Our Board

Board of Directors

Robert J. Abernethy

President, American Standard Development Company and Self Storage Management Company; Managing Director, Metropolitan Investments, LLC

Robert J. Abernethy is President of American Standard Development Company and Self Storage Management Company and Managing Director of Metropolitan Investments, LLC. For well over two decades, Robert served as a director of Public Storage, where he served as Chairman of the Audit Committee and has been a member of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties since 1988. He is a member of the Self Storage Association’s Hall of Fame and was Director of the Self Service Storage Association where he served as Past National Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer, and Past Regional President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. He is a member of the Los Angeles Chapter of Lambda Alpha International. He has been licensed as a California General Building Contractor since 1975. 

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Robert is a trustee emeritus of Johns Hopkins University, a trustee of Davidson College, and a trustee of Loyola Marymount University. He is a member of the U.S. Department of State Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy, a member of the Advisory Board of the Truman National Security Project, a member of the Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital’s Advisory Council for the Center for Synergy, Innovation, and Bioengineering, and the Aspen Institute Society of Fellows. He is a member of the Harriman Society, Harvard Partners, Human Rights Watch, the UCLA Chancellor’s Cabinet and UCLA Arts Board of Visitors and on the Advisory Council of the School of Advanced International Studies Washington and Bologna. He serves on the executive committee and as Vice Chairman of the Atlantic Council and the Pacific Council on International Policy as well as a member of the chairman’s forum of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is a board member of the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, the Brookings Institution, the RAND Center for Global Risk and Security, the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles, the Music Center of Los Angeles County, the Hollywood Bowl and the Peabody Conservatory.

Robert received a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University, a M.B.A. from Harvard Business School, certificates in Real Estate and Construction Management from UCLA and was formerly employed by Hughes Aircraft Company as Controller of its Technology Division.

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Michael Breen

President and CEO, Truman Center and Truman National Security Project

Michael Breen is President and CEO of the Truman Center and Truman National Security Project: a nationwide community, forged in the aftermath of 9/11, fighting for America’s promise on the battlefield, the campaign trail, and in the halls of government. Mike leads and serves over 1,500 veterans, frontline civilians, policy experts, and political professionals with a shared worldview: America is strongest when we utilize all of our tools – defense, diplomacy, development, and democracy – to engage the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. Through policy innovation and political advocacy at the local and national level, Mike and his team bring talented leaders together to fight for that worldview.

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Previously, Mike led soldiers in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan as a U.S. Army officer. After leaving the military, he attended Yale Law School, where he served in the Office of White House Counsel and co-founded the International Refugee Assistance Project, working with refugees at high risk in Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan. Mike is a recognized leader at the intersection of national security, energy, and climate change, and was one of the original members of Operation Free. A proud New Hampshire native, Dartmouth graduate and former ice climbing instructor, he now lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his wife and daughter.

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Miriam Buhl

Pro Bono Counsel, Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP

Miriam Buhl is Pro Bono Counsel at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP and has coordinated the Firm’s award-winning worldwide pro bono program since 2005. Weil’s pro bono work covers a wide range of issues including human rights, economic development, corporate governance, political asylum and environmental protection. Miriam co-teaches the Externship on Pro Bono Program and Design at Columbia University Law School. In addition to the IRAP board, she is a member of the board of the Scherman Foundation. Miriam is a member of the Association of Pro Bono Counsel and serves on the Innocence Project’s Development Committee, the Federal Bar Council Public Service Committee, the PILnet Pro Bono Council, the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law Public Service Council, and the New York City Bar Association Pro Bono & Legal Services Committee.

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Prior to joining Weil in 2005, Miriam was State Director for the Greater New York Chapter of the March of Dimes, one of the largest nonprofits in the U.S. Between 1999 and 2004, she was Executive Director of The New York Women’s Foundation. From 1997 to 1999, she was Founding Director of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York’s Public Service Network, a program to link volunteer attorneys with public service organizations. She also served as Executive Director of the fair housing agency Westchester Residential Opportunities, Inc. from 1993 to 1997 and was Staff Attorney for The Legal Aid Society’s Civil Division, Brooklyn Neighborhood Office.

Miriam is a graduate of Brown University and Fordham University School of Law and lives in Manhattan.  She is a jazz buff and plays Irish traditional fiddle.  

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Walt Cooper

Veterans Affairs Administration | Board Chair

Walt Cooper, who recently joined the Veterans Affairs Administration, recently completed service as an officer with the 10thSpecial Forces Group (Airborne) based in Fort Carson, Colorado. One of only three people in the history of West Point to graduate first in his class in both academics and athletics, Walt was commissioned as an infantry officer in 1999. After West Point, he spent two years at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar and subsequently commanded a Special Forces detachment during two tours of duty in Iraq. Forging close-knit collaboration with Iraqi security forces, provincial leadership, and international partners, Walt’s team was cited by General David Petraeus in Congressional testimony as the template for a new operational concept later adopted throughout the theater. He subsequently served as a speechwriter for General Petraeus at the US Central Command and an Assistance Professor at West Point. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University.

