In addition to the Mel King Community Fellows program, CoLab hosts a diverse group of scholars, leaders, and community activists who are focused on planning issues related to CoLab’s core mission and values.
Martha is an Urban Planner and a knowledge-based Development Economist. Her specialty is in consensus building. Ms. Bonilla studies the knowledge innovation process from invention in research through action in entrepreneurial start-ups and in innovation ecosystems generally. She holds graduate degrees in Urban Studies and Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; in Economics from Colombia; in Promotion of Investment from Japan; and in Consensus Building from Switzerland. She has more than fourteen years of experience leading projects associated with urban and regional planning, innovation, and institutional capacity building.
Martha recently worked in CoLab creating experiences for students and communities in Latin America that take advantage of rapid urbanization and environmental challenges. In this work, she sought to create opportunities for low-income communities to improve their standard of living through economic development. In 2010 Martha returned to Colombia where she is currently serving as the Director of the Centro de Estudios Urbanos at the Universidad del Rosario.
Becky is a specialist in strategy, innovation and inclusive enterprise development. Her work with CoLab explores the wealth creation potential of emerging “green” markets in cities around the world. Her research focus has been in the areas of clean energy, urban food systems and sustainable waste management. She worked with Oxfam GB for over 15 years in various senior management positions, most recently as Oxfam’s Senior Advisor for Strategy and Innovation, working with the board and directors on overall organizational direction and development, and managing a portfolio of projects, primarily relating to cross-sector collaboration on climate change, renewable energy, and sustainable supply chains.
In addition to her work with CoLab, Becky is co-founder of Meteos, a non-profit company established to facilitate cross-industry dialogue and innovation with a focus on sustainability and social inclusion. Becky advises a number of NGO boards on strategy, and provides coaching and facilitation to senior executives and teams. Becky was an MIT Sloan School ELIAS Fellow in 2006-7, holds a MA in Latin American Studies from Stanford University and a post-graduate certificate in Urban Planning from University College of London. She is a Board member of Just Energy, a social enterprise supporting community-based renewable energy enterprise.
Katya Fels Smyth
Katya Fels Smyth is Founder and CEO of the Full Frame Initiative (FFI). She has over two decades of experience in program development, evaluation, system change and community networking to address the intersection of poverty, violence and societal disinvestment. Prior to launching FFI in 2007, Katya founded and led On The Rise, Inc., a Cambridge-based organization providing innovative and effective support and community to the area’s most disenfranchised women. In her 11 years at On The Rise, the organization helped over 1,000 women achieve new levels of safety and personal agency. Significantly, she also helped change community dialogue about who “can” be helped and systemic responses to women with trauma histories not seeking traditional trauma services. A former Echoing Green Fellow and recipient of several other social entrepreneurship awards and fellowships, Katya speaks, publishes and provides consultation nationally on the design, implementation, and evaluation of programs that work at the intersection of entrenched poverty, violence and trauma. She has participated in international training efforts for domestic violence advocates, is supporting a statewide juvenile justice reform effort in Missouri, and is working on state-level projects in Massachusetts and California. She was as a Research Fellow at the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and is a member of the Massachusetts Governor’s Council to Address Sexual and Domestic Violence.
Katya holds an AB with honors in Biology from Harvard and received an honorary Doctorate of Divinity from the Episcopal Divinity School.
Dr. Katrin Kaeufer leads a research effort on “Banking as if People Mattered”. She conducts case studies on value-based banks and support the Global Alliance for Banking on Values in their efforts to build a global network of value-based banks. Katrin is also the research director of the Presencing Institute, a Cambridge-based network of change makers focused on advancing social technologies of transformation and change.
Kaeufer earned her MBA and Ph.D. from Witten/Herdecke University in Germany. Her dissertation on Socially Responsible Banking was published as a book in 1996. While working with peace researcher Johan Galtung, she co-founded and directed "Peace Studies Around the World," a year-long global studies program. She has consulted with a global pharmaceutical company, the World Bank, a learning network of small and mid-sized companies and non-profit organizations, as well as with the United Nations Development Program in New York. She is also a founding member of the Presencing Institute.
