Susan is a Founding Member of BigTentUSA. She is involved in every aspect of the organization – from booking speakers to forging strategic partnerships to legal and messaging.
Susan has an B.A. degree in Political science from Duke University, and Masters in Public Policy from the University of California School of Public Policy, Berkeley and a J.D. from Pace School of Law. Susan began her career as a legislative aide to several congressional representatives in North Carolina and San Francisco. She worked as a project manager for a non-profit housing developer in San Jose, CA.
Susan is committed to her local community through her service in non-profits and her advocacy efforts. Currently, she serves on the Board of Directors for Reach Prep and The Greenwich Historical Society.She is a member of the Buddy Group, an advocacy committee in New York City. Susan was elected as a Representative Town Member (RTM) for District 7 in Greenwich in 2005 and served as secretary of the Town Services Committee until 2011.
Jill Ciporin's professional career includes video editor and producer at CNN, marketing communications and international event planning at Drexel Burnham Lambert and Mastercard International, and head of the corporate video division of a NYC print and digital marketing agency.
Her current and former volunteer work includes Board Chair of Horizons at Brunswick School which helps under resourced/academically at-risk public school boys in her community; Board Member of “Hand in Hand” which furthers peaceful co-existence between Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel through its growing network of integrated bilingual K-12 schools; Board Member of the National Breast Cancer Alliance; Board Member of the Brunswick School Parents’ Association; and Chair of the Duke University Annual Fund Advisory Board.
Jill earned an A.B. in Public Policy from Duke University. She grew up in Asheville, N.C. She and her husband, Dan, have two sons and reside in Connecticut.
Kitty Douglas graduated from Skidmore College with a BA in American Studies. She spent nine years as a classroom teacher, earning a MEd from Antioch New England while running a 5th and 6th grade classroom at the Greenfield Center School in Greenfield, MA. Upon moving to the Bay Area, Kitty transitioned to film production working as a Production Assistant, Production Coordinator, Production Manager and Second, Second Assistant Director.
When her children were young, she joined the nonprofit, Reach Out and Read Rhode Island, as the Program and Events Manager. Eventually, she transitioned to full time fund raising for the national Reach Out and Read organization in Boston as Director of Leadership Gifts. Having left fundraising for activism, Kitty is excited to work with BigTent USA!
Kitty lives in Providence, RI with her husband and two sons and her dog.
Janette van der Weijden, a recently retired PWC Partner, is a licensed CPA in CT, NY, & WA. While at PWC, she advised US multinational companies on international transactions and global restructurings. She served on PWC's Partner Advisory and Tax Strategy Councils. As PWC's Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Leader for the New York Metro International practice, she led DEI initiatives within the company.
Prior to joining PWC, Janette held increasing Senior leadership positions at GE Capital over 11 years. Before joining GE, she was a Partner with EY, based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where she was the partner in charge of EY's US International practice covering Continental Europe and Israel. She was a founding member of EY's Executive Alumni Council, a small group of Alumni advising EY on strategic matters.
Currently she serves on the Greenwich Academy Advisory Board and Yale University’s Women's Advisory Board. She is a member of the Women’s Forum of New York and the International Women’s Forum (IWF).
Janette is a graduate of BYU with a M.A. in Accountancy - Taxation and a B.S. in Accountancy. She Is an avid skier, and when not working, can be found with family and friends.
Belinda had a successful career in finance and investment banking as director of marketing for Citibank Brazil, as head of international marketing strategies for Diners Club and MasterCard of Brazil, and as a trader at Banco Garantía (now Credit Suisse).
A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, she has done extensive research in education with special interest in brain science, cognitive development, and the treatment of learning disorders. She serves on the board of trustees Middlebury College and the Eagle Hill School and is a member of the board of directors for the Global Lyme Alliance, which supports medical research in the fight against Lyme disease.
She lives in Connecticut with her husband and 4 children.
Tracy Craighead began her career in advertising and marketing in NYC, but her passion for activism and event-organizing surfaced in college when she joined her first rally in DC.
Many years later, while living in London, Tracy raised money and awareness for Women for Women International. She travelled to Kosovo, Rwanda, and Bosnia on behalf of WfWI and women’s rights. In Bosnia, she participated in the three-day annual March of Peace walking in solidarity with survivors of war everywhere. She’s done this not once, but twice.
After nearly 15 years abroad, Tracy returned to the US and her fundraising efforts and community-building has been mostly local in nature but is increasingly more political after our 2016 presidential election. Tracy is eager to work with BigTent to engage more women in our nation’s politics.
Tracy has a BA from Colgate University and a design degree from Parson’s. She is a Reiki Master, avid golfer, keen gardener and photographer. Tracy resides in Northern Westchester with her husband and their two daughters.
Mary Himes co-founded the Unload Foundation Inc., a non-profit that uses the arts to create opportunities for dialogue about the loaded issues of gun violence, gun rights, and gun regulation. She is the former Market Editor for atHome magazine and the Kitchen and Bath Editor for American Homestyle magazine. She has served on the Board of Directors of Connecticut Against Gun Violence and the Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County.
Mary and her husband, US Congressman Jim Himes who serves Connecticut's 4th District, have two daughters and live in Greenwich.
Gail is founder of Khosla Partners LLC, focusing on principal investments and philanthropy. She was previously a Senior Vice President of Marketing for GE Capital Retailer Financial Services Group, and has had a long career of consumer and financial services marketing experience including brand management at Richardson-Vicks (Proctor and Gamble) and financial services marketing at American Express, Citicorp and GE Capital.
