Leader's Lab

The Comic Relief US Leaders Lab is a group of philanthropists, creatives, business leaders, and idea generators who help us investigate and innovate as we fuel our next phase of growth.

The Leaders Lab members believe in the bold, transformational change at the heart of our mission to alleviate intergenerational poverty.

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Anita Cooney

Dean, School of Design, Pratt Institute

Anita Cooney is the dean of the School of Design at Pratt Institute. In previous administrative appointments at Pratt, she served as chair of the Interior Design department and Assistant Chair of Undergraduate Architecture. She is also a professor, having taught in interior design and architecture. She is a regular participant of and serves on the board of the educational organization, DesignInquiry, a transdisciplinary educational organization devoted to researching design issues in intensive team-based gatherings. A designer and artist, her work in commercial and residential interiors and products explores the quotidian in materials and details.

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Brooke Hammerling

Founder, The New New Thing

Brooke Hammerling is the founder of The New New Thing, a strategic communications advisory firm she launched in 2020. She has spent more than twenty years helping some of the most successful tech entrepreneurs shape their communications strategies. In 2005, Brooke started Brew PR, a pioneering media relations agency that represented some of the most renowned and disruptive tech companies. Brew was sold to London-based PR firm Freuds in 2016. Brooke divides her time between New York and Los Angeles.

Christina Norman

Head of Content, National Basketball Players Association (NBPA)

Christina Norman is an accomplished media and entertainment executive. She served as President of MTV, VH1 and OWN, distinguished by her talent as a successful brand builder. Currently, she is Head of Content for THINK450, the innovation engine of The National Basketball Players Association, creating opportunities for the world’s most influential athletes to deepen their connections to audiences through storytelling. Christina is on the boards of BRIC Arts Media Brooklyn, and Village Roadshow Entertainment Group, one of the leading independent entertainment production companies in the world.

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Erik Flannigan

Erik Flannigan is a veteran music executive and artist manager of Raphael Saadiq and The National. He is also a producer, filmmaker, writer and music archivist. Recent producing projects include Play On: Celebrating the Power of Music to Make Change (CBS), John Legend and Family: A Bigger Love Father’s Day (ABC), The National’s live album Juicy Sonic Magic and accompanying documentary short, Juicy Sonic Magic: The Mike Millard Method and the NBC holiday special A Legendary Christmas with John and Chrissy. Erik also serves as a strategic consultant to NUGS.net on their live music distribution platform. Prior to coming to FAW, Erik was EVP of Music/Events Strategy and Development at MTV where he oversaw the network’s music series, specials and annual tentpole events including the Video Music Awards, as well as leading the network’s Music and Talent division, emerging artist platforms, strategic partnerships and MTV Live.

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Jason Harris

Co-Founder and CEO of Mekanism, Author of The Soulful Art of Persuasion

Jason Harris is the co-founder & CEO of award-winning creative advertising agency Mekanism, co-founder of the Creative Alliance and author of national bestseller, The Soulful Art of Persuasion. Harris works closely with brands through a blend of creativity and performance. We call this approach Soul + Science. Iconic brands include Peloton, Ben & Jerry’s, Jose Cuervo, Alaska Airlines, Charles Schwab and OkCupid, among others. Under his leadership, Mekanism was most recently named Independent Agency of the Year by The Drum, and ranked by the Effie Index as a top 10 Most Effective Independent Agency in the United States. Mekanism has also been named to Ad Age's Agency A-list and twice to their Best Places to Work. Harris was named 2021 CEO of the Year by The Drum, a recipient of the 4A's 100 People Who Make Advertising Great, and a 2020 Campaign US 40 Over 40 honoree for his noteworthy contributions to the advertising & marketing industry. His methods are studied in cases at Harvard Business School.

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Liza Landsman

Chief Executive Officer, Stash

Liza Landsman joined Stash as CEO in February 2023, bringing extensive expertise scaling world-class organizations in consumer finance, e-commerce, and retail. She’s passionate about products that help people save and spend, and is deeply committed to the financial wellbeing of everyday Americans. Prior to Stash, Liza was general partner at NEA, and also served in key operations and leadership roles at Jet.com, Citigroup, BlackRock, E*TRADE, and IBM. She sits on several boards of directors and has been listed amongst Fortune’s Most Powerful Women.

