Twelve young leaders are selected for a year-long fellowship to develop their leadership skills and expand collective knowledge for the charitable sector

2018 NGen Fellows – Mr Matt Roberson


(WASHINGTON, May 7, 2018) – Independent Sector is proud to announce the 2018 cohort of the American Express NGen Fellows program.

The NGen Fellows, 12 outstanding charitable sector leaders aged 40 or under, are selected each year to participate in a range of activities that deepen their individual capabilities, expand their collective knowledge, and grow their professional networks. This selective fellowship program continues to build the next generation of charitable leaders as part of IS’ NGen: Moving Nonprofit Leaders from Next to Now initiative.

This year, the program, which is in its ninth year, produced a record number of applications. Changes to the program included a revamp of the selection criteria, which involved opening submissions to emerging leaders across the social sector and accepting applicants of organizations that do not hold Independent Sector membership.

The 2018 NGen Fellows are:

  • Schylar Baber, Executive Director, Voice for Adoption, Washington, DC
  • Joyvin Benton, Development Director, Arkansas Public Policy Panel, Sherwood, AR
  • Terri Seay Bryant, Program Director, Georgia Leadership Institute for School Improvement, Atlanta, GA
  • Elizabeth Cervantes, Director of Organizing, Southwest Suburban Immigrant Project, Romeoville, IL
  • Kenya Collins, Mississippi Program Manager, FoodCorps, Jackson, MS
  • Maria Dautruche, Vice President, Partnership & Advancement, National Urban League, Bronx, NY
  • Seyron Foo, Director, Public Policy & Government Relations, Southern California Grantmakers, Los Angeles, CA
  • Nesha Jairam, Data & Systems Manager, Georgia Division of Family and Children Services, Atlanta, GA
  • Jose Luis Plaza, Manager, The California Endowment, Sacramento, CA
  • Matthew Roberson, Executive Director, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe – Department of Athletic Regulation, Pine City, MN
  • Sean Tennerson, Director of Social Innovation, The Case Foundation, Washington, DC
  • Autumn White Eyes, Executive Director, Lakota Children’s Enrichment, Edison, NJ

“We are thrilled to recognize yet another slate of 12 talented young professionals for this program’s ninth year,” said Daniel J. Cardinali, president and CEO of Independent Sector. “This newest cohort joins an alumni network of more than 100 accomplished leaders who are actively transforming our communities through collective action and creativity—two hallmarks of this prestigious program. We’re thrilled to see how this cohort builds on the legacy of this NGen rogram.

The program runs May 2018 to the end of the year. The Fellows will convene in person three times. The first meeting was held at the Independent Sector offices in Washington, DC last week, the second will take place in Chicago in July, and the final meeting will be during Upswell, Independent Sector’s annual summit, in Los Angeles in November.

“American Express has long-advocated for the advancement of nonprofit leaders, globally,” said Timothy J. McClimon, president of the American Express Foundation. “Through initiatives like the NGen Fellows program, we are proud to continue recognizing and developing exceptional, emerging talent across the social purpose sector.”

Learn more about the Fellows at

About Independent Sector

Independent Sector is the leadership forum for nonprofits, foundations, and corporations whose member networks collectively represent tens of thousands of organizations locally, nationally, and globally. Learn more at

About American Express: Developing New Leaders for Tomorrow

One of American Express’ three philanthropic platforms is Developing New Leaders for Tomorrow. Under this giving initiative, which recognizes the significance of strong leadership in the nonprofit and social purpose sectors, American Express makes grants focused on training high potential emerging leaders to tackle important issues in the 21st century. More than 70,000 emerging nonprofit and social sector leaders worldwide have benefitted from American Express leadership programs, including the American Express Leadership Academy among others. Launched in 2008, the American Express Leadership Academy addresses the growing need of leadership development programs in the nonprofit sector by bringing together emerging leaders from a diverse set of nonprofit, social sector and non-governmental organizations. For leadership journey stories and additional resources, visit

“A trusted leader in athletic regulation and strong advocate for Indian Country”

Matthew Roberson is an enrolled member of the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes (Keechi). Matthew serves as the Executive Director for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, Department of Athletic Regulation, Chairman of the Wichita Tribe Sports Commission, President of the Association of Combative Sports Commissions, Region Six Director for the North American Indigenous Games Board of Directors, Manager for Quivera, LLC (a tribally owned 8(a) company), President-Elect for the Indigenous Peoples’ Sports Circle, Committee Member for the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes Foster Care Review Board and a member of the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes Executive Committee.

Matthew is also a nationally certified Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts Judge and Timekeeper. He has served on the Association of Boxing Commissions, Tribal Advisory Committee since 2011. He is a former member of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association Combative Sports Panel and a member of the National Congress of American Indians.

Hailing from “The Indian Capital of the Nation” Anadarko, Oklahoma, Matthew has been a strong advocate for Indian Country as well as a trusted leader in athletic regulation. Matthew graduated from Anadarko High School in the year 2000 and attended The University of Central Oklahoma on a football scholarship while studying Business Management. In 2005, Matthew married his high school sweetheart Kearstin. In 2016, the couple welcomed their first and only child, Phoenix Rose Roberson.

Matthew is a 2016 graduate of St.Cloud State University’s MLCV Casino Leadership Program. While under his leadership, The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe Department of Athletic Regulation was recognized as the 2017 Promoter/Organization of The Year by the Minnesota Boxing Hall of Fame. This was the first and only a time an athletic commission was bestowed this honor. Matthew is also a recipient of The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development’s prestigious “40 under 40 Award,” which is bestowed upon individuals under the age of 40, nominated by members of their communities, who have demonstrated leadership, initiative, and dedication and made significant contributions in business and their community.

On a personal note, Matthew enjoys spending quality time with his friends and family. He also enjoys attending sporting events, especially The Oklahoma Sooners, OKC Thunder, Minnesota Twins and the Minnesota Vikings. Matthew also enjoys collecting Native American artwork, traveling and an occasional cigar.