Wade Rakes graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. in Economics and a Certificate in Political Economy. He received his MBA from the University of Michigan.
From 2002 to 2006 he worked with Showtime Networks in New York City—serving as Marketing Manager for the network before moving to work as Business Analyst in the Office of the CFO, and eventually Special Assistant to Showtime’s Chairman and CEO.
Following his work with Showtime, he became the Senior Advisor and Director of Public Liaison for former Governor Ted Strickland (D-OH). There he served as a member of the Governor’s Senior Executive Staff, responsible for policy formulation, budget planning, and legislative relations. His work in the administration centered on statewide public and local government affairs, as well as management of Veterans Affairs, Faith Based & Community Initiatives, 8 Regional Offices of the Governor, and the Governor’s Constituent Services Call Center.[
Rakes is currently the President and Chief Executive Officer at Peach State Health Plan, a Centene Corporation. He previously held the role as Vice President of Business Development, Growth, and Expansion at the Centene Corporation. As Vice President, he helps the national leader in healthcare services deliver results to over 4 million members and stakeholders throughout the United States.
Kerri’s background includes more than 15 years in Executive Recruitment, Leadership and Strategy.
She currently serves as the U.S. Recruitment Lead for Bloomberg, where she is responsible for managing the strategy and recruitment efforts across various businesses within the company’s Financial Products department, working closely with managers and senior leaders. She is focused on finding the best talent for the organization, while also driving firm-wide initiatives.
Prior to joining Bloomberg, Kerri spent five years at Credit Suisse, where she was responsible for managing the strategy and recruitment across various businesses within International Wealth Management and Global Markets. At J.P. Morgan, she was responsible for building out an executive recruitment and sourcing platform for various businesses. She started her career in executive search working at Korn/Ferry International in both San Francisco and New York, where she focused on the Technology and Financial Services sectors.
Kerri is a graduate of Hunter College of the City University of New York (CUNY), where she earned her bachelor’s degree in English Language, Literature and Criticism.
Rahul Chandhok is in his seventh season with the 49ers and third as vice president of public affairs & strategic communications. Rahul is responsible for issues impacting the team’s business and reputation, public policy, legislative and regulatory issues, development, land use, cross-functional initiatives, strategic internal and external communications, and serves as a team spokesperson.
Rahul joined the 49ers in 2014 as manager of government affairs, a role he held for two seasons, and then served as director of external affairs for two seasons. Prior to joining the 49ers, he was influential in the public-private partnership to prevent the relocation of the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, and the development of Golden 1 Center. Rahul is active in the community, serving on the boards of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, Joint Venture Silicon Valley, and San Jose Library Foundation in addition to Beyond Differences. He holds a B.A. from U.C. Irvine and a J.D. from U.C. Davis School of Law.
Carolyn has over 13 years of professional experience across the tech, healthcare, professional services and retail sectors. In her current role, she leads diversity solutions for the Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIBs) team at LinkedIn, focused on building diverse and inclusive products and solutions for every member of the global workforce. Prior to LinkedIn, Carolyn worked at Ernst & Young in the Performance Improvement group where she specialized in delivering enterprise level, complex programs; mobilizing, stabilizing and operating multi-million dollar transformation programs.
Carolyn graduated from UC Davis with a B.A. in Economics.
Carly Kawaja serves as Vice President, Head of HR, Talent Acquisition, Talent Management,
Operations/Analytics, and Communications for Athleta, a certified Bcorp and the fastest growing brand in the Gap Inc. portfolio.
She is a graduate of Duke University and, when not tending to her enormous responsibilities at Athleta, is a devoted mom to her almost 3-year old son. Born and raised in Marin County, Carly somehow also manages to find time to volunteer with numerous national and Bay Area non profits.
Larry Krause is a principal of Tessara Financial Advisors, Inc He was educated at the University of Iowa, and became a real estate broker in 1962. In 1968 he entered the securities industry and in 1974 created and ran the financial planning department for Sutro, Inc. the oldest brokerage firm west of the Mississippi. It was one of the first comprehensive financial planning departments in the United States for a major brokerage firm.
In 1979 he founded what is now known as Tessara Financial Advisors, Inc. He is a recognized leader in the field of financial and investment planning. Mr. Krause has been on the Advisory Committee of the Golden Gate University programs for the Masters degree in Business Administration and a Masters degree in Financial Planning. In addition, he has authored two books: The Money Go Round and Sleep Tight Money. He has written columns and has been interviewed or quoted in just about every major newspaper and/or financial magazine in the country. For two years, he was on the 6 o’clock news weekly on KGO TV answering financial questions from the public.
