2019 Gold Medal Ceremony Panel Discussions

The Congressional Award has organized a series of expert panels coinciding with the 2019 Gold Medal Ceremony in Washington, D.C. on June 21, 2019.


This year’s Gold Medalists and guests will hear from industry leaders on the most relevant and pressing issues facing society today.


Each of the five panels will not only offer valuable insight and inspiration, but provide youth with an avenue to engage with their peers and ask questions for the panelists.

A Lifetime of Service

This conversation will focus on the importance of extending volunteerism past the Gold Medal. We will showcase non-profit organizations, national partners, professionals who have service-focused careers, and alumni who are making a difference in their communities.


Friday, June 21, 2019 | 8:30-10:00 a.m.

Library of Congress – Thomas Jefferson Building
The Member’s Room
9101 Independence Ave SE
Washington, DC 20540


Join this conversation: #ServiceBeforeSelf

Moderator: Jevin Hodge

National Engagement Officer, LINK Strategic Partners

Jevin serves as the National Engagement Director for LINK Strategic Partners, a national strategic communications and stakeholder engagement firm. Civically, he serves as the Vice–Chairman of the Arizona Democratic Party, Chairman of Board of Directors for Booker T. Washington Child Development Center in Phoenix, AZ, and President of the Tempe Union High School Education Foundation, in Tempe, AZ. Jevin is also the former Vice Executive Director of The Manifesto Project, an Arizona-based non-profit working to answer the question: How does Arizona retain and develop its young professionals?

Gina Cross

Acting Director, AmeriCorps NCCC

Gina Cross is the Acting National Director and Deputy Director for AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps at the Corporation for National and Community Service. CNCS is a federal agency in Washington, D.C. that improves lives, strengthens communities, and fosters civic engagement through national service and volunteering.

Steve Culbertson

CEO, Youth Service America

Steven Alexander Culbertson is President and Chief Executive Officer of Youth Service America, an international nonprofit organization that partners with thousands of organizations committed to increasing the quality and the quantity of volunteer opportunities for young people to serve locally, nationally, and globally.

Maura Fulton

Senior Advisor to the Director, Peace Corps

Maura Fulton is the Senior Advisor to the Director at Peace Corps focusing on overseas programming and operations. Since 1961 Peace Corps has promoted world peace and friendship through the service of more than 235,000 Peace Corps Volunteers. Peace Corps currently works in 62 countries around the world.

Javier LaFianza


Javier La Fianza is CEO for Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY). Each year, over 11,000 students participate in HOBY programs across the United States. Another nearly 1,000 students attend a HOBY program in the United Kingdom, China, Taiwan, Canada, South Korea, Iraq, Turkey, Togo, and Uganda.  Students who attend HOBY leave inspired to a lifetime of leadership and service to their schools, neighborhoods, and communities.

Congresswoman Doris Matsui

U.S. Representative, CA-06

Congresswoman Matsui has represented the city of Sacramento and its surrounding areas since 2005. As a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, she serves on the Health, Environment and Climate Change, and Consumer Protection and Commerce subcommittees and is the Vice Chair on the Communications and Technology subcommittee. She is committed to strengthening Sacramento’s flood protection, ensuring quality, affordable health care for all, promoting a clean energy economy, and creating a vibrant region where families can live, work, and play.


Have you ever wondered how professionals got their start? Or what it is like to have an idea and make it into a business? This panel will highlight leaders and business executives who have done just that. From the C-Suite, to small business owners, and everyone in between – this panel will offer you the inspiration to run with your ideas wherever they take you.


Friday, June 21, 2019 | 8:30-10:00 a.m.

2168 Rayburn House Office Building
The Gold Room

Washington, DC 20515


Join this conversation: #LeaderWithin

Moderator: Sanyin Siang

Executive Director, COLE, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business  

Sanyin’s mission in life is to enable greatness in others. She lives out this mission as a CEO Coach, Advisor, the founding executive director of the Coach K Leadership and Ethics Center (COLE) at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, and a professor at its Pratt School of Engineering. The center is a leadership laboratory that convenes think tank gatherings across sectors to explore today’s complex leadership challenges.