Stephanie Dodson Cornell

Managing Director, Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation

Stephanie Dodson Cornell is responsible for identifying and supporting DRK Entrepreneurs. She currently serves on the boards of DRK portfolio organizations Catie’s Closet, Clean Energy Trust, Crisis Text Line, City Health Works, D-Rev, IRAPLava Mae, Upstream, StrongMinds and Y2Y Harvard Square.

Prior to joining DRK, Stephanie co-founded three social ventures: Strategic Grant Partners, a coalition of families that combines philanthropic investing and pro bono consulting to address issues for Massachusetts children in poverty; Project Healthy Children, which designs and implements food fortification programs in developing countries; and the Maranyundo Initiative, a boarding school for girls and teacher enrichment program in Rwanda. 

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She completed the Harvard Advanced Leadership fellowship and has been an advisor and board member for several nonprofit and philanthropic organizations including Demand Abolition, Year Up, Partners in Health, WGBH, RefugePoint, Resurge, Share Our Strength and Amazon Conservation Team.

Stephanie holds a BA in English and Environmental Studies from Oberlin College and an MBA from Stanford University. 

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Taryn Higashi

Executive Director, Unbound Philanthropy

Taryn Higashi is the Executive Director of Unbound Philanthropy. Prior to working at Unbound, from 1997 to 2008, Taryn managed the migrant and refugee rights portfolio at the Ford Foundation and served as Deputy Director of the human rights unit from 2001-2008. Previously, Taryn was a Program Officer at The New York Community Trust; a staff attorney for Safe Horizons in New York City; and an associate at the law firm O’Melveny & Myers. Taryn is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Roberts W. Scrivner Award for Creative Grantmaking, one of philanthropy’s highest honors, which she shared with her colleague Geri Mannion of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

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Taryn currently serves on the Board of the International Refugee Assistance Project, the Advisory Board of the International Migration Initiative of the Open Society Foundations, and the Steering Committee of the Asian Women’s Giving Circle. She is a former Co-Chair of the Board of Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees.

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Zach Iscol

CEO, Hirepurpose; Executive Director, the Headstrong Project

A combat decorated Marine officer, Zach Iscol is the CEO of Hirepurpose, a career site for military veterans, and Task & Purpose, a military focused digital media and news site.  He also serves as the Executive Director of the Headstrong Project, a non-profit affiliate of Weill Cornell Medical Center that provides cost free world class mental healthcare to post 9/11 veterans. He serves on the Board of Advisors for the Center for a New American Security, holds fellowships with the Truman National Security Project and the Institute for Global Leadership at Tufts University, and is a member of the 2013 Team USA for USA Triathlon. In 2007, he testified on active duty before the United State Senate about the need to protect our Iraqi translators and provide mechanisms for them to immigrate to the United States with their families.  

 

Subhi Khudairi

Founding Managing Partner and President, Khudairi Group

Subhi Khudairi is a native of Baghdad, Iraq and currently lives in Dubai where he serves as a Founding Managing Partner and President of Khudairi Group. As President, Subhi is responsible for the development of the company’s strategy, corporate governance, and the performance and growth of all functions within the four Business Units. This includes oversight over offices in Houston, Dubai, Amman, Baghdad, Basrah, Erbil, and Sullaymania. 

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Subhi has given several interviews discussing business in Iraq as well as presentations and discussions on Iraq markets. He is an active board member of International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) and the US-Kurdistan Business Council (USKBC). Subhi is also a member of the Bayou Breakfast Club (BBC) and a Baker Institute Associate Roundtable Member. Furthermore, Subhi proudly supports philanthropic causes in each area of operation for Khudairi Group.

In 2012, Subhi successfully established the regional office in Dubai, United Arab Emirates to strengthen Khudairi Group’s global network of suppliers and partners.

Prior to starting the family business in 2003 with his father and brother, he was an Associate Equity Trader at AIM Investments.

In 2000, Subhi received a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance and a concentration in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. In 2005, he received his Master’s in Business Administration from the Jesses H. Jones School of Management at Rice University and was awarded the Jones Citizenship Award. At Rice University, he was the President of the International Management Club at the Jones School and was a member of the Student Forum at the James A. Baker Institute for Public Policy.

Subhi has lived in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, and Austria. He makes frequent trips to the Far East, Europe, and the Middle East, particularly to Iraq. He is fluent in the local Iraqi Arabic dialect. He is married and has one daughter and one son.

