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Heather R. Higgins, CEO

Heather leads the IWV team as CEO, where she uses her passion for education and helping people make informed decisions to create a vision and overall strategy for IWV’s efforts.

Heather has been involved in numerous organizations that share the mission of improving people’s lives by creating a better, fairer, more innovative and prosperous country.  Heather serves as chairman of the Independent Women's Forum (IWV’s sister organization) and she is also on the board of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and The Philanthropy Roundtable. In addition, she is on the NY board of UBS's mutual funds, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. She was named as one of the "50 Most Influential People" by Campaigns & Elections magazine for her issue advocacy and being a thought leader.

Some of the campaigns Heather has designed include:

  • creating an IWF “helping hands” program for the families of 9/11 that had or were about to have newborns

  • stopping crippling legislation that would have shut down many small and worthy charities that didn’t have the overhead for masses of lawyers and accountants, and

  • creating IWV’s Repeal Pledge on the Affordable Care Act, as a first step putting healthcare back in the hands of women, and men, and their doctors, where it belongs.

Heather previously worked in finance and as an editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal and assistant editor at the Public Interest magazine.  When not working, Heather loves to cook, hike, and make friends laugh.  She continues to write opinion editorials and appears on a variety of radio and television programs. Heather lives in New York City with her husband, three teenagers, a dignified cat, and one squirrel-obsessed dog. 

More about Heather Higgins >>>

Tammy Bruce, President

Tammy Bruce, an Independent Conservative, is a political analyst, New York Times bestselling author, Fox News Political Contributor, radio talk show host, and columnist at the Washington Times and FoxNews.com.

A lifelong Democrat, Ms. Bruce worked on a number of Democratic campaigns in 1990s, including the 1992 Boxer and Feinstein senate races and the Clinton for President campaign. President Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky and the liberal and feminist establishment continued support of him was one of many tipping points in Ms. Bruce’s consideration of conservative ideals.

Ms. Bruce also has a consistent history of supporting conservatives as well, including President Reagan, both Presidents Bush and, quite reluctantly, John McCain during the 2008 presidential campaign. She also served on California Governor Arnold Schwarzeneggar’s Transition Team after his election-by-recall in 2003. In 2015 she became a supporter of now President Donald Trump, anticipating his ability to bring about an economic revival as a result of his business experience, but also because the establishment status quo had clearly lost sight of the problems facing the average American.

A free-speech and Second Amendment advocate, an important contributor to her position on the issue comes from her experience as a radio talk show host. The “Tammy Bruce Show” premiered in 1993 in Los Angeles and was nationally syndicated in 2005, enjoying over 200 terrestrial affiliates. In 2009, in a move to gain more freedom, Ms. Bruce took her radio show independent, making it an exclusively New Media program available online and via podcast. Tammy Radio has enjoyed being consistently in the Top 10 programs through the worldwide internet radio hub TalkStreamLive.

Additionally, Ms. Bruce has been profiled, and her editorials and commentaries on significant social issues have been published nationally and internationally, in a wide variety of magazines, newspapers including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, Esquire, and The Advocate among others.

In addition to her media work, Ms. Bruce speaks to a variety of groups nationwide, including college, business and civic organizations with her speech, “Contrary to Popular Belief: How Conservative Ideas Empower Women, Gays and Blacks.”

Ms. Bruce’s first book, “The New Thought Police,” was published by Forum, an imprint of Crown/Random House, in October 2001. An analysis of freedom of expression and the culture wars, it explores the importance of freedom of expression and personal liberty and how that liberty is under attack by the dangerous rise of Left-wing McCarthyism. Her second book, “The Death of Right and Wrong,” also for Random House (April 2003), addresses the rise of moral relativism in society and quickly became a New York Times best seller. Ms. Bruce’s latest work, “The New American Revolution,” was published by Harper Collins/Morrow and is now available in paperback.

Besides Ms. Bruce's website, radio program, books, and columns, and commentary at the Fox News and Fox Business television networks, she can be seen in in two short films. In "2081," an adaptation of Vonnugut's "Harrison Bergeron," she portrays the "Inspector General" and in 2010 she was featured in the Sarah Palin documentary "The Undefeated."

Drawn into feminist activism in the late 1980’s, Ms. Bruce focused on women in the workplace, violence against women and ending international subjugation of women. Just two years after joining the National Organization for Women, with a brand of feminism that places her somewhere between Donna Reed and Thelma and Louise, Ms. Bruce was elected president of the Los Angeles chapter of NOW at the age of 27. Until she saw the conservative light, she also served on their national board of directors.

