Our Advisory Group

The Project Literacy Advisory Group helps us tackle one of the most urgent sustainable development challenges of our time and provides invaluable thought leadership for the campaign.

  • Priscila Cruz
  • Aria Finger
  • Ben Goldhirsh
  • Jeff Hoffman
  • Kate James
  • Michael Lombardo
  • Jane Nelson
  • Marianne Ponsford
  • Rapelang Rabana

Priscila Cruz, Founder & Executive President, Todos Pela Educação

Priscila Cruz holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, an undergraduate degree in both Business Administration from Getúlio Vargas Foundation and Law from the University of Sao Paulo as well as professional development studies at Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School. Before entering into the not-for-profit sector, Ms. Cruz worked as a strategic consultant at Bain & Co. and Marsh McLennan and acted as the general coordinator of the United Nations International Volunteering Year in Brazil in 2001, an effort that awarded the initiative a special distinction (amongst 123 countries) from the UN.

In 2002 Ms. Cruz founded the Faça Parte ("Be a Part") Institute, an NGO that focuses on engaging students from public schools into educational volunteering programmes (i.e. service learning). In 2005, she coordinated the launching of the Todos Pela Educação ("All for Education") movement, currently one of Brazil's most respected NGO's that aims to transform the quality of Brazil's Basic Educational system by “raising the Education flag” through Brazil’s main media channels and by advocating for specific policy change at the national level. As the Executive President of Todos Pela Educação, Mr. Cruz has been responsible for leading national campaigns and has spoken at a great number of events throughout the country and abroad. In 2012, she received the Young Leader in Education Award, sponsored by the Grupo Estado, one of Brazil's most prominent media conglomerates.

Aria Finger, CEO & Chief Old Person, DoSomething.org; President, TMI

As CEO and Chief Old Person of DoSomething.org, the largest organization for young people and social change in the world, Aria Finger uses her expertise on all things young people and tech to lead a diverse, impact-driven team. She has been an instrumental part of scaling DoSomething.org from less than 100,000 members to over 5 million members in 131 countries today. Starting at DoSomething.org as an associate 10 years ago, Aria created their Teens for Jeans campaign which has clothed over 5 million homeless teenagers to date. With her cause ¬related marketing experience, Finger has spearheaded partnerships with top brands including Johnson & Johnson, Coke, H&M, and CVS Health.

In 2013, she founded and became President of TMI, a strategic consultancy that uses DoSomething.org’s 20+ years of experience and proprietary data to help clients reach young people and fuel positive impact in the world.

Aria graduated magna cum laude in economics and political science from Washington University in St. Louis, and completed the Executive Program for Nonprofit Leaders at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Aria currently serves on the board of the NYC¬-based not¬for¬profit Care for the Homeless, was one of the first ten World Economic Forum Global Shapers and is an adjunct professor at New York University. She has been highlighted in the New York Times, Fast Company and was named to the 2012 Crain’s New York Business list of “40 Under Forty” and featured on the cover. In 2016, she was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.

When she is not running DoSomething.org or desperately trying to improve her Spanish, Aria can be found reading The New Jim Crow for the thousandth time, or relearning her ABCs with the newest addition to the DS family, her adorable son Luke.

Ben Goldhirsh, Co-CEO & Co-Founder, GOOD Worldwide

Ben Goldhirsh is Co-CEO and Co-Founder of GOOD, a global community of, by, and for pragmatic idealists working towards individual and collective progress. Outside of GOOD, Ben is chairman of The Goldhirsh Foundation, an organization built to help social innovators implement and scale solutions to critical societal challenges. A co-founder and board member of City Year Los Angeles, Goldhirsh graduated from Brown University and resides in Los Angeles.

Jeff Hoffman, Entrepreneur and Founder of Priceline.com

Jeff Hoffman is a successful entrepreneur, proven CEO, worldwide motivational speaker, Hollywood film producer, and a producer of a Grammy-winning jazz album in 2015. In his career, he has been the founder of multiple startups, he has been the CEO of both public and private companies, and he has served as a senior executive in many capacities. Jeff has been part of a number of well-known companies, including Priceline.com. uBid.com, CTI, ColorJar, and more.

Jeff serves on boards of companies in the US, Europe, South America, Africa, and Asia, supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses in more than 150 countries. He supports the White House, the US State Department, the United Nations, and many foreign governments on economic growth initiatives and entrepreneurship programs.

Jeff is a frequent keynote speaker, having been invited to speak in over 50 countries. He speaks on the topics of innovation, entrepreneurship, and business leadership, and is the co-author of the book SCALE, a how-to guide for growing your business. Jeff also teaches innovation workshops to major corporations on a regular basis.

Jeff is a featured business expert seen on Fox News, Fox Business, CNN, CNN International, Bloomberg News, CNBC, ABC, and NPR, and in publications including Forbes, Inc., Time, Fast Company, the Wall Street Journal, and more.

Outside of the world of technology, Jeff has produced movies, has produced musical events including concerts, tours, and charity events with such artists as Elton John, Britney Spears, NSYNC, and others, and serves on numerous charity and non-profit boards.