Michael Akin

President, LINK Strategic Partners

Michael Akin is president of LINK Strategic Partners, a national strategic communications and stakeholder engagement consulting firm proudly based in Washington, D.C., with team members in Phoenix, St. Louis, New York, Maine and Paris, France.

Mark Ein

Entreprenuer, Investor, Sports Team Owner

Mark D. Ein is an investor, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, who has created, acquired, invested in, and built a series of growth companies across a diverse set of industries over the course of his 25-year career. Mr. Ein has been involved in the founding or early stages of six companies that have been worth over one billion dollars and has led over $1.5 billion of private equity, venture capital, and public company investments.

Sandra Evers-Manly

Vice President, Global Corporate Responsibility, Northrop Grumman 

Evers-Manly has a varied range of responsibilities which include enterprise-wide charitable giving, corporate citizenship, diversity and inclusion, the employee assistance program, equal employment opportunity, ethics and business conduct, Operation IMPACT (which supports the hiring of Wounded Warriors), and workplace accommodations. She was instrumental in founding, and, subsequently building, the thriving Northrop Grumman Foundation, of which she is President.

Cece Morken

EVP/General Manager, Strategic Partnerships, Intuit

Before joining Intuit in 2002, CeCe was responsible for sales of all products and professional services at WebTone Technologies. She also served as senior vice president for retail lending with Fortis, and spent 15 years in a variety of positions with John H. Hartland Co.


Nydia Velázquez

U.S. Representative, NY-07

Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez is currently serving her fourteenth term as Representative for New York’s 7th Congressional District. In the 116th Congress, she is the Chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee, a senior member of the Financial Services Committee and a member of the House Committee on Natural Resources.

Travel with Purpose

The best memories are made when you are out seeing the world around you! It is important to experience new cultures, meet new people, try different foods, and push out of your comfort zone. This panel will offer you the travel inspiration to visit those far-away lands and ignite your inner explorer!


Friday, June 21, 2019 | 1:30 – 3:00 p.m.

2168 Rayburn House Office Building
The Gold Room

Washington, DC 20515


Join this conversation: #Wanderlust

Moderator: Angie Ange

Host, Angie Ange in the Morning

You can hear her voice on 93.9 WKYS in Washington, DC: “It must be Angie on the miiiic!” Also known as “Your Royal Hypeness,” Angie Ange is a proud Howard University Alum (class of 2006, magna cum laude, John H. Johnson School of Communications) and the founder of College Is Cool Inc., a 501c3 nonprofit organization exposing youth to the college experience.

Merrill Eisenhower Atwater

CEO, People to People International

Merrill Eisenhower Atwater joined People to People International as the Chief Operating Officer in January 2018 and in April of that same year, he became Chief Executive Officer.  Before joining People to People International he served as the Director of Aviation for the Kansas Department of Transportation. 

Dr. Alex Cromwell

Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University

Alexander Cromwell is the Associate Director of the Dean’s Scholars Program. His research focuses on peace education in conflict contexts, and his most recent work on Pakistan has been published in the International Journal of Educational Development.

George Stone

Editor in Chief, National Geographic Travel

George W. Stone is editor in chief of National Geographic Traveler magazine and director of
Natgeotravel.com. An avid explorer, Stone views travel as a tool for transformation and connection with other cultures and sees travel content as “inspiration for exploration.”

Empowering Women

Girls have the power to transform themselves, their communities, and the world around them. All around the world there are female leaders who are lighting the way for future generations. We will be shining a spotlight on those trailblazers and learning about their journeys and how they got to where they are today!


Friday, June 21, 2019 | 1:30 – 3:00 p.m.

National Museum of Women in the Arts

1250 New York Ave NW

Washington, DC 20005


Join this conversation: #HERstory



Moderator: Jessica Grounds

Co-Founder, Mine The Gap

Jessica N. Grounds is an internationally recognized thought-leader in women’s leadership. She has developed innovative approaches to advance women leaders in a wide range of industries and has published cutting-edge research on women’s leadership business and politics. Jessica’s latest research conducted by her company Mine The Gap and FTI Consulting  – Culture At Work, #MeToo At Work, & The Enthusiasm Gap – reveals important insights on gender dynamics in the workplace.