A native of Los Angeles, Ms. Bruce holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Southern California, from which she graduated cum laude. Ms. Bruce notes her interest in politics and individual liberty was sparked during her childhood in part because of the work of authors Ray Bradbury and George Orwell, both of whom remain her favorite writers. Ms. Bruce divides her time between New York and Los Angeles, along with Sydney, her Shepherd/Collie rescue, and Snoopy, a long-haired Calico who enjoys sleeping in a kitchen cabinet by day and wreaking havoc by night.

Carrie L. Lukas, Vice President

Carrie is IWV’s go-to policy wonk. Carrie (who has a B.A. from Princeton and a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government) has been working in the policy arena since 1997, when she joined the Cato Institute as a junior Social Security policy analyst. She also worked on Capitol Hill as the senior domestic policy analyst for the House Republican Policy Committee, and joined the Independent Women’s Forum in 2003.

Carrie has testified before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security, co-authored Liberty Is No War on Women, and wrote The Politically Incorrect Guide to Women, Sex, and Feminism, published by Regnery Publishing. Her work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, USA Today, and The New York Post, and she’s a contributor to Forbes.com and National Review.

During the last eight years, Carrie has lived in Belgium, Austria and Germany, but today lives in Virginia.  She and her husband have five children.


Victoria Coley, Vice President of Communications

Victoria Coley is IWV’s P.R. guru, helping get IWV’s information and educational messages out to as wide an audience as possible.

Victoria’s been working in the communication field for more than a decade: She began her career at Fox News Channel as a producer and later also served as coordinator of the network's Washington booking unit. She landed numerous interviews with political heavyweights and newsmakers, and coordinated breaking news coverage both in the bureau and in the field. She’s been a part of the PR team at a leading advocacy organization. And, as a regional manager at Chesapeake Bay Magazine, Victoria produced online-steaming advertising and promotional videos.

In her work for IWV and IWF, Victoria has secured experts interviews in about all the national news powerhouses.

Victoria was the founding president of The Rotaract Club of Annapolis, sponsored by The Rotary Club of Annapolis, and she is a Paul Harris Fellow. She holds a bachelor's degree in Communication Studies from Clemson (graduating as a cum laude), where she was also a two-time All-American club lacrosse player.  Today she’s also busy with her two young children, which means she’s learning a whole new set of communication skills!


Heather N. Madden, Director of Operations and Policy Research

Heather is the Director of Operations and Policy Research at Independent Women's Voice where she helps develop, organize and implement IWV’s many projects and educational campaigns.

Heather came to IWV from the world of political consulting where she helped clients make their case to the American people. Heather also worked for the U.S. House of Representatives where she assisted with constituent services and managed the schedule for a member of Congress.

Heather graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Georgia's School of Public and International Affairs with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in American History. She also holds an M.A. degree from the University of Georgia where she studied American Politics with a concentration in Campaigns and Elections. 

Though she’s a proud Georgia native, today, Heather lives with her husband in Colorado. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking Pikes Peak, cheering on the Georgia Bulldogs, and volunteering with the Junior League of Denver.

Somerlyn Cothran, Senior Vice President for Development

Somerlyn Cothran is IW’s Senior Vice President for Development. Cothran has been running a national trade association management and fundraising company headquartered in Oklahoma for the past 16 years. Cothran founded that organization in 2001, and had then developed and managed hundreds of national and local fundraising efforts, national trade associations, nonprofits, and political action committees.

She was named a 2005 Rising Star in Politics by Campaigns and Elections magazine and was a co- founder and is the current President of the National Association of Political Fundraisers. She is an active member in the Association Management Company Institute, The American Society of Association Executives and is a certified administrator of the MBTI®. She is a regular guest speaker for state and national organizations on the topics of vision, keys to success, and women in business.

Somerlyn is also very involved in her community: She is the immediate past president and a board member of the Ada City Schools Foundation and serves on the boards of the Harold Hamm Diabetes Center and Mama T's Homeless Shelter. She was a member of Leadership Oklahoma Class XVII, named an “Oklahoma Achiever Under 40” in 2012 and was a 2014 and 2015 “Oklahoma Woman of the Year" finalist.

Cothran earned her bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of Tulsa and a master’s degree in human relations and organizational development from the University of Oklahoma. She lives in Oklahoma with her husband and two children.

