Staff Leadership


Rajiv Vinnakota ([email protected]) is the seventh president of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. Prior to joining the Foundation in July 2019, Raj served as the Executive Vice President of the Youth & Engagement division at the Aspen Institute, a new venture focusing on youth leadership development, civic engagement, and opportunity.  Before work at the Aspen Institute, he was the co-founder and CEO of The SEED Foundation, the nation’s first network of public, college-preparatory boarding schools for underserved children. Raj remains on the board of The SEED Foundation.

A graduate and former trustee of Princeton University, Raj has dedicated his career to educating, empowering, and supporting America’s youth, particularly those from disadvantaged communities. His work as a social entrepreneur and non-profit leader has earned him national recognition in the form of prestigious fellowships from Echoing Green, The Ashoka Foundation and the Aspen Institute, as well as awards such as Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson Award, Harvard University’s Innovation in American Government Award, and Oprah Winfrey’s Use Your Life award. | Full bio

Beverly Sanford ([email protected]) is Vice President of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. She also serves as Secretary of the Foundation, a position elected by the Woodrow Wilson Board of Trustees. Prior to joining the Woodrow Wilson staff in 2002, Beverly served first as communications director for the president of the University at Buffalo (SUNY), then as associate director of the UB Regional Institute. A graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she completed an M.A. and Ph.D. coursework at the University at Buffalo.


Symeon Braxton ([email protected]) is Director of Fellowship Solutions at the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. Before joining the Foundation, he worked for over 14 years in higher education administration, first as Associate Director of Institutional Giving & Sponsored Research at The New School and then as Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Arts and Sciences. Symeon also worked in fundraising and communications for Neighborhood Housing Services of New York City and The Franklin Institute Science Museum. He holds a B.A. in English from Penn, an M.A. in media studies from The New School, and a doctoral degree in higher education finance from Penn’s Graduate School of Education.
LeAnnBuntrock_crop LeAnn Buntrock ([email protected]org) joined the Woodrow Wilson staff in 2013 as Director of the Woodrow Wilson M.B.A. Fellowship in Education Leadership. She was formerly Executive Director of the Darden/Curry Partnership for Leaders in Education at the University of Virginia. LeAnn earned her J.D. from the University of Richmond and her Ph.D. in education policy from the University of Virginia. Her background demonstrates her deep commitment to education, ranging from her early years as a teacher in elementary education to several years of advocacy in education and family law.
  Melanie Meinzer ([email protected]) joined the Woodrow Wilson Foundation in 2019 as Program Officer for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation programs. She previously held a Consortium for Faculty Diversity Postdoctoral Fellowship at Denison University and taught courses at St. Olaf College on decolonizing international relations, middle eastern politics, and environmental justice. Melanie earned her Ph.D. in political science at the University of Connecticut, where she held a Draper Dissertation Fellowship at the UConn Humanities Institute, and a Boren Fellowship to the West Bank. She also previously managed the British Marshall Scholarship Program at the British Consulate-General in Boston.
 patrickweb Patrick Riccards ([email protected]) is Chief Communications and Strategy Officer. Patrick began his career on Capitol Hill, where he served in senior communications positions for members of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House. The former executive director for communications and public affairs at American Institutes for Research, he has also served as executive director of the Pennsylvania STEM Initiative and de facto chief of staff for the National Reading Panel. Pat is widely known on social media for his blog and Twitter feed, @Eduflack, and he has won numerous national awards for his work in education communications and public engagement. Pat holds a B.A. in Government and in Rhetoric and Communications Studies from the University of Virginia.
Audra M. Watson ([email protected]) is the Director of the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowships. Audra earned her Ph.D. in education policy at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.  Prior to coming to the foundation in 2010, she worked with the New York City Department of Education, directing mentoring and teacher development programs.


From Civic Ed to Civic Learning

The white paper by WW President Rajiv VInnakota aims to better understand how the work of funders, policymakers, educators, researchers, and nonprofit organizations comes together and interacts to produce the current system of civic education.

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