we want to inhabit together. Those spaces also honor trust, courage, and risk-taking, allowing for innovation and creativity to emerge.

In my role at NCG, I lead our professional and leadership development work, and guide our focus on organizational culture as a leverage point for impact. Before working in philanthropy, I co-founded the nonprofit Puente a la Salud Comunitaria in Oaxaca, Mexico, a community development organization focused on public health, economic development, and sustainable agriculture. I spent a transformative year completing a Master's in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability, where I deepened my own understanding of the leadership and organizational culture that are needed to achieve both environmental and social sustainability. I am a fierce advocate for bringing our whole selves to our work environments, for awareness of self and the systems we exist in, and for slowing down.

Headshot of Adam WolpertAdam Wolpert, Co-founder and Course Instructor, Occidental Arts and Ecology Center
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Adam Wolpert is a professional facilitator, educator, fine artist and co-founder of the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center. He leads workshops in group process and has worked as a facilitator and organizational consultant with many institutes, organizations and small foundations for over two decades. Since its inception, Adam has been a contributing teacher in a wide array of courses at OAEC including, permaculture, facilitation, school garden teacher trainings and classes in landscape painting. Over the last 10 years in many california venues, he has designed and led trainings in creative collaborative leadership, facilitation, and systems thinking as it relates to group work. As a painter ( Wolpert employs a range of motifs that reflect a lifelong engagement with nature. Currently he is painting a cycle of portraits of ancient oak trees. His last major project focused on depicting one view of a willow tree by the OAEC pond for a year, through all the seasonal changes. What resulted was the 70 painting “Pond Series,” an exploration of change and repetition, deep observation and relationship to place.  In addition to course instruction at OAEC, Adam chairs the Exectutive Council and participates in design of new developments. He lives at OAEC with his daughter Sabine and wife Katy Mamen.