National Advisory Panel

The members of The National Advisory Panel of The PuLSE Institute serve in a voluntary and advisory capacity with no statutory obligation. They take no official position with The PuLSE Institute and their respective organizations outside of the Institute are not represented by their position on The National Advisory Panel. Their role in the Institute is based on their individual decades of experience and commitment to fighting poverty and inequality, and from time to time they will be called upon to share that with the Institute. The PuLSE Institute is honored by their work and transformational impact as individuals who have used their influence to best serve humanity.

Dr. Arun Gandhi, Grandson of Mahatma Gandhi and an Advocate for Nonviolence

Dr. Arun Manilal Gandhi is the fifth grandson of India’s legendary leader, Mohandas K. “Mahatma” Gandhi. Arun has been sharing lessons from his grandfather around the world for over 30 years. In recent years, he has regularly participated in the Renaissance Weekend deliberations with President Bill Clinton and other well-respected Rhodes Scholars and has spoken many times at the United Nations.

Arun is the founder of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence and is the Founding President of the Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute. This charitable organisation currently supports over 1000 children in India with shelter, food and education.  Arun has given keynote talks, lectures and workshops as well as participated in symposia, facilitated dialogues and conversations, panel events and other gatherings and meetings around the world for community organisations, large and small NGOs, charitable organisations in the fields of healthcare, human rights, education, the environment, human potential, national and international corporations, associations and government agencies.

Arun visits and talks at schools, colleges, universities and prisons. His work has transformed the lives of many who are currently in prison. He works with a number of prison facilities in New York State and has significantly contributed to a staggering 70% reduction in violence within a prison. Invitations and other requests have taken Arun to all 50 States of the U.S. with numerous repeat visits. Arun travels extensively and a list of international invites among others have included visiting: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Croatia, Dubai, England, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Haiti, Ireland, Israel/Palestine, Italy, Jamaica, Lebanon, Lithuania, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Nicaragua, Japan, Jordan, Scotland, South Africa and Sweden.

Arun has received several honorary doctorates. Arun has been a board member of the Nelson Mandela’s Children’s Hospital in South Africa and the Parliament of the World’s Religions. He is the founder and was a director of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence that is now located at the University of Rochester, NY. Arun is the Founding President of the Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute GWEI. This charitable organisation currently supports over 1000 children in India with shelter, food and education.  

Arun then worked for 30 years as a journalist for The Times of India, retiring as the Deputy Editor. He is the author of several books. The first, A Patch of White (1949), is about life in prejudiced South Africa where he was born; then, he wrote two books on poverty and politics in India; followed by a compilation of M.K. Gandhi’s Wit & Wisdom and then a memoir “A Legacy of Love’: My Education in the Path of Nonviolence.” He also edited a book of essays on a World Without Violence: Can Gandhi’s Vision Become Reality?  

Arun Gandhi is an agent for change and communicates motivational approaches to personal and global transformation from the perspective of ‘be the change’. Arun’s Grandfather coined the phrase ‘be the change you wish to see in the world’ which has become widely used and now we can see a growing climate and commitments of such an approach to personal and global transformation. Arun’s spoken and written contributions include first hand experiences of the time he lived with his grandfather Mahatma Gandhi and what he learnt during that time in the ashram in India in the years immediately preceding the assassination. These lessons guide Arun Gandhi’s life today and he travels extensively to share the living philosophy of nonviolence and plant seeds of peace.

Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Civil Rights Leader and National Coordinator, MLK’s 1968 Poor People’s Campaign

Dr. Bernard LaFayette, Jr. has been a Civil Rights Movement activist, minister, educator, lecturer, and is an authority on the strategy on nonviolent social change. He Co-founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960. He was a leader of the Nashville Movement, 1960 and on the Freedom Rides, 1961 and the 1965 Selma Movement. He directed the Alabama Voter Registration Project in 1962, and he was appointed National Program Administrator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and National Coordinator of the 1968 Poor Peoples’ campaign by Martin Luther King, Jr. In addition, Dr. LaFayette has served as Director of Peace and Justice in Latin America; Chairperson of the Consortium on Peace Research, Education and Development; Director of the PUSH Excel Institute; and minister of the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Tuskegee, Alabama.

An ordained minister, Dr. LaFayette earned a B.A. from American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee, and his Ed.M. and Ed.D from Harvard University. He has served on the faculties of Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta and Alabama State University in Montgomery, Alabama, where he was Dean of the Graduate School; he also was principal of Tuskegee Institute High School in Tuskegee, Alabama; and a teaching fellow at Harvard University.