Gail spent most of her childhood living overseas including Italy, Chile and India, and with her husband and children has lived in Tokyo and London. She currently divides her time between Connecticut and London, is married with three sons and her passion is international adventure travel, supporting children in crisis, and hopes to do her part in supporting democracy. Gail has a BS in Economics from Cornell University and an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. She serves on the Board of Advisors of Tuck, and is a board member of Shine Global, a documentary film company and has spent numerous years on the boards of her children’s schools in Connecticut and Japan and on Pratham, an innovative learning organization created to improve the quality of education in India.
Stemming from her childhood in the mountains of Utah, Karen has devoted her life to land conservation and preserving natural ecosystems. Recently she served on the Environment Committee transition team, providing policy recommendations to the Connecticut's Lamont/Bysiewicz administration. Karen is on the boards of The Nature Conservancy of Connecticut (TNC), the Hortulus Garden Club Environmental team, the CT Land Trust Council and the American Prairie Reserve (APR), which is the largest land and ecosystem preservation project in the Continental U.S.
She attended Harvard College and earned an MA in Anthropology at Columbia University. She lives in Greenwich, Connecticut, with her husband, Sanjeev Mehra. Karen has raised 4 sons and loves hiking, painting, and music.
Emilie Powers grew up in Mississippi and her father was an Episcopal minister in North Carolina, who participated in Civil Rights protests in the 60’s. She was baptized in an African American church. She graduated from University of Virginia Law in 1989 and worked in litigation in Washington, D.C. and NYC. She continued my education with an LLM(Hons) from London School of Economics in 1996 and taught Comparative Law in London at The Institute for European Studies Abroad and the Oxbridge Academic Program.
Taking a break from law and politics, she lived overseas where her three children were born. Returning to the US in 2010, with a better perspective of the changing place of America on the world stage, she became involved in charitable work, mostly to do with her children and her church.
Since 2016, she has devoted the majority of her time to supporting progressive candidates who stand for ethics, clean air, civility in government and rights for all Americans. With several Women’s Marches under her belt, BigTentUSA is her guiding force for advocacy and positive change. She may live in Connecticut but Mississippi is always on her mind.
As Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships at Christie’s, Lexy Schmertz creates innovative strategies and programs to build Christie’s brand, drive revenue, and fuel client acquisition.
Lexy began her career in finance, working in investment banking at Goldman Sachs and as Director of Finance at the NYC Investment Fund, founded by Henry Kravis. Lexy lived in Tokyo for five years, where she worked as journalist for the Financial Times and as a restaurant critic for the Daily Yomiuri. After Tokyo, she returned to New York and became an online editor at Cookie, Conde Nast’s parenting magazine, and she co-founded CL Partners, a consulting firm. Lexy went on to become Chief Marketing Officer and Head of Business Development at Moda Operandi, an ecommerce start-up that disrupted the fashion industry by enabling consumers to shop-the-runway.
A graduate of Princeton University and the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, Lexy lives in Westchester with her husband, three boys, and Chesapeake Bay Retriever.
Mary is an Architect, licensed to practice in New York, Connecticut and Illinois. In her 20 years of practice, Mary has led the design and delivery of projects for the City of Chicago, University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Lincoln Park Zoo, and many residences nationwide, receiving awards for both design, sustainability, and historic preservation. Prior to architecture, Mary worked in the fields of marketing and graphic design where she was responsible for strategy, development and delivery of national campaigns for VISA USA, AARP and many major banks.
Mary earned a B.S. from Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and a M.Arch from IIT's College of Architecture. Mary has served on the boards of Sarah P. Duke Gardens at Duke University, Winnetka Historical Society, Winnetka Caucus Council, Garden Guild of Winnetka, and, as a founding member and Chairman of the Winnetka Public Schools Foundation. She is an avid gardener, traveler, photographer, and mother of two children and two labs. A native of New Jersey, she and her husband recently relocated to New York after living in Chicago for 30 years.
Carolyn received her BA from Cornell University (Alpha Lambda Delta), an MFA from Yale University, and a J.D. from Columbia University Law School, where she was a Kent Scholar and Stone Scholar. She served as counsel to the Republican leader of the Senate, then Senator Bob Dole of Kansas from 1989-1991, and had previously been a partner at Powell, Goldstein, Frazer & Murphy in Washington, D.C. She lives in Greenwich with her husband, Malcolm and four children.
Carolyn is currently a Member of the Board of Fellows of Weill Cornell Medicine and is the Chairwoman of the Foundation for a Civil Society. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations (Delegation to China 1992) and was formerly on the Boards of Greenwich Academy, Choate Rosemary Hall, the New York Historical Society, the Center for National Policy, Reach Prep, and the Horace Mann School.
Vanessa is the Program Director at BigTentUSA focusing on speaker event management, internal operations, social media communications, advocacy work and community group partnership development. She also writes our Under the Tent newsletter! Vanessa led activism efforts for BigTentUSA during the 2020 Presidential Election and Georgia Special Elections.
Vanessa has a BS degree in Community Development and Applied Economics with a concentration in Small Business Management from the University of Vermont. She has 20 years experience as an advertising and marketing professional having worked in client relationship management within print media, digital media as well as affiliate marketing and organic SEO channels. She also has experience in process management helping establish front-to-end service levels for client accounts.
Vanessa lives in California with her husband and two children.