Twenty-Four Promising Leaders in Philanthropy Selected for Career Pathways Program

Council on Foundations Announces Class of 2017
Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Council on Foundations announced today that 24 promising philanthropic leaders have been selected to participate in the fourth Career Pathways Program. This intensive, year-long leadership development program is designed to foster diverse talent and excellence among the philanthropic sector's senior executives. Participants will graduate from the program with the knowledge, experience, and professional networks needed to be more effective in their current roles and more deliberate in their contributions to the field of philanthropy more broadly, positioning them to compete successfully for senior/executive level foundation positions.

“This was an extraordinarily competitive year for the program, and the 2017 Career Pathways cohort is truly outstanding” said President and CEO Vikki Spruill. “These 24 individuals are remarkably talented and have shown themselves to have a deep commitment to the principals of diversity, equity, and inclusion and a calling to be of service to the field of philanthropy. Career Pathways will prepare them to be the next generation of leaders who will drive the sector’s efforts to improve lives and build vibrant communities.”

The 2017 Career Pathways class includes:

  • Kay Fernandez Smith, Assistant Vice President, Programs, The San Francisco Foundation
  • Makeba Morgan Hill, Deputy to the President and Chief Planner, The Andrew W Mellon Foundation
  • Desiree Flores, Director, U.S. Social Justice Program, Arcus Foundation
  • Ling Liu, Director of Communications and Community Engagement, Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health
  • Karissa Lowe, Knowledge & Data Manager, Meyer Memorial Trust
  • Meron Makonnen, Director of Legal Services, The ELMA Philanthropies Services US Inc.
  • Johngerlyn "Jonse" Young, Director of Philanthropic Services, Grand Rapids Community Foundation
  • Felicia DeHaney, Director of Education & Learning, W.K. Kellogg Foundation
  • Joe Braun, Director of Finance & Development, Fond Du Lac Area Foundation
  • Marcus McGrew, Director of Program Operations and Information Management, The Kresge Foundation
  • Maggi Alexander, Partner, Center for Global Philanthropy, The Philanthropic Initiative
  • Melinda Gilmore, Program Officer and Senior Writer/Editor, Charles F. Kettering Foundation
  • Duchesne Drew, Community Network Vice President, The Bush Foundation
  • David McGhee, Program Director, The Skillman Foundation
  • Prasangi Ranaweera, Senior Portfolio Manager, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Karin Krslovic, Grants Manager, Ford Foundation
  • LaTese Briggs, Director of Programs & Strategy, Milken Institute
  • Melina Sanchez, Program Officer, The James Irvine Foundation
  • Brennan Gould, Director of Programs, Charlottesville Area Community Foundation
  • Leslie Gross Davis, Program Director, Equality, U.S. Programs, Open Society Foundations
  • Pooja O'Hanlon, Executive Director, Thomas and Jeanne Elmezzi Private Foundation
  • Jennifer Price-Letscher, Director, Programs & Special Projects, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation
  • David Daniels, Senior Director of Operations, Bainum Family Foundation
  • Rochelle Witharana, Controller/Director of Finance, The California Wellness Foundation

The Council is committed to a diverse and inclusive agenda for the field of philanthropy. Career Pathways is just one program in a suite of activities offered by the Council that is focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Through the Career Pathways Program, the Council seeks to increase the number of candidates from diverse backgrounds in the leadership pipeline and strengthen the capacity of the philanthropic sector to grow and retain diverse talent. Over the course of a year, the 2017 Career Pathways cohort will participate in virtual and in-person learning, networking events, and career training. Sessions will be facilitated by expert faculty representing senior executives and trustees in the field of philanthropy as well as experts from other sectors, and all participants will be matched with executive coaches. Program graduates will be invited to participate in alumni activities and leverage their knowledge and talents to support other emerging leaders from diverse backgrounds.

The Career Pathways program kicks off in Miami, Florida, January 24, 2017. To learn more about the program, please visit

Career Pathways is made possible thanks to generous funding support from The Duke EndowmentThe Kresge Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.


About the Council on Foundations

An active philanthropic network, the Council on Foundations (, founded in 1949, is a nonprofit leadership association of grantmaking foundations and corporations. It provides the opportunity, leadership, and tools needed by philanthropic organizations to expand, enhance and sustain their ability to advance the common good. With members from all foundation types and sizes, the Council empowers professionals in philanthropy to meet today’s toughest challenges and advances a culture of charitable giving in the U.S. and globally.