Our Advisory Board
Sonia L. Alleyne is originally from London, England. Ms. Alleyne currently serves as the newly announced Nonprofit Advisor for the Institute for Public Service at Suffolk University. She is also an Adjunct Professor at the Institute for Public Service and the Moakley Center for Public Service at Suffolk University, where her area of expertise is in the nonprofit arena.
She is the President & CEO of the newly created Suffolk County Community Foundation. She is the President of the Board of Youth Build Boston, an Advisory Board Member of the Yawkey Boys & Girls Club in Roxbury, Advisory Board Member of The Commonwealth Seminar, and a Board Member of the Dorchester Board of Trade. She serves on the board of Greater Love Community Cares., and she is a member of the New England Blacks in Philanthropy.
Sonia is a proud member of the Greater Love Tabernacle in Dorchester. Sonia resides in the Melville Park area of Dorchester and is the proud mother of two beautiful daughters, Tyisha and Kayia, and her precious grand-daughter Jaì.
Mealea Chan-Polcari has more than twenty-five years of professional experiences in cross industries in public, non-profit, and private. Her experiences include public policy and funding for refugees and immigrants, to philanthropic and grantmaking work at the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, to real estate, to residential lending and entrepreneurship.
In 2017, she pivoted to a completely new career path. She became an angel investor, investing in a woman owned real estate company. In 2019, She established Invested, Vested. Mealea Chan-Polcari is the Founder, CEO of Invested, Vested, a minority and woman owned consulting and coaching company. Invested, Vested invests in the most valuable assets in the world – human capital. Their core belief is that when you invest in yourself, you will be successful for life.
Huiming Guo entered into the Financial Advisory profession after spending most of his career in the medical research field. After graduating from Shanghai Medical University, Huiming relocated to the United States where he graduated with his Ph.D. in Biophysics from the Hawaii Cancer Research Center. This is where he also started his twenty year span of cancer research and prevention. He continued his work at Tufts University School of Medicine and Tufts-New England Medical Center studying early diagnosis of breast cancers and heart diseases in women.
Huiming is an avid volunteer in the greater Boston area community. He has volunteered for the AARP tax aid to help seniors and lower income families for ten years. He also is a business councilor for the Boston SCORE/SBA to help small business owners, especially for the Chinese American communities. He has volunteered with the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center Inc. for building a good life and financial literacy program. Huiming is a Board member of the UCA Massachusetts Chapter, Civic Education Alliance in Quincy and the Advisory Board of Asian American Civic Association in Boston.
Grace (Seme) Keeney has a passion for getting involved and helping people. By day she works in strategy at Sun Life helping the organization achieve its' goals, but by night, you can find her at United Way, co-chairing United Way’s Emerging Leader's Board, volunteering with a local nonprofit, or getting involved in her local community of Natick, where she is currently running to be a Town Meeting Member.
She believes in the importance of our government reflecting all of our people, and got involved with the Commonwealth Seminar because she wants to see our government have more diversity and especially more women. She is a continual learner, who wants to be the best she can, so she can give back to the community and make the world a better place. You'll almost always see her with a smile on her face.
Cheryl McCloud is Communications and Community Engagement Manager for The All of Us Research Program's New England Consortium.
As a Board member, she shares her experience leveraging a career working in Communications, Public Relations, and Marketing for small businesses, corporations, not-for-profits, healthcare, and government. With a special past focus on selected pro bono consulting with start-ups on a referral-only basis, Cheryl acted as a “Corporate Communications Concierge” helping startups with everything from marketing and new business development to business infrastructure and HR needs.
Cheryl is also an entrepreneur, serving as Vice President of Communications and New Business Development for Coils to Locs, a medical wig company which supports hospital cancer centers ability to provide equal access for all of their patients regardless of hair type by offering contemporary, ethnic textured synthetic wigs ranging from Afro kinky/curly to braided styles.
Natalie Ornell is a licensed English teacher in Boston, journalist, former fundraiser and advocate for immigrant communities. She began her career writing for the Sampan Newspaper in Boston's Chinatown as a college student where she later spent several years raising millions of dollars in Planning & Development at a nonprofit, the AACA, which helps immigrants from over 100 countries.
