Producer, Musician, Songwriter and Co-Founder/Chairman, We Are Family Foundation
Among music legends, Nile Rodgers is truly exceptional. He amplifies his legacy as a multiple GRAMMY-winning composer, producer, arranger and guitarist by constantly traversing new musical terrain and successfully expanding the boundaries of popular music. As the co-founder of CHIC and the newly elected Chairman of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, Rodgers pioneered a musical language that generated chart-topping hits like “Le Freak,” (the biggest selling single in the history of Atlantic Records!) and sparked the advent of hip-hop with “Good Times”. Nile Rodgers transcends all styles of music across every generation with a body of work that’s garnered him inductions into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (2017) and the Songwriters Hall of Fame (2016).
Most recently, he was appointed as the first ever Chief Creative Advisor for the legendary Abbey Road Studios to cap off a year that has included “festival best” performances at both Glastonbury and Coachella that resulted in the BBC nominating the band for the BBC Music Awards as “Best Live Performance Of 2017” and the LA Times stating “Nile Rodgers influence stretches all over Coachella, beaming the sound of a better future”.
His work in the CHIC Organization and his productions for artists like David Bowie, Diana Ross, and Madonna have sold over 500 million albums and 75 million singles worldwide while his innovative, trendsetting collaborations with Daft Punk, Avicii, Sigala, Disclosure, and Sam Smith reflect the vanguard of contemporary music. Nile Rodgers & CHIC recently released their first new studio album, “It’s About Time” in over 26 years to critical acclaim and a Top 10 position in the UK album charts.
Attorney, Miller Barondess, LLP
A lawyer for more than 26 years, Mark Barondess has earned a reputation as an aggressive civil advocate in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, CA. Barondess is a founding partner of the firm Miller Barondess, LLP located in Los Angeles. His clients have included a former presidential candidate, a Grammy Award winner, an Academy Award winner, two Emmy Award winners, various sports legends including two Olympic gold medalists, corporate leaders as well as members of the Congress and the Federal Executive Branch at senior levels. Until his retirement, he acted as general counsel for the former CNN broadcasting giant Larry King and his affiliated companies. Barondess serves on the Board of Directors of the Larry King Cardiac Foundation and as General Counsel for the Larry King Cardiac Foundation. He also serves on the Board of Ambassadors of Project Restore at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center.
Co-Founder/President, We Are Family Foundation
Nancy Hunt is a co-founder of We Are Family Foundation (WAFF) and has served as President since its inception in 2002. As President, Nancy is responsible for developing WAFF’s educational programs including its acclaimed global teen leader and mentor program, Three Dot Dash; forging strategic partnerships and spearheading fundraising initiatives. Directly after 9/11 Nancy was Executive Producer of the We Are Family Project, which brought over 200 celebrities together to re-record "We Are Family" as a start of the healing process. She was also Executive Producer of the "We Are Family" children's music video PSA which brought together over 100 children's television characters for the first time in history to promote diversity and multiculturalism. Prior to the Foundation, Nancy co-founded Smock Media Inc., an art-based media company in 1999, and Notorious Entertainment, an upscale urban brand with media icon Sean "Puffy" Combs in 1996. During her tenure as Partner and Executive Vice President of both media companies, Nancy oversaw joint ventures, the publishing of Smock and Notorious magazines and the extensions of each brand. She is an award-winning photographer and earned her Master's degree in clinical psychology at The American University.
Irene Cervellera Micheli
CEO, Newton and Angel Investor
Irene is currently the General Manager of an Italian TV production company and has started her activity as “angel” investor a couple of years ago when she moved from Milan to London. She holds a degree in Business Administration and a number of post-graduate diplomas (including diplomas from UCLA, Financial Times and Intheboardroom). Irene spent the first six years of her career (1989-1995) at Chase Manhattan Bank working between London and Milan where she finished as co-head of Corporate Finance in charge of new business development and structuring of transactions. She then moved to financial communication and joined Dewe Rogerson (the London-based Financial PR agency, European privatisation and IPO market leader) from 1995 to 1999 as a Director, advising directly the former Italian Treasury Minister (Mr. Mario Draghi) on main Italian privatisations (Telecom Italia, ENI 1, 2 and 3, Banca di Roma, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro, etc.). Eventually, she moved back to Italy as Head of Investor Relations at Parmalat (1999 -2004) where she worked for the Company until its delisting. Afterwards, she worked as Head of IR and CSR for the insurance company Alleanza Assicurazioni- Generali Group (2006 – 2007). In 2008, Irene joined as General Manager of SIF “Società Italiana di Filantropia,” the first Italian venture philanthropy association of charities and philanthropists working to increase effectiveness of philanthropy in Italy. Her responsibilities included the launch and coordination of the SIF chair in “Social Entrepreneurship” at Bocconi University (Milan).
