Barbara McDowellJerry HartmanBoard of DirectorsAdvisory CommitteeLeadership & StaffAbout

Leadership & Staff

Jerry Hartman, President

After the death from brain cancer of his late wife, Barbara McDowell in 2009, Jerry Hartman established the Foundation to commemorate her life and passion for social justice. Since that time, he has been its President and Chair, guiding it to a nationally recognized charitable institution making grants to social justice organizations and engaging in high impact civil rights litigation.

Jerry has had a longtime career as a litigator, including four years in the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, during the Carter Administration, where he litigated pattern and practice employment discrimination cases, principally in Mississippi and Alabama, and represented the United States in over 20 suits defending the government’s minority set-aside affirmative action program culminating in the Supreme Court’s decision upholding its constitutionality. He received the Department’s prestigious Special Commendation Award from the Attorney General.

Jerry was a tenured law professor at Wake Forest Law School and has been a partner in several national law firms representing many major American corporations in class action employment discrimination cases. After graduating from George Washington Law School, he clerked for the Chief Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Jerry graduated from Columbia and Columbia Business School.

Peggy Moran Zwisler, Vice President

Peggy Moran Zwisler retired from the partnership at Latham & Watkins LLP in December 2019. Prior to joining Latham in 2005, she had practiced at Howrey LLP for many years, and was one of the first women to join the firm as an associate in 1976.

For over 40 years, Peggy was an antitrust trial lawyer, appearing in federal district courts and courts of appeals throughout the country before juries and judges. During her years of active practice, Peggy also represented clients in high impact pro bono cases against both federal agencies and private actors, achieving significant victories for them at trial and on appeal.

Katie McDonald, Operations Director

Katie McDonald is the Operations Director of the Barbara McDowell Foundation, where she manages the operations and administrative functions of the Foundation, including its grant processes, external relations, and internal systems. Katie has more than seven years of experience in the nonprofit sector, including working as the Associate Director of Operations for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles. She holds her Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from the University of Southern California and her Bachelor’s in History from Occidental College.

Aaron Stiner, Special Administrator

Aaron Stiner is the Barbara McDowell Foundation’s Special Administrator focusing on special projects that support the administration, staff, and executives of the Foundation. Aaron served as the Foundation’s Executive Administrator for three years managing its grant making process, marketing efforts, and administrative tasks. Aaron holds his Master’s in Nonprofit Studies from Arizona State University and has over 15 years of experience working in the nonprofit sector.

Melissa Sullivan, Development Director

Melissa Sullivan is the Development Director of the Barbara McDowell Foundation, organizing all fundraising efforts for the Foundation. Melissa has focused much of her career on expanding access to pro bono civil legal aid and advancing social justice issues. Prior to joining the Foundation, she worked for 20 years as the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Equal Justice Fund, an organization that raises funds from law firms, attorneys, and corporations to support three of Wisconsin's pro bono civil legal aid organizations. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.