Board of Directors
- Gloria Terry, Texas Council on Family Violence (Chair)
- Paul Mifsud, Office of the Commissioner of Baseball (Vice Chair)
- Susan Higginbotham, Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (Treasurer)
- Brian Jones, Black Rock Group (Secretary)
- Jenny Backus, Backus Consulting
- Karma Cottman, DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- Antigone Davis, Facebook
- David Diggs, CTIA–The Wireless Association
- Ben Hammer, AARP
- Sarah Holland, Google
- Susan L. Lees, Allstate Insurance Company
- Vanessa Timmons, Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
- Deborah J. Vagins, NNEDV President and CEO
Gloria Terry (Chair): Gloria Aguilera Terry joined the Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) in January 2008 as President, and was promoted to Chief Executive Officer in 2013. In her role as CEO, Gloria guides and directs the statewide activities of TCFV, such as the Texas legislative session. She has been successful in establishing and fostering statewide tactical partnerships, working with staff to provide outstanding services to programs, and strategically positioning TCFV to create the influence necessary to continue serving the needs of victims and their families. Ms. Terry came to the Texas Council on Family Violence from El Paso, Texas where she served as Executive Director of the Center Against Family Violence (CAFV). During her tenure at the CAFV, Gloria managed a significant border community domestic violence program with a $1.8 million dollar budget and a staff of fifty employees. Ms. Terry, a 2003 Leadership Texas graduate, holds a BBA from the University of Texas at El Paso. Her extensive community service includes serving on the Tarrant County Family Advocacy Steering Committee; Collaborative Council for the Judicial Commission for Children, Youth and Families with the Texas Supreme Court; VAWA Planning Committee with the Governor’s Office; National Leadership Committee with Center for Disease Control; and Diversity Committee of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Gloria has been a member of the NNEDV board since 2013.
Paul Mifsud (Vice Chair): Paul is Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, Labor Relations & Player Programs, at the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball. Prior to joining Major League Baseball, Paul was an associate in the Labor & Employment Department of Proskauer Rose, LLP, in New York. Paul was a principal draftsman of Major League Baseball’s first domestic violence policy, anti-hazing & anti-bullying policy, and the MLB workplace code of conduct. In this respect, Paul is responsible for League-wide education and training of players under these policies. Paul has been involved in nearly every player grievance that has been arbitrated since 2001, including many challenging discipline under the Joint Drug Program, and in the negotiations with the Players Association over discipline and training for violators of the Joint Domestic Violence Policy, which was implemented in 2015. And Paul has participated in dozens of salary arbitration cases since 2001, performing the role of lead counsel for the Commissioner’s Office in over 20 cases since 2006. Paul is a 1995 graduate of Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, where he majored in Economics and minored in Russian language. He received his J.D. from N.Y.U. School of Law in 1998. Paul lives in Irvington, New York, with his wife and three children.
Susan Higginbotham (Treasurer): Susan Higginbotham is CEO of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV) and has more than 30 years of experience in addressing mission-related issues including domestic violence, reproductive and sexual health, HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ health. Susan previously served as Executive Director of the Society of Family Planning (SFP) based in Philadelphia; President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Chester County; and executive director of the AIDS Fund. Before relocating to Pennsylvania, Higginbotham was executive director of a community-based domestic violence center in South Carolina, and went on to lead the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (SCCADVSA) as executive director. Susan received her BA in psychology and political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her Master’s degree in Counselor Education and Psychology from North Carolina State University.
Brian Jones (Secretary): A partner with the Black Rock Group (BRG), Brian Jones has a proven track record of creating and managing winning public affairs and public relations campaigns for some of the country’s most innovative companies, associations and coalitions, along with national political candidates. Brian has worked for and with a number of national and local non-profit organizations over the past 20 years. Much of his work in recent years has been on tech policy issues including electronic communications privacy, balance in copyright, self-driving vehicles, and protecting children online. Brian also worked closely with the non-profit Rights for Girls, helping to see the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act signed into law. Brian has also been extremely active in the world of electoral politics serving in senior roles for the presidential campaigns of Mitt Romney, John McCain, Chris Christie, and George W. Bush. In 2011, Brian was named one of the “top free-agent GOP operatives” by the Washington Post. From 2004 to 2007, Brian was the Communications Director at the Republican National Committee. Brian earned his MA from the University of Washington in Seattle and BA from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. He lives in Alexandria, CA with his wife, Emily, and their two children.
