NextGen Directors Program

Our Objective

Accelerate shareholder value creation through the development and proactive placement of the next generation of diverse directors.


The Directors Academy provides corporate governance education and training for future board members from diverse backgrounds who are underrepresented on boards of directors via the NextGen Directors program. The goal is to better prepare senior executives for their first board experience. The program is taught by practitioners with extensive board experience in a wide variety of public and private companies, and University of California, Berkeley faculty who address emerging topics of importance to boards.

The five-month virtual program covers a full range of corporate director duties and responsibilities, the work of the full board and each committee, emerging governance issues and best practices exchange, along with panel discussions with CEOs and other key stakeholders. In addition, participants have the opportunity to refine their personal board value propositions and meet with board leaders and executive recruiters to broaden their network and sharpen their ability to connect with board decision makers. As part of the program, each class member has the opportunity to build one-on-one mentoring relationships with existing board leaders.

*Participant fee of $5,995 includes the cost of the program.
Travel and hotel accommodations for any in-person modules are not included in the participant fee.

Please contact Keith Meyer at or
202.292.1840 if you have any questions related to our program plans.


+ To apply for the program, please visit the NextGen Director’s Program Application Page and include the link to your LinkedIn profile.

+ Please confirm you have the support of your board/CEO to participate in the program.

+ The participant fee is $5,995. Please contact Keith Meyer at or 202.292.1840 if you have any questions related to our  program plans.


MODULE 1 – Foundational Elements

10 min Opening Comments Dr. Homa Bahrami
30 min Director Duties, Responsibilities and Rights Dr. Homa Bahrami / Derek Liu / Mark Mandel
30 min Board Priorities  Dr. Homa Bahrami / Steve Klemash / James White
30 min Break  
 Board Committees – Their Work and Impact 
45 min – Human Resources and Compensation Committee Wayne Hewett / Patricia Diaz Dennis / Lynn Tetrault /  Compensation Firm (TBD)
45 min – Governance and Nominating Committee Paul Williams / Heather Redman / Merline Saintil / Wilson Sonsini (TBD)
45 min – Audit/Risk/Finance Committees Billie Williamson / Jonathan Mariner / EY (Innocent Shumba)

MODULE 2 – Critical Board Issues, Part I

90 min Cybersecurity and Digital Transformation Culture Dr. Steve Weber
90 min Diversity and Inclusion Dr. Kellie McElhaney / Dr. Jennifer Cohen

MODULE 3 – Critical Board Issues, Part II

90 min Environmental Social Governance (ESG) Dr. Robert Strand
90 min Fluidity in a VUCA World Dr. Homa Bahrami

MODULE 4 – Your First Board Journey

March 11 Group Dinner Location TBD
March 12
60 min Director Selection Process – Insider’s Perspective Keith Meyer / Board Search Firm Panel Discussion
45 min Securing Your First Board Mike Millegan / Merline Saintil
75 min One-on-One Meetings 20-minute discussions with board leaders and search firm panelists
60 min The Role of the Board:  CEO Perspectives James White / Sandy Beach Lin / Christine Heckart
30 min Breakout – Action Planning, Next Steps Facilitated by Dr. Homa Bahrami
20 min Closing Plenary Session Dr. Homa Bahrami


Dr. Homa Bahrami – Dr. Bahrami is a senior lecturer at the Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley, a faculty director at the Haas Center for Executive Education, and on the board of the Haas Center for Teaching Excellence.  Dr. Bahrami has served on the board of directors of three public technology companies, including Fabrinet, where she is the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee Chair.  She is active in executive education and executive development in the U.S., Europe, and Asia.

Sandra Beach Lin – Ms. Lin served as chief executive officer of Calisolar, Inc., a solar silicon company, until her retirement in 2011. Previously, she held senior leadership roles at Celanese Corporation, Avery Dennison and Alcoa. Ms. Lin currently serves on the boards of American Electric Power (AEP), Interface Biologics, PolyOne Corporation, Trinseo, and WESCO, is the co-chair of Paradigm for Parity and a member of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) Nominating and Governance Committee Chair Advisory Council.

Dr. Jennifer Cohen – Ms. Cohen is associate director for biosciences diversity programs at Stanford University School of Medicine and a lecturer on equitable and inclusive leadership at the Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley. Additionally, she is a cellular and molecular biologist. She was previously the director of the SMASH Program at University of California, Berkeley, as well as a STEM education advisor at Arizona State.

Patricia Diaz Dennis – Ms. Diaz Dennis joined SBC Communications in 1995 as a senior vice president and assistant general counsel and she served in a variety of positions for the company, which later became AT&T. Prior to SBC/AT&T, Ms. Diaz Dennis served as assistant secretary of state for human rights and humanitarian affairs in 1992-1993. She was also appointed to the National Labor Relations Board in 1983, and as a commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission three years later. Ms. Diaz Dennis is currently a director of Amalgamated Bank, Entravision Communications and U.S. Steel.

