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Board of Directors


Lauren McDonald

Co-Founder President

Born and raised in Northern California, Lauren is a licensed attorney and owns an intellectual property law practice in Berkeley, CA. Lauren attended Loyola Law School, Los Angeles (LLS) where she was exposed to the intricacies of the Constitution of the United States. This exposure, combined with the political tensions and racial injustices of the 2016 presidential election, sparked her desire to educate fellow “Millennials and first gens” on the intersection of law and politics in America. As a law student, Lauren worked as a clerk in the areas of criminal defense, civil litigation, and corporate law. She also served on the Board of Directors of the LLS chapter of the Black Law Students Association. In addition, she was elected to and briefly served on the Board of Outward Bound Adventures, a nonprofit located in Pasadena, CA. In founding Purple Gavel, the ultimate goal changes. Lauren seeks to empower underrepresented groups to exercise their rights and participate in our nation’s democratic process.


Allison Sherman

Co-Founder & Board Member

Born and raised in Inglewood CA, Allison has worked in education for just over 9 years. She jump-started her career as an academic advisor and program manager for the University of California, Riverside Extension- International Programs. She then moved on the pursue a masters and career in school counseling where she discovered her true passion in educating, supporting, and developing underrepresented youth from communities just like her own. Taking invaluable experience from her counseling role in the Watts community and her role as Partnership Management for one of the largest educational servicing companies, Allison looks to provide strategic developmental counseling programs and content for youth and young adults that will promote learning and growth.

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Whitley Porter

Board Member

Whitley Porter is a daughter, friend, ordained minister, life coach, and entrepreneur. Whitley is an activist for inspiration. She has been featured as a speaker at conferences, podcasts, and events within the area. Whitley currently resides in the Inland Empire where she is often found inspiring women and people at large to DREAM OUT LOUD! She has recently launched her production company (Whitley Porter Productions) and looks forward to creating content that will charge her sphere of influence to empower minorities at large.


Andrew Saetern

Board Member

Born and raised in Sacramento, Andrew is currently serving on Active Duty with the U.S. Army Reserve. Andrew earned a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from the University of California, Davis. Some of his experiences include financial services advisory, team development, management and military law. Andrew's passion for helping underserved communities developed after spending one quarter of his undergraduate studies teaching English in Peru, specifically at-risk youth. This experience brought to light some of the obstacles faced by children growing up in developing countries. For example, basic necessities such as food, clothing, school supplies, and even a hug were rarely available to the children. 


Michael Cox

Board Member

As a Los Angeles native, Michael lives and breathes everything branding and marketing. He has a passion for helping people and companies find their brand identity and grow their business. Experienced in developing B2B and B2C marketing plans to increase new customer acquisition and sustain long-term retention and growth rates. Helping start-ups and medium-sized level companies develop an online presence through proper SEO utilization and digital media channels including social media and email marketing tactics. Consistently focused on developing strategic integrated marketing communications strategies to develop a strong online brand reputation and management through product placement, advertisement, and communication to satisfy the customer’s needs.

Woman in Pink Hat

Carolyn Reed

Board Member

Coming Soon!


Sabrina Root

Board Member

As a life long resident of the North Sacramento region, she hopes to bring equitable change to the community that raised her. Her innate desire to make the world a more compassionate place led her to study Sociology in college and receive a bachelor’s degree from Sacramento State. At Sacramento State, she learned about the intersections of oppressions and the magnitude of obstacles faced by marginalized groups. As a first-generation college student from a working-class, single-parent household, she recognizes the many obstacles faced when trying to make change for one’s community. One of her long-term goals is to conduct social research that will help guide policymakers to create a more equitable world for marginalized groups. Driven by compassionate action and guided with a social justice framework, she seeks to participate in projects that help bring lasting change to the people.

Professional Man

Willie Sherman

Advisory Council

Mr. Sherman is the founder of The Sherman Group Inc., a non-profit public benefit corporation established to provide shelter care and therapeutic services for dependent, neglected and disadvantaged children between the ages 12 through 17 years. The program began full operations on January 5, 1990 and from that point in time to date the organization has hired over four hundred (400) different employees and handled a for non-profit income totaling over one hundred million dollars ($100,000,000.00). Mr. Sherman also began investing in Real-Estate at the young age of nineteen (19). He has since purchased over sixteen residential properties ranging from 2800 square-feet up-to 4000 square-feet. His investments also include various companies and marketing products.


Leah Uko

Advisory Council 

Leah got her Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Journalism and Communications from the University of California, Riverside. She is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists, Society of Professional Journalists and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated. Leah is a National Physique Committee (NPC) figure competitor bodybuilder who seeks to motivate girls, teenage women, and young women to find their confidence and self-worth through fitness and becoming physically strong. She admits, the plethora of good restaurants in LA are making it hard to eat chicken and asparagus all day. During her free time, Leah explores new gyms in the city and spends time with her family and friends who all live right here in Southern California.
Leah is always looking for a story and community event where she can get involved.


Ari Filian

Advisory Council

Ari is a history enthusiast with a passion for social justice. Born to immigrant parents who have devoted their lives to improving their communities, Ari saw first-hand how helping others succeed can lift an entire community. As an employment attorney, Ari fights for workers’ rights to fair wages and working conditions. He previously worked in real estate and in disenfranchised communities to increase voter engagement and educate them on how to work with local government to bring more resources to their neighborhoods. Ari believes education is the key to recognizing and seizing opportunity and is excited to join Purple Gavel to empower the youth.

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