His publications include the Curriculum and Training Manual for the Martin Luther King Jr., Nonviolent Community Leadership Training Program, his doctoral thesis, Pedagogy for Peace and Nonviolence, and Campus Ministries and Social Change in the ’60’s (Duke University Review) and The Leaders Manual: A Structured Guide and Introduction to Kingian Nonviolence with David Jehnsen. Dr. LaFayette has traveled extensively to many countries as a lecturer and consultant on peace and nonviolence.

Dr. LaFayette is a former President of the American Baptist College of ABT Seminary in Nashville, Tennessee; Scholar in Residence at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia; and Pastor emeritus of the Progressive Baptist Church in Nashville, Tennessee.

He is the founder and National President of God-Parents Club, Inc., a national community based program aimed at preventing the systematic incarceration of young Black youth; a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, and a founder of the Association for Kingian Nonviolence Education and Training Works.

Dr. LaFayette was formerly a Distinguished Scholar in Residence and Director of the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies at the University of Rhode Island. He is the chairperson for the International; Nonviolence Executive Planning Board. He was also appointed by Rhode Island Governor, Lincoln Almond, as chairman for the Rhode Island Select Commission on Race and Police-Community Relations. Currently, Dr. LaFayette served as a Senior Scholar in Residence at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr., COGIC Presiding Bishop Emeritus and Senior Pastor of West Angeles COGIC

Bishop Charles E. Blake Sr., Presiding Bishop Emeritus of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC), the largest Black Christian denomination in the country with a membership of 6.5 million, is an American bishop, pastor, international statesman and humanitarian. Bishop Blake became the Presiding Bishop of the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) upon the passing of Bishop Gilbert Earl Patterson in 2007.  He was re-elected three times to the office of Presiding Bishop in 2008, 2012, and 2016. 

Bishop Blake is recognized as one of the great preachers of this generation with a message that ministers to the whole person and brings together people of various social and ethnic backgrounds.  Blake has served as the Senior Pastor of West Angeles COGIC since 1969.  West Angeles is the largest COGIC church and one of the largest churches of any denomination in the Western United States. The local congregation offers dozens of ministry programs for the spiritual growth and development of its members and the psychological, social, and economic enhancement of the larger community.

Bishop Blake has distinguished himself as a major player on the local, national, and international stage.  He has served on countless boards, coalitions, committees, councils, and executive teams.   His influence is felt not only in inner-city Los Angeles, but also on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. and in many other places around the world.  Bishop Blake is a source of wisdom and council to religious and political leaders, including three former American presidents.  President Barack Obama named him as a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.  He was also chosen as one of four individuals to speak at the Democratic National Convention’s first Ecumenical Service, where he challenged both Democrats and Republicans to protect the rights of both the born and the unborn alike.

Bishop Blake is greatly respected for his practical leadership and compassionate service to others.  In response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa, Blake founded and served as president of the Pan African Children’s Fund (PACF).  Save Africa’s Children, a program of PACF, supported more than 200,000 children in 400 orphan care programs throughout more than 23 nations on the continent of Africa who were orphaned by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.  In 2003, Bishop Blake was awarded the Harvard Foundation Humanitarian Medal for his work with Save Africa’s Children.

Bishop Blake’s awards and accolades are numerous.  A few include the Distinguished Leadership Award from the African Presidential Archives and Research Center at Boston University, the Greenlining Institute’s Big Heart Award, a Trumpet Award among many others.  He has given keynote addresses at Princeton University, Harvard University, Hampton University and scores of other institutional gatherings.

Bishop Blake has several academic and honorary degrees, including a B.A. from California Western University, an M.Div. from the Interdenominational Theological Center, and honorary doctorates from California Graduate School of Theology, Oral Roberts University, California State University, Los Angeles, and Biola University.

Sister Simone Campbell, SSS, Executive Director of NETWORK

Sister Simone Campbell is the Executive Director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice – a federal advocacy organization founded by Catholic Sisters to lobby in Washington, D.C. for policies that mend the gaps in income and wealth in the United States. She has led six cross-country “Nuns on the Bus” trips focused on tax justice, healthcare, economic justice, comprehensive immigration reform, voter turnout, bridging divides in politics and society, and mending the gaps. Sister Simone Campbell wrote the famous “Nuns’ Letter,” considered by many as critically important in convincing Congress to support the Affordable Care Act in 2010, and is the author of “A Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Change, and Community,” published by HarperCollins. She has received numerous awards, spoke at the 2012 Democratic National Convention, and has appeared on 60 MinutesThe Colbert Report, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. She is a religious leader, attorney, and poet with extensive experience in public policy and advocacy for systemic change.

Janis F. Kearney, Former Presidential Diarist

Janis F. Kearney is an author, book publisher, and writing instructor. She was born to southeast Arkansas cotton sharecroppers, attended Gould Public Schools, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville with a B.A. in Journalism. She served nine years as a project manager and public affairs director in Arkansas state government. She served briefly as managing editor for civil rights legend Daisy L. Bates’ historic Arkansas State Press Newspaper, before purchasing and becoming publisher of the newspaper in 1988, upon Bates retirement.