Gina Adams

Senior VP, Government Affairs, FedEx

Gina F. Adams has been the company’s top lobbyist since 2001. She promotes the business interests of its operating subsidiaries for all commerce, infrastructure and transportation issues at the national, state and local levels. She oversees one of the largest US corporate PACs for FedEx, which serves more than 220 countries and territories and with 450,000 employees.

Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer

U.S. Representative, IA-01 

After being elected at the age of 25 and serving two terms in the Iowa State House of Representatives, Congresswoman Finkenauer was elected to the United States House of Representatives in November 2018. In Congress, she serves on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee where she sits on the Highways and Transit Subcommittee and Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee. She also sits on the Small Business Committee, where she chairs the Rural Development, Agriculture, Trade, and Entrepreneurship Subcommittee.

Susan Fisher Sterling

Alice West Director, NMWA

Director of the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) in Washington, D.C., Susan Fisher Sterling has built her career and the stature of the museum around the message of equity for women through the example of excellence in the arts.

Gail Miller

Owner/Chairman, Larry H. Miller Group of Companies

Gail and her late husband, Larry, started their business with a single Toyota dealership in 1979. The Larry H. Miller Group of Companies has grown to include more than 60 car dealerships throughout the West, the Utah Jazz, the Salt Lake City Stars, the Salt Lake Bees, theatre complexes, and a variety of other automotive, financial, and real estate companies.

Sports, Health, & Wellness

What does it take to thrive in the sports industry? This panel will showcase varying careers in the world of sports. You’ll hear from athletes, the people who support them, and everyone in between.


Friday, June 21, 2019 | 3:30-5:00 p.m.

Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy

3675 Ely Place SE

Washington, DC 20019


Join this conversation: #MindBodySpirit

Moderator: Tommy McFly

Host, The Tommy Show

If the Washington Post is right – and Tommy McFly is the “local Ryan Seacrest” – then he’s the multi-platform voice, anchor, and host for the world’s most powerful city and its media ambassador to the rest of the nation. An only child Gemini, rescue dog-loving millennial, originally from Scranton, PA, Tommy is always on the move around Maryland, Virginia, and Washington.

Moderator: Kelly Collis

Host, The Tommy Show

Kelly is a native Washingtonian and has been working in the DC area for over 20 years. In 2011, she decided to take a turn in her career after working over a decade in public relations and marketing. She and Tommy hosted a morning show on terrestrial radio, 94.7 Fresh FM in Washington, DC for 8 years. Prior to her radio job, she founded CityShopGirl – a subscription email publication delivering updates on lifestyle in D.C.

John Bramlette

COO, Washington Nationals Dream Foundation

Prior to joining the Foundation in 2018, John spent more than 10 years in leadership positions focused on operations, logistics, business development, and organizational growth at Ripken Baseball and The Headfirst Companies. John has coached over 300 amateur baseball games, and was twice nominated by the Positive Coaching Alliance as Double-Goal Coach of the Year.

Derrick Dockery

Former NFL Player

A NFL player for ten seasons, Derrick has since worked for several congressional leaders to build coalitions with state and local governments and the business community. He founded Yellow Ribbons United with his wife, Emma, a nonprofit devoted to helping civilians understand and appreciate the sacrifices military families make.

Pops Mensah-Bonsu

GM, Capital City Go-Go

Pops has over 10 years of basketball experience as a player and scout. He played in the NBA for four years in Dallas, San Antonio, Toronto, Houston, and New Orleans, while also spending time in the NBA D League and overseas. Born in London, Mensah-Bonsu also competed on the British Men’s National team during the 2012 London Olympics. After retiring in 2015, Pops worked at the National Basketball Players Association as a representative and liaison for NBA players.

Tanya Vogel

Director of Athletics & Recreation, George Washington University

A GW Athletic Hall of Famer, Tanya assumed the role of Director of Athletics and Recreation in July 2018 after serving as Acting Director of Athletics, Deputy Athletics Director – Senior Woman Administrator, and Deputy Title IX Coordinator. Vogel has seen intercollegiate athletics from every vantage point, including competing in soccer as an undergraduate and as head coach of her former program.


Submit a question for a panel or panelist and it may be asked during the discussion. Be sure to indicate which panel and/or panelist the question is intended for?