William Jefferson Clinton
42nd President of the United States
Founding Chairman, Clinton Global Initiative
Elected president of the United States in 1992 and 1996, President Bill Clinton led the country through the longest economic expansion in its history. His emphasis on community, opportunity, and responsibility resulted in unprecedented progress for America, including moving the nation from record deficits to record surpluses; 22 million new jobs; low levels of unemployment, poverty, and crime; and the highest homeownership rates in history. He also increased investment in education, expanded access to technology, encouraged investment in underserved communities, protected the environment, countered the threat of terrorism while promoting peace and strengthening democracy around the world. After leaving the White House, President Clinton established the William J. Clinton Foundation with the mission to strengthen the capacity of people in the United States and throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence.
Robert S. Harrison
Chief Executive Officer, Clinton Global Initiative
Robert S. Harrison is the chief executive officer of the Clinton Global Initiative. Previously, he served as the executive director of the Clinton Foundation's childhood obesity initiative. Before joining the Clinton Foundation, Harrison spent 22 years on Wall Street as an investment banker and attorney. He joined Goldman Sachs & Co. in 1987, where he became a partner in the firm's investment banking division and global co-head of its Communications, Media, and Entertainment group. From 1981 to 1987, Harrison practiced corporate law in the New York and Paris offices of Davis, Polk and Wardwell. Harrison is Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Cornell University, a member of the Board of Directors of the Association of American Rhodes Scholars, and honorary chairman of the Board of Directors of the Henry Street Settlement, a social service agency founded in 1893 to address the impact of poverty in New York City. He received a BA in government from Cornell University, a BA/MA in politics, philosophy, and economics from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar, and a JD from Yale Law School.
CGI Deputy Director and Program Director, Clinton Global Initiative
As deputy director and program director of CGI, Ed Hughes is responsible for program development for all CGI meetings. He joined CGI as program director in 2004 to work on the initial creation of the project within the Clinton Foundation. Born in New York City and raised in Evanston, Illinois, Hughes graduated from Bates College in 1992. He served in the Clinton Administration from 1994 to 2001, initially in the Counsel's Office, the White House's in-house legal department. He then transferred to the White House Office of Advance, serving as associate director of advance. In 2001, Hughes moved to New York City, initially to work on a City Council campaign, and subsequently on the staffs of New York City Council Members Eric Gioia (2002 – 2003) and Speaker Gifford Miller (2003 – 2004).
Director of Partnerships
Julian Jaeger brings to CGI over fifteen years of global experience, including ten years developing partnerships with organizations in North America and around the world. As director of partnerships, Jaeger is responsible for developing and managing relationships between CGI and its strategic partners. Before joining CGI, Jaeger headed both partnership development and business development for North America at the World Economic Forum. He held these roles for over nine years and worked out of both the Geneva and the New York offices. Prior to his time with the Forum, he worked for seven years at the United Nations' World Intellectual Property Organization with the Office of Management, Budget, and Control. Jaeger holds both a master's and a bachelor's in business administration from the International University in Geneva, Switzerland.
Director of Communications
Craig Minassian brings a unique background in communications, content development, and marketing to promoting the work of CGI. Minassian served as assistant press secretary and director of television news in the White House for President Clinton, where he developed and implemented communications strategies for television for presidential and administration initiatives. In addition to working on numerous campaigns, he has served in various communications roles for the Clinton Foundation. In entertainment, Minassian spent over 10 years with HBO working on topical and cause-related programming including “Comic Relief," a benefit for health care for the homeless, and the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival. He has also served as a consultant for networks including Comedy Central, Lifetime, and MTV, as well as corporate and nonprofit clients. He also worked on World Cup USA in 1994 and serves on the President's Council of the University of Miami.
Director of CGI America
Katrina Ngo is responsible for overseeing the operations of the organization's newest program, CGI America, which is dedicated to economic recovery in the United States. Ngo joined the Clinton Global Initiative in 2008 as part of the commitments team. As a senior manager, she worked with members to develop commitments and build program related to the finance space, with a special focus on financial literacy, philanthropic giving, microfinance, and impact investing. Prior to joining CGI, Ngo served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kyrgyzstan with the Sustainable Economic and Organizational Development program. She received a master's in international affairs from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and a bachelor's in biology and economics from the University of Virginia.
Director of Commitments
Elsa Palanza is responsible for leading the team that guides CGI members in developing their Commitments to Action. After graduating from Middlebury College with a bachelor’s degree in International Studies, Palanza worked for several years in Washington, D.C. delivering geopolitical and industry risk analysis to large international energy companies. She then moved to Istanbul, Turkey to lead business and marketing operations for an education company’s pilot program, and subsequently directed operations and development for a start-up cultural diplomacy project focused on Iran. Palanza attended the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, where she concentrated on International Security Studies and Southwest Asia & Islamic Civilization. She speaks Italian, Spanish, and elementary Turkish, and has traveled extensively in Latin America, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East—hiking, skiing, and enjoying local food every step of the way.
Chief Marketing Officer
Fred Poust joined CGI in January of 2009. As Chief Marketing Officer he is responsible for all of the organization's messaging and marketing to the public, current and potential sponsors, and current and potential members of CGI's three platforms: CGI, CGI America, and CGI University. In addition, he is responsible for CGI's digital strategy. Poust worked for 14 years at Time Warner in a variety of senior sales and marketing roles. In his last position there, he served as senior vice president for Time Inc.‘s Corporate Sales and Marketing. Poust received a bachelor's degree in economics from the Honors College at the University of Oregon and is the immediate past-president of the board of the school's Alumni Association.
Director of CGI International
Director of Finance
Lisa Rickert spent almost 10 years on Wall Street as a corporate finance professional advising environmental service and industrial companies on mergers, acquisitions, and capital-raising transactions. Following her time on Wall Street, Rickert served as deputy national director of Women's Outreach for the Kerry-Edwards 2004 presidential campaign. She came to the William J. Clinton Foundation in the spring of 2005, serving as an integral member of a task force focused on exploring the issues of water and sanitation in the developing world. She continued this work as a senior member of the team that launched the Clinton Hunter Development Initiative in Malawi in 2006. In addition to her work at CGI, Rickert is a member of the advisory board of St. Jude school. Rickert received her bachelor's degree from Georgetown University and a masters in business administration from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Director of CGI University
As director of CGI U, Bill Wetzel oversees CGI's efforts to engage university students in addressing some of the world's most pressing challenges. This includes the annual meeting of CGI U, which brings together over 1,000 students from over 300 different universities, and the CGI U Outstanding Commitment Awards, which provide seed funding to leading student social innovators from around the world. Wetzel has worked with CGI since the launch of CGI U in 2007. Before joining CGI, Wetzel co-founded the Talk to Me Project, a civic engagement initiative that was featured in media outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and This American Life. He studied sustainable development at Columbia University's Earth Institute, and has also worked as a piano instructor and organic farmer.
Director of Event Operations
Heather Zachary joined CGI in January 2007. As the director of event operations, she leads the in-house event logistics team and is responsible for event strategy and production for all of CGI's large-scale conferences and special events across CGI's four platforms: CGI, CGI America, CGI International, and CGI University. Prior to joining CGI, Zachary worked in the programming departments of the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Jewish Guild for the Blind Children's Vision Health Initiative, where she managed special events and event production, teleconvenings, and online resource databases. Zachary received a bachelor's in Latin American studies and sociology from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. In her personal time, she devotes her efforts to assisting with programming for the Tulane Alumni Club of New York, the New York American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), and All Souls of New York City.