Big Brothers Big Sisters of America Appoints New Board Members Bringing Diverse Perspectives to Drive Greater Impact

Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA), the largest and most experienced youth mentoring organization in the United States, announced the election of four new Board members Makola M. Abdullah, Ph.D., president of Virginia State University; Michael Carrel, president, CEO, and director of AtriCure; Michael E. Kassan, founder, chairman and CEO of MediaLink; and Rhonda Mims, senior vice president, Chief Legal and External Affairs Officer of Mission Square Retirement. This new cohort of leadership will bring their expertise and compassion to BBBSA in order to increase equity, impact, and growth across the organization, making a lasting impact on the lives of young people.

“I look forward to working with this group of dynamic leaders as they truly embody the spirit of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America,” said Ken Burdick, BBBSA National Board Chair. “We are honored to have such a dedicated National Board to support our mission and values, be more representative of the communities we serve, and to advance greater equity and access to mentorship experiences for all young people across the nation.”

The newest members of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America Board of Directors include:

Makola M. Abdullah, Ph.D.: President of Virginia State University. Dr. Abdullah has positioned VSU successfully into a chapter of continued growth focusing on initiatives that include Student Opportunity and Access, Academic Excellence and The Holistic Experience for Students. Additionally, Dr. Abdullah is an active member on numerous boards and committees which includes Chair of the Council of 1890s Presidents for Association of Public Land-Grant Universities; Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on College, and Vice Chair of the Council of Presidents for Virginia Institutions of Higher Education.

Michael Carrel: President, Chief Executive Officer and Director of AtriCure, a public company where Carrel has fostered a patient-first culture that’s focused on helping patients who suffer from the most difficult-to-treat atrial fibrillation, and in helping surgical patients with post-operation pain management. This strategic approach has led AtriCure to significantly invest in the development of a pipeline of novel products and groundbreaking clinical trials that are helping millions of patients worldwide. Carrel has a deep commitment to BBBSA and has been involved since his early twenties, when he started as a Big Brother in the Chicago area and continued his work in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area as a board member for the local Big Brothers Big Sisters agency.

Michael E. Kassan: Founder, Chairman and CEO of MediaLink, a leading strategic advisory firm. Described as the “ultimate power broker,” he is a trusted advisor on speed dial with every major executive in the media, marketing, entertainment and technology C-Suite. Kassan and his global team of more than 125 specialists provide counsel for navigating the age of digital disruption in areas including: marketing transformation, data and technology solutions, growth strategy, private equity advisory and executive search and talent development. In 2019, Kassan was inducted into the American Advertising Federation’s Hall of Fame, which is considered the highest honor in advertising. Kassan is also a strong supporter of community and not-for-profit programs; he currently serves as Chair of the UJA-New York Marketing Communications Committee and is a Board member of the American Advertising Federation, the Ad Council and the Paley Center for Media.

Rhonda Mims: Senior Vice President, Chief Legal and External Affairs Officer of Mission Square Retirement. Throughout her career, Mims has been nationally recognized for diversity and inclusion strategies, charitable giving, volunteer efforts, reputation management, and environmental sustainability. Mims is responsible for leading and directing the company’s legal, risk and compliance activities as well as expanding Mission Square Retirement’s government affairs, advocacy, and corporate social responsibility strategies.

“As we welcome the newest members to our Board of Directors, we recognize and celebrate each of them for their dedication and commitment to help grow or mission,” said Artis Stevens, President and CEO, of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. “Their contributions will accelerate Big Brothers Big Sisters as the most diverse, mission-driven, youth empowerment organization committed to empowering young people to realize their potential and set a path to a bright future.” 

These appointments will join current BBBSA Board members including executives from Fortune 500 companies such as Comcast NBCUniversal and Centene Corporation. 

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