Commonwealth Seminar Advisory Board
Sonia L. Alleyne
Sonia L. Alleyne 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.
Seminar Founder; Chair, Board of Advisors
Joel Barrera is a member of Governor Charlie Baker’s leadership team. He currently serves as the Governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Cabinet Relations. Joel was the Founder of the Commonwealth Seminar serving as its Executive Director until late 2015 where he left a ten year legacy of opening the doors of the State House to a whole generation of diverse leaders.
Joel also served as Deputy Director for the Metropolitan Area Planning Council from 2008 until 2015. He was instrumental in all of the agency’s accomplishments during that time including MAPC’s strategic planning process, the agency’s expansion into new fields such as public health and clean energy, and the expansion of its technical assistance to cities & towns.
Joel also staffed the MetroMayor’s Coalition for many years and saw its development into a vital forum and strong advocate for the cities and towns in the urban core. In addition, Joel conceived of the plan to open miles of trails along MWRA aqueducts in Metro West for recreational use by the public, and he successfully advocated to make it happen.
His previous experience includes six years as the Director of the MA Senate Post Audit & Oversight Committee where he focused on making State Government more accountable and responsive.
After graduating from Princeton University and Oxford University (Worcester College), Joel worked as a community organizer along the Texas/Mexico border, working to bring public infrastructure to underserved areas.
Mealea Chan-Polcari has more than twenty-five years of professional experience across industries in the public, non-profit, and private sectors. Her experiences include public policy and funding for refugees and immigrants, philanthropic and grantmaking work at the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, real estate, 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 in 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.
Grace (Seme) Keeney
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 was elected as a Town Meeting Member.
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.
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.
Audrey H. Paek
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.
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.
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
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 and 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.
Marcia Chong Rosado
Marcia is one of ~32 Latinas in US venture capital. At Village Capital, Marcia leads Village Capital’s U.S. FinTech and ﬁnancial health practice. In the past year, Marcia helped close eight investments, supported 50+ founders, and analyzed over 500+ ventures in ﬁntech, edtech, agtech in the U.S. and LatAm. Prior to Village Capital, Marcia was an early member of the Third Sector Capital Partners team, where she developed the ﬁrst Pay for Success/ Social Impact Bonds in the U.S.
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.