Her stories have also been published in the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong, the China Digital Times out of UC Berkeley, the Quincy Patriot Ledger, the Associated Press, the WGBH-aired LinkAsia show blog and on WCVB among others. From 2018-19, she spearheaded the successful passage of a Massachusetts state law to permanently recognize Rosa Parks on all MBTA buses by applying the knowledge she gained from the Commonwealth Seminar. Organizing coalitions locally and nationally, she led a 15-month campaign in support of the bill she proposed to her state senator.
Natalie now teaches a session about her experience getting a bill passed to students of the Seminar with the message that anyone can pass a state law or make the change they envision with determination, strategy, and persistence with little to no spending. Natalie is most passionate about social justice, human rights, educational equity, and truth-telling. She earned her M.Ed. from Lesley University, her M.A. in Asian Studies from UC Berkeley, and her B.A. in English and East Asian Studies from Wellesley College.
Audrey H. Paek is Co-Founder of Visionary Steps Charitable Foundation (VSCF), a nonprofit that provides scholarship funds to amateur ballroom competitors and support for school-based, dance education programs. She brings over 20 years of experience in nonprofit management, event production, recruitment, and community outreach, across multiple sectors.
As a community ambassador for equity, inclusion, and social justice, she has served on the boards of several nonprofit organizations, including the Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence (ATASK), the National Association of Asian American Professionals (NAAAP-Boston), and the Smith College Alumnae Association. She is also a host of Asian Women For Health's podcast, "From Resilience to Radiance," spotlighting important health issues impacting the Asian community by amplifying the voices of cancer and trauma survivors and public health experts.
Audrey is an alumna of both the Commonwealth Seminar and America's Opportunity Fund's Boston Campaign Management Training. She also previously served on Governor Deval Patrick's Advisory Council for Non-Discrimination, Diversity, and Equal Opportunity. Audrey is a proud graduate of Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, and currently resides in the South End.
Winston Pierre sits on several advisory boards, including the Commonwealth Seminar, ERG Leadership Alliance. He also co-chairs the Massachusetts Department of Public Health — Health and Disability Partnership
He has recently completed a Master’s Degree in City Planning at Boston University. Winston graduated from the University of Massachusetts Boston with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Psychology. He completed the Partnership Inc. associate program in 2018, a year-long leadership development forum taught by some of the leading experts in the field of diversity and social-emotional intelligence.
Winston also attended the Institute on Political Journalism and the Institute on Comparative Political and Economic Systems, respectively, in summers of 2014 and 2015, at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Winston is passionate about community empowerment. He speaks fluent Haitian Creole and French.
Amy Qiu was a member of the Fall 2018 Commonwealth Seminar class. She grew up in rural Maine and was a Mitchell Institute scholar. Amy earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Economics and Finance from Brandeis University.
She enjoys volunteering her time and has served on the board of the Portland chapter of the New Leaders Council and on the executive team of the Boston chapter of the National Association of Asian American Professionals. She currently lives and works in Boston and is a certified trust and financial advisor.
Charlotte Golar Richie, an experienced leader and administrator with a background in public service and political activism, and a deeply held commitment to civil rights, is a founding advisory board member of the Commonwealth Seminar.
Currently, Charlotte is a Distinguished Public Service Fellow at UMass Boston’s Center for Women in Politics & Public Policy. Prior to this fellowship, Charlotte served as a state legislator, a neighborhood development director, and as a Commissioner for the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination where she successfully handled hundreds of discrimination complaints. As a Senior Vice President for Public Policy, Advocacy & Government Relations for YouthBuild USA, Charlotte oversaw a national campaign to protect federal funding for over 250 programs that connect young people to jobs and education.
Ian So graduated from Babson College, a top global entrepreneurship school in Boston, MA, with a Diversity Leadership Scholarship. Ian gained experience in the corporate world working at several startups. In 2012, eager to apply his entrepreneurial studies to real life, he bought a food truck on eBay for $19,000 and launched his food business, Chicken & Rice Guys.
From that initial investment, his business grew into an annual multi-million dollar revenue company with 7 food trucks, 3 restaurants, a full service food truck commissary and a full-service catering/popups. In the first 4 years of business, Chicken & Rice Guys was the 9th fastest growing private company and the 206th fastest growing private company in the USA. Currently, Chicken & Rice Guys continues to see year over year growth, and operates in multiple states with a pop-up in Houston and plans to expand to the neighboring New England states.graph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. It's easy.