Ellen Hodgson Brown, President Emeritus, Founder, and Senior Advisor
Ellen Brown, J.D., developed her research skills as an attorney practicing civil litigation in Los Angeles. She is the author of 12 books, including the groundbreaking Web of Debt and The Public Bank Solution. In the latter book, Ellen traces the history and evolution of the current private banking system, showing how it usurped the power to create money from the people themselves, and how the people can take that power back through public banks operating in the public interest. Ellen has written over 200 articles, and originally served as Chairman and President. She has degrees from UC Berkeley and UCLA School of Law.
Shara Smith, Chief Operating Officer
Shara is the Chief Operating Officer for PBI. She brings with her more than fifteen years of experience in operations, fundraising, and communications in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. Ms. Smith specializes in designing and expanding programs, development, media, and outreach for nonprofits and socially responsible businesses. She has designed a variety of resource development, operations, and outreach programs for community nonprofits, the NFL, as well as academic institutions, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Boston University. Her work in communications has included devising customized marketing plans for tech industry leaders, such as Microsoft, Intel, and Schlumberger. She has also managed fundraising and outreach programs for social justice organizations focused on Constitutional law and democratic values. Ms. Smith has been a featured speaker at conferences and events related to money in politics and has received excellence awards for her work in logistics management from the University of Arizona. She is a regional advisory board member for the American Friends Service Committee and serves as a community advisor for political campaigns.
The Board of the Public Banking Institute
Walt McRee, Chair
Prior to becoming Chair of the PBI board, Walt McRee was a Senior Advisor to PBI from its earliest days in early 2011 while also serving as a Director of the Pennsylvania Public Bank Project. Following a career in broadcasting, Walt became a media strategist and consultant, writer, producer, marketing entrepreneur, voice talent and developed national media campaigns for world hunger, the environment, public broadcasting and the arts. As Founder and CEO of the Alliance for Public Broadcasting, Inc. he pioneered and implemented new fundraising principles and programs for use in public radio and TV stations nationwide. Walt produces and co-hosts the bi-weekly radio program "It's Our Money with Ellen Brown," hosts PBI’s TV program “The Public Bank Solution” and has written and produced a number of videos for PBI.
Through these media initiatives and his work with public banking, Walt intends to expand understanding and public participation in helping transform the dominant paradigms of public policy that prioritize money and power over people and planet. He holds a BA in Philosophy and Geography from Valparaiso University.
Pamela Powers Hannley
Pam regularly writes about politics, economics, feminism, healthcare and medicine, and immigration for Blog for Arizona, the Tucson Progressive, and the Huffington Post. She is co-chair of the Arizona Progressive Democratic Caucus and co-director of Arizonans for a New Economy, the group responsible for getting public banking on that state's legislative agenda. Pam is also managing editor for the American Journal of Medicine. She has received 15 awards in communication or photography during her career. She holds a master’s in public health from The University of Arizona and a bachelors in journalism from The Ohio State University. An Amherst, Ohio native, Pam has lived in Tucson, Arizona for more than 30 years.
Lawrence Taubman's conscience for social justice was formed as a child living under Jim Crow in Oklahoma. His first act as an activist was quelling a race riot on the campus of his Southern California high school the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. So successful was the program that he developed that the Ford Foundation studied it and created a model that was implemented throughout other schools to prevent racial strife.
After attending law school for two years, Taubman took a leave of absence to open a fringe theater in London, England where for several years he produced and directed the premiere of award-winning, American off-Broadway plays, including David Rabe's anti-Vietnam War Sticks & Bones which was invited to the English National Theatre. After returning to and graduating from law school with honors, Taubman practiced litigation in Los Angeles until his passion for social and racial justice led him to form a film production company and to produce Hollywood's only anti-apartheid drama told from the Black perspective.
Today, Taubman is in production and post-production on a number of feature documentaries, as well as co-founding and acting as publisher of a major, international, activist website. Taubman sees Public Banking as a social justice issue with the potential of being a genuinely transformative solution to the unsustainable and corrupt practices of the current banking and financial system. Taubman lives in Seattle, where he revels in the beauty of the Pacific Northwest: running, kayaking, hiking, horseback riding.
An adoption social worker by profession, Nichoe has spent much of her life in environmental, civil rights and economic justice work. In 2011, she helped form WeArePeopleHere! whose mission was to seek an antidote to plutocracy. In 2012 Nichoe introduced public banking to New Mexico as a means to regaining dignity, hope and economic democracy at the local level. She co-organized Banking on New Mexico, which hosted an international public banking symposium in Santa Fe in September 2014. Nichoe has served on the Executive committee of that organization, and coordinated the “Brass Tacks Team” which does technical research grounding public banking in facts and data. Her efforts, along with others, led the City of Santa Fe to commission a public bank feasibility study in 2015.
Jordan Modell headed up Customer Relations Management departments for most of the major Wall Street money center banks in New York for 20 years and did special assignments for the Federal Reserve before starting his own strategic analytics company for Fortune 100 clients. Having decided that the system was just not working for the people, Jordan set out on a quest to transform banking from profit-centric to people-centric.
