Skyline view of Los Angeles area with Griffith Observatory in the forefront.

Change Can't Wait Los Angeles

Thank You, Los Angeles

On January 17, 2024, American University returned to Los Angeles and hosted an evening of connection and conversation with our community of changemakers to experience the progress and impact of Change Can't Wait: The Campaign for American University.

About the Speakers

Learn more about our distinguished guests below.

Student Trustee, AU Board of Trustees

Jehane Djedjro, a dedicated senior in International Relations specializing in Global Inequality and Development, holds prestigious scholarships like the Abdul Aziz Said Phi Epsilon Pi Scholarship. Her active engagement spans the African Students Organization, Residence Hall Association, and Kennedy Political Union at American University. With hands-on experience at the Corporate Council on Africa, she excelled in planning the 15th US-Africa Business Summit in Botswana, showcasing her prowess in international collaboration.

Currently interning at APCO Worldwide and the African Development Bank, Jehane conducts global geopolitical research. Fluent in Korean, French, and Spanish, she serves as the Student Trustee advocating for students on the Board of Trustees.

President, American University

Sylvia M. Burwell is American University’s 15th president and the first woman to serve as president. A visionary leader with experience in the public and private sectors, President Burwell brings to American University a commitment to education and research, the ability to manage large and complex organizations, and experience helping to advance solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges. 

Burwell has held two cabinet positions in the United States government—serving as the 22nd secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services and as the director of the Office of Management and Budget. Her additional government experience is extensive and includes roles at the Treasury and the National Economic Council. Burwell has also held leadership positions at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Walmart Foundation. Her private sector experience includes service on the Board of Directors of MetLife. 

She earned a bachelor’s degree in Government from Harvard University and a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. 

Read her full biography here.  

Interim Dean, School of Communication
Director, Photography Program

Leena Jayaswal is a documentary filmmaker, award-winning photographer and Professor in the School of Communication at American University in Washington DC, where she is the director of the new BA in Photography. Her photography and film work often deals with the intersections of being Indian and American. This work has been nationally recognized in galleries around the country, including solo shows at the Gandhi Memorial Center, and International Visions Gallery. Group shows include Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, The Washington Project for the Arts/ Corcoran Gallery of Art, Arlington Arts Center, Kathleen Ewing Gallery, Lexington Art League and the Studio Gallery. Jayaswal has photographs in group collections with the Society of Photographic Education's Multicultural Caucus at the Center for Photography, En Foco, Light Work, Photo Center Northwest and the Asian American Arts Centre. Previously she has worked for famed photographer, Mary Ellen Mark, and with the Sandra Berler Gallery. Her award winning films have been screened in various film festivals around the country. “Crossing Lines” was picked up for national distribution by NETA and has been broadcast on over 100 PBS affiliates across the country. The film has won numerous international and national awards including the prestigious Gracie Allen Award, and is currently being distributed by New Day Films. Her latest film, "Mixed", a collaboration with Prof. Caty Borum Chattoo, explores what it means to be mixed-race in American, fifty years after the historic, landmark Supreme Court Decision, Loving v. Virginia which made interracial marriage legal. Jayaswal is also working with artist Monica Bose on a feature documentary about climate change, called, "Rising Up to Climate Change: Storytelling with Saris." Jayaswal was one of 8 filmmakers to be a part of the Futures Exhibition at the reopening of the Smithsonian's Arts + Industry's Futures Exhibition. Jayaswal was the Schools' first Inclusion Officer and Associate Dean from 2019-2022.

Barry Josephson is a veteran Hollywood producer and president of Josephson Entertainment, whose films have earned more than $1 Billion at the worldwide box office, and whose dozen-plus television series and specials across multiple genres have spanned two decades. His background in entertainment has ranged from talent manager to President of Production for Columbia/Sony Pictures to independent producer.

His motion picture credits include “Enchanted,” starring Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey, and its long-awaited hit sequel “Disenchanted,” bringing together the beloved cast, along with newcomers including Maya Rudolph. His additional motion picture credits include “The Ladykillers,” written and directed by the Coen Brothers and starring Tom Hanks; family adventure film “Aliens in the Attic”; thriller “Hide & Seek,” starring Robert De Niro and Dakota Fanning; romantic comedy “Life As We Know It,” starring Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel; international hit comedy “Dirty Grandpa,” starring Robert De Niro and Zac Efron; NBA darling “Like Mike”; “Wild Wild West,” directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, starring Will Smith; “The Last Boy Scout,” starring Bruce Willis; and “Ricochet,” starring Denzel Washington.

Josephson is currently in pre-production on a feature adaptation of the Broadway musical, "Kiss of the Spider Woman". Bill Condon is directing from his screenplay with Jennifer Lopez set to star.

In television, Josephson produced the global hit series “Bones” on FOX, which aired for 12 seasons, as well as AMC’s period drama “Turn: Washington’s Spies,” Amazon’s “The Tick” and the Netflix series “Ultraviolet.” Additional television credits include the FOX drama “The Finder,” critically acclaimed “Maximum Bob,” “Fantasy Island” and the cable series “Tales from the Crypt.”

Previously, Josephson was President of Worldwide Production for Columbia/Sony Pictures, responsible for launching such hits as “Men In Black,” “Air Force One,” “In The Line Of Fire,” “The Fifth Element,” “Anaconda,” “Bad Boys,” “The Professional” and “The Craft,” and held a similar post at Joel Silver’s Silver Pictures, overseeing films such as “Die Hard 2,” and “Lethal Weapon 3.” He was a founder of Sandollar Films, which produced the cult classic feature “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

Josephson is a founding member of Comic Relief, an active supporter of The Commitment to Life Benefit for AIDS Project LA, and the NHL Entertainment Board. Josephson is a founder of Austin Film Festival and serves on the board of directors. He also serves as a Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA) Foundation Trustee.

Distinguished Artist-In-Residence Emeritus, School of Communication

With two Oscars® and two Prime-Time Emmys® on his resume, Russell brings a unique blend of experience and know-how from a thirty-year background both above and below the line in the film and television industry. His behind the scenes work in film includes such classics as Dances With Wolves, Field of Dreams, Glory, and Training Day.

Throughout his storied career, Russell has executed film and television productions in many budget ranges and therefore helps his clients appraise the merits of each project under consideration from both the creative and financial viewpoints. With this insider expertise and knowledge, he leverages his personal network of relationships to weigh the tangible as well as the illusive intangibles that factor into all productions.

To this end, he expertly knows how to select casts, crews, locations and companies – all key components of a successful project. Armed with this understanding, he can quickly tell whether a project has suitable funding or is bloated and could waste precious resources.

Chair, Tech, Law & Security Program Advisory Board, Washington College of Law

John Nadolenco’s civil litigation practice focuses on high-stakes cases and class action defense. He was lead counsel in Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, which the United States Supreme Court decided in his client’s favor, making it harder for plaintiffs to bring no-injury lawsuits. He also recently won a defense verdict for a major university in one of the few ERISA jury trials in U.S. history. He represented Facebook in several cases alleging privacy violations under state biometrics laws. He defended Volkswagen in dozens of putative class actions alleging the company improperly installed emissions-defeat devices on some of its diesel cars. And he represents the Country of Brazil in its effort to capture the infamous 840-pound Bahia Emerald.

Nadolenco is also the Managing Partner of Mayer Brown’s Los Angeles Office, and has served on Mayer Brown’s Partnership Board and as a firm-wide co-lead of its Litigation Practice.

Nadolenco received his JD summa cum laude from the American University Washington College of Law and his BA summa cum laude from the University of Arizona.