Career Pathways

About the Program | 2012-2013 Cohort | 2011-2012 Cohort | 2010-2011 Cohort | Success Stories | Questions

The Career Pathways Program has paused for evaluation. Please check back for updates and information on the next application period. For more information, e-mail

About the Program

The Council on Foundations' Career Pathways is a 12-month leadership program that prepares candidates from diverse backgrounds to compete for and earn positions as philanthropic leaders. We work with individuals currently employed in foundations and grantmaking institutions who are seeking to advance their careers in philanthropy.

By bringing together talented high-level senior managers from diverse backgrounds with philanthropic leaders and executive search consultants, we can strengthen the pipeline of professionals looking to compete for and succeed in philanthropic leadership positions. We also work with foundations and grantmakers to help them acquire and retain the best management talent from this ready and willing pool.

Download the complete program brochure.

Our Vision: The Council on Foundations' Career Pathways program will become one of the nation's premier programs to prepare philanthropic leaders and to help foundations and grantmakers acquire and retain the best management talent. It will foster diversity, inclusion, and excellence in philanthropic leadership for mid-career professionals.

Our Goal: We want to increase the number of candidates from diverse backgrounds in the leadership pipeline who are considered for, appointed to, and retained in senior and executive positions in philanthropic organizations.

Our Belief: We strongly believe in the links among diversity, inclusiveness, and effectiveness. Our conviction is based on research and is an institutionally held value that compels the Council to equip members with a variety of management tools, including talent acquisition, recruitment, retention, and leadership preparation.

2012-2013 Cohort

2012-2013 Career Pathways CohortElven participants graduated from the 2012-2013 Career Pathways Program. The year-long leadership preparation program closed with the usual closing ceremony at the Council's Annual Conference in Chicago. Council Board Vice Chair Sherry P. Magill, of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund, gave the welcome address. Carol Goss of the President of the Skillman Foundation, and Council President and CEO Vikki Spruill were featured speakers.

Lisette Islas Director of Community Organizing Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation was overwhelming chosen by her peers to represent the group at the closing ceremony. She gave a heartfelt speech centered on authenticity and finding your way inspired by her daughter. She thanked her cohort members and Pathways staff for memories made and the network of support they created. 

Brandee Butler
Program Manager, Europe, Middle East & Africa
Levi Strauss Foundation

Satonya C. Fair
Director, Grants Management
The Annie E. Casey Foundation

Angela K. Frusciante
Knowledge Development Officer
William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund

Lisette O. Islas
Director of Community Organizing
Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation

Leslie A. Ito
President and CEO
Japanese American Cultural and Community Center

Jin-Wook (Jay) Kim
Director of Community Funds and Racial Equity
Minnesota Philanthropy Partners

Christopher Nanni
Vice President, Program
Community Foundation of St. Joseph County

Dee Dee Nguyen
Senior Philanthropic Advisor
Marin Community Foundation

Maggie Gunther Osborn
President and CEO
Connecticut Council for Philanthropy

Lita Pardi
Senior Program Officer
The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta

Aleesha Towns-Bain
Program Officer
Rasmuson Foundation

2011-2012 Cohort

2011-2012 CohortTwelve participants graduated from the 2011-12 Career Pathways Program. The year-long leadership preparation program concluded with an inspirational ceremony April 29 at the Council's Annual Conference in Los Angeles. Carol Larson and Kevin Murphy, the Council's board chair and vice chair, and Council Interim President and CEO Jeff Clarke were featured speakers.

In keeping with the tradition of selecting a class member to deliver and address at the closing ceremony, Kenneth M. Jones II, vice president for finance and administration at The Annie E. Casey Foundation, delivered the commencement address to a room full of enthusiastic supporters. Jones creatively illuminated the graduating class’ journey through the lens of reality TV, introducing each of his classmates as contestants who “represent the purpose of [the Career Pathways] program, different ethnicities, backgrounds, beliefs, ages, and genders, working for the common good of philanthropy and ensuring that the word ‘inclusion’ should be in the fabric of every foundation.” Jones also thanked the financial sponsors of the program. “For our nominators and supervisors,” he concluded, “thanks for allowing us the time and space to participate in this program.”