Jenny Backus: With over 20 years as a strategic communicator, Jenny Backus comes to NNEDV with unparalleled experience from her political and non-profit work. In the political sphere, Jenny has worked as Communications Director for Sen. Harry Reid, and Press Secretary for the Democratic National Committee. During the 2004 and 2008 election cycles, she managed over 40 Presidential Primary debates, forums, and events. For the first two years of the Obama Administration, Jenny served as the acting assistant secretary for Public Affairs (ASPA) and the principal deputy assistant secretary for Strategy & Planning at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In these roles, she managed communications and marketing for HHS, and led the communications efforts associated with the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act. In the non-profit sector, Jenny served as a consultant for NARAL Pro Choice America, is the nominations chair for the DC Public Library Foundation Board, and sits on the Board of Trustees for World Learning Inc. As Senior Policy Advisor and Head of Strategic Outreach & Engagement at Google from 2012 to 2015, Jenny was instrumental in strengthening NNEDV’s partnership with Google, one of its most important supporters. Today, she is the President and CEO of Backus Consulting LLC, a strategic communications firm. Jenny has been the Chair of NNEDV’s Board of Directors since 2016.
Karma Cottman: Karma joined the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence (DCCADV) as Executive Director in 2010. DCCADV provides leadership to all sectors of the Washington, DC Community to respond effectively to the needs of domestic violence survivors and their children. Before moving to lead DCCADV, Cottman served as NNEDV’s Vice President of Policy and Emerging Issues, directing the organization’s policy agenda and supervising state coalition and housing technical assistance projects. She worked closely with national policy partners to strengthen federal legislation to effectively respond to the needs of all domestic violence survivors. At NNEDV, Cottman also worked with federal agencies to enhance violence against women programming. Prior to joining NNEDV, Karma served as the co-director of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s Rural Diversity Initiative. Karma was a founder of Ujima, Inc.: The National Center on Violence Against Women in the Black Community, a national, culturally-specific services issue resource center to provide support to and be a voice for the Black Community in response to domestic, sexual and community violence. Since 1994, Karma, who is a Washington D.C. native, has worked with numerous national partners to address emerging issues in domestic violence service provision, and has sat on several national committees, including the steering committee of the Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community and the Policy Partnership for Communities of Color.
Antigone Davis: Antigone Davis has served as Facebook’s Head of Global Safety Policy since 2014. In this role, she works with both internal teams at Facebook, and external safety organizations and government bodies, to ensure that Facebook remains a leader in online safety. Antigone also spearheads Facebook’s Safety Advisory Board, overseeing a team of leading safety organizations, including NNEDV, that provides Facebook with cutting edge research and advice on best practices around global and online safety. Antigone is committed to addressing the intersections between domestic violence and tech safety. In 2015, she participated in a panel on technology safety during the 3rd World Conference of Women’s Shelters held in The Hague. Antigone has been instrumental in strengthening NNEDV’s partnership with Facebook, one of our most important partners. Ms. Davis also serves on the boards of WePROTECT and the Family Online Safety Institute.
David Diggs: Since October 2017, David Diggs has led David Diggs & Associates, LLC, a consulting practice helping clients connect to the wireless community. Before founding David Diggs & Associates, Diggs served as President and CEO of the Wireless History Foundation, and Vice President of Wireless Internet Development for CTIA–The Wireless Association, where he was responsible for working with industry stakeholders to accelerate the growth of the wireless data segment of the industry. Diggs began his tenure at CTIA in 1995 as the Vice President of Operations, and from 2000 to 2009 was Executive Director of The Wireless Foundation. Under his leadership, The Wireless Foundation was a significant supporter of NNEDV’s Safety Net Project. Prior to his time at CTIA, Diggs spent nearly 20 years serving in leadership positions at a variety of wireless companies including Dispatch Communication, Inc. (now Sprint Nextel), Bell Atlantic Mobile Systems, Inc. (now Verizon Wireless), and Cellular One (now AT&T Mobility).