Karen has over 14 years of experience auditing both public and private companies; primarily in the Financial Services sector.
She is a Managing Director at PwC, in the Assurance Center of Excellence (CoE). The Assurance CoE remotely leads and executes specific audit areas from scoping through completion for a wide range of clients throughout the US. She currently leads a diverse team that is based in both the US and India. Karen has worked in both the Dallas and Little Rock offices and completed a two-year secondment to PwC’s London UK office in 2016. Karen holds B.B.A. in Finance from the University of Oklahoma and a Master of Accountancy from the College of William and Mary.
Ed Lehrman is the Managing Partner at Vine Connections and has been “the wine guy” to his friends and colleagues since college.
After stints at Kendall-Jackson and Seagram Classics, Ed began his entrepreneurial endeavors in 1994 with the direct-to-consumer company Passport Wine Club, and for the last 20 years has been overseeing all departments at Vine Connections which is the leading US importer of wine from Argentina and Chile, and premium sake from Japan. When Ed is not imbibing, you can find him burning off the calories on his road or mountain bike in Marin County where he lives. Don’t ask Ed what his favorite wine or sake is— he says “they are all my children.”
Alan Loving is Director of Diversity and Community Engagement for The Boldt Company, a construction company. Recently, he relocated to Chicago after spending most of his life in California; 27 years in San Francisco. Throughout his career, he has worked in both the public and private sectors in city planning, real estate development and construction.
At Boldt, Alan is responsible for identifying qualified minority and women-owned construction firms to work on Boldt projects.In addition, he facilitates the company’s recently undertaken Diversity & Inclusion journey. Alan is an avid road & mountain cyclist and amateur photographer. Alan holds a B.S. in Sociology from the University of Denver; a Masters in Urban & Regional Planning from the University of Colorado; and a Masters in Real Estate Development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Gale Mondry is a graduate of Brown University (Phi Beta Kappa) and Harvard Law School (cum laude). She began her professional career as a health care attorney, working for 7 years as staff counsel for Stanford University and 11 years as Vice President for Legal Services at California Pacific Medical Center. She left the law in 1994 and became actively involved with various community organizations.
A long-time board member of the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, Gale served as the Center’s board president and then as co-chair of the capital campaign to construct the JCC’s new facility. She is a co-founder and former board chair of Gateway High School, an award-winning public charter high school. She has also been a board member of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, and the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.
Gale’s development experience includes working as the Director of Development for Gateway High School and as Director of Major Gifts for Huckleberry Youth Programs. More recently, she was the Chief Program Officer at the Koret Foundation.
Jacqueline Neuwirth Swire
Jacqueline’s background includes over 25 years in fundraising and development. She has worked with a broad range of national and international clients in the political, nonprofit and corporate sectors in the areas of donor development, board development, fundraising, event planning and strategic planning.
Jacqueline is a founding Board Member of Beyond Differences and serves on numerous other boards. Jacqueline is an avid skier and hiker and splits her time between Marin and Aspen. Most importantly, she is the proud mother of Sam, a freshman at WashU St. Louis, and founding Teen Board Member, Aislinn, who currently works for Edelman PR.
Sheila Peluso is a Senior Managing Director and the Chief Human Resources Officer, as well as a Senior Legal Officer, of Cerberus Capital Management, L.P. , a global multi- strategy investment firm with over $50 billion under management.
She launched the Firm’s Corporate Social Responsibility and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion platforms and continues to oversee them currently.
Ms. Peluso graduated from Binghamton University and received a J.D. from Cornell Law School. She is an active advisor to Mindful Littles, an organization offering compassion experiences for children, families and school and a Co-Chair of the annual gala of the Valerie Fund, an organization dedicated to supporting children with cancer. Sheila lives in New York City with her family.
As a researcher for a consulting firm that brings neuroscience to leadership development, Michaela Simpson possesses a range of skills with particular expertise in human behavior, organizational effectiveness, project management, assessment, and data analysis in a broad range of contexts. This builds on previous experience in academic research in a doctoral program (Psychology, UC Berkeley), business management in the for-profit sector (film and television, and music industries), and leadership experience as a board member with social justice organizations in the non-profit sector.
She received her Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Stanford University, which led her to live abroad in Europe for five years and become fluent in German. Formerly an observer of the behavior of nations, she now observes the behavior of humans. Ultimately, Michaela strives to understand human behavior and how to optimize organizational effectiveness and behavior change.
She enjoys living in Marin, playing the piano, dance, eating amazing food, and spending time with her family and friends. She is also the proud mama of Carl and David Simpson-Heil, former members of the Beyond Differences Teen Board.
