Team

Board of Directors

Ellen Brown

Ellen Hodgson Brown

Founder & Chair

Ellen Hodgson Brown

Founder & Chair
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. The latter traces the history and evolution of the current private banking system, showing how it usurped the power to create money from the public, and how the people can take that power back through public banks that operate in the public interest. Ellen’s 300+ articles are posted at EllenBrown.com. She also co-hosts a radio program called “It’s Our Money” on PRN.FM. She is a Fellow of the Democracy Collaborative and has degrees from UC Berkeley and UCLA School of Law.
Nichoe Lichen

Nichoe Lichen

Nichoe Lichen

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 to regain dignity, hope and economic democracy at the local level. She helped found Banking on New Mexico, which hosted an international public banking symposium in Santa Fe in September 2014. Nichoe served on the Executive committee of that BonNM, and coordinated the “Brass Tacks Team” which did technical research to ground public banking in facts and data. The efforts of Nichoe and others led the City of Santa Fe to commission a public bank feasibility study in 2015. She joined the Board of the Public Banking Institute in 2015.
Carlos Marroquin

Carlos Marroquin

Carlos Marroquin

Carlos is an accomplished community organizer, union leader, and postal worker. He is a founding team member of Public Bank LA, and PBLA's Director of Community Organizing. In 2017, Carlos was central to organizing the Bring On the Power of a Public Bank town hall forum in Los Angeles that significantly catalyzed Los Angeles' public bank movement. In 2011, Carlos initiated Occupy Fights Foreclosures which led the fight for families working to save their homes from predatory banks.
Dennis Ortblad

Dennis Ortblad

Dennis Ortblad

Dennis Ortblad served in the U.S. Foreign Service as a diplomat in overseas postings in Germany, Japan, Poland, the Philippines, and Switzerland for over 25 years before returning to his home in Seattle. Prior to the Foreign Service, he worked as a university instructor in Germany and North Africa. As an embassy counselor for Economic and Financial Affairs, he learned the importance of publicly owned banks in Germany and Japan for strengthening economic development. For this reason, after retirement, he has engaged in promoting efforts to establish public banks back home in Washington state and Seattle city.
Ameya Pawar

Ameya Pawar

Ameya Pawar

Ameya Pawar a Senior Fellow with the Economic Security Project and a Senior Adviser to The Academy Group, a Chicago-based social enterprise. He is the former alderman of Chicago’s 47th Ward and the first Asian and Indian American elected to the Chicago City Council and major office in Illinois. While in office, Ameya focused legislative efforts around social justice, worker rights, and economic justice. To this end, Ameya led most all labor policy and worker rights legislation passed in Chicago over the last eight years, including raising the minimum wage to $13/hr, guaranteeing paid sick leave, combating wage theft, and preserving housing for Chicago’s most vulnerable. Ameya has a bachelor’s degree in religion and philosophy from Missouri Valley College, a master’s degree in public administration from the Illinois Institute of Technology, and is a two-time graduate from the University of Chicago with master’s degrees in threat and response management and social service administration. Ameya was a US State Department Critical Language Program alum, a 2012 University of Illinois Edgar Fellow, and was named to Crain’s Chicago 40 under 40 in 2011. Most recently, he was named a 2018 McCormick Foundation Executive Fellow. Prior to leaving office, Ameya chaired the Chicago Resilient Families Task Force. The task force made recommendations on a city-run basic income pilot, the expansion and modernization of the EITC, and the need for narrative change in public policy.
Michael Brennan

Michael Brennan

Michael Brennen

Michael Brennan is the Democratizing Capital Policy Organizer for the Democracy Policy Network, or DPN [“deepen”], a new state-level policy organization supporting the rising movements entering statehouses across the US working to deepen democracy. His first project was on public banks, which was recently published as DPN’s first policy kit. In April, he published an op-ed in the Washington Post on how to pursue an anti-austerity response to the coronavirus state budget crisis in Maryland, including the integral role of public banks for recovery. He just launched his blog Abundance on Substack, focusing on idea and strategies toward a post-scarcity society.
Walt McRee

Walt McRee

Chair Emeritus, Senior Advisor

Walt McRee

Chair Emeritus, Senior Advisor
Walt McRee was Chair of the PBI Board from 2015 - 2017. He continues to donate his time to PBI by coordinating the monthly coalition and coordinator calls. Prior to becoming Chair, Walt 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. In these roles, he 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.

Program Directors & Coordinators

Suzanne O'Keeffe

Suzanne O'Keeffe

Communications Coordinator

Suzanne O'Keeffe

Communications Coordinator
Suzanne comes to PBI after many years as a public banking advocate and homeowner activist following the financial crash. Her latest efforts for public banking in Los Angeles included creating and hosting a city-wide Public Bank People’s Forum, which included creating a powerful short video that has been viewed thousands of times. Suzanne has used her media expertise to help mobilize numerous public interest and political campaigns, including most recently as part of a team that propelled a grassroots effort to create a Los Angeles public bank – a call that has now generated response from key members of the LA City Council. She has been a Director of Marketing and Public Relations for non-profit arts organizations, an independent web developer, filmmaker, and media consultant, and a core team member of influential grassroots activist groups based in California. She holds a masters in professional writing from Carnegie Mellon, a digital media certificate from Vancouver Film School, and BS in biology / psychology from Allegheny College.
Cimbria Badenhausen

Cimbria Badenhausen

Engagement Coordinator

Cimbria Badenhausen

Engagement Coordinator
Cimbria has an MBA in Managing for Sustainability, and is a certified permaculture designer and trainer. Based in Central NY, Cimbria serves as a consultant and coach for individuals and companies who are interested in streamlining their systems, and creating pathways to thriving. Her model for life rests on the permaculture principles as a framework, and integrates financial permaculture, dynamic governance and the practice of Buddhism. Cimbria sees the Public Banking Institute as illustrating many aspects of financial permaculture. It is a grass-root organization helping to create a stakeholder-guided model of exchange which supports economic growth for all.