Christine Heckart – Ms. Heckart is the CEO of Scalyr, a leading log management and observability platform. Previously, she was senior vice president and marketing leader at Cisco and chief marketing officer of Brocade. Prior to joining Brocade, Ms. Heckart served as executive vice president of strategy, marketing, people, and IT at ServiceSource, a provider of cloud applications and services for managing recurring revenue. She was also chief marketing officer at NetApp and Juniper Networks. Ms. Heckart was general manager of Microsoft’s TV, video, and music business and president of TeleChoice. She is currently a member of board of directors at Lam Research and 6sense.

Wayne Hewett – Mr. Hewett is chairman of DiversiTech Corporation and Cambrex Corporation, and the former chief executive officer of Klockner Pentaplast Group. He previously was chief executive officer of Arysta LifeScience Corporation prior to the sale of the company to Platform Specialty Products Corporation. Mr. Hewett’s early career included over 20 years with General Electric where he was chief executive officer of GE Advance Materials; president of GE Plastics Pacific and Vice President, Supply Chain and Operations and a member of the company’s Corporate Executive Council. Mr. Hewett currently serves on the boards of DiversiTech, Cambrex, Home Depot and Wells Fargo. He previously was a director at Ingredion and Element Solutions.

Steve Klemash – Mr. Klemash is the Americas leader for EY’s Center for Board Matters where he regularly engages with board and committee members to understand their views, exchange ideas and discuss best practices. Prior to his current role, he served as the Managing Partner-Accounts for the Central Region of EY where he managed a $2.4 billion revenue steam that integrated the firm’s Assurance, Tax, Transaction Advisory Services and Advisory service lines. Mr. Klemash serves as Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees at Robert Morris University and was a past board member of the United Way of Allegheny County, the Pittsburgh Technology Council, the Pittsburgh Regional Alliance, Pittsburgh Venture Capital Association and the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth.

Derek Liu – Mr. Liu is a partner in Baker McKenzie’s San Francisco office. He handles mergers and acquisitions, complex corporate transactions, and has worked on transactions with an aggregate transaction value of more than $100 billion. Prior to joining Baker McKenzie, Mr. Liu practiced law at two top-tier firms in San Francisco and New York.

Mark Mandel – Mr. Mandel is a partner in the Corporate & Securities Practice of Baker McKenzie’s New York office. Mr. Mandel advises public and private companies with investments, mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, unsolicited and friendly tender offers, joint ventures, public offerings and private placements, and restructurings. He also advises boards of directors on corporate governance and fiduciary duties.

Jonathan Mariner – Mr. Mariner served as chief financial officer of Major League Baseball (MLB) from 2002 to 2014 when he was named chief investment officer of the $1.5 billion pension plan and the league’s strategic investment fund. Mr. Mariner retired from the MLB in 2016 and launched a new app, TaxDay, that tracks the time you spend working or living in different states to facilitate accurate residency reporting when individuals file their tax forms. Prior to his tenure at MLB, he was the chief financial officer of the Florida Marlins and the chief operating officer of Charter Schools USA. Mr. Mariner currently serves on the boards of McGraw-Hill Education, IEX Group and Tyson Foods.

Dr. Kellie McElhaney – Dr. McElhaney is currently a distinguished teaching fellow and the founding director of the Center for Equity, Gender and Inclusion at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. She is also the founder of the Center for Responsible Business. Prior to moving to academia, she worked in retail banking specifically in commercial lending, acquisitions, and corporate leadership development.

Keith Meyer – Mr. Meyer is the co-founder and president of the Directors Academy, and also the global head of the CEO & Board Practice and co-leader of the Leadership Practice at Allegis Partners. Mr. Meyer was founder and managing partner of Park Avenue Advisors and previously was vice chairman and managing partner of the Global Board Consulting Practice and co-leader of the North America CEO & Board Practice at Heidrick & Struggles. Mr. Meyer held a variety of operations, corporate development and finance leadership roles with Exxon and PepsiCo. He was also a member of McKinsey’s global Energy Practice. He has previously been named to the D100 list of the most influential people in corporate governance. Mr. Meyer is a founding board member of the Directors Academy.

Mike Millegan – Mr. Millegan served as president of Verizon Global Wholesale group, a business unit of Verizon Communications, where he focused on global carrier, wireless and cable company network requirements from 2007 until his retirement in 2013. Prior to that, Mr. Millegan was senior vice president/market president for Verizon’s Midwest Operations and senior vice president Enterprise/Wholesale business unit. Mr. Millegan also led the Logistics/Supply Chain business unit as the senior vice president from 2000 to 2004. Mr. Millegan served on the advisory board of FINSPHERE, a leader in mobile identity authentication. In addition, he is an advisor/investor in WINDPACT, an innovative sports technology company. Mr. Millegan is a member of the Portland General Electric and Wireless Telecom board of directors, and is a NextGen Directors program alum.