Ben Hammer: Ben is AARP’s Strategic Communications Director for Advocacy, a position in which he uses his background as a business reporter and public affairs veteran to advance the organization’s work on behalf of Americans over 50. In that role, he also supports the independent AARP Foundation in its work to end senior poverty. Ben is the former principal of Hammer Strategies, a D.C. public affairs and small business consulting firm. Prior to that, he was a Vice President of the Glover Park Group’s public affairs practice. His clients have included Airbnb, the Entertainment Software Association, Discovery, Expedia, the Food Network, Microsoft, Tennis Channel, TripAdvisor, the Wireless Infrastructure Association, Yahoo!, and the four largest U.S. broadcast networks. Prior to his work in public affairs, Ben was a reporter for the Washington Business Journal, a Washington Post business magazine, Reuters, Agence France Presse and Black Issues in Higher Education. Ben is the past Board Secretary of NNEDV, and has been a member of the board since 2014. He is the Vice President of the Daily Pennsylvanian Alumni Association, past board member of D.C. arts non-profit Day Eight, and a pro bono advisor to Miriam’s Kitchen and Avodah Jewish Service Corps. Ben is a long-time Capitals season ticket holder, sometimes little league coach, and staff member at Grand Cata Latin Wine Shop. He and his wife Valerie live in Washington, D.C.
Sarah Holland: Sarah Holland is the U.S. Public Policy lead for Google’s strategy and programs on youth and technology, focusing on consumer privacy and data innovation. Prior to joining Google, she served as Legislative Assistant and Senior Advisor to Senator Mark Pryor on online safety, communications and technology, foreign policy, and education issues. In Spring 2018, Sarah received a project-based fellowship on artificial intelligence and its governance at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, MA. Sarah received a B.A. from the University of Arkansas and an M.A. from the Johns Hopkins University, and also studied at the American University in Cairo, Egypt. She is the immediate past board chair of the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) Board of Directors.
Susan L. Lees: As Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of The Allstate Corporation, Susie leads the legal team to guide Allstate’s business strategy, ensure sound compliance of government practices, and foster a healthy legal, legislative and regulatory environment. She joined Allstate in 1988 and has held a variety of leadership positions while successfully directing several key initiatives for the corporation, most notably during her previous role as Senior Vice President and Deputy General Counsel for Allstate Financial. During her extensive tenure at Allstate, Susie led a multitude of complex initiatives, including mergers and acquisitions like the company’s purchase of American Heritage Life Insurance Company. Lees holds an A.B. degree in political science from Brown University and a J.D. from the University of Oklahoma College of Law. She has been a champion of key societal issues and has served as a member of Allstate’s Enterprise Diversity Council. Susie chairs the Audit Committee of NNEDV and serves on the boards of the National Association of Women Lawyers, Rand Institute for Civil Justice and the Institute for Legal Reform.
Vanessa Timmons: Executive Director of the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (OCASDV), Vanessa has been a writer, activist, and women’s health advocate for over 25 years. She attended Marylhurst University’s Multidisciplinary Studies Program in Portland, Oregon, and has continued her formal education through certificates and training, including the Interpersonal Neurobiology of Trauma Certification Program at Portland State University. Vanessa has used this background to develop numerous programs integrating trauma-informed, neurobiological-grounded tools for advocacy including her Ted Talk,“Sustaining Bravery During Difficult Times.” Timmons previously served as the Director of Programs at Raphael House of Portland, as the Northwest regional field organizer for the National Organization for Women, and the domestic violence program coordinator for the Multnomah County Domestic Violence Coordination Office, in addition to serving OCADSV in the past as the Women of Color Coordinator and Board Chair. Timmons is the 2017 recipient of NNEDV’s Diane Reese Excellence in Advocacy in the Movement (“DREAM”) Award for her dedication to holistic and community-centered approach to advocacy and healing.
