Our 40th Anniversary

Honorees & Speakers


Robert E. Rubin

LISC Board Chair and Former Secretary of the Treasury

Robert E. Rubin served as the 70th Secretary of the US Treasury from 1995 to 1999 and. Mr. Rubin began his career in finance at Goldman, Sachs & Company in New York City in 1966, eventually serving as co-senior partner and co-chairman from 1990 to 1992. From 1964 to 1966, he was an attorney at the firm of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton in New York. From 1999 to 2009, he was a member of the board of directors at Citigroup and a senior advisor to the company. In 2010, he joined Centerview Partners as senior counselor of the firm. Mr. Rubin is chairman emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, a member of the board of trustees at the Mount Sinai Health System. He is one of the founders of the Hamilton Project, an economic policy project housed at the Brookings Institution, and the author of In an Uncertain World: Tough Choices from Wall Street to Washington. Mr. Rubin graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College in 1960 with an AB in economics, received an LLB from Yale Law School, and attended the London School of Economics. He has received honorary degrees from Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and other universities.


The NFL Foundation

In 2019, the NFL Foundation and LISC celebrate 20 years of joining forces on the NFL Foundation Grassroots Program, a partnership that has built and refurbished over 330neighborhood football fields across the US, committing $46 million since 1998.The Program seeks to redress the shortage of clean, safe and accessible football fields in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods.The NFL Foundation is the league’s nonprofit organization representing the 32 NFL Clubs; LISC, through the Grassroots Program, has worked with every team. The NFL Foundation's mission is to support the health, safety and wellness of athletes, youth football and the communities which support the game.


LISC's Community Partners

As LISC marks 40 years, we celebrate our community partners.  Over the past four decades, we have invested more than $1 billion in grants to some 2,000 community based organizations. LISC was founded on the premise that local organizations are essential to creating inclusive communities of opportunity. Today, our partners are innovators and implementers whose impact includes affordable housing, workforce and economic development, commercial revitalization, neighborhood safety, and residents who are actively engaged with their communities.  We support our partners in these efforts through capacity building, grants, technical assistance and training delivered through our on-the-ground staff in 35 cities and our national program experts.

Honorary Chairs

Laurence D. Fink

Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of BlackRock, Inc.

Laurence D. Fink is Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of BlackRock, Inc. He and seven partners founded BlackRock in 1988, and under his leadership, the firm has grown into a global leader in investment and technology solutions to help investors build better financial futures. Today, BlackRock is trusted to manage more money than any other investment firm in the world. Mr. Fink has been named one of the "World's Greatest Leaders" by Fortune, and Barron’s has named him one of the "World's Best CEOs" for 12 consecutive years. Prior to founding BlackRock in 1988, Mr. Fink was a member of the Management Committee and a Managing Director of The First Boston Corporation. He serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of New York University (NYU) and is Co-Chairman of the NYU Langone Medical Center Board of Trustees. In addition, he serves on the boards of the Museum of Modern Art, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Nature Conservancy. He also serves on the Advisory Board of the Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management in Beijing and on the Executive Committee of the Partnership for New York City. Mr. Fink earned an MBA with a concentration in real estate from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1976 and a BA in political science from UCLA in 1974.

Sheryl Sandberg

Chief Operating Officer, Facebook

Sheryl Sandberg is chief operating officer at Facebook, overseeing the firm’s business operations. Prior to Facebook, Ms. Sandberg was vice president of Global Online Sales and Operations at Google, chief of staff for the United States Treasury Department under President Bill Clinton, a management consultant with McKinsey & Company, and an economist with the World Bank. Ms. Sandberg is the author of the bestseller Lean In and co-author of Option B. She is the founder of the Sheryl Sandberg & Dave Goldberg Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works to build a more equal and resilient world through two key initiatives, LeanIn.Org and OptionB.Org. Ms. Sandberg serves on the boards of Facebook, Women for Women International, ONE, and SurveyMonkey. She has been ranked as one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business by Fortune, 50 Women to Watch by The Wall Street Journal, and the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women by Forbes. Ms. Sandberg received a BA summa cum laude in economics from Harvard University and an MBA with highest distinction from Harvard Business School.

Darren Walker

President, Ford Foundation

Darren Walker is president of the Ford Foundation, an international social justice philanthropy with a $13 billion endowment and $600 million in annual grant making that co-founded LISC in 1979. He chaired the philanthropy committee that brought a resolution to the City of Detroit’s historic bankruptcy and is co-founder and chair of the US Impact Investing Alliance. Before joining Ford, Mr. Walker was vice president at the Rockefeller Foundation and chief operating officer of the Abyssinian Development Corporation – Harlem’s largest community development organization and early recipient of LISC funding. Earlier, he had a decade-long career in international law and finance at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton and UBS. Mr. Walker co-chairs New York City’s Commission on City Art, Monuments, and Markers, and serves on the Commission on the Future of Riker’s Island Correctional Institution and the UN International Labor Organization Commission on the Future of Work. He also serves on the boards of Carnegie Hall, the High Line and the Committee to Protect Journalists. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the recipient of thirteen honorary degrees and university awards, including the W.E.B. Du Bois Medal from Harvard University. Mr. Walker has been included on numerous annual media lists, including Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, Rolling Stone’s 25 People Shaping the Future, Fast Company’s 50 Most Innovative People, and OUT Magazine’s Power 50. Mr. Walker received a JD from the University of Texas School of Law and a BA in government from the University of Texas at Austin.