From 1993-2001, Janis served in the Clinton Administration, working briefly in the white house media affairs office before being appointed by President Clinton, as Director of Communications for the US Small Business Administration. In 1995, she was selected by President Clinton as the first-ever Personal Diarist to a President. She served in that role through June 2001.

In July 2001, Janis was selected as a fellow at the W.E.B. DuBois Institute of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, and continued the fellowship for two years. In 2003, Janis and her husband founded Writing our World Publishing, a small, independent publishing company. She has written or co-written eight books, including her first, the critically acclaimed Cotton Field of Dreams: A Memoir. Other WOW Publishing books include Something to Write Home About: Memories of a Presidential Diarist; Conversations: Hope to Harlem; Daisy: Between a Rock and a Hard Place; Sundays with TJ: 100 Years of Memories on Varner Road, and, Writing our Lives: An Anthology of Southern Storytellers, a compilation of short memoirs.

In 2014, Janis founded the Celebrate! Maya Project. Its mission is to promote the life and legacy of Dr. Maya Angelou throughout Arkansas’ communities and schools. She also founded the Read.Write.Share Writers Project, which includes memoir-writing seminars, lectures and workshops around the state, including the WOW! Spring Writers Weekend held in Arkansas each year.

Her honors include:

2016 Inductee into the Arkansas Writers Hall of Fame
Former president, and current board member of the AR Pioneer Chapter of Pen Women

Serves as executive board member of LifeQuest of Arkansas
Serves as board member of the AR Women’s Hall of Fame
Serves as board president of the International Women’s Forum of Arkansas. Founder and president of the Celebrate! Maya Project of Arkansas.
Inductee into the National History Makers Archive
Recipient of the University of Arkansas’ Outstanding Alumni Award Recipient of the prestigious University of Arkansas Journalism Lemke Award.

Robert S. Weiner, Former White House Spokesman

Bob Weiner served in the Clinton White House as a Director of Public Affairs from 1995-2001. He has worked for Four-Star General Barry McCaffrey, U.S. Congressmen John Conyers (D-MI), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Claude Pepper (D-FL), Ed Koch (D-NY), and Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA). He was later Chief of Staff of the House Aging Committee, brought Colonel Sanders in as a witness, and is credited with leading landmark legislation to abolish mandatory retirement. Bob directed the Daily Press Briefing Room for the last three Democratic National Conventions (2016, 2012 and 2008).

Joan Blaney, British Social Entrepreneur and Advocate

Joan Blaney is the CEO of the Ecogen Charitable Foundation in the United Kingdom, where she is involved in anti-poverty efforts in developing nations. She spent her early years in Port Antonio in Jamaica before joining her parents in England. She was educated at Prestwood Girls School, Wulfrun College of Further Education and Wolverhampton University where she gained a diploma in Social and Community Studies.

Joan was a nurse at the Queen Elizabeth Medical Center and a Lecturer at Fircroft Adult College in Birmingham, before holding senior positions in private and public sector organizations. She has established number of voluntary and community organizations for young people and women in the UK and South and West Africa.

Keen to share her vast knowledge and experiences, Joan mentors young social and business entrepreneurs. She is the author of two books on women ‘Hidden Lights’ and from ‘Kitchen Sink to Boardroom Table’, both of which catalogue women’s triumph over adversity in extraordinary situations.

Adventures in Bodiwell, is her new literary venture and is part of a series of children’s books on health literacy for seven year-olds upwards. Educational and entertaining, the stories depict how the body can help prevent or deal with illnesses and diseases. Adventures in Bodiwell teach children the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle.

Joan has numerous awards including the European Black Women’s Excellence Award. She was presented with the ‘Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) Medal’ one of the UK’s highest honors from Her Majesty the Queen, in recognition of her regional and national work.

A former athlete, Joan maintains her wide interest in sports, particularly tennis and football and her hobbies includes walking, reading, writing, puzzles and spending time with family and friends.

Herb Boyd, Celebrated Author and Journalist  

Author, educator and journalist Herb Boyd grew up in Detroit, Michigan, where he attended Wayne State University in the 1960s. Boyd went on to graduate with his B.A. degree in philosophy from Wayne State University in 1969.

From 1968 through 1977, Boyd worked as an instructor in African American Studies and Anthropology at Wayne State University. He was also appointed as an instructor of anthropology and ethnomusicology at Oberlin College from 1970 until 1972. In 1979, Boyd was hired as a lecturer in black history and sociology at the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit, and was named president of the Jazz Research Institute. He then worked briefly as the supervisor of office operations at the U.S. Census Bureau in Detroit, and as an associate editor for the Metro Times. In 1983, Boyd took graduate courses at the University of Iowa, and lectured there in the Black Studies Department. He has also written numerous articles since the 1980s as a freelance journalist for publications such as the New York Amsterdam News, Black World, Emerge, Essence, Down Beat, First World, and The Black Scholar.

