Board of Directors

Renée Acosta

Renée S. Acosta served as the President and CEO of Global Impact from 1993 – 2013 when she retired. During her tenure, Global Impact increased its annual revenue from $12 million to a high point of $142 million, and has raised more than $1.3 billion for charitable organizations, while maintaining overhead under four percent. Global Impact is dedicated to supporting humanitarian relief and development programs for the world's most vulnerable people.

Acosta also served as President of Global Reach which was incorporated in 2008 - 2014 to address the challenge of maximizing the resources of the private sector, governments and not-for-profits to mitigate suffering in times of crises and disaster. Acosta served as a key advisor, subject matter expert and lecturer to numerous entities, managed the two largest workplace giving campaigns in the world: CFCNA and CFC-O, was instrumental in the creation of NATO's Civil-Military Fusion Centre. Acosta has served as a thought leader and innovator, ushering in bold ideas and creating effective partnerships that advance the organizational mission. Under Ms. Acosta's leadership, Global Impact was honored with the Arab American Institute Foundation's 2007 Kahlil Gibran "Spirit of Humanity" Award for International Achievement; the E-philanthropy 2006 award for technology innovations in campaign management software; the National Alliance for Choice in Giving 2004 Excellence Award for distinguished performance, leadership and innovation in the field of workplace giving campaign management; Partnership Award from Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen; numerous awards from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management for CFC innovation and leadership for management of the CFC-Overseas and the CFCNCA; and the Humanitarian Service Award, Heifer International.

Upon retirement, Acosta has engaged in numerous civic and volunteer efforts including serving as campaign consultant to William Dodd, successfully elected to his first term as a member of the California State Assembly and as Chair of the Board of the Global Justice Center.

Yalda Afshar

Yalda Afshar (MD, PhD) is a physician-scientist, Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinical Instructor, and Fellow in Maternal Fetal Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles David Geffen School of Medicine. Her evidence-based clinical practice, basic science research laboratory, and public outreach all center around the premise of improving women’s health and providing comprehensive care to all. Both pregnancy intention and safe pregnancy revolve around optimizing health and attenuating maternal morbidity and mortality.

Afshar promotes and prescribes gender experiences to health practices that facilitate access to planned desired pregnancies and contraception, high-risk pregnancy care, and safe abortion care. In addition to her work throughout the United States, Afshar has also created harm-reduction programs for gender roles and norms through workshops and bilateral exchanges for women's health in collaboration with the World Health Organization and various global NGOs in countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Italy, Spain, Bangladesh, and several others. Whether on the wards, teaching, or in the laboratory, Afshar’s core focus is improving women’s reproductive health, and, in turn, women’s healthcare as a whole.

Gretchen Freeman Cappio

Gretchen Freeman Cappio is a partner at Keller Rohrback Law Offices, LLP. As a partner in the firm’s nationally-recognized Complex Litigation Group, Freeman Cappio takes cases she truly believes in. Whether the case involves a family who paid a premium for a so-called environmentally-friendly car that spews toxins, a municipality that needs a corporation to clean up its pollution, or children whose families can barely pay for lifesaving medicine, Freeman Cappio gives her clients a powerful voice in the legal system.

Freeman Cappio strives to be a lawyer’s lawyer. Physicians, professors, parents, environmentalists, and other attorneys have called on her when they require representation in the face of long odds.

Currently, Freeman Cappio serves on the leadership team representing Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche consumers who purchased and leased unlawfully polluting vehicles in the multi-billion dollar litigation In re Volkswagen “Clean Diesel” Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litig., No. 3:15-md-2672-CRB (N.D. Cal.). She represented a mid-western town against a paper products company that left behind an environmental disaster when it left the community. Following the litigation, the mayor praised the work of Freeman Cappio and her colleagues stating, “You were knowledgeable, responsive and genuinely cared about the ’s case.” Additionally, Freeman Cappio represented parents who discovered their children’s products were unsafe in In re Mattel, Inc./i, No. 2:07-ML-01897 (C.D. Cal.), multidistrict litigation regarding hazardous, lead-contaminated toys. Freeman Cappio’s work on the co-lead counsel team against a major national bank led to the settlement of In re JPMorgan Chase Mortg. Modification Litig., No. 1:11-md-2290 (D. Mass.), resulting in improved home mortgage modification processes for homeowners.

In a cutting-edge civil rights case, Freeman Cappio represented plaintiffs in Erickson v. Bartell Drug Co., 141 F. Supp. 2d 1266 (W.D. Wash. 2001), a class action brought on behalf of employees. Erickson established that an employer violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act when its otherwise-comprehensive insurance coverage plan failed to cover certain prescriptions vital to women.

Tracy Higgins

Tracy Higgins has been a Professor of Law at Fordham University since 2002. She is the co-director of the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice. Her principle focuses are: Feminist Jurisprudence, International Human Rights, and Constitutional Law. 