Hadley Heath Manning, Policy Director

Hadley is Policy Director at IWV, specializing in health care, entitlements, economics and fiscal policy.

Hadley may be young – she was named to Forbes “30 Under 30” list in law and policy in 2016 – but she already has an impressive career.  Hadley was a 2012-2013 National Review Institute Washington Fellow, and was also named to the Red Alert Politics “30 Under 30” list in 2014. In 2015, Hadley was named a “Rising Star” by the Republican National Committee.  Currently, Hadley is serving as the 2017 Tony Blankley Chair for Public Policy and American Exceptionalism at the Steamboat Institute in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Hadley appears frequently in radio and TV outlets across the country, including Fox Business’s Coast-to-Coast, Stossel Show, Fox News’s Your World with Neil Cavuto, and PBS’s To the Contrary among others. She is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog, and her work has also been featured in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, US New and World Report, TIME.com, Forbes, POLITICO, Roll Call, Real Clear Policy, the Tampa Tribune, the Denver Post, and elsewhere.

Hadley is proud to serve on the board of the Better Yes Network, a nonprofit dedicated to building communities focused on relationship, responsibility, and restoration. She graduated with distinction from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a Morehead-Cain Scholar with a bachelor’s degree in economics and journalism. She lives with her husband in Denver, Colorado.

Charlotte Hays, Senior Policy Analyst

IWF Senior Fellow Charlotte Hays is the editor of In Character magazine, which is published by the John Templeton Foundation and the former editor of The Women’s Quarterly, which was published by the Independent Women’s Forum. She has been a feature writer for the Washington Times and was the Washington bureau chief for the National Catholic Register. While at the Register, she reported from on the ground in Beirut in 1985 and won a first place from the Catholic Press Association for an interview with the novelist Walker Percy. She has written for National Review, Town & Country, New York magazine, the Wall Street Journal, and the Weekly Standard. A recovering gossip columnist, Charlotte is also coauthor of three books, Being Dead Is No Excuse: The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the perfect Funeral; Somebody Is Going to Die if Lilly Beth Doesn’t Catch that Bouquet: The Official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting the Perfect Wedding; and Some Day You’ll Thank Me for This: The Southern Ladies’ Guide to Being a “Perfect” Mother. Charlotte is also the author of Fortune Hunters, about dazzling marriages. A native of Greenville, Mississippi, Charlotte has a B.A. from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn.

Julie Gunlock, Senior Policy Analyst

Julie is a senior policy analyst at IWV, where she focuses on regulation and public policy, in particularly as it relates to food and consumer products.

Julie is the author of the book From Cupcakes to Chemicals: How the Culture of Alarmism Makes Us Afraid of Everything and How to Fight Back. Julie’s work has appeared in the New York Post, the Washington Post, New York Daily News, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, The Washington Times, National Review Magazine, National Interest Magazine, the Tampa Tribune, and Townhall.com and is a regular contributor to National Review Online, BlogHer and Huffington Post. She has offered political commentary on Fox News, TheBlaze TV and other networks and is a regular guest on local, regional and national radio programs.

Gunlock previously worked on Capitol Hill for both Senate and House committees.

Today, she lives in Virginia with her husband and three active boys, where she is active in her local Catholic church, the school PTA, and other community organizations.

Patrice Lee Onwuka, Senior Policy Analyst

Patrice Lee, a senior policy analyst at Independent Women’s Voice. Onwuka has worked in the advocacy and communications fields for more than a decade. Prior to joining IWF, Onwuka served as national spokeswoman and communications director at Generation Opportunity, and worked at The Philanthropy Roundtable and the Fund for American Studies in policy and media roles. She also held consulting roles as a speech writer for a United Nations spokesman and a manager for a student travel program to South Africa.

Born in the Caribbean, Patrice immigrated with her family to Boston where she grew up and completed her education. She earned her bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from Tufts University and a master’s degree in international relations from Boston College. Patrice’s unique background fuels her passion to defend freedom and faith in America.


Ashley B. Carter, Director of External Relations

Ashley is the Director of External Relations for the Independent Women's Voice.

A native Marylander, Ashley cut her teeth in politics by working for a longtime Maryland Congressman and later at the Maryland General Assembly. Since that time she’s worked on numerous campaigns and with state parties around the country.

She received her B.A in Government & Politics from the University of Maryland, College Park and holds a J.D. from the University of Baltimore School of Law. She also spent time studying at the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law.