He was founding CEO of the Internet Credit Union, which had a goal of serving the under-served with viable, affordable high-tech financial products, and to assist member-customers to gain access to capital for building credit to lead them out of, not into, debt. Jordan holds an MBA in Marketing/Information Systems from New York University and in addition to numerous speaking engagements in the US and abroad, he was a contributing author to the book “New Age of Financial Services Marketing” as well as an adjunct professor at NYU’s Graduate Business School.
Scott has been assisting PBI and other public banking advocacy groups for several years. He is the author of America is not Broke, former president of Common Ground NYC, and is the state coordinator for New York's chapter of the Public Banking Institute. He's also Managing Editor & The Economics Editor at Opednews, and a blogger for Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and Global Economic Intersection. Scott grew up in New York City and Pennsylvania. He graduated with honors and a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Pennsylvania State University and was a member of the Psychology honor society PSI CHI. He is also an avid bicyclist and ride co-leader in a prominent bike advocacy organization.
Mike Krauss is a former officer of county and state government, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Republican State Committee and an advisor to regional and national political and public policy organizations. His public service has focused on energy and water conservation, rural housing rehabilitation and historic preservation. Mike has broad experience in North American and international commerce as the Vice President of Leasing and International Sales for the Strick Companies, CEO of Remex SA de CV and AVP Automotive and Intermodal for a Class I railroad, TFM SA de CV (now Kansas City Southern de Mexico). He is the author of the forthcoming novel "Pursuits of Happiness," and his by line has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Philadelphia Inquirer, other daily newspapers and regularly in the Bucks County Courier Times. He is currently researching a social study of post World War II suburban United States. Mike is a Lay Minister in the Episcopal Church and describes himself as "passionate about justice, indifferent to authority."
Gwen most recently made national headlines with her work in Vermont to ask Town Meetings to consider public banking. In March of 2014, 18 cities and towns in Vermont voted to endorse a resolution directing the state legislators to create a State Bank for Vermont. Thanks to the media expertise of William Boardman and Matt Stannard, the national media picked up on the story, resulting in over 20 radio interviews, print stories, and a syndicated television program.
Gwen is the author of several books on sustainable communities and economic reform, including her most recent book with Bernard Lietaer called Creating Wealth: Growing Local Communities with Local Currencies. She has been an advocate for economic reform for over 25 years, and implemented new currency projects on the local level in her recent position as the Director of Planning and Community Development for the City of Montpelier. Her work spans the globe – she has worked in all the major world regions at this point, and with cities, towns, regions, provinces, and states in the United States and Canada. Gwen is an advocate of a public monetary system with a deep commitment to local action.
Landon graduated from Yale and Harvard Business School, was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Peru, taught at Stanford's Business School in Lima, worked for several Wall Street investment firms, was a trainer for est and LifeSpring, started several businesses, did team building and coaching for senior executives of Fortune 500 companies, has worked on complementary currency projects in New Zealand and South America, is a world champion rower and completed the Iditarod Dog Sled race in 1980.
Christapher holds an MA in Cultural Anthropology. In 1996, he co-founded the Radiant Life Company, devoted to indigenous-inspired health solutions. Later, he helped launch Blume Distillation, dedicated to creating appropriate scale bioethanol production equipment. A longtime board member and former chair of the Public Banking Institute, and an honorary board member of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Christapher is author of the forthcoming book "Love Blooming: Unleashing the Magnificent Potential of Our Children."
Rickey Gard Diamond
A former member of PBI's Board of Directors, Rickey comes from a long line of accounting women, her grandmother, mom and elder daughter, the last two company controllers. She took a different path and wound up in poverty as a single mom before she finished her education. She worked in the anti-poverty movement during the Reagan years, writing to demystify confounding federal legislation and regulation; she later helped develop a rural domestic violence agency, a parent-child center and the Vermont Foodbank. In 1984, she earned an MFA in Writing at Vermont College, and the following year became founding editor of Vermont Woman, where she continues today as senior contributing editor. She has published over a hundred articles and short stories, and one novel, Second Sight (Calyx 1999; HarperCollins 2000). She taught for over 20 years at Vermont College, developing seminars rooted in literature and economics and her interest in women’s systemic poverty. You can see her online stories Black Bear and Worms, as well as her latest economic work, Screwnomics, at Trivia: Feminist Voices. In 2008, she presented “Economics is Greek to Me,” de-coding masculine language and assumptions at the Economic Justice Summit in Atlanta, sponsored by NOW (National Organization of Women), The Women’s Institute on Policy Research and The Council of American Negro Women. After Wall Street blew up, she wrote a six-article series, “An Economy of Our Own” at Vermont Woman for which she won a National Newspaper Association award in 2012, citing her investigative reporting and “atypical” sources. “By which I suppose they meant women,” she says, “including Ellen Brown and public banking.”