Board of Directors

Veronica Dangerfield - Board Chair

Based in Oakland, CA


Veronica Dangerfield is a Financial Educator for Patelco Credit Union, an award-winning speaker, a published poet, and a professional comedienne.

She supported the Bay Area Crisis Nursery for six year by producing and performing in an annual Mother’s Day Comedy Show.  Since 2008, she has volunteered with the Berkeley High School RISE program teaching students and serving on the Board. 

Ms. Dangerfield teaches financial empowerment for Habitat for Humanity and has taught financial literacy for ten years at UC Berkeley, Cal State University East Bay, San Francisco State University, Diablo Valley College, Sierra Junior College, and dozens of high schools and non-profits.

She received her BA Degree in Communications from Sacramento State University.

She is a mother of three, an avid traveler, and committed to life-long learning.


Avril Fitzgerald – Board Secretary

Based in Oakland, CA


Born in Dublin, Ireland, Ms. Fitzgerald is a 25-year veteran of the Financial Services industry and a Vice President at Swiss Re, a global reinsurance firm.

She became committed to women's issues in 2007 during the Darfur crisis. She and a tenacious team of colleagues raised the funds to support the Kassab Women's Center in Darfur, the prototype of the Women's Center model.



Lisa Gardner. Board Treasurer

Based in San Francisco


Raised in Massachusetts and now a long-time Bay Area resident, Lisa Gardner has had a 25-year career in high-tech sales and account management.  Currently, she is Global Relationships Manager at CenturyLink, the third largest telecommunications and IT services company in the USA, where she manages a team responsible for $20M of annual revenue.

She attended the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA and served as the President of the Holy Cross Club of Northern California for two years.  In this role, she helped build a local community for area alumnae/i, prospective students and their families and raised funds to provide scholarships for students in need.

Lisa also served on the Advisory Board of Child Shelter International.


Grant Williams

Based in Oregon


Mr. Williams served in the U.S. Air Force then pursued a career as a professional dancer/choreographer/teacher in Los Angeles.

He was initiated into the Mankind Project in 1999 and is a certified I-Group Leader. He became active in Boys to Men in 2002 and took the program to South Africa in 2007. He has supported community service projects in Africa including the construction of a clinic in southern Sudan and a school in northern Uganda. He is also supporting the expansion of an orphanage in Haiti. Mr. Williams founded non-profit organization The Edge in 2008.



Carolyn Woodson

Based in Emeryville, CA


Raised in the Midwest and on Long Island, Carolyn J. Woodson was bit by the community-service bug as a teenager working alongside VISTA volunteers to bring art education to the village of Greenport.

Since then, Carolyn has continued to serve each of the communities where she resided, including with the late Rev. William Sloane Coffin at Riverside Church in NYC on a homeless program advisory board, and under Mayor Sandra Freeman of Tampa, Florida on the committee for Art in Public Places.

In Philadelphia PA, she served on the WMAN (West Mount Airy Neighbors) Board during their 50th anniversary celebration. West Mt. Airy is the oldest integrated neighborhood in the U.S.

In the late 1980's, Carolyn served as CEO of Colewood Communications with a focus on women's health education.

She currently works as a certified life, health, wellness and grief coach, and as an energy healer to help others bring harmony to their lives. Carolyn has led women at Oakland Center in a mindfulness meditation series that will continue monthly throughout 2017.

She is the widow of the late Dr. Kirk A. Woodson, mother of two attorneys, a life long learner committed to lifting up others in the community


Susan Burgess-Lent – Founder, Executive Director

Based in Oakland, CA


Executive Director, WCI

Ms. Burgess-Lent began her career in humanitarian relief and development in 1994 and  has worked extensively in East Africa. She is the former Program Director of Darfur Peace and Development Organization (DPDO) responsible for the operational support for 37 primary schools in North Darfur and funding and operation of Kassab Women’s Center, the genesis of the Women's Center model.

She has raised over $1,000,000 in grants from The MacArthur Foundation, the US State Department, Weyerhaeuser Family Foundation, Friedman Family Foundation, Changes Happens Foundation, Swiss Re Foundation, Chevron Employee Matching Funds, Funds for NGOs, Ideas for Good, hundreds of individual donors and scores of businesses.

Advisory Board

Anum Murtaza

based in Oakland, CA


Anum joined the WCI team in 2017. As a finance professional, she has partnered with senior leaders across industries to drive financial management and provide decision support. She is passionate about connecting people and giving back to those in need.




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