Ashley is actively involved in the DC community. She is currently elected as the At-Large member of the the DC State Board of Education, volunteers with the Junior League of Washington and promotes literacy development by working with several area nonprofits. An avid Nationals fan, Ashley loves to show her Natitude.

Sekayi Stephens, Graphic Designer

Sekayi has 15 years of experience in graphic design specializing in visual print design for various forms of branding and marketing collateral. She graduated cum laude from Bloomfield College in May 2000 with a BA in Desktop Publishing. She worked and learned a great deal in a couple entry level positions before landing a graphic designer position at Eagle Publishing (now Salem Eagle). For 8 years she worked within a team of talented designers for the leading publisher of conservative books before moving to Georgia in 2010. In the six years following, she has expanded her design experience to include higher education at Kennesaw State University and Amoena USA Corporation — the global industry leader in breast form manufacturing and pocket apparel production. She lives in Georgia with her husband.

Natalie Le, Development Associate

Natalie is a Development Associate for IWF and IWV, helping to keep all the trains running on time, and assisting in a variety of research and administrative projects. Prior to joining IWV, Natalie was a legal intake officer at the ACLU of South Carolina.

She is involved in activism projects with pro-liberty non-profits, such as Students for Liberty and Young Americans for Liberty.

Natalie has a B.A. in Philosophy and Political Science with a concentration in Politics, Philosophy & Law from College of Charleston.

Casidy McMeans, Development Associate

Casidy McMeans is a Development Associate for IWV , helping to keep all the trains running on time, and assisting in a variety of administrative projects.

Casidy graduated from East Central University in Ada, OK where she earned a B.A. in Human Services Counseling with a concentration in Services to the Deaf and a B.S. in Psychology. Casidy has almost a decade of development experience having worked at the national fundraising firm, Cothran Development Strategies, Inc. and most recently for the past 5 years at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Oklahoma City.

Casidy resides in Ada, OK with her husband and daughter.

Cassie Alsfeld, Senior Digital Marketing Advisor

Mary Caswell Alsfeld, who goes by Cassie, is a veteran of the political scene. Cassie has worked at all levels of government -- from presidential campaigns to party committees, from City Hall to Capitol Hill, from K Street to Main Street.

At Independent Women’s Voice, Cassie writes and edits copy, develops advocacy and engagement campaigns, creates email marketing and online fundraising strategies, consults on digital strategies and messaging, and more.

Before starting her own firm, Shoreline Strategies LLC, in late 2015, Cassie served as the Senior Digital Marketing Specialist for Email at the Republican National Committee, the Senior Digital Strategist and Speechwriter at the National Republican Congressional Committee, and the Lead Digital Political Copywriter on the Romney presidential campaign.

In each of these roles, Cassie was the lead copywriter who also helped build the email marketing, digital engagement, and online fundraising programs. Previously, she worked on Capitol Hill as a Legislative Assistant/Correspondent, and as a business and government affairs consultant.

Through her firm, Cassie has consulted, fundraised, and written for presidential, gubernatorial, senate, and congressional candidates; international political parties; political PACs; nonprofits; advocacy organizations; and start-ups. She frequently leads workshops, webinars, and seminars; serves on panels; speaks to classes; and mentors young professionals and budding entrepreneurs.

A native New Orleanian who resides in D.C., Cassie is active in a number of organizations in D.C. and Louisiana. She enjoys volunteering and serving in leadership roles on several boards.

Cassie is a proud graduate of Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communication, where she earned her B.A. with a concentration in Political Communication. She served as one of the only female Student Body Presidents in LSU’s history. And she was also elected by her peers and commissioned by the Governor of Louisiana to serve on the LSU Board of Supervisors, overseeing 8 academic institutions, the famed athletic program, and the state’s health and hospital system.

Jamie Whitefield, Investor Relations Coordinator

Jamie Whitefield is IW’s Investor Relations Coordinator where she oversees securing all meetings regarding donor development. She is also in charge of all logistics for IW's inaugural Women's Summit.

Jamie has 13 years of experience in fundraising, meeting management and organizational development.

She has been responsible for the coordination and execution of significant multi-million dollar local and national fundraising efforts. She has been the lead organizer for numerous national & state trade associations and has been involved in dozens of political campaigns including numerous Presidential. She has worked closely with many foundations raising necessary grant funding to compliment, or match, corporate donor fundraising. 

Jamie is an active member of the Oklahoma Society of Association Executives. She earned her bachelor's degree in biology from East Central University with a minor in Chemistry. She resides in Oklahoma with her husband and 2 small children.