News & Ideas  -  Kettering Foundation Names Four Additional Senior Fellows

News Press Release Senior Fellows

Leaders in law, social activism, international affairs and gender equity to work with foundation

DAYTON, OHIO (Jan. 17, 2024) — Four inspirational leaders have accepted appointments as senior fellows, the Charles F. Kettering Foundation announced today. The new fellows are William Barber II, Neal Katyal, Kelley Robinson and Alexander Vindman, They join 9 senior fellows from diverse backgrounds and political views appointed since November to strengthen the Foundation’s focus on encouraging civic participation and fighting the rise of authoritarianism and threats to democracy in the US and around the globe. The senior fellows have distinguished records in religion, law, civil rights and international relations.

William J. Barber II is a Protestant minister and nationally known social activist. He is the founding director of the Center for Public Theology and Public Policy at Yale Divinity School and was the pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, N.C., from 1993 to 2023. From 2006 to 2017, Barber served as president of the NAACP’s North Carolina state chapter, the second largest in the U.S., and was a member of the national board of the NAACP from 2008 to 2020. He holds a doctorate from Drew University.

Neal Katyal is the Paul and Patricia Saunders Professor of National Security Law at Georgetown University and a partner at Hogan Lovells. He previously served as acting solicitor general of the U.S. He has argued 50 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, more than any minority attorney, recently breaking the record held by the late Thurgood Marshall. He has won numerous accolades as a litigator. Katyal is a trustee of Dartmouth College and New York City’s Whitney Museum of American Art.

Kelley Robinson is the president of the Human Rights Campaign, the first Black, queer woman to lead the organization. The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality and liberation for LGBTQ+ people. Before becoming president of the Human Rights Campaign, Robinson served as executive director of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. She has spent more than 15 years creating and leading many winning campaigns and programs with the goal of achieving racial and gender equity for all.

Alexander Vindman is a retired Army lieutenant colonel and former director for European Affairs on the U.S. National Security Council. Before that, he served at the Pentagon as the Political-Military Affairs Officer for Russia and as an attaché at the American embassies in Moscow and Kyiv. While on the Joint Staff, he authored the U.S. National Military Strategy for Russia. His many military awards include two Legions of Merit and the Purple Heart. He holds a Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, where he is a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Institute.

For more than 40 years, the Kettering Foundation has worked to strengthen citizen engagement in democratic societies around the globe. With the 2022 appointment of Sharon L. Davies as its president and CEO, the organization has become more public facing in its work to enable it to respond to new threats to democracy and the rise of autocracy worldwide.

“Our newest fellows are not only distinguished leaders in their fields, but also have been unwavering in standing up for what is right, often at great personal cost,” said Davies. “All four have been at the center of what the late, great Rep. John Lewis called, ‘good trouble’ and our nation is stronger for their activism. We at the Kettering Foundation are delighted to include them in our work advancing inclusive democracy and combatting the forces that seek to divide us.

The Kettering Foundation will tap the unique strengths, interests and bases of experience of each of its fellows. In addition to amplifying their current activities, the appointees will be invited to contribute to the new Kettering Foundation blog series, From Many, We, be guests on the foundation’s new podcast series, The Context (launch date early 2024) and participate in Kettering’s public conversations as panelists, keynotes or moderators.


The Charles F. Kettering Foundation, headquartered in Dayton, Ohio, is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, operating foundation rooted in the American tradition of inventive research. Founded in 1927 “to sponsor and carry out scientific research for the benefit of humanity,” the foundation is inspired by the innovativeness and ingenuity of its founder, the American inventor Charles F. Kettering. For the past four decades, the foundation’s research and programs have focused on the needs of democracy worldwide. Today, the organization is committing itself to advancing inclusive democracies by fostering citizen engagement, promoting government accountability, and countering authoritarianism.