Career Pathways Program Continues to Cultivate Remarkable Talent

Eleven New Leaders Selected to Participate in the 2012-2013 Class
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Arlington, VA


The Council on Foundations announced today that 11 promising philanthropic leaders have been selected to participate in the third annual Career Pathways program. The intensive, year-long leadership initiative is designed to foster diverse talent and excellence among the philanthropic sector's senior executives.

Participants engage in facilitated leadership preparation, self-directed career planning, group learning sessions, site visits, one-on-one executive coaching, mentoring, and leadership projects, and forge new connections with professional networks and decision makers. The first two graduating classes have trained 26 individuals from diverse backgrounds who are now positioned to better serve and advance professionally in philanthropy.

Graduates of the program assume leadership positions of increased responsibility and/or receive professional recognition for leadership growth. For example, Debra Joy Perez has been promoted to assistant vice president for research and evaluation at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Julie Walther is now senior director of programs at the Center on Halsted. Thomas Brewer transitioned to May and Stanley Smith Charitable Trust, where he is now the director of programs. Tonya Allen was promoted to chief operating officer at The Skillman Foundation. Caroline Merenda was promoted to program director at CFLeads. 
"Graduates and participants are high-performing, high-achieving, mid-career professionals poised for even greater leadership roles in the philanthropic sector,” said Renée B. Branch, vice president, Professional Development and Diversity and Inclusion at the Council. “Graduates have held various positions in financial leadership, learning and evaluation, communications, and program leadership. Pathways presents an opportunity to nurture talents and leverage professional accomplishments while offering a best-in-class professional development experience.” 

The 2012–13 Career Pathways class, selected by grantmaking executives, trustees, and human resources professionals, includes:

  • Brandee Butler, program manager for Europe, Middle East, and Africa at the Levi Strauss Foundation, develops and implements grantmaking strategies.
  • Satonya Fair, director of grants management at The Annie E. Casey Foundation, is responsible for the development and deployment of a custom enterprise grants management system.
  • Angela Frusciante, knowledge development officer at the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund, helps lead knowledge development, which includes organizational learning, management systems, program development support, network learning, and research.
  • Lisette Islas, director of community organizing at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, creates community and capacity-building strategies and equips community residents with tools to strengthen and improve neighborhoods.
  • Jin-Wook (Jay) Kim, director of community funds and racial equity at The Saint Paul Foundation and Minnesota Philanthropy Partners, supports the volunteers who steer affiliate community funds. Under his leadership, these volunteer leaders manage funds established for the benefit of a certain city, county, or neighborhood or community of color.
  • Dee Dee Nguyen, senior philanthropic adviser for the Marin Community Foundation, develops and implements philanthropic services activities.
  • Maggie Osborn, vice president for the Florida Philanthropic Network, is responsible for all programming for the state association of grantmakers.
  • Lita Pardi, senior program officer for The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, reviews and evaluates grant applications for the foundation’s broadest discretionary grantmaking program, the Common Good Funds. She also manages the foundation’s work around nonprofit effectiveness.
  • Christopher Nanni, a vice president for the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County, is responsible for overseeing the programmatic aspects of the foundation including grantmaking and scholarship programs.
  • Leslie Ito, program officer for the California Community Foundation, manages the foundation's art portfolio, which supports individual artists and small-to-midsize arts and cultural organizations throughout Los Angeles County.
  • Aleesha Towns-Bain, senior program associate for the Rasmuson Foundation, reviews and makes recommendations on grant applications. She also worked with program staff to develop outreach plans. She was on temporary assignment as interim executive director of Alaska Children's Trust from August 2011 through April 2012.

The Career Pathways program kicks off July 17–19 at the Council’s conference center in Arlington, Va.

Pathways is part of the Council’s Diversity and Inclusive Practices program and is made possible through the generous support of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, The California Wellness Foundation, the Weingart Foundation, the Marguerite Casey Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The program is the result of research commissioned by the Council to identify leadership development opportunities in the sector. The effort included a survey of executives in the field about leadership, professional success, and an analysis of hiring practices, demographic characteristics, and advancement opportunities.