She is a supporter of a number of Italian and UK charities. She is a member of the board of the foundation “Oliver Twist” (founded and supported mainly by Kairos partners – the leading Italian asset management company), a charity committed to support the growth and the education of disadvantaged children in Italy and abroad. Irene currently serves on the board of MusiXmatch ( the World's Largest Lyrics Catalog available on line with +30 million users) and on the board of CharityStar (an internet company that raises funds for non-profit organizations through online charity auctions - experiences include music, entertainment, business, politics, sports, art, fashion and other industries - with celebrities and brands).
She is married to Carlo Micheli with two children. She used to play tennis professionally when she was a teenager.
Director, Apple and Founder, Platoon
Denzyl is a 40 year music industry pioneer and digital disruptor. He started his career as a pro musician, worked on the Paul Simon Graceland record and tour, started a successful management company (Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Gypsy Kings, Johnny Clegg, Luther VanDross, Kenny Loggins) and in 1997 launched the first ever pureplay digital music label - AWAL. In 2001 Denzyl started an advisory role to Steve Jobs, launched iTunes in 2003 and has been advising Apple ever since - Launching iTunes globally, producing the 30-day iTunes Festival (10 years) and working on Apple’s music initiatives - Apple Music, Beats1 etc…. In 2016, Denzyl founded and launched PLATOON an accelerator and investment incubator for emerging talent. The company works with some of the world’s most exceptional new artists - Jorja Smith Mr Eazi Stefflon Don, Billie Eilish Rex OC and many others.
Founder and Chairman, GMT Communications Partners
Jeff is a private equity industry pioneer with 30 years of experience. He founded the first industry-specific PE firm in Europe, GMT Communications Partners, in 1992; its focus is digital media, telecoms, and technology. GMT raised over US$1.5 billion across seven funds, completed 35 platform investments and over 100 bolt-on acquisitions in 19 countries. GMT consistently has generated top quartile ranked rates of return for its investors, who have included leading institutional investors and high net worth families from around the world. Jeff had previously held senior operating positions in the publishing and broadcasting industries in the US and internationally.
Jeff has had a long-term interest in helping to better understand the neuroscience of stress, anxiety and related depression. In 2005, he helped launch the Goldie Hawn Foundation’s MindUp program in the UK, a detailed in-school curriculum developed by leading educators and neuroscientists focused on teaching the fundamentals of how the brain works and providing a toolkit of skills to better handle stress and anxiety for children aged 5 to 12, The program is now active in seven European countries. Globally, over 6 million children have participated in the program. Jeff is the Deputy Chairman of The Goldie Hawn Foundation UK.
In 2012, Jeff joined the Board of Trustees of the London Buddhist Society, the oldest Buddhist organisation in the UK, whose Patron is the Dalai Lama. The Buddhist Society teaches and supports practiced meditation in order to reduce baseline anxiety levels, among other things Jeff recently established The Montgomery Fund, a neuroscience and music initiative, at Carnegie Mellon University, one of the world’s leading computer science and technology universities. The program uses next-generation MRI brain scan technology and proprietary metadata analytical algorithms developed at CMU to examine the physiological effects of music on the brain in order to develop a better understanding of PTSD and find ways to reduce its often debilitating impact. CMU has partnered with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center where, famously, Dr. Bennet Omalu discovered the long term effects of concussion on the brains of certain NFL players.
Jeff has an MBA from the Wharton School of Finance, a Master’s Degree in International Studies from the University of Pennsylvania, and is a Fellow of the Lauder Institute. He has BA in Psychology from Hobart College.
Senior Policy Advisor, UK Government
David Saddington is a climate change policy maker & environmentalist. Since experiencing extreme flooding as a teenager he has communicated the importance of climate change action to millions, pioneered innovative policy change and worked with business on bold sustainability strategies. David’s first intervention was heading up a high profile public awareness campaign featuring BBC, Sky, ITV and working with then UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to get climate change on the school curriculum. As a 2008 WAFF Global Teen Leader, David has spread climate education to other countries and his work to re-energise communication of climate change to the public has been featured by United Nations as an example of best practice.
David has shared the stage with heads of state and CEO’s, talked at venues from the Hong Kong Science Museum to a conscious festival in Ibiza and his TEDxTeen talk ‘Why I Don’t Care about Climate Change’ is one of the most watched climate talks on Youtube. David now works for the UK Government designing policy to get to net-zero emissions by 2050. David has been named by WWF as an Earth Hour Hero for his now 15 years of continued work as an environmental change maker and he has been granted Fellowship of the Royal Geographical Society & Durham Energy Institute.
Entrepreneur & Philanthropist
Vikas Shah MBE is one of the UK’s highest profile entrepreneurs & philanthropists. He is Visiting Professor of Entrepreneurship at MIT Sloan (The Lisbon MBA), Honorary Professor of Business at The Alliance Business School, University of Manchester and an Honorary Industry Fellow at the University of Salford Business School. Vikas started his first technology business aged just 14, and is currently CEO of Swiscot Group (a diversified international trading business). He is a venture-investor in fast-growing technology businesses internationally and sits as a Non-Executive Director and advisor to numerous organisations. Vikas was awarded an MBE for Services to Business and the Economy in Her Majesty the Queen's 2018 New Year's Honours List.