Uyen Le is the Research Director for the California Construction Academy (CCA), which is a project of the UCLA Labor Center. At the CCA, Uyen conducts research, advises stakeholders, and develops programs on topics related to green jobs, community-based economic development, energy efficiency retrofits, apprenticeships, and project labor agreements. She is also a Research Affiliate at the Community Innovators Lab (CoLab) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Before this, Uyen worked in the Gulf Coast for a year after Hurricane Katrina as a Dan Than community development fellow, where she worked closely with Vietnamese American communities on issues related to emergency relief and long-term community development. She continues to maintain ties with Gulf Coast communities, where she believes a piece of her heart will always reside. Uyen graduated from MIT with a Master degree in City Planning, and from UC Berkeley with a Bachelor degree in Political Science.
Jennifer's commitment to social change was shaped during the late 1960's when as a student she worked side-by-side with farmers in Kentucky's Appalachian farmlands, native Americans building schools on Wyoming's reservations, and the Cesar Chavez and the Mexican American Farmworker Union organizing boycotts for better working conditions in California.
Following seven years working in University Advancement at Wittenberg and Ohio State Universities, Jennifer served on the start-up team for the Sharp Hospitals Foundation in San Diego raising needed funds for a cancer center, intensive care unit, and the women’s hospital. As Executive Director of the Child Abuse Prevention Foundation Jennifer was recognized by the San Diego Child Abuse Coordination Council with the Outstanding Service Award for her work to build a new 130-bed state-of-the-art emergency shelter and received the Development Officer of the Year award from the San Diego National Society of Fundraising Executives for the public-private campaign that resulted in the Polinsky Children’s Center.
In 1994, she developed the concept and strategic plan that led to the launching of the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, an operating foundation headquartered in San Diego's southeastern neighborhoods dedicated to community building and the resident ownership of change. In her 16 years as President & CEO of the Jacobs Center, Jennifer worked alongside more than 3,000 community residents to transform blighted, abandoned industrial sites and launch one of the nation’s leading neighborhood revitalization projects--The Village at Market Creek. She played the lead role in the creation and implementation of a pioneering Community Development IPO which resulted in 425 residents owning shares in the Market Creek Plaza commercial center and the formation of a resident-led community foundation. Jennifer also forged financial partnerships that leveraged $100 million in public and private investment into southeastern San Diego neighborhoods, including $30 million in New Markets Tax Credits financing.
Under her leadership, the local Association of Fund Raising Professionals named the Jacobs Foundations Philanthropic Organization of the Year in 1999, and in 2007, the national Council on Foundations bestowed their Critical Impact Award for innovative and bold solutions to enhance the public good. In 2009, Jennifer was recognized with the prestigious James Irvine Leadership Award for California leaders who are implementing innovative and effective solutions to significant state issues, and in 2012, was given an Honorary Doctorate of Human Letters by Wittenberg University.
Thomasina H. Williams
Thomasina is the Founder and Director of the Sankofa Legacy Fund, a new initiative that leverages resources to realize individual, organizational and collective potential, and transform lives within underserved Black communities. With a primary focus on three program areas – personal transformation, civic engagement and economic sufficiency – one of the guiding principles of Sankofa is that many of the answers to challenges facing local communities lie within the communities themselves.
Prior to Sankofa, Thomasina was a Program Officer at the Ford Foundation where she designed and implemented philanthropic investment strategies to develop civic infrastructure and the capacity of youth, communities of color and other underrepresented groups to participate in shaping the decisions that impact their lives. During her six-year tenure at Ford, (the second largest private foundation in the U.S.), Thomasina made more than $42 million in grants. She was also a leader in the philanthropic sector, and was elected to serve as a member of the Steering Committee of the Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation, and as a member of the Social Justice Infrastructure Funders Group.
Thomasina is an attorney licensed in the State of Florida. Before entering philanthropy, she was recognized as one of theTop 250 Lawyers in South Florida, where she had a successful private practice focused on business disputes, employment law, public finance and government relations, as well as voting and civil rights. Thomasina became a partner in one of Florida’s major full-service law firms in a record three years, and made history four years later by starting Miami’s first Black-owned law firm with a primarily corporate clientele.
Thomasina was also very active in civic and community affairs, for which she was recognized by the Miami-Dade County Commission with a day named in her honor. She has a B.A. in Black Studies and Political Science from Mount Holyoke College, and a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School.