Board of Directors Officers
Founder and Executive Chair – Nancy Parrish
Parrish is an active leader in community and public affairs. She has devoted much of her life to issues of social justice and human rights.
In 2011, Parrish founded Protect Our Defenders, the only national human rights organization solely dedicated to ending the epidemic of sexual assault and harassment in the U.S. military and its wide-ranging effects on our communities. In 2014, the New York Times wrote that Protect Our Defenders has “quickly become the nation’s pre-eminent advocacy group on behalf of victims of sexual assault in the military.” In recognition of her work with Protect Our Defenders, Parrish was named the 2016 recipient of the Ivan Allen Jr. Prize for Social Courage.
Parrish was also a founding co-chair of Human Rights Watch’s Northern California Chapter, an organization dedicated to protecting human rights around the world. She has worked with President and Mrs. Carter in support of their international humanitarian work at the Carter Center, which is guided by a fundamental commitment to the alleviation of human suffering. Parrish served two terms as development trustee of UCSF’s Friends of the Department of Psychiatry’s Hospital Board, which led to the creation of a children’s center. She also served as an officer of the Children’s Guardian Fund Board of Sarasota, helping to provide basic needs and enrich the lives of foster children.
During her professional career, Parrish was founder and managing partner of a southern-based political strategy and public relations consulting firm.
Board Co-Chair – Davis Weinstock
Davis Weinstock, Chairman of Clark & Weinstock, counsels leaders of large, complex organizations on strategies relating to reputational challenges and opportunities. Davis has counseled the Federal Trade Commission, Harvard Graduate School of Business, the New York Stock Exchange and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Davis has provided strategies and/or counsel relating to many of the largest and best-known companies, transactions and events over the past twenty years.
As a writer and producer, Davis’ work has included a large number of films, series and pilots for three national networks and the BBC, three plays presented in New York, the feature film Tomorrow and articles in numerous national publications.
In volunteer activities, he has been president of the Board of Trustees of Hopkins School in New Haven, Connecticut and has headed the boards of the Nation Institute and CORO. He is a director of the W.E.B. Dubois Institute at Harvard University, New Visions for Public Schools, Apollo Inner-City Corporation and Impact Repertory Theater
Davis was educated at Harvard College and the London School of Economics.
Vice Chair – Col Scott Jensen is a retired Marine Corps combat commander and helicopter pilot. Prior to retiring from the Marine Corps, Col Jensen led the Corps’ Behavior Health programs, including the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program. He combines that with three decades of command, leadership, and cultural experience to provide holistic expertise, understanding, and keen insight into the inner workings of the United States Military and the needs of service members, veterans, and their families.
Recognized as a military leader and cultural reform expert, Col Jensen frequently addresses military, civilian, and higher education organizations on an array of topics that include leadership, sexual assault and harassment prevention, survivor care and support, and male roles and responsibilities in improving culture. He has been featured as an expert in print, radio, and television media including USA Today, The Washington Post, BBC, NPR, and Headline News
Secretary and General Counsel – Russell H. Miller
Russell Miller, a California attorney for thirty years, is Managing Partner of Miller & Olson, LLP, with offices in Burlingame and Sacramento. He specializes in nonprofit law, including formation and operation of charitable organizations. He also specializes in Federal and state political, campaign, lobby, and election laws, representing clients located throughout California, in other states, and in Washington, D.C.
Treasurer – Paula Coughlin, former Lieutenant, U.S. Navy. Founder, Owner of Ocean Yoga Center in Atlantic Beach Fl. Paula Coughlin-Puopolo comes from a lineage of military and community leaders. Before settling in Florida, she served in the US Navy as a helicopter pilot, serving aboard Naval vessels as one of the earliest women in aviation to become flight deck qualified and maintenance officer/post maintenance check qualified. While serving as Aide de camp at the Naval Air Test Center, in 1991, her role as a whistle-blower in the infamous Tailhook Convention ended her aviation career, and Coughlin pushed forward working to rectify inequities in the military’s policies for the role of women in aviation and in combat. Coughlin is unwavering in her efforts to make positive changes; she has testified before SASC sub-committee, met with former President GH Bush, Sec. of Defense and more recently through an online petition and appearance on the Hill, forced the House Armed Services Committee to hold open hearings on the sexual abuse scandal at Lackland AFB. In recognition of her leadership in modernizing the roles of women in the military, in 1992, she was honored as “Woman of the Year” by Vanity Fair. Coughlin was featured in a feature-length feature film, “She Stood Alone,” as well as the academy award nominated documentary “Invisible War” and most recently in the historical series “Retro Report” with the New York Times.
