Who’s On Board? New Board & Committee Members Bring Additional Expertise to FTS

We write a lot in the FTS Blog about frontline heroes who free slaves and dismantle the economic, political, social and legal systems that allow slavery to still exist. But there are dedicated heroes behind the scenes, too. Without them, FTS would not exist. Two new board members and two new committee members are now […]
May 27, 2011

We write a lot in the FTS Blog about frontline heroes who free slaves and dismantle the economic, political, social and legal systems that allow slavery to still exist. But there are dedicated heroes behind the scenes, too. Without them, FTS would not exist.

Two new board members and two new committee members are now energizing the FTS board of directors. With diverse skills, global experience and seasoned judgment, these new leaders enhance the depth and sophistication of our efforts to eradicate modern-day slavery in our lifetime.

The two new board members are Jane Covey and Timothy Patrick McCarthy. The two new committee members are Rishi Bhatia and Owen Brown. Welcome!

Read all about our board after the jump:


Members of the Free the Slaves board of directors:


  • Stephen Maher is chair of the board of directors for Free the Slaves, and has served on the board since February 2008. Mr. Maher is the principal of Risk Capital Strategies, LLC, which he founded in 2000. RCS is an independent consulting firm with an emphasis on business development and turnaround, as well as an intermediary, focused on placement of reinsurance, acquisitions and divestiture of blocks of insurance. His firm has served as a consultant to, or intermediary for, many of the largest life and health insurers in the U.S. Previously, Mr. Maher spent almost 20 years at Hartford Life where he demonstrated his ability to turnaround underperforming operations and initiate and cultivate new businesses. While at the Hartford, he assumed a number of positions including CFO for the employee benefits division, and line of business head for Hartford’s special risk and group reinsurance businesses. He is a fellow of the Society of Actuaries and a member of the Academy of Actuaries.
  • Franka Jordan is vice chair of the board. She holds a master’s degree in international education and has worked with many education and human rights programs in Africa, Asia and the United States. Ms. Jordan served for a number of years on the staff of the Banyan Tree Foundation, where she was heavily involved in every aspect of the foundation’s work: reviewing grant requests, conducting due diligence, making grant recommendations to the foundation’s board, evaluating grant partner progress, providing technical assistance when needed and appropriate, and making linkages between grant partners–which led to greater effectiveness at all levels. Ms. Jordan was also key to the foundation’s strategic planning and review of its own efforts, experience that she brought to FTS in chairing the strategic planning committee in autumn 2010. She currently serves as a consultant to the Banyan Tree Foundation.
  • Helen Armstrong is secretary of the board. She brings extensive international experience from living and working in sub-Saharan Africa for 16 years, where she trained primary and secondary school English teachers, helped to found a Kenyan organization to promote breastfeeding, and trained doctors, midwives and counselors in how to help mothers effectively. This work expanded through collaboration with national breastfeeding efforts, particularly in Africa and Asia, and culminated in her serving for 10 years as an infant feeding consultant to the UNICEF headquarters nutrition section in New York. Ms. Armstrong edited an African newsletter in English and French, and has written training and informational materials on lactation management in baby-friendly hospitals, as well as infant feeding in the face of HIV and emergencies. After six years as a volunteer staff member of Free the Slaves, during which she wrote the rehabilitation manual Rebuilding Lives and took on other tasks for the partnerships team, she joined the FTS Board in 2010.
  • Bryn Freedman is treasurer of the board. She is currently an executive producer at the Oprah Winfrey Network, and brings more than 20 years of experience from the news and entertainment industries. She has received numerous accolades for her work as a journalist, producer, investigative reporter, and author. Past positions include: executive producer of the Emmy and Prism Award-winning documentary series Intervention; investigative reporter for Fox Entertainment News and Twentieth Television’s nationally syndicated series EDJ (Entertainment Daily Journal); on-air correspondent for Fox News; a journalist covering national politics, science and the courts for the Los Angeles bureau of Fox News Channel; a journalist at WTXF-TV in Philadelphia, where she was named Best News Reporter by Philadelphia magazine; deputy bureau chief for ABC News in Los Angeles, where she oversaw Western news coverage for Good Morning America, World News Tonight and Nightline; she has worked closely with Barry Diller, then chairman and CEO of USA Broadcasting, where she was instrumental in developing a number of projects. Ms. Freedman also co-wrote In Eddie’s Name, a critically acclaimed nonfiction account of a 1994 murder case in Philadelphia, which exposed critical failings of the city’s 911 emergency response system. Freedman also serves as a founding member of International Television’s “The Real News”, a nonprofit international news network created by print, broadcast and online journalists to produce independent news and documentary programs across broadcast and online platforms.