Sara A. Boyd
President and CEO
The Omaha Community Foundation

Angela Brown
Director of Programs
The Hyams Foundation

David A. Harris
Vice President, Grants & Initiatives
Iowa West Foundation

Kenneth M. Jones, II
Vice President, Finance & Administration
The Annie E. Casey Foundation

Earl Lui
Program Director
The California Wellness Foundation

Barbara H. McAllister
Foundation Program Director
Intel Foundation

Amita Nagaraja
Senior Program Officer
The McGraw-Hill Companies

Lee Christian Parker
Director, Education Initiatives
The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region

Sharmila Rao Thakkar
Senior Program Officer
The Siragusa Foundation

Darrell L. Tucci
Chief Development Officer
Desert AIDS Project

Belen Vargas
Vice President, Grant Operations
Weingart Foundation

Alandra L. Washington
Deputy Director
W.K. Kellogg Foundation

2010-2011 Cohort

2010-2011 CohortThe 2010-11 Career Pathways Program successfully concluded with an inspirational ceremony at the Council's Annual Conference on April 10 in Philadelphia. Fifteen participants graduated from the year-long leadership preparation program for mid-career professionals. Carol Larson, the Council's board chair and Steve Gunderson, president and CEO were featured speakers.

Latonya Slack, senior program officer of the James Irvine Foundation, was chosen by the members of the graduating class to deliver a commencement address. She recounted the rigor of the program, leadership opportunities, and camaraderie among her program peers. “We learned that embracing diversity and hosting and holding difficult conversations also means that we share our tears and joy, our challenges as well as our accomplishments,” she said. “We can celebrate and support each other and, when necessary, challenge each other to stay on task. The connections we have made professionally are key to a long and healthy career. But it's the personal connections that have made us friends, confidants, and valued colleagues.”

Slack thanked to her sponsoring CEO, Jim Canales of the James Irvine Foundation, and her supervisor, Amy Dominguez-Arms, for their recognition and support of diversity in leadership. She also praised the Council's staff and the Career Pathways team for developing, creating, and nurturing the program.

Tonya Allen
Chief Executive Officer
The Skillman Foundation

Fatima Angeles
Interim Vice President of Programs
The California Wellness Foundation

Dale Robinson Anglin
Program Officer
Victoria Foundation

E. Thomas Brewer
Director of Programs Program Officer
Archstone Foundation

Craig Drinkard
Program Officer
Victoria Foundation

Jeffrey Malloy
Director of Finance & Administration
The James Irvine Foundation

Jason McGill
Vice President of Social Justice Programs
Arcus Foundation

Caroline J. Merenda
Program Director

Debra Joy Pérez
Vice President for Research, Evaluation and Knowledge Support
Annie E Casey Foundation

Praveen Prasad
Development Specialist

Valerie Raines
Vice President, Corporate Philanthropy
KeyBank Foundation

Latonya Slack
Senior Program Officer
The James Irvine Foundation

La June Montgomery Tabron
President and CEO
W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Julie Walther
Senior Program Officer
The Brinson Foundation

Heidi Williamson
Vice President for Grantmaking and Communication
Berks County Community Foundation

Career Pathways Graduates Enjoy Success

Since the first Career Pathways class graduated in the spring, several of its members already have taken big strides in their careers. Five have been named president and CEO of foundations and non-profit organizations. The program prepares individuals from diverse backgrounds to compete for and earn positions as philanthropic leaders, although participating in the intensive year-long program does not guarantee a new leadership position. It cultivates philanthropic acumen and confidence in participants, strengthens individuals' networks, and empowers individuals to be the best candidate they can be.

La June Montgomery Tabron was named president and CEO of W.K. Kellogg Foundation effective Jan. 1, 2014. Throughout her 26-year journey from controller to her current role of executive vice president of operations and treasurer, she has provided strong and decisive leadership demonstrating an understanding of all aspects of the foundation and its legacy. Ms. Tabron will become the 9th leader of the 83-year old foundation, replacing Sterling Speirn, who announced he is stepping down on December 31 after heading the foundation for nearly eight years. "La June is the perfect choice to lead WKKF," said Speirn. "She has been a co-architect of the foundation’s strategy, and she has done it with great skill, grace and leadership. The board’s decision to choose "home-grown" talent speaks volumes about La June’s ability to lead the implementation of this work. And the board is making history with naming the first female and African American to lead the foundation since its founding more than 83 years ago."  