In 1986, Boyd was hired as an instructor of African American history at the College of New Rochelle. Then, in the 1990s, he served as the editor of The Black World Today, an online news source that addressed issues of interest to the African American community. Boyd was then hired as a lecturer at the City College of New York in 2005.

Boyd has authored, co-authored, edited or co-edited twenty-three books, including Jazz Space Detroit: Photographs of Black music, jazz, and dance; African History for Beginners; Brotherman: The Odyssey of Black Men in America; Down the Glory Road; Autobiography of a People: Three Centuries of African-American History Told by Those Who Lived It; Race and Resistance: African Americans in the Twenty-first Century; The Harlem Reader: A Celebration of New York’s Most Famous Neighborhood, from the Renaissance Years to the Twenty-first Century; We Shall Overcome: the history of the civil rights movement as it happened; Pound for Pound: A Biography of Sugar Ray Robinson; The Gentle Giant: The Autobiography of Yusef Lateef; Civil Rights: Yesterday & Today; By Any Means Necessary, Malcolm X: Real, Not Reinvented; Simeon’s Story: An Eyewitness Account of the Kidnapping of Emmett Till; and Baldwin’s Harlem: A Biography of James Baldwin, which was a 2009 NAACP Image Award finalist.

Boyd has also received many awards, including the American Book Award (with Robert Allen), a journalism award for an article he wrote for Emerge magazine in 1993, and several first-place awards from the New York Association of Black Journalists for articles he has published in the New York Amsterdam News. Boyd has also been inducted into the Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent, the Madison Square Garden Hall of Fame, and, in 2014, the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame.

His latest book, Black Detroit: A People’s History of Self-Determination, chronicles the survival of Detroit and how it has remained a resilient city.

Luba Lukova, International Visual Artist for Social Justice

Internationally renowned, New York-based Luba Lukova is regarded as one of the most original image-makers working today. Whether by using an economy of line, color and text to pinpoint essential themes of humanity or to succinctly visualize social commentary, her work is undeniably powerful and thought-provoking.

In Lukova’s art, less is more. More effect, more message, more expression; all while doing it with less. The graphic elements are bold with few fine details but the intent is clear. Her messages reflect the human condition, fundamental fairness, and justice. Yet while it is easy to focus solely on the messages of her provocative works, it is important to take a step back to appreciate the artistic merit in her simplicity. Her use of striking, metaphoric images gives the viewers art to not only appreciate visually but intellectually.

Lukova’s work is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Denver Art Museum; Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris; Hong Kong Heritage Museum; Centre de la Gravure et de l’Image imprimée, La Louvière, Belgium; the Library of Congress; and the World Bank, Washington, D.C. Her solo exhibitions include UNESCO, Paris; DDD Gallery, Osaka, Japan; La MaMa Gallery, New York; the Art Institute of Boston; and the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA).

Reflecting on complex social issues has been Lukova’s career-long focus because of her firmly held belief that art is central to human existence and that morality and creativity are aligned. In 2008 she released her Social Justice portfolio, addressing themes such as peace, censorship, immigration, ecology, hunger, and corruption. The twelve iconic images soon became a best-selling publication and requests for exhibits and reproductions in magazines, newspapers and books came from around the globe. The collection was included in the prestigious art exhibition at the first inauguration of President Obama in Washington D.C. and has been exhibited widely in the U.S., France, Turkey, Greece, Israel, and Mexico. A decade since its publication, the series is as relevant as ever and the artist continues to create new social commentary work. In her words, she has “plenty of topics to tackle in the future.”

​Lukova has received commissions from Adobe, Sony Music, Canon, The New York TimesTime, and Harvard University, among others. Her drawings grace the Verve Records CD box set Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington at the Cote D’Azur, which was nominated for a Grammy Award for best recording package design. Lukova has collaborated with some of the visionaries of the contemporary theater, creating striking posters for the productions of Judith Malina and the Living Theatre, Ellen Stewart and La MaMa Theater, and Sir Peter Hall. The first theater poster she ever designed, There Is No Death for the Songs, is now included in the permanent collection of MoMA, New York. Lukova’s many awards include the Grand Prix Savignac/World’s Most Memorable Poster at the International Poster Salon in Paris; the Gold Pencil from The One Club in New York; Honor Laureate at the International Poster Exhibition in Fort Collins, CO; and a grant from the Reisman Foundation. She holds an honorary doctoral degree from the Art Institute of Boston.