2016 Recipient: Laquan Lightfoot, Lafayette College ’11
Lafayette College Posse alumna Laquan Lightfoot is the 2016 winner of Posse’s Ainslie Alumni Achievement Award in recognition of her exemplary leadership and commitment to serving her community as an assistant district attorney.
Laquan, one of the youngest women of color serving as an ADA in Philadelphia, is determined to be part of the driving force that will create change and improve our justice system. Inspired to be a courtroom advocate for those who need a voice, she hopes that she will have a wide ranging impact on the communities she serves.
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Laquan attended Lafayette College. She received her Bachelor of Arts in government and law in 2011 and went on to graduate from Drexel University’s Thomas R. Kline School of Law in 2014. An active member of the law school community, she volunteered in the Domestic Violence Unit of Philadelphia Family Court and she served on the executive board of the Mid-Atlantic Black Law Students Association.
2015: Mia Howard, Vanderbilt University ’05
Mia is the founder and executive director of Intrepid College Prep Charter School in Nashville, Tennessee. The school’s mission is to equip all scholars in grades 5 through 12 with the academic foundation, financial literacy and ethical development necessary to excel in selective colleges, earn professional opportunities and demonstrate positive leadership. Mia graduated cum laude from Vanderbilt University and University of Pennsylvania Law School, and she holds a certificate in business and public policy from the Wharton School.
2014: Ryan Letada, Wheaton College ’08
Ryan is the CEO and cofounder of NextDayBetter, an organization that connects diaspora communities to create positive social change. In recognition for his contributions to the global community, he was selected to join the FylPRO a leadership program administered by the Philippines embassy, which selects 10 leaders nationally to connect and collaborate with the Philippines’ leading public, private and civic leaders.
2013: Nadia Marie Sasso, Bucknell University ’11
Nadia, a first-generation American, is the co-founder of Yehri Wi Cry (YWC), an organization that has distributed hundreds of birthing kits in Sierra Leone to improve birth and delivery rates and enhance the quality of life for women and children. She has a master’s degree from Lehigh University and begins a Ph.D. program at Cornell University in 2014.
2012: Carmen Green Jr., Trinity College ’06
Carmen Green Jr. joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 2008. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 where he successfully planned the tactical communications architecture for the Regional Command Southwest. In 2012, he was promoted to captain. Carmen’s work with the Marines to help protect people around the world is a testament to his remarkable character and strong leadership skills.
2011: Mason Richards, Vanderbilt University ’97
Mason Richards is a filmmaker with a deep commitment to telling the stories that often go unheard. His debut film, The Seawall, premiered at the world-renowned Cannes Film Festival in 2011, a triumph for any filmmaker and the culmination of a childhood dream for Mason.
2010: Loubens Theork, Hamilton College ’06
Loubens Theork is deeply committed to the progress of his native Haiti. He launched an endeavor that will use targeted investments in industries such as real estate, retail and banking to support Haitian economic development. Each year, Loubens and his brothers, also Posse Scholars, provide education funds to low-income students in Haiti.
2009: Dr. Erica Spatz, Vanderbilt University ’97
In 2008, Dr. Erica Spatz co-founded Project Access-New Haven, which provides timely access to medical care for people without insurance, and she continues to serve on its board. A Yale University faculty member in cardiovascular medicine as part of the Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation, her research focuses on access to care, and improving quality and outcomes in adults with cardiovascular disease.
2008: Carlos Carela, Vanderbilt University ’99
Carlos Carela was one of the first Posse alumni to begin a career on Wall Street. He worked at Bloomberg Financial Markets for over five years and later as a consultant for the Central Bank of the Dominican Republic. In 2007, he founded Cava Wine Bar & Gallery, an establishment celebrating Latin and Caribbean cuisine, culture and art.
About the Ainslie Award
When Posse was a fledgling, grassroots organization it got lucky—Michael Ainslie came into its life. In that serendipitous encounter, he recognized the potential of what Posse could eventually become. In 1994, Michael became Posse’s first board chair. Under his leadership Michael worked with staff, Scholars, colleges, universities, donors and community leaders to help Posse become what it is today— one of the most comprehensive and successful college access and youth leadership development programs in the United States.
After making certain that Posse was standing on its feet, firm, solid, established and recognized, Michael stepped down after 13 years at the helm of the national board of directors.
As a tribute to his accomplishments Posse established the Ainslie Fund: a $1 million fund that will permanently endow a portion of the alumni program at The Posse Foundation and institute in perpetuity The Ainslie Alumni Achievement Award.
The Ainslie Alumni Achievement Award recognizes the outstanding accomplishments of a Posse alumna/us each year with a prize of $10,000. The prize will go to a graduate who has achieved success and given back to the world— just like Michael. Michael is the very embodiment of the values we seek in our Scholars and Posse will forever be indebted to him.