Scott Jackson

Scott Jackson is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Global Impact. Global Impact’s mission is to grow global philanthropy and build partnerships and resources for the world’s most vulnerable people. It has raised $1.8 billion since inception. A global development, fundraising and marketing veteran, Jackson has held leadership positions in the public, private and nonprofit sectors, including the global health and development nonprofits PATH and World Vision. He has worked in more than 60 countries, and his global relief and development efforts have taken him to remote villages in Africa and Asia, to the heart of the Holy Land, and inside some of the most powerful institutions and governments around the world. Jackson has worked with global leaders, including four U.S. presidents and their administrations, and he has represented international development issues with the offices of U.S. Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell and Hillary Clinton. 

Jackson was a founding nonprofit member of The ONE Campaign to “make poverty history” and has worked on initiatives with Bono and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He is a member of several national boards and advisory committees, including the Clinton Global Initiative, YourCause, International Center for Research on Women, National Development Committee of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, Global Washington, World Trade Center Seattle and CEO Connection’s Leadership Committee for Social Impact. He currently works closely with the leadership of more than 100 nonprofits around the world, such as Save the Children, CARE and Heifer International.  

He is the author of “Take Me with You,” released in March 2017, a moving personal story written to inspire people to take action and find the “charity within” — Jackson’s personal philosophy of making a choice to live in a way that improves life for others. He was recognized by the Center for Nonprofit Advancement as a 2016 winner of the Gelman, Rosenberg and Freedman EXCEL Award, which recognizes leadership achievement in the areas of innovation, motivation, community building, ethical integrity and strategic leadership. 

Before taking leadership roles in the global development humanitarian sector, Jackson founded TRADEC (Trade and Development Consortium), one of the first marketing and communications firms in North America to specialize in international trade and development, which later became part of APCO, a worldwide communications firm. During his early career, Jackson served as assistant to a U.S. congressman, and he held a number of roles in national politics. He has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Huffington Post. 

Jackson received a Master of Business Administration from the University of Edinburgh School of International Business. He also holds an honorary doctorate of humane letters from the University of Puget Sound, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in history. He lives in Washington, D.C. 

Jelena Pia-Comella

Jelena Pia-Comella has over 20 years of experience in international relations and a deep knowledge of the United Nations system. Throughout her career, Pia-Comella has been true to her feminist principles and passion to promote women’s rights, strengthen women’s leadership, and support the work of activists in the peace and security arena and gender justice.

Starting her career in 1996 as a diplomat representing Andorra at the United Nations, the United States, and Canada she was part of the team that created the foreign policy of her country. Pia-Comella participated in the conferences and negotiations that set new standards in international human rights and international humanitarian law such as the Rome Statute and the Responsibility to Protect norm. Pia-Comella was appointed Deputy Permanent Representative of Andorra to the United Nations in 2002 and served as chargé d’affaires a.i./Chief of Mission to the United States and Canada from 2001 to 2007.

Upon leaving the Andorran diplomatic service, Pia-Comella shifted her career to transfer her knowledge and skills to the service of activism. From January to June 2008, she was a consultant for the Center for Women’s Global Leadership and Women’s Environment and Development Organization to coordinate the Gender Equality Architecture Reform Campaign (GEAR) which led to the creation of UN Women. Until July 2018, she was the Deputy Executive Director of the World Federalist Movement – Institute for Global Policy (WFM-IGP) setting the strategy and overseeing the work of the organization including the secretariats of the International Coalition for the Responsibility to Protect and the Coalition for the International Criminal Court.

Currently Pia-Comella is consulting with Global Action Against Mass Atrocity Crimes (GAAMAC) as Senior Advisor to advise on a strategy to enhance GAAMAC’s impact and outreach.

Elisabeth Wickeri

Elisabeth Wickeri is Executive Director of the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice at Fordham Law School and Adjunct Professor of Law. Wickeri teaches courses in public international law, comparative legal frameworks, and carries out fieldwork, research, and writing on legal developments in Asia.
Her publications have appeared in the Fordham International Law Journal, the Drexel Law Review, China Perspectives, and the China Rights Forum. She also serves as a law lecturer and course director with the Center for International Humanitarian Cooperation at Fordham University, and Adjunct Professor at the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

Wickeri received her J.D. from New York University School of Law, where she was an Executive Editor for the Review of Law & Social Change. She received her B.A. in History, cum laude, from Smith College, and also studied at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center for Chinese and American Studies in Nanjing, China.

Board Emeriti

  • Laurie Ashton
  • Robert Bason
  • Janet Benshoof
  • Andrea Friedman
  • David Keller
  • Lenora Lapidus
  • Pamela J. Maraldo
  • John L. Washburn
  • James W. Minow
  • Stephen Murdoch
  • Anne Firth Murray
  • Tamara Quinn
  • Michael Sandler
  • Steve Toben
  • Justice Georgina Wood