Board of Directors Members
Col Don Christensen, USAF (ret.) is President of Protect Our Defenders. In his role as President, Col Christensen has appeared regularly in broadcast and print media to advocate for rights of crime victims, including appearances on CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, MSNBC, Fox News, and the BBC, in addition to the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Time, and Newsweek. He served as chief prosecutor for the United States Air Force between 2010 and 2014. He served as a trial counsel, defense counsel or military judge for every year of his 23-year career in the United States Air Force.
Christensen has served as an Assistant Staff Judge Advocate, Area Defense Counsel, Circuit Defense Counsel, Deputy Chief Circuit Defense Counsel, and Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, as a deployed Staff Judge Advocate, Chief Circuit Trial Counsel, and Staff Judge Advocate and as a Military Judge. He has tried over 150 courts-martial as a trial and defense counsel and has presided over 100 trials as a military judge.
He was born in Sturgis, South Dakota and received his law degree from Marquette University Law School. A third generation Air Force officer, he received his commission as a second lieutenant through ROTC and entered active service on 15 July 1991. Christensen is licensed to practice law before the Supreme Court of Wisconsin.
Christensen has received numerous awards and decorations including the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, and the Air Force Achievement Medal.
Former Congressman George “Buddy” Darden. As a member of Congress he served 11 years on the House Armed Services Committee from 1983 – 1995. Prior to being elected to Congress he served as District Attorney of Cobb County, Georgia and in the Georgia House of Representatives. Throughout his years in Congress Darden advocated maintaining a strong national defense. From 1999 – 2003 Darden served as chairman of the Judicial Nominating Commission for then Governor Roy Barnes. He received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from LaGrange College and currently serves as Senior Counsel in the law firm of Denton McKenna Long.
In 2010, Mr. Darden was honored by the State Bar of Georgia with its Tradition of Excellence Award, which recognizes outstanding lawyers and judges and has become one of the most prestigious honors a lawyer or judge can receive.
Ronald T. Gault served as head of JP Morgan’s South African office in Johannesburg after the demise of the apartheid regime. Prior to the South African post, he was an investment banker at JP Morgan and before that at First Boston.
Prior to his banking career, Gault was a department head and senior advisor in New York Mayor Ed Koch’s Administration.
Prior to the Koch Administration, Gault served as a Ford Foundation program officer from 1969 to 1978.
Before the Ford Foundation, in the late 1960s, Mr. Gault directed field operations for the U.S. Justice Department’s newly established Community Relations Service, which acted as peace-maker during conflicts and tensions arising primarily between police and black communities.
Before the Justice Department, Mr. Gault served at USAID for two and a half years.
Mr. Gault began his professional career in 1964 at the Urban League, working on the nationwide Voter Education/Voting Campaign.
After retiring from his banking career, Mr. Gault has returned to the U.S. from South Africa and now concentrates his professional attention on philanthropic activities, mentoring of young men, and leading Passages, the wine business he started in South Africa.
Mr. Gault earned his bachelor’s degree at Grinnell College, master’s degree in Public Policy and Management from the University of Michigan, and law degree from the George Washington University School of Law.
Rev. Brock Leach is a Unitarian Universalist minister working to advance social justice and social entrepreneurship. He is executive consultant for innovative ministries at the Unitarian Universalist Association and vice chair of the board of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), the denomination’s international human rights agency. Prior to that, Brock was on staff for UUSC where he helped create and launch the UU College of Social Justice and a denomination-wide campaign for climate justice.
Brock’s board service has included the Y of the USA, the PepsiCo Foundation, Habitat for Humanity Sarasota, Children First, Dr. Dean Ornish’s Preventive Medicine Research Institute and Mavuno Congo. He is an executive mentor for the Global Good Fund’s Fellowship program for social entrepreneurs.
Prior to ministry, Brock had a 24-year career as an executive for PepsiCo where he was President and CEO of its Frito-Lay North America and Tropicana divisions and served as the corporation’s Chief Innovation Officer. He received his BA in economics from the University of Colorado Boulder, his MBA in finance and marketing from the University of Chicago, and his Master of Divinity degree from Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago.
Nicco Mele is currently the Director of the Shorenstein Center at Harvard Kennedy School. He is an entrepreneur and consultant who, above all else, has his finger on the pulse of what is happening in our rapidly-evolving digital age. As webmaster for Governor Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential bid, Nicco helped popularize the use of technology and social media that revolutionized political fundraising and reshaped American politics. Drawing from his experience, Nicco teaches graduate-level courses on the internet and politics as a faculty member at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is also the co-founder of EchoDitto (now Echo & Co.), a leading internet strategy and consulting firm, and is the author of The End of Big: How The Internet Makes David The New Goliath, in which he explores the consequences of living in a socially connected society.
Lilli J. Rey is a community activist with years of volunteer experience that have focused on protecting and restoring the rights of women. A political fundraiser as well, Lilli joined the board of Protect Our Defenders to help bring awareness to this issue with the goal of seeing change for the victims once and for all. Lilli lives in California with her four children.