Maud Abeel, Board Chair
Maud Abeel is an education consultant both in New York City and nationally, working across the continuum from zero to the postsecondary years. Most recently, she was the Senior Director for College and Career Readiness at the Urban Assembly providing support to a network of 21 NYC public schools. Prior to that, she was the Associate Director of Strategic Partnerships for national postsecondary success initiatives at FHI360 and also a senior program officer for Middle Start, FHI 360's research- proven school model for ensuring academic success and healthy development for every middle-grades student. Maud also worked at New Visions for Public Schools as the director of the College Bound program working with the New Visions' network of public schools in developing high quality postsecondary access and success programs in collaboration with strategic partners She began her career in NYC at Carnegie Corporation of New York where she provided technical and research assistance to national grant initiatives. Her work on the foundation's 15 state middle grades state school policy initiative led to her becoming a contributing author, researcher, and editor for Turning Points 2000: Educating Adolescents in the 21st Century, a follow-up book to Carnegie’s landmark middle-grades report, Turning Points. Maud has a Master’s degree in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a B.A. in art history from Oberlin College. She taught fourth grade in Baltimore, MD through Teach For America and was a residential counselor to parenting teenagers in Portland, OR.
Vikrant Arya, Vice Chair
Vikrant Arya is a Vice President in BlackRock’s US & Canada Defined Contribution Group. Vikrant is responsible for developing relationships with investment consultants and partnering with them to help institutions design and implement workplace retirement plan solutions for their employees. Prior to his current role, he worked within BlackRock’s Defined Contribution Marketing team responsible for various initiatives for the retirement plan advisor market. Vikrant began his career at BlackRock in 2009 in the US Wealth Advisory business. Vikrant earned a BBA degree in Finance from Howard University and has his Series 7 and 66 licenses. Vikrant is also a Level III Candidate in the CFA program. Vikrant was born and raised in New Delhi, India and moved to the US as a teenager in November 2002, residing in Arlington, VA. Vikrant currently lives in Princeton, NJ. Vikrant has a passion for creative writing having been first published at the age of 7 in a national daily in India and is also an avid sports fan. Vikrant has completed one marathon (2005 Marine Corps Marathon) and multiple half-marathons. Vikrant also spent two years as a volunteer football coach for the Princeton Pop Warner program. It is his love for playing, watching and following a wide variety of sports coupled with a strong desire to impact the lives of youth in the New York City area, many of them immigrants like himself, that drew him to I Challenge Myself.
Cliff Landesman, Secretary
Cliff Landesman grew up in St. Louis, MO and New York City. He was the Director of Electronic Media at W. W. Norton & Co., a leading independent employee-owned book publisher. There he spearheaded several new initiatives, including ebook production for college and trade titles, online technical support, and the expanded use of national and international freelancers. Cliff has been involved with nonprofits for over 30 years, having formerly worked for the New York Public Library, Vermont Public Radio, Princeton University, and the Fund for the City of New York. In the early 1990s, he founded the Internet Nonprofit Center, one of the first web sites to provide comprehensive information about nonprofit organizations. He holds a BA from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, an MA from Oxford University, and a PhD from Princeton University. His PhD dissertation was titled "The Voluntary Provision of Public Goods." He lives with his wife and two children in Brooklyn, NY. At 55, he challenged himself to ride a unicycle, the simplest of all wheeled vehicles.
Mike Weidner, Treasurer
Mike Weidner is a Vice President of finance in Macquarie Group’s corporate lending and asset finance business where he is responsible for various finance, accounting, and treasury functions. He has been with Macquarie since June 2013; prior to joining Macquarie he worked in the assurance and advisory group for a public accounting firm. Mike grew up in Syracuse, NY and has lived in New York for 10 years; he currently lives on the Upper West Side with his wife and son. Mike received his BBA with a concentration in accounting from Loyola University in Baltimore, MD in 2006 and is a certified public accountant. Mike joined the I Challenge Myself board in September 2016. The impact that sports and fitness had on Mike growing up is what inspired him to become involved with I Challenge Myself. He is an avid runner, completing the Cape Cod Marathon in 2014 along with a number of other half marathons.
Roger Schwed, Founding Board Chair
Roger Schwed was born, raised and still lives in, New York City on the Upper West Side. He is the former Executive Vice President and General Counsel of United Rentals, Inc. (NYSE: URI), the largest equipment rental company in the world, with approximately 600 locations in North America and 7,000 employees. Prior to United Rentals, Roger was for nine years the General Counsel of Maxcor Financial Group Inc. (Nasdaq: MAXF), an international financial services company whose principal business line was inter-dealer brokerage conducted through its various Euro Brokers affiliates in New York, London and Tokyo. Prior to Maxcor, Roger was M&A Counsel at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom in New York and an associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton. Roger graduated from Columbia University Law School, where he was an Editor of the Law Review and a Kent Scholar. He received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the New York Foundation. Roger has had a lifelong love affair with cycling, and has regularly commuted to work by bicycling and participated in “centuries” and other bike rides. He is also a pretty decent bike mechanic. In addition, he works regularly with children in his capacity as a head coach for many years of his two sons’ various teams in West Side Little League, Safe Haven Basketball and West Side Soccer.