  • Robert Boneberg is immediate past chair of the Free the Slaves board. He works as an attorney at Lowenstein Sandler, in New York City, where he is vice chair of the firm’s pro bono committee. He has also served on the NY City Bar Association’s committee on international human rights and served as chair of the NY State Bar Association, international law and practice section committee on international human rights. He is a member of the board of the Cornelia de Lange Syndrome Foundation.  In his law practice, he has appeared as trial and appellate counsel in state and federal courts and has appeared before FINRA, AAA, and Real Estate Board of New York arbitration panels. Mr. Boneberg has practiced in numerous areas of the law, including: capital markets disputes, contracts, director and officer liability, fraud, insurance coverage, real estate, securities, and shareholder rights. He is a court-appointed neutral in the mediation program of the Supreme Court, New York County, commercial division. Before becoming an attorney, Mr. Boneberg worked as a street gang social worker and as a senior legislative assistant to the Buffalo, New York Common Council. He holds both a law degree and a MSW with a specialization in management.
  • Jane Covey retired in 2006 from a career in international development focused on the emergence and growth of civil society organizations in developing countries. In the early 1980s she co-founded and served as executive director of the Institute for Development Research (IDR), a Boston-based research and education nonprofit which grew to become an internationally recognized pioneer in generating theory and organization development practice to strengthen the civil society sector in developing countries. Her diverse professional background also includes healthcare in U.S. urban communities and management consultation to nonprofit organizations, government and business. She has served on the boards of a number of local, national and international nonprofit organizations.
  • Timothy Patrick McCarthy is a lecturer on history and literature and on public policy at Harvard University. He is also core faculty and director of the Human Rights and Social Movements Program at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Educated at Harvard College and Columbia University, where he received his Ph.D. in history, Dr. McCarthy is an historian of social movements who specializes in slavery and abolition, media culture and communications, and the politics of race, gender, and sexuality in American culture. He is also a frequent media commentator, and a regular contributor to The Daily Beast, The Nation, and The Huffington Post. In addition to his work as a scholar and teacher, Dr. McCarthy is a devoted public servant and outspoken advocate for social justice. Since 2002, he has served as academic director of the Boston Clemente Course in the Humanities, a multi-disciplinary college course offered free of charge to low-income adults in Dorchester, Massachusetts. As founding director of Harvard’s Alternative Spring Break Church Rebuilding Project, he has spent the past 14 years taking groups of students to rebuild black churches that have been burned in arson attacks. In 2007, he was honored by the National Coalition for Burned Churches for his longstanding commitment to civil rights and religious tolerance. A national leader in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, Dr. McCarthy was a founding member of Barack Obama’s National LGBT Leadership Council, has given expert testimony to the Pentagon Comprehensive Working Group on the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” serves on the advisory board of the Harvey Milk Foundation, and is lead research collaborator and founding governing board member for Face Value, a new organization dedicated to eradicating social and cultural stigma against LGBT people.
  • Xavier Plassat is a Dominican friar and the campaign coordinator for the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT) in Brazil. Between 1976 and 1988, he worked as a financial auditor on behalf of French labor unions and shop committees. In 1975 and 1976, he worked in the Ivory Coast on rural development issues. Since moving to Brazil in 1989, he has been working at CPT, a Brazilian Catholic organization linked to the National Bishop Conference (CNBB). His work is focused on land reform and mobilization for land rights and improved standards of living through empowerment of the poor, as well as training and project management related to landless populations and agrarian reform issues. Since 1997, he has been the coordinator of the CPT national campaign against slave labor, and since 2003, has represented the CPT at CONATRAE, the national committee for eradication of slave labor. He is based in the state of Tocantins in northern Brazil. Mr. Plassat is a graduate in political sciences, economy and management from Paris I University, with studies in philosophy and theology in Lyon.

New members of the Free the Slaves board audit committee (although they are not directors of the board and do not vote on the board):

  • Rishi Bhatia is a retired chief financial officer (CFO) and is currently serving as board treasurer for Rajdhani Mandir Inc. (Hindu Temple), a nonprofit organization in Virginia. He has more than 30 years of experience working with nonprofit organizations and with federal and state governments in financial management, including the development of financial policies, budgeting, cash management, investments, accounting and financial reporting. He also has substantial experience with federal grants and contracts management, personnel and office management and computerization at nonprofit organizations.
  • Owen Brown is a seasoned operational and financial executive, specializing in turnaround or workout situations, with experience in nonprofits, agencies, financial services, software, and high-tech startups. His customers have ranged from Fortune 500 giants such as Hewlett-Packard, to startups, to nonprofits such as the Tides Network. He is currently managing partner of 4128 Associates.

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