Meet the Leaders Behind the Masks

October 23, 2018

UNICEF Next Generation's annual Masquerade Ball wouldn't be possible without the contributions of a dedicated team of young leaders. 

The passionate young philanthropists, entrepreneurs, influencers and innovators who commit their resources and talents to UNICEF Next Generation have raised more than $13 million since NextGen's founding in 2009. UNICEF NextGen's signature event, the annual UNICEF Masquerade Ball in Los Angeles, includes masked guests, themed ensembles, live music, DJs, photo ops, tarot card readings and special performances. This year's Masquerade Ball on October 25 wouldn't be possible without the talents and resources of these dedicated NextGeners: 

Reina Govindarajan (Vice-Chair)

Reina is Senior Director of Brand Partnerships for the leading lifestyle subscription box company, FabFitFun. For UNICEF, Reina is a seasoned partnership whiz kid. Her ability to leverage her contacts to drive revenue and global brand awareness has made her an asset to UNICEF as well as numerous corporations. These partnerships are reflected in the most bountiful VIP gift bags for Masq attendees that you could ever imagine.

Matthew Herman (Creative Chair)

Matthew is the founder and co-owner of "Boy Smells" candles. Matthew and his partner David started making boy smells candles out of their home. In the early years of Masquerade, Matthew hosted Masquerade Committee Meetings at his house — there were buckets of wax everywhere! We have watched his passion project turn into a full-blown global company and branding powerhouse.  For UNICEF NextGen, Matthew is our design genius. He knows what’s next and where the trends are going, and he brings that knowledge to the design space for this event. Each year, he devises the most brilliant theme, generates all the creative content and the vision for the event and pushes the boundaries (appropriately) to help UNICEF USA reinvent the look, feel and vibe of charity events for a new generation.

He spends weeks alone just working on the inspiration deck for our event. In the months leading up to the event, his Creative Chair role becomes a second job (pro bono). Matthew is a believer of investing maximum time and effort into a passion project. Naturally, he goes all out upping the cool factor in every square inch of Clifton's. Each room is a UNICEF experience and is decked out accordingly. His Pinterest board for our Masquerade Ball theme this year is a 132-page labor of love for this event and all it stands for. 

Clockwise from top left: UNICEF Next Generation Masquerade Ball committee members Reina Govindarajan (Vice-Chair), Matthew Herman (Creative Chair), Romy Mouillon (Co-Chair), Brittany Letto (Co-Chair), and Danielle E. Simmons (Co-Chair). 

Brittany Letto (Co-Chair)

Brittany is a Senior Trader, Analyst, and Portfolio Manager for Doheny Asset Management by day and brings her savvy financial background to help the children of the world by night! She’s on the Board of Directors for the Security Traders Association (STA), STA Women in Finance and Ellevate Network, is a member of the CFA Institute and sits on the UNICEF NextGen Steering Committee in LA.  

Romi Mouillon (Co-Chair)

Romi handles business development for Vesta Home, an interior design and home staging firm in Los Angeles. She sits on the NextGen Steering Committee in LA and chairs the UNICEF Masquerade Ball. For UNICEF, Romi is a natural people connector. She helped UNICEF USA secure the event media partnership we now have with NYLON! Check out what they have to say about the Masquerade Ball here.

Though she is instrumental in making the Masquerade Ball happen, she remains in awe of how creative, inspiring and fun it is and loves that each year they continue to raise the bar in celebrating children and UNICEF’s mission.

Danielle E. Simmons (Co-Chair)

Danielle is a former associate with the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in which she represented private equity funds and corporations in the practice area of mergers and acquisitions. She now calls herself a ‘recovering attorney,’ and this couldn’t work in our favor more, because for UNICEF, Danielle is a bona fide worker bee.

She moves lightning fast, stays up to date on all the details that go into event planning and executes on whatever needs to be done­. Sometimes we think she creates time because she's so efficient — and we're still not convinced otherwise! Chairing Masq is a natural fit for Danielle, who loves nothing more than to make sure people are taken care of and having a good time. For her, that means ensuring guests are well fed, feel free, comfortable and safe in their space, and have the chance to interact with diverse people who are united by the same cause. 

For the past three years, Matthew and Danielle have reinvented the charity gala for a new generation. It helps that they’re from the same hometown (Austin, TX) and are the ying to each other's yang. Matthew and Danielle barely discuss a thing and instead they act on instinct — knowing their vision is always aligned.

They ask the performers (names like Cold War Kids, Betty Who, Aluna George and Foster the People) to do a simple acoustic set, and they bring their friends, so it creates a more organic vibe which has even turned into a free-for-all jam session. They see tarot card readings and piano bar song requests as a fundraising opportunity, because why not? The committee comes up with the craziest most wonderful ideas. As long as they’re in line with UNICEF’s mission, we run with it! 

Want to take the NextGen Pledge and join our community of change-makers? Sign up today!

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Top photo: Children play with masks they made at school in Fakaofo Atoll, Tokelau. © UNICEF/UN0206036/Sokh

Bridget Harvey is the UNICEF Next Generation Manager, based in New York City.