Ace Smith is the co-founder of Beyond Differences, a political consultant and lifelong baseball fanatic. Ace is a thirty-year veteran of state and national politics and has directed winning campaigns from district attorney to president of the United States.
He is the author of The Pitcher and The Dictator. He lives in Kentfield, California with his wife Laura Talmus.
Evie’s niece, Lili Rachel Smith, is the inspiration for her commitment and devotion to Beyond Differences. That, and the fact that her sister, Laura Talmus, and brother-in-law, Ace Smith, are the founders of this compelling organization.
Evie is both a jewelry designer and a psychotherapist for couples and individuals, in private practice in San Francisco’s financial district. She created a cool line of jewelry especially for Beyond Differences, of which 100% of the profit goes to support the work of Beyond Differences.
Jen Traeger is the managing partner at United Skates of America, the world’s largest roller-skating company. She is also the managing partner of the Traeger Family LP that owns and leases property to United Skates of America Inc., family entertainment centers, and commercial real estate properties.
She is a highly accomplished executive with extensive experience in internal and external business development, operations and sales management. She is also a successful business owner, partner and former CFO. She gracefully combines hard business skills with a deep understanding of emotional intelligence and the capacity to work with people to bring out their best. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin and received a master’s in accounting from Golden Gate University in San Francisco. She is married, has two school-aged children and resides in San Rafael, CA.
Marla joins the board of Beyond Differences with over 25 years of teaching experience at both the elementary and secondary levels. A 2018 winner of the Lili Rachel Smith Courageous Heroes Award, Marla continues to lead SEL initiatives at Stout Middle School in the Dearborn Public Schools in Dearborn, Michigan. At the elementary level, she has taught preschool, kindergarten, 2nd grade, and 3rd grade. Her secondary experience lies at the middle school level, teaching 7th and 8th grade English Language Arts. Her current position finds her supporting Restorative Practices and Affective Support Services, teaching two OnBoard/WEB Leadership courses, and co-teaching in several ELA classes as a Title I Interventionist.
In addition to her professional responsibilities, Marla recently earned her certifications as a Social Emotional Learning facilitator and as a 150-hr yoga teacher. She continues to advocate for the mental and emotional well-being of her students through participation on district committees and county-wide professional development. To further advance her knowledge on trauma-sensitive instruction, Marla is working on certification as a Healing Centered Engagement Practitioner.
Marla holds a BA in Elementary Education from the University of Michigan-Dearborn and a MA from Marygrove College. She resides in Novi, Michigan, with her husband, Michael, and their daughters, Kate and Lauren.
National Advisory Board Members
Former Former GJulie Abrams (Marin County)
Joyce Aboussie (St. Louis)
Don Attore (Los Angeles)
Amy Baer (Marin)
Erin and Rob Becker (Marin County)
Steve Bileca (New York)
Dr. Ruth Mathis Bissell (San Francisco)
Elizabeth Brown (Sonoma County)
Marin County Superintendent Public Schools Mary Jane Burke
Wendy Coblentz (Marin County)
Liz Darby (Mill Valley)
Jackie Davis (Berkeley)
Barbara Dobkin (New York)
Michael Easley (Former Governor of North Carolina)
Laurie and Ian Fenwick (San Luis Obispo)
Kim Fullerton-Nelson, M.D. (Marin County)
Anthony Garrett (Washington, D.C.)
Joan Gosliner (Marin County)
Leslie and Joel Greenberg (New York)
Vice President Kamala D. Harris (San Francisco)
Betsy Hausman (San Francisco)
Adam Hirschfelder (Marin County)
Ellen Rosen Kaplan (Chicago)
Leslie Kautz (Los Angeles)
Abbey Levine (San Francisco)
Susan Lowenberg and Joyce Newstat (San Francisco)
Ann Mathieson (Marin County)
Iris Metz (Marin County)
Dan Newman (San Francisco)
Carolyn and Jay Paxton (San Francisco)
Lee Pollack (San Francisco)
Annie Sammis (Marin County)
Jeanie Schram (San Francisco)
Elizabeth Share (Marin County)
Timothy Silard (San Francisco)
H. Marcia Smolens (Marin County)
Marjorie Swig (Aspen, Colorado)
Jennifer Traeger-Hirsfelder (Marin County)
Dr. Michael Watenpaugh (Marin County)
Miguel Bustos (San Francisco)
Ruth Chavez (Mill Valley)
Barbara and Scott Waxman (Marin County)
Jack Weiss (Los Angeles)
Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (Oakland)
Amy Wilner, Psy.D. (Marin County)
Howard Zack (Marin County)
Tony Winnicker (San Francisco)
Portland Advisory Board Members