Katie Milligan (’13) and Michelle Perez Ferrer (’16) have been named to the inaugural Obama Foundation Leaders USA cohort.
Composed of 100 U.S.-based leaders, Leaders USA is a six-month leadership development program that seeks to inspire, empower, and connect emerging leaders across the country.
The program builds upon the Obama Foundation’s work to support values-driven changemakers, and creates opportunities for its leaders to learn new skills and tools to accelerate positive and lasting change in their communities.
Milligan is the Entrepreneurship and Workforce Program Director of Heartland Forward, a nonprofit, non-partisan “think and do” tank focused on changing the narrative of Middle America. Heartland Forward focuses its research and programs on four pillars: innovation and entrepreneurship, health and wellness, workforce development, and regional competitiveness.
Milligan leads the organization’s programmatic efforts in workforce and entrepreneurship, focusing on developing and supporting entrepreneurs, connecting job seekers with career pathways, and working with partners to provide skills training and education. She is passionate about helping entrepreneurs across the heartland launch and scale their businesses.
Perez Ferrer is a Senior Program Officer for U.S. Programs with Winrock International, a leading nonprofit organization that uses community development and entrepreneurial ecosystems to empower the disadvantaged, increase economic opportunity, and sustain natural resources.
She leads the organization’s rural community development programming in the Mid-South region, focusing on public health and placemaking. In her role, Perez Ferrer builds the capacity of rural leaders in historically underserved areas empowering them to improve their communities.
To date, Perez Ferrer has provided technical assistance to leaders in 25 rural communities in Arkansas. She is passionate about equipping rural leaders to design and manage equitable and locally driven initiatives that improve their towns’ quality of life and economic outlook while creating strong grassroots support systems to sustain them.