Fast Company Executive Board members are business leaders who understand and use technology to encourage human creativity and influence.
The members of this unique, invitation-only professional organization are committed to defining the future of business through design, innovation, creativity and impact. See how these members are making an impact in a variety of industries through innovative approaches below.
Rose Afriyie, Co-Founder, mRelief
Registering for food assistance programs, like SNAP and food stamps, can be complicated and confusing, particularly when people have limited access to internet, technology, and transportation. Applicants have to wade through dense paperwork and interviews before they even know if they’re eligible for benefits—yet billions of dollars in food stamp benefits remain unclaimed every year.
Rose Afriyie co-founded the nonprofit startup mRelief to simplify this process and improve access to social services through technology. By answering 10 questions through mRelief’s platform (available via web, voice, and text messaging), people can find out if they qualify for benefits and enroll in the SNAP or food stamp program. mRelief has received support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Knight Foundation, and Y Combinator.
Rose grew up in the Bronx and credits the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) assistance program with helping her own family gain economic mobility. She has a master’s in public policy from the University of Michigan and worked in digital media, marketing, and public health before starting mRelief.
Leslie Wingo, President & CEO, Sanders\Wingo
Leslie Wingo is an advertising executive, consultant, and speaker whose work centers on the themes of leadership, advocacy, and storytelling. She leads Sanders\Wingo, a creative agency founded in 1958 that operates with a “humans first” mindset. Leslie uses her expertise in media strategy and content development to help brands like AT&T, USPS, State Farm, and Burger King better understand their customers and their decisions—with the goal of making a positive impact.
As a speaker, Leslie combines data with engaging stories to uncover race and gender bias, confront stereotypes, and challenge audiences to implement changes in their companies that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion. She uses her public platform to amplify underrepresented voices and advocate for the rights of women and people of color.
Leslie holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing from the University of Texas at El Paso. She volunteers her time with nonprofits and has held board leadership roles in organizations including AIDS Services of Austin and the American Lung Association.
Melissa Barash, Founding Partner, Left Tackle Capital
Melissa Barash is a founding partner of Left Tackle Capital, a company that aims to reshape asset management and affect change in the world by redirecting the flow of capital toward women and people of color. Left Tackle Capital’s mission is to select, support, and connect a community of diverse fund managers and investors who reflect the future of investing.
Melissa specializes in working with early-stage startups with a social impact focus. She is a venture partner for the investment platform Republic and a board member for The Sumaira Foundation for NMO. Before joining Left Tackle Capital, Melissa helped LinkedIn expand its financial services vertical and led growth efforts at the NationSwell Council, a community of service-minded leaders. She earned a B.A. in communication studies and public relations from the University of Rhode Island.
Rich Palese, Managing Partner, evoJets
Even the most experienced travelers may be unfamiliar with the world of private aviation. Rich Palese manages a team and leads day-to-day operations at EvoJets, a private aircraft charter company headquartered in New York City that is committed to making private aviation services more transparent and attainable for all interested flyers. EvoJets acts as a private jet broker, providing tailored on-demand charter solutions that match corporate and individual travelers with the best aircraft for a given trip—whether it’s a short jaunt to a neighboring state or a weeks-long international trip.
Rich, who has a B.A. from Villanova University, began his career in finance, working for Citi and Morgan Stanley in New York. Since joining EvoJets in 2012, Rich has managed the company’s partnership strategies, sales practices, and online footprint, and he is now focused on the continued growth and improvement of the business.
Murat Aktihanoglu, Co-Founder & Managing Director, Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator
In 2011, entrepreneur, technologist, and investor Murat Aktihanoglu co-founded Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator (ERA), a New York City technology accelerator program and venture capital fund for early-stage startups. To date, ERA has invested in more than 230 startups, providing them with free work space and connecting them with expert mentors, investors, sales prospects, and other partners.
Murat also started Entrepreneurs Roundtable, a nonprofit that hosts free monthly meetings for investors and entrepreneurs, where venture capitalists answer questions and give feedback on startup pitches. Throughout his career, Murat has worked as a technologist for Fortune 500 companies, managed engineering teams for Silicon Graphics and Sony Corporation, and launched multiple tech startups. He speaks often at entrepreneurship and tech conferences and serves a Council Member for the U.S.-Japan Council. Murat earned a master’s degree in computer science and a bachelor’s degree in electrics and electronics from Bilkent University, in Ankara, Turkey.
Patrick Ambron, Co-Founder & CEO, BrandYourself
Unflattering online search results can have serious consequences. Even a single inappropriate social media post, negative review, or ill-advised video may result in missed career and academic opportunities. Patrick Ambron co-founded BrandYourself in 2009 as a way to help people clean up their online image and safeguard their reputation and privacy. BrandYourself provides individuals and businesses with services like social media clean-up, personal branding, and negative search result suppression.
An expert in online privacy, online reputation management, and SEO, Patrick is a contributor to Inc., Entrepreneur, and Huffington Post. He has a B.A. from Syracuse University and teaches courses at General Assembly.
Fast Company Executive Board is an invitation-only professional organization of company founders, executives, and leaders who are defining the future of business through design, innovation, creativity, and impact.