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Robert Raben

President, The Raben Group

Robert Raben’s aggressively bipartisan approach was honed during a highly respected legislative career that began on Congressman Barney Frank’s (D-MA) staff and culminated in House Judiciary Committee Chairman Henry Hyde’s (R-IL) endorsement of his appointment to the Justice Department as Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs.

Robert built a reputation for collegiality and effectiveness through his collaboration with Republican members and staff on issues including the omnibus patent reform bill, database protection standards, and copyright liability for Internet service providers.

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In 1999, his reputation and effectiveness caught the attention of the White House, earning him an appointment as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and, subsequently, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legislative Affairs.  

After graduating from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and New York University School of Law, Robert was an associate with the law firm of Arnold & Porter. Soon after, he joined the faculty of Georgetown University Law School as an adjunct professor – a position he held until his confirmation as Assistant Attorney General. In 2002 Robert founded The Raben Group and serves as President.

Additionally, Robert is the President of the Hispanic Bar Association of DC Foundation and currently chairs the Hispanic National Bar Association’s Endorsement Committee. He serves on the boards of the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, The American Constitution Society, International Refugee Assistance Project, the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, NCLR Action Fund and the DC Public Education Fund.

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Carl Reisner

Co-Head of Mergers and Acquisitions, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP

Carl Reisner has a diverse mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance practice and provides counsel to a varied and long-standing client base, helping companies through all stages of the corporate life cycle. He has represented start-up companies seeking venture capital, growing companies in a wide variety of acquisitions and financings, and restructurings of financially troubled enterprises. Carl is recognized as a leading Private Equity Buyouts lawyer by Chambers USA and by Legal 500. He received his J.D. from Yale Law School and is admitted to practice law in New York and the District of Columbia. Carl serves as IRAP’s corporate counsel and as Vice Chair of the Board, and has served as a supervising attorney representing IRAP clients.

Advisory Board

Steven M. Miska

Colonel (Retired) U.S. Army

Steve Miska retired after 25 years of service in the military. His last assignment was the Army Chair on the faculty at the Marine Corps University. He has taught at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Previously, Steve served in the White House as a Director for Iraq on the National Security Council, focusing on security aspects of the Iraq portfolio. He has published articles on protecting local allies during conflict. In 2007, Steve led a team that established an underground railroad for dozens of interpreters from Baghdad to Amman to the United States. He currently serves as a consultant for the Global Peace Foundation performing research on radicalization and conducting pro bono work for nonprofits involved with countering human trafficking. He resides in Southern California with his wife of 24 years and two children.

Neal E. “Rudy” Rickner

Head, Makani Field Operations, Google x

Neal E. “Rudy” Rickner served 12 years on active duty with the US Marine Corps as an F/A-18 pilot and forward air controller. He completed three tours in Iraq between 2003 and 2007, earning the Bronze Star with “Valor” device, and (13) Air Medals. He transitioned from active duty in 2009, earning dual masters degrees (business and international affairs) from Columbia University in 2012. Rudy is currently Head of Field Operations for project Makani, a next-generation wind-turbine, at Google x.

In addition to his professional endeavors, Rudy is a Tillman Scholar, volunteers as a Big Brother with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, and is a member of the Truman National Security Project’s, Defense Council.

Thomas A. Russo

Executive Vice President and General Counsel, American International Group, Inc.

Thomas A. Russo joined American International Group, Inc. (AIG) in February 2010 as Executive Vice President and General Counsel, with responsibility for legal, compliance, regulatory affairs, and government affairs.

Thomas is also an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business.

Prior to joining AIG, he served as Senior Counsel in the New York office of Patton Boggs. Thomas was Chief Legal Officer of Lehman Brothers Holdings from January 1993 to December 2008. Before joining Lehman Brothers, he was a senior partner and member of the Management Committee at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft. He also served as an advisor to the Brady Commission and as Deputy General Counsel of the CFTC and later the first Director of the CFTC’s Division of Trading and Markets. 

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A thought leader on financial market issues, Thomas has testified before Congress on numerous occasions and participated at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland for over ten years. He has also written more than 70 articles on topics in the commodities, securities and banking fields relating to financial market regulation. He co-authored the federal securities law treatise “Regulation of Brokers, Dealers and Securities Markets,” published by Warren, Gorham & Lamont. He also authored “Regulation of the Commodities Futures and Options Markets,” a two-volume treatise on federal commodities laws published by Shepard’s/McGraw-Hill. In 2011 the Group of Thirty published an analysis of the implications of the 2008 financial crisis on the current economy co-written by Thomas, titled “The 2008 Financial Crisis and its Aftermath: Addressing the Next Debt Challenge.”

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