Tonya Allen was named president and CEO of The Skillman Foundation, effective January 2014. Her two-decade long career has centered on pursuing, executing and investing in ideas that improve her hometown of Detroit and reduce the plight of underserved people, especially children. Allen has been instrumental in many successful philanthropic, government and community initiatives and has a comprehensive understanding of philanthropic governance and strategy. "Tonya Allen has been the architect of our strategies," Goss added, "She is an exceptional leader, and is probably the smartest person I know in this work." Allen joined the Foundation in 2004, and has been COO of the Foundation since 2010. She developed the Foundation's 10-year $100-million Good Neighborhoods program, and currently oversees the Foundation's main programs, communications and technology operations, as well as talent development.

Leslie A. Ito was appointed president and CEO Japanese American Cultural and Community Center in Los Angeles. She began her tenure on March 4, 2013. "Leslie represents the next-generation leader with a deep understanding of arts programming and fund development for nonprofits, which is key to the revitalization of the JACCC," said Sandy Sakamoto, chair of the Board of Directors. "We are very fortunate that in addition to these skills, Leslie has grown up in our community and has participated in many of our JACCC programs in her youth." Prior to leading JACCC, Ito was a program officer for the arts at the California Community Foundation (CCF), funding individual visual artists and small and midsize community-based arts organizations serving underserved communities.  She has more than 7 years of experience in grantmaking, nonprofit capacity building and support for individual artists in a diverse range of funding environments.

Maggie Gunther Osborn was appointed president and CEO of the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy May 1, 2013. Council board chair, Kim Healey, Executive Director of the NewAlliance Foundation, said "We are very excited by Maggie Osborn's energy and experience and her commitment to strengthening the philanthropic sector." Prior to her appointment, Osborn served as the Vice President of the Florida Philanthropic Network, a statewide membership organization supporting the philanthropic sector through programming, advocacy and partnerships. A 2003 Hull Fellow with the Southeastern Council on Foundations (SECF), Ms. Osborn has been recognized as a leader, an advocate, and is a frequent speaker on the social purpose sector. Ms. Osborn holds a master degree in Leadership & Philanthropy from Antioch University and a degree from Notre Dame of Maryland University, where she was a Morrissy Scholar.

Sara A. Boyd was appointed president and CEO of the Omaha Community Foundation in October 2010. The community foundation supports and manages the charitable activity of 1,000 local families, corporations, and private foundations. After 12 years with the organization, Boyd is replacing retiring CEO Mike Leighton. Boyd is an active participant in several organizations within the community, is an alumnus of Leadership Omaha, past recipient of the Omaha Jaycee’s Ten Outstanding Young Omahans and Midland’s Business Journal 40 Under 40 awards, past board member of the Young Professionals Council, and currently serves on the board of directors of local family foundations, the Millard Public Schools Foundation, and the Nebraska Humane Society. Boyd has served on the Endow Nebraska Executive Committee, served as past president of the Heartland Council of Community Foundations, and served on the board of the Planned Giving Council of Nebraska.

Caroline Merenda has been named program director of CFLeads, a national organization helping community foundations learn how to lead in their communities. She was nominated by Jennifer Leonard, president and executive director of the Rochester Area Community Foundation. Citing Merenda's successful after-school work in Rochester as a model, Leonard said, "Caroline will help us and other community foundations...achieve broad impact."

Fatima Angeles was named interim vice president of programs at The California Wellness Foundation. Angeles will assume the responsibilities of day-to-day management of the Grants Program Department, which includes overseeing the Foundation’s Responsive Grantmaking Program and working with the Board and staff on the strategic planning process. She previously served as director of Evaluation and Organizational Learning.<

Debra Joy Pérez joins the Annie E. Casey Foundation as vice president for Knowledge Support. Pérez comes to Casey from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) where she served as assistant vice president of the Research and Evaluation Unit from 2010 until her appointment as interim vice president last year. She built a strong record of achievement for 16 years.

Jason McGill, Ph.D. joined the Arcus Foundation as Vice President, Social Justice Program. The program comprises three integrated portfolios: Global Religions, International Human Rights and U.S. Social Justice. McGill previously served as Vice President of Member Services at Philanthropy New York, the principal membership association for New York City’s organized philanthropy sector.