Special Guests

The Honorable Melvin Carter

Mayor of Saint Paul, Minnesota

Melvin Carter is a fourth-generation Saint Paul resident elected in 2018 as the first African American mayor of the city. Since 2000, Mayor Carter has been working to engage, enfranchise, and uplift people in Saint Paul and across the state and nation. Most recently, he served as Executive Director of the Minnesota Children’s Cabinet, advising former Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton on early childhood policy. Prior to joining state government, he served on the Saint Paul City Council from 2008 to 2013, serving as the vice chair of the Council for most of that time. 

In the run-up to his campaign for Mayor, he spent a year in conversation with neighbors through a series of listening sessions called Imagine Saint Paul. His unconventional campaign focused on grassroots organizing, earning him support from every corner of the city. In his first year in office, Saint Paul raised the minimum wage to $15 per hour, established a new housing trust fund that will invest $71 million in affordable housing, and launched a new Office of Financial Empowerment to support community wealth building. This year, his agenda includes the launch of a college savings account program to put $50 in a savings account for every child born in Saint Paul to place them on the pathway to college. 

Mayor Carter holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Florida A&M University and a Master of Public Policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. He grew up playing ball on the Jimmy Lee field in the city’s Rondo neighborhood, a field rehabilitated by LISC and the NFL Foundation’s Grassroots Program.  The full Fields of Dreams story can be accessed here.

The Honorable Phil Murphy

Governor of New Jersey

Since becoming the 56th Governor of New Jersey on January 16, 2018, Phil Murphy has focused on building a stronger and fairer New Jersey, signing 169 bills into law in his first year -- the most of any first-year New Jersey governor in more than two decades – and more than four-dozen executive orders promoting and protecting residents’ rights. Among his initiatives, he has put a new emphasis on rebuilding the state’s economy by reinvesting in the middle-class, workforce development, and innovative start-up companies, and increasing private investments in the state’s cities and urban infrastructure. Governor Murphy has also appointed the most-diverse cabinet in state history, and was the first governor to have a cabinet which consists of a majority of women. From 2009 to 2013, under President Barack Obama, he served as United States Ambassador to Germany. He also served on LISC’s board from 2002 to 2009. Governor Murphy graduated from Harvard University with a degree in economics and received an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. The Governor has also received seven honorary doctorate degrees. He and his wife, New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy, are the parents of four children.

Brenda Palms Barber

President and CEO, North Lawndale Employment Network
Chief Executive Officer, Sweet Beginnings, LLC

Brenda Palms Barber, President & CEO of the North Lawndale Employment Network (NLEN), an urban workforce development agency, and Founding CEO of Sweet Beginnings, LLC, a social enterprise using urban beekeeping to create jobs for those with significant barriers to employment, has served as Executive Director of NLEN since its founding in 1999 in Chicago. She launched NLEN’s wholly owned subsidiary social enterprise, Sweet Beginnings, in 2004 to ensure its hardest to employ clients could get jobs and gain a history of employment. Under Ms. Barber’s leadership, NLEN has grown from two to 24 employees and generates an annual budget in excess of $2.4 million. Today, NLEN serves more than 2,000 people per year. Sweet Beginnings has expanded from a cottage industry to distribution at more than 40 Mariano stores and has been awarded one of the first Benefit Chicago loans for social impact businesses. NLEN has received numerous awards including one of the first MacArthur Foundation Awards for Creative and Effective Institutions (2006) and the prestigious Bank of America Neighborhood Builders Award (2015). Ms. Barber has raised the national profile of NLEN, Sweet Beginnings, and the plight of people with barriers to employment through extensive media coverage including CNN, the NBC Today Show, CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley, a TEDWomen Documentary, and Lifetime. Ms. Barber has published in the Wall Street Journal and appeared on ABC7 Windy City Live as a 4-Star Chicagoan. In recognition of her innovation and commitment to helping those in need, Congressman Danny Davis awarded Ms. Barber the Cardiss Collins Trailblazer Award (2013). Ms. Barber is a graduate of Harvard’s Strategic Perspectives in Non-Profit Management program and the Chicago Urban League’s nextOne entrepreneurship program. She holds a Master of Science in Nonprofit Management from the Spertus Institute in Chicago.

NLEN is a longstanding community partner of LISC, serving as one of 90 Financial Opportunity Centers (FOCs) in our national network of career and financial coaching service centers.