Kate James, Chief Corporate Affairs and Global Marketing Officer, Pearson; Spokesperson, Project Literacy

Kate James joined Pearson in January 2014. She is a member of the Pearson executive team, and as Chief Corporate Affairs and Global Marketing Officer she oversees communications, marketing and the Pearson brand, government and regulatory relations, investor relations and the company’s social impact work.

Prior to joining Pearson, Kate was Chief Communications Officer for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Prior to Gates, she held senior leadership roles in the financial services industry including heading communications globally at Citibank and leading advocacy and sustainability at Standard Charter Bank. She is Director of the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund, serves on the boards of Vital Voices Global Partnership and America’s Promise Alliance, and is Chief Spokesperson for Project Literacy.

Michael Lombardo, CEO, BookNook

Michael Lombardo is the Founder and CEO of BookNook, a venture funded edtech startup working to close the reading opportunity gap for children all over the world. He previously served as CEO of Reading Partners for nearly a decade, growing it from a small regional organization to one of the largest children’s literacy nonprofits in the United States. Michael is also a Social Entrepreneur in Residence at Stanford University and a founding advisory council member of the My Brother's Keeper Alliance, President Obama's signature initiative focused on opportunity for boys and young men of color. He graduated from the University of Michigan and completed the Executive Program for Nonprofit Leaders at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Jane Nelson, Senior Fellow and Director of Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative, Harvard Kennedy School

Jane Nelson is Director of the Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative at Harvard Kennedy School, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. She was a Director and senior advisor at the International Business Leaders Forum from 1993 to 2009, and has been a senior associate with the Institute for Sustainability Leadership at Cambridge University, and an advisor to the Clinton Global Initiative.

In 2001, she worked with the United Nations Global Compact in the office of the UN Secretary-General preparing a report for the General Assembly on cooperation between the UN and the private sector.

Prior to 1993, Nelson worked for the World Business Council for Sustainable Development in Africa, for FUNDES in Latin America, and as a Vice President at Citibank working for the bank's Financial Institutions Group in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. She has co-authored five books and over 80 publications on corporate responsibility and the role of the private sector in development, and five of the World Economic Forum's Global Corporate Citizenship reports.

Nelson serves on the Boards of Directors of Newmont, the Abraaj Group, FSG, Chevron's Niger Delta Partnership Initiative, the ImagineNations Group. She serves on advisory councils for the IFC, Bank of America, Abbott, ExxonMobil, GE, Merck Vaccine, APCO Worldwide, the Center for Global Development, the Initiative for Global Development, InterAction and the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center. A graduate of the University of Natal in South Africa and Oxford University, she is a former Rhodes Scholar and recipient of the Keystone Center's 2005 Leadership in Education Award.

Marianne Ponsford, Director, CERLALC - Centro regional para el fomento del libro en América Latina y el Caribe

Marianne Ponsford is the director of the Regional Centre for Book Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (CERLALC) since October 2015. She has a degree on Communication Sciences from the Javeriana University (Bogota, Colombia), and a master's degree on Hispanic Studies from the University College (London, England).

Marianne has worked as editor in Siruela, Planeta and Turner. In Turner, she edited the Castro Library of Spanish Classics (1994-1995) and took part on the creation of the essay collections 'Weapons and Letters' and 'Noema' (2001- 2002).

She co-founded in 1996 the cultural magazine El Malpensante. She was the director of the weekly magazine Cromos from 1998 to 2001. In 1999, she won the National Journalism Prize 'Simón Bolívar', on the chronicle category, for her article 'The resurrection of Chavela Vargas'. From 1999 to 2001, Marianne was a member of the Editorial Board of the Colombian journal El Espectador, where she was also Sunday columnist from 2002 to 2008.

In 2005, she created for Semana Publishing House the cultural magazine Arcadia. She was the director of this magazine until 2014, when its 100th number was published. Marianne created and promoted the 'Arcadia Bookstores' Festival', celebrated in Bogota from 2012 to 2013, in which 25 local bookstores took part.

Marianne has also collaborated to different media in Colombia and Latin America, and she has been jury of literary and journalism awards.

Rapelang Rabana, Chief Digital Officer, BCX

Rapelang has been Chief Digital Officer of Business Connexion Group Ltd since 2018. Ms. Rabana serves as the Chief Executive at Rekindle Learning. Prior to this, Ms. Rabana was a part of founding team at Yeigo.

Prior to this, she served at Rekindle Learning, World Economic Forum Global Shaper, Standard Chartered Bank Botswana Education Trust, Meniko and Moro Group. She holds 11 years' experience in technology, ict and business management with focus in technology, ict, financial services and venture capital. She serves as an Executive Director of Nisela Capital Pty Ltd. She serves as Member of Advisory Board at KnowledgeFox GmbH. She has been featured on the cover of Forbes Africa magazine and selected as a Fast Company Maverick and named Entrepreneur for the World by the World Entrepreneurship Forum. She holds Masters in science from University of Cape Town. She also holds Bachelors in Business Science from University of Cape Town.