Home / About / Independent Women's Voice Staff

Heather R. Higgins, President and CEO

Heather leads the IWV team, 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 >>>

Sabrina L. Schaeffer, Executive Director

Sabrina is the executive director of both IWV and the Independent Women’s Forum, IWV’s 501(c)3 sister organization. 

Sabrina’s passion is persuasion.

Since her mother sent her Wendy Shalit’s A Return to Modesty while in college, she’s been borderline obsessed with persuading other women that a culture of liberty and responsibility is good for everyone, women in particular.

Sabrina has extensive experience in strategic communications, from behind the scenes to in front of the camera. She was a speech writer in the U.S. Senate. Sabrina’s written work has appeared in Forbes, The Weekly Standard, The Washington Times, Foxnews.com, National Review Online, Policy Review, and American Enterprise Online.  She’s also a regular on TV news programs - you can catch Sabrina every Saturday at 11am on Forbes on Fox, and every week on Fox Business’ After the Bell.  She also has conducted extensive applied research to gain insight into the factors that shape public opinion.

Sabrina received an M.A. in Politics as well as an M.A. in American History from the University of Virginia, where she focused on the early Republic and media effects and political behavior.  She got her start in the policy world as a young assistant to Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick while at the American Enterprise Institute

In her free time you can find Sabrina driving her kids around. And when she’s not in the taxi business, she enjoys playing the piano, making flower arrangements, or suffering through a Barre class. She spent time at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles as a child and today it remains her favorite charity – you’ll see her running the Children’s National Race for Every Child every fall in DC. Today, she lives in Virginia with her husband and three energetic children. 

Carrie L. Lukas, Vice President of Policy and Economics

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 one-year-old daughter, which means she’s learning a whole new set of communication skills!


Heather N. Madden, Director of Advocacy Projects

Heather is the Director of Advocacy Projects 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 Colorado Springs.

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, Senior Policy Analyst

Hadley is a senior policy analyst 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.

Amber Schwartz, Director of Outreach

Amber is IWV’s Director of Outreach. That means she is always looking for opportunities to meet people and organizations that share our passion and that we could work with to advance our cause.

Amber has worked for several prominent organizations, such as The Heritage Foundation, Maryland Public Policy Institute, and the Lexington Institute.

She is also a lifestyle photographer in her spare time, and enjoys photographing many of IWF and IWV’s events. Amber currently lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with her husband Tyler and their two young children.

Ashley B. Carter, Director of Coalitions

Ashley is the Director of Coalitions 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.

Celia Meyer, Communications Associate

Celia is IWV’s Communications Associate, helping get our information and resources to the media.

Prior to joining IWV, Celia was a publicist at Regnery Publishing where she worked with many New York Times best-selling authors. Celia began her career as the campus director for American Majority Action, a grassroots conservative organization. There she developed the youth outreach program and served as a spokeswoman on youth issues. She has published work in the Washington Times, the New York Post, CNS News, Breitbart, Townhall, the Daily Caller, and many others. Her written work has also been featured on the Drudge Report. She has made appearances on many national television shows including Hannity, Your World with Neil Cavuto, Fox&Friends, Piers Morgan Live, the O’Reilly Factor, Glenn Beck, and more.

Celia received her bachelor's degree in Economics from Hillsdale College where she graduated Cum Laude. During her tenure as a student, Celia wrote freelance for her student newspaper and was the founder of the Young American’s for Freedom chapter on campus. Celia has been actively involved in sports her entire life and continues to enjoy hiking, running, swimming, biking, barre classes, tennis, and fishing. She lives in northern Virginia 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.

Independent Women’s Voice is a 501(c)(4) nonpartisan, nonprofit organization for mainstream women, men and families. IWV is the sister organization of the Independent Women’s Forum.
Follow us