Deborah J. Vagins, President and CEO: Deborah brings with her to NNEDV decades of experience as a guiding voice in civil, women’s, and human rights legal and policy advocacy, with a focus on economic and racial justice issues. Prior to joining NNEDV, Deborah was the Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Research at the American Association of University Women (AAUW). At AAUW, Deborah led the government relations, legal advocacy, and research department to advance the organization’s vision at the local, state, and federal levels. In this role, Deborah developed strategic campaigns through advocacy, case law development, and research to reshape a public policy agenda and to marshal broad support for gender equity initiatives with respect to economic security, education, and leadership roles for women. Most recently, she helped to lead the national Paycheck Fairness Act coalition and the organization’s fight against the Administration’s rollback of sexual assault and sexual harassment protections in schools. She is the co-author of several AAUW research reports, including The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap, Limiting our Livelihoods: The Cumulative Impact of Sexual Harassment on Women’s Careers, and Broken Ladders: Barriers to Women’s Representation in Nonprofit Leadership.
Deborah frequently lectures, speaks at press conferences and rallies, and has made appearances on The TODAY Show and NBC Nightly News and in Glamour, USA Today, Time, the New Republic, The New York Times, C-SPAN, TIME, Washington Post, AP, CQ, NPR, The Hill, Huffington Post, and others. In 2019, she was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts for her work in civil and women’s rights.
Before AAUW, Deborah was a Chief of Staff and Principal Attorney Advisor at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Ms. Vagins rendered legal interpretations regarding Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and other laws governing equal employment opportunity. She served as an agency representative on the White House Council for Women and Girls, the White House Equal Pay Task Force, and the DOJ Interagency Transgender Workgroup. Among other projects, she was part of the teams working on the EEOC’s groundbreaking positions on LGBTQ workplace protections, the EEOC’s pay data collection initiative, and new guidance on retaliation and pregnancy discrimination.
Prior to joining the EEOC in 2015, Deborah was the Senior Legislative Counsel on civil rights issues for the American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office. In this position, Deborah led campaigns on federal legislative and executive branch actions, including on employment discrimination and pay equity, voting rights, racial disparities in education and the school-to-prison pipeline, disability rights, and other civil and human rights issue areas. She worked closely with coalition partners and key congressional, White House, and federal agency staff to advance a national civil rights agenda.
At the ACLU, Deborah was instrumental in advocating for passage of major civil rights laws, including the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 and the 2006 reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act and, among others. She helped design and successfully advocated for executive action on employment and education issues, including the Department of Labor’s executive order banning punitive pay secrecy policies in federal contracting and the Department of Education’s racial disparities in school discipline guidance. She co-chaired several national civil rights coalitions advocating for passage of federal bills, such as the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Democracy Restoration Act. While at the ACLU, Deborah drafted and co-authored numerous congressional statements, articles, and reports including: Working in the Shadows: Ending Employment Discrimination for LGBT Americans; Promises to Keep: The Impact of the Voting Rights Act; The Democracy Restoration Act: Addressing A Centuries-Old Injustice; and Cracks in the System: Twenty Years of an Unjust Federal Crack Cocaine Law.
Prior to joining the ACLU in 2005, Deborah served as the Acting Deputy General Counsel and Senior Attorney-Advisor at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR). The general counsel’s office provided recommendations to the White House, Congress and federal agencies to improve national civil rights policies and preserve constitutional protections. Deborah and the staff conducted investigations, held briefings, and drafted comprehensive analyses to develop national policies regarding voting rights, Title VI enforcement, environmental justice, racial disparities in education, and affirmative action.
Before working at USCCR, Deborah was an associate in the employment discrimination and civil rights practice group at Cohen Milstein, where she litigated high-profile nationwide civil rights class actions. She represented more than 1.5 million women from Wal-Mart in the largest Title VII employment discrimination class action in history. Prior to that, Deborah was an associate at Sidley & Austin in the civil, criminal, and constitutional litigation practice group and founded the firm’s Committee for the Recruitment and Retention of Women. Earlier Deborah worked at EMILY’s List and clerked at the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project.
Deborah graduated magna cum laude from the Washington College of Law at American University, where she was an editor of the law review and the recipient of the Gillett-Mussey scholarship for her contributions in the field of gender equity. She received her B.A. with distinction from Swarthmore College.