Chad Topaz, Co-founder and President
Chad Topaz (he/him), Professor of Mathematics, is an applied mathematician and data scientist at Williams College. Chad received his AB in applied mathematics from Harvard University and his PhD in applied mathematics from Northwestern University. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation since 2006 and his work at the intersection of social justice and quantitative approaches has been covered in The Atlantic, The Guardian, Hyperallergic, MIT Technology Review, Nonprofit Quarterly, Smithsonian Magazine and numerous other outlets. Passionate about scientific communication and discourse, Chad has delivered over 160 talks at colleges, universities, and scientific meetings. His research honors include a New Directions Research Professorship at the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications, the Outstanding Paper Award of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, a Board of Trustees Award from Macalester College, and a Kavli Frontiers Fellowship from the National Academy of Sciences. A passionate advocate for inclusive classrooms, Chad won UCLA’s Sorgenfrey Distinguished Teaching Award in Mathematics and Macalester College’s Rossmann Excellence in Teaching Award.
Jude Higdon, Co-founder and Treasurer
Epicene, no preferred pronouns
Jude Higdon (epicene pronouns) is Chief Information Officer at Bennington College. Jude received a B.A. from Northwestern University, an Ed.M. from Harvard University, and an Ed.D. from the University of Southern California. With over two decades of experience, Jude has worked for numerous institutions of higher learning, including Minnesota State Mankato, the University of Minnesota, Northwestern University, the City Colleges of Chicago, the University of Southern California, and for not-for-profit organizations such as the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the American Red Cross, the National Wildlife Federation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. An experienced teacher and scholar, Jude has taught organizational psychology and leadership to undergraduate and graduate students, and he carries out research at the convergence of education and technology. Jude recently helped to found a scholarship at Bennington College focused on recruiting and retaining women of color in STEAM disciplines. Jude’s honors include the 2013 Outstanding Service Award at Minnesota State Mankato and the 2016 Outstanding Innovation Award from the New Media Consortium and the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative.
Tunisia sharpe, Member-At-Large
An advertising executive and business strategist working with industry-leading global brands and media companies to transform their businesses and consumer connections through advancements in technology and emotional intelligence. IQ + EQ work best.
NOËL BAKHTIAN, Member-at-Large
Dr. Noël Bakhtian (she/her) serves on the senior leadership team of the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL) as Director of the Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES). Prior to joining CAES, Dr. Bakhtian served as a Senior Policy Advisor for environment and energy in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). She has also served as the inaugural energy-water nexus lead at the DOE Office of International Affairs, worked as technical lead on numerous innovative grant programs for DOE’s Wind and Water Power Technologies Office, and served as an energy and environment staffer in the U.S. Senate. Dr. Bakhtian earned her engineering doctorate at Stanford University’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics; holds masters degrees from Stanford University and the University of Cambridge, where she was a Churchill Scholar; and completed her bachelors degree in mechanical engineering and physics at Duke University. She is a member of the Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
Derek Kaufman, Member-at-Large
Derek Kaufman (he/him) is actively engaged in philanthropy, public policy, and investing. From 2008 until 2015, he was Head of Global Fixed Income at Citadel and a member of the firm’s Portfolio Committee. Prior to joining Citadel, Mr. Kaufman was a Managing Director at JPMorgan Chase, where was Global Head of Fixed Income in the Proprietary Positioning Business. He started at J.P. Morgan in 1996. He served as a member of the Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Investor Advisory Committee on Financial Markets. He is a member of the Economic Club of New York, a member of the Greenwich Democratic Town Committee, on the Board of Trustees for Third Way, an innovative think tank in Washington, D.C., on the Board of Trustees for Temple Sholom of Greenwich, CT (VP of Finance), on the Board of Governors for the Folger Shakespeare Library, on the Board of Trustees for the Institute for the Quantitative Study of Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity, and on the Leadership Council of the Robin Hood Foundation, New York City’s largest poverty-fighting organization. Mr. Kaufman received a bachelor’s degree in Applied Math/Economics from Harvard College.
Sharifa Wright, Member-at-Large
Sharifa Wright (she/her) is an equity, diversity and inclusion leader with over 15 years’ experience engaging and supporting underrepresented, disenfranchised and marginalized communities in the higher education, government and non-profit sectors in Canada, the United States and the Caribbean. Her expertise is specifically in the design and implementation of EDI policies, programs & plans that aim to shift the onus and accountability of diversifying organizations and spaces onto institutional executives, senior management and boards. Currently, she is the inaugural Executive Director for Equity, Diversity and Inclusive Engagement at Ontario Tech University in Ontario, Canada. She previously served as the Director for Alumni Diversity & Inclusion, at Williams College and Project Manager for UWomen Programs in the Office of the Prime Minister in Jamaica. She serves as a Member-at-Large on the QSIDE Board of Directors.