Mark Stanley

Mark Stanley

Video Games Industry Advisor

A games industry veteran, Mark has held executive leadership roles in Microsoft Xbox, Sony PlayStation, SEGA, GameStop, Playful Studios and more. His love of gaming and passion for global expansion has allowed him to experience life and business in over 40 countries, across various industry segments such as emerging markets, consoles & peripherals, products & services development, game development, and studios’ leadership and collaboration. Mark is an active games industry advisor and board member. Mark is a life-long ocean lover and an active member of the Board for the Oceanic Society, the oldest ocean conservation organization in the US, and Sunday, a leading non-profit which provides zero-interest microloans to people around the world. He also serves as Chair of the International Game Developer’s Association’s (IGDA) Indie Collective, a group of industry veterans whose sole mission is to help indie developers around the globe. Mark is an active advisor to various game studios around the world, and other non-profit organizations such as Games for Change and the United Nations Playing for the Planet Alliance. Mark lives in Dallas with his wife and three sons. He enjoys time with his family, watching his boys play soccer, and surfing the coastal waters of his native Costa Rica.

Richard de Villiers

Director, Private Wealth Advisor, SVB Private

Richard de Villiers is a Director, Private Wealth Advisor for SVB Private in New York. In his role, he is responsible for providing holistic private banking services to clients and companies in the innovation economy. Richard enjoys solving complex financial needs for innovators and the individuals who invest in them. With more than 12 years of experience in Private Banking, Richard has worked with business owners and financial institutions to establish and achieve their personal wealth objectives and increase the probability of success for the companies they represent. Additionally, Richard has partnered with emerging managers investing in the next wave of industry disruptors and innovators to help them reach their targets. Before joining SVB Private, he was an International Financial Advisor with UBS and a Vice President, Ultra-High Net Worth Private Banker for JPMorgan Chase & Co. Earlier in Richard’s career, he was a Manager, Private Credit Advisor for Standard Bank Group and a Private Banker for Rand Merchant Bank, both located in the Greater Johannesburg area of South Africa. Before becoming a Private Banker, he played professional soccer for various club teams in England and South Africa. Richard holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Financial Planning and Financial Advisory from the University of the Free State in South Africa and earned a Bachelor’s Degree with Honors in Accounting and Finance, Investments and Securities from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is FINRA certified in Series 7, 63 and 65, and is a Certified Exit Planner with the Exit Planning Institute. Outside of the office, Richard is passionate about volunteering for non-profit organizations, he enjoys playing Golf and he is a member of the New York Athletic Club Soccer Team. He lives with his wife and their daughter in New York.

Scott Schiller

Scott Schiller

Media Executive/Advisor

Scott Schiller has proven experience unlocking growth, driving transformation, and delivering results in the media business. A founder and former chairman of The Interactive Advertising Bureau with recent executive experience at Comcast/NBCUniversal, Schiller's knowledge of content, media, and technology is deep and broad. From Fortune 50 firms to startups, Schiller's executive career demonstrates his proficiency in helping companies succeed in today’s dynamic business environment. With degrees from Cornell University (BA) and Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management (MBA), Schiller is focused on helping clients craft the future of media, fueling growth, and delivering lasting enterprise value.

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Tara Deveaux

Chief Marketing Officer, Wild Card Creative Group; Managing Director, 3AM & Insights@Wild Card

Tara DeVeaux is Chief Marketing Officer of Wild Card Creative Group, Managing Director of the company’s content studio 3AM and strategy division Insights@Wild Card, and an award-winning brand and entertainment marketer. DeVeaux joined Wild Card as Chief Marketing Officer in 2018, bringing brand marketing principles into the entertainment marketing process, and added Managing Director of the company’s creative content studio 3AM and the audience-focused strategy arm Insights@Wild Card to her responsibilities in 2020. Tara joined Wild Card Creative Group from BBDO New York where she led the marketing team, focusing on business development, partnerships and agency branding. Her leadership on campaigns for such brands as PepsiCo, HBO, Electronic Arts, J&J, TNT, National Geographic Channel and Kraft earned her teams over 200 creative awards. With a career spanning brands, entertainment and tech, Tara’s experience and expertise has uniquely positioned her to continuously innovate in an ever-evolving marketing landscape. Although Brooklyn, NY is her first love, she now happily calls LA her home.