Ruth Hassell-Thompson, Special Advisor for Policy and Community Affairs, for New York State Housing and Community Renewal, was first elected to the New York State Senate in 2000, where she brought years of public service and community involvement to her post as the Senator of the 36th Senatorial District; representing parts of the Bronx and Westchester Counties.
Prior to holding an elected office, she was President/CEO of Whart Development Company, Inc., a real estate development company that also provided consultant services to small and developing businesses, thus, she is well known for her expertise in minority business. As the Executive Director of the Westchester Minority Contractors Association (WMCA), Ms. Hassell-Thompson became well-versed in economic development issues which impacted women and people of color. Ms. Hassell-Thompson was consultant to the Automotive Consultant, Inc. (ACI), an automobile dealership/industry organization responsible for promoting the interests of automobile dealers of color, nationally.
Ms. Hassell-Thompson is the recipient of two Honorary Doctorate degrees; Mercy College, Doctor of Humane Letters; and Eastern Theological Consortium, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Christ Theological Seminary, Doctor of Humanities. She is an alumna of Bronx Community College.
During her tenure in the Senate, Ms. Hassell-Thompson served on the following standing committees: Judiciary (Ranking); Crime Victims, Crime & Correction (Ranking Chairwoman); Commerce, Economic Development & Small Business; Alcohol and Substance Abuse; Health; Finance; Rules; Chairwoman, Conference of Black Senators; Chairwoman, Taskforce on Domestic Violence; Governor Cuomo Taskforce on MWBE
Barbara A. McGraw is Professor of Social Ethics, Law, and Public Life and founding director of the Center for Engaged Religious Pluralism at Saint Mary’s College of California. She received her Ph.D. in 1999 and her J.D. in 1984, both from the University of Southern California. She has been with Saint Mary’s College since 1998. Among other things, she has served on the American Academy of Religion's standing Committee for the Public Understanding of Religion, 2011-2015, and as president of the AAR Western Region, 2001-2002.
Dr. McGraw is author or editor of many articles, chapters, and books, including Rediscovering America’s Sacred Ground: Public Religion and Pursuit of the Good in a Pluralistic America; Taking Religious Pluralism Seriously: Spiritual Politics on America’s Sacred Ground (with Jo Renee Formicola); Many Peoples, Many Faiths: Women and Men in the World Religions (with Robert S. Ellwood); and The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Religion and Politics in the U.S.
Dr. McGraw’s areas of specialization include religion, law, and politics and the role of religion in public life, especially involving religious minorities and religious pluralism as a civic value. In that regard in addition to her areas of specialization, her current interests include scholar-activism on behalf of religious minorities and the newly emerging interfaith-interreligious leadership field for which she is a thought-leader.
KATHARINE PICHARDO-ERSKINE is President of the Hamilton Campaign Network (HCN), a leading Latino-owned and managed consulting firm providing strategic advice and services to political and high-profile issue campaigns.
Founded in 2016 as a sister company to the MirRam Group, HCN counts on a team of professionals with unique backgrounds and unparalleled experience in campaign management, voter targeting and contact, field operations, research, media, direct mail, digital marketing and compliance.
A 25-year veteran of government and politics, Katharine joined the MirRam family in 2016 as Vice President to manage lobbying, community relations and communication services for corporate, labor and non-profit clients. Prior to that, her work included a lengthy tenure in the New York State Senate, where she served as Executive Director and Chief of Staff, managing policy, operations and strategic outreach for a number of Members, including leadership.
Katharine’s wealth of experience running key political and issue campaigns over the years, in addition to her diligent planning and spot-on intuitive insights, have made her a sought-after strategist in and outside New York. Throughout her career, her work has focused on building principled campaigns – supporting causes and candidates whose values emphasize community well-being and far-sighted, solutions-driven policymaking to address our shared challenges.
HCN is proud to have played a role in numerous recent path-breaking elections, including Adriano Espaillat’scampaign to become the first Dominican-American and formerly undocumented Member of Congress; Letitia James’s run for New York Attorney General as the state’s first woman and person of color elected to the office; and the campaign to elect the first Latino District Attorney in the Northeast United States, Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez.
She is a regular political commentator on Telemundo and other media outlets.
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