Heather Redman – Ms. Redman is the co-founder and managing partner of Flying Fish Partners, a venture capital firm investing in early stage software and mixed hardware and software companies, concentrated in artificial intelligence. She is also a member of the boards of Coldstream Holdings, Yesler, Beneficial State Bank and Washington State University. She was most recently vice president, operations at Indix and previously served as a senior executive at Summit Power, co-COO at Atom Entertainment, and general counsel at Getty Images and Photodisc.

Merline Saintil – Ms. Saintil is the former chief operating officer at Change Healthcare. She was previously the head of operations for product and technology at Intuit, and has managed global teams in a variety of positions at Yahoo, Sun Microsystems, Adobe, PayPal, and Joyent. She serves on the board of ShotSpotter, Banner Corporation, and NAV Technologies, and is also on the alumni board at Carnegie Mellon University.

Innocent Shumba – Mr. Shumba is an assurance partner in EY’s Technology Practice and has 15 years of experience serving private and publicly held technology companies ranging from pre-IPO entities to large multi-nationals. Mr. Shumba grew up in Zimbabwe and received a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Accounting from BYU.

Dr. Robert Strand – Dr. Strand is the executive director of the Center for Responsible Business and a lecturer at the Berkeley Haas School of Business. He was a Fulbright Scholar to Norway from 2005-2006, and prior to joining academia was an industrial engineer for Boston Scientific and also IBM.

Lynn Tetrault – Ms. Tetrault is the former executive vice president of Human Resources and Corporate Affairs at AstraZeneca plc. Previously, she served as vice president of Corporate Affairs and vice president of Human Resources and Global Drug Development for AstraZeneca U.S., a subsidiary of AstraZeneca plc. Ms. Tetrault joined Astra USA as associate general counsel and was previously in private law practice specializing in general corporate and health care law. She currently serves on the boards of NeoGenomics Laboratories and Women’s Way. She is active in the development of the Paradigm for Parity initiative focused on achieving corporate leadership gender parity by 2030 and is the founder of Anahata Leadership.

Dr. Steve Weber – Dr. Weber is a professor at the School of Information and Political Science Department at University of California, Berkeley where he works at the intersection of technology markets, intellectual property regimes, and international politics. Previously he served as special consultant to the president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. He is a frequent contributor to scholarly and public debates on international relations and U.S. foreign policy and has advised multinational companies, government agencies, and non-profit organizations on risk analysis, strategy, and business forecasting.

James D. White – Mr. White was chairman, president and chief executive officer of Jamba Inc. from 2008 until his retirement in 2016. Before Jamba, he held senior executive roles at Safeway, Gillette and Ralston Purina. Mr. White currently serves on the boards of Adtalem Global Education, Medallia, Panera Bread, Schnuck Markets and Simply Good Foods. He is Executive Chairman of Air Protein and was previously chairman of Daymon Worldwide and a director of Ocean Spray Cranberries, CallidusCloud, and Hillshire Brands. He also currently chairs the Fair Trade USA board. Mr. White is a co-founder of the Directors Academy and is chairman of the board.

Paul Williams – Mr. Williams is the retired co-leader of the North America Board Practice of Allegis Partners. He is a member of the board of directors for Compass Minerals where he is the Compensation Committee chairman and a member of the Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee. Mr. Williams also serves on the boards of Public Storage and Romeo Power and is the president o the Chicago Chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD). Previously, Mr. Williams was the Nominating and Governance Committee chairman for Essendant. He has served as the lead independent director of State Auto Financial Corporation, as well as the Compensation Committee chairman and CEO Search Committee chairman for Bob Evans Restaurants. Prior to his executive search career, Mr. Williams served as executive vice president, chief legal officer and secretary of Cardinal Health, a Fortune 20 company. His career began as a corporate and securities associate with the law firms of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and Vorys, Sater, Seymour & Pease. Mr. Williams is a Directors Academy board member.

Billie Williamson – Ms. Williamson has over three decades of experience auditing public companies as a partner of EY.  In addition, she served as senior vice president, finance and corporate controller of Marriott International and chief financial officer of AMX Corporation.  While at EY, Ms. Williamson served as the Americas Inclusiveness Officer, a member of its Americas Executive Board and head of the Center for Strategic Transactions in the southwest region.  Ms. Williamson has served on numerous public and private company boards, including Annie’s, Beneficient Company Group LP, CSRA, Cushman & Wakefield, Energy Future Holdings, ITT Exelis, Janus Capital Group, Kraton, Pentair plc and XL Group Ltd.  Ms. Williamson is a Directors Academy board member.


Our Advisors advance the Directors Academy mission through the sponsorship and participation of high-performing senior executive talent and access to future board opportunities.

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