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Equity In PhilanthropyNews

Announcing The 2021 Equity in Philanthropy Cohort!

By April 20, 2021May 13th, 2021No Comments


The pandemic and recent national events have shown us that change is at our front door. Problems that have plagued our nation for decades are demanding resolution now. New solutions are necessary to address the conflicts at the core of our national identity. Innovative ideas that inspire radical approaches to the issues that are impacting our most vulnerable populations are no longer topics to consider but requirements if we are to truly embrace the challenges that we are facing in this time of great change.

To answer this call, Wellspring Philanthropic Fund (WPF) is partnering again with Rockwood to bring together a new cohort of leaders that are advancing equity in the field of philanthropy. Progress in advancing social justice requires elevation of the voices of the marginalized and robust investment in the capacities of outstanding leaders of color, leaders within the LGTBQ community, and leaders with disabilities. For there is no other way to equitably move forward than to prepare those from these communities that have experienced discrimination and disenfranchisement for stronger leadership roles in philanthropy and to be a part of the decision of where, to who, and how charitable monies should go.

With that, Rockwood is proud to announce the 2021 Equity in Philanthropy Fellowship, in partnership with Wellspring Philanthropic Fund. This fellowship was created to catalyze a shift in philanthropy in which diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the center of all decision-making levels; to strengthen the leadership skills and deepen the connections of a robust and intersectional group of philanthropic leaders; to build a pipeline of diverse and interconnected voices in the field who can advance critical social justice efforts.

The Fellowship will bring together 22 leaders from across the nation who work on a broad range of issues and represent a diverse set of backgrounds. The goal is to help these leaders increase their individual leadership effectiveness and to provide opportunities for relationship building and collaboration to support the movement of equity across foundations.

Please join us in congratulating our 2021 Equity in Philanthropy Fellowship Fellows:


Le Anne Alexander

Le Anne is a proud Black Trinidadian immigrant and daughter of special education teachers. Her strong commitment to social justice and racial justice is inspired by her grandmother’s passion to fight for the dignity and respect of all people, and her parents’ dedication to ensuring that all children, especially their Black students, had an opportunity to reach their full potential and live rich lives. She is motivated to use her position of privilege in the philanthropic sector to fund everything and everybody Black, working on the frontlines for a better future for our people. Her favorite foods are provision and saltfish, and roti. She is a budding oenophile and loves doing the New York Times crossword puzzles. She has an unhealthy shoe buying habit and will continue to work on this bio that will also be published as part of the “Carnegie Great Immigrants” list or the “McArthur Fellows” list one day soon.


Makkah Ali | Director, Arabella Advisors

Makkah is a racial justice philanthropist, conflict resolution practitioner, facilitator, and coach passionate about helping people embrace our differences to collaborate and build together in new, unexpected, and transformative ways. She is a director at Arabella Advisors, a philanthropic advisory firm that provides strategic guidance for effective philanthropy, and is a member of the board of directors for Crossroads Fund, a public foundation that provides critical resources to underfunded groups promoting racial, social, and economic justice in the Chicago area. Makkah previously served as grants manager at the El-Hibri Foundation where she managed all stages of the annual grants cycle and facilitated learning and collaboration opportunities between nonprofits serving American Muslim communities. Makkah co-hosts the Identity Politics Podcast which features new stories and perspectives on the intersection of race, gender, and Muslim life in America. She previously served as president of the board of directors for the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative.


Raisa Borshchigova | Senior Program Officer, Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights

Raisa, a Chechen born and raised human rights activist, is hugely passionate, dedicated, and committed to working towards women’s safety, security, empowerment, and liberation from violence, persecution, and harm. Prior to joining UAF, Raisa worked for the North Caucasus’s largest civil society project, the Young Women’s Development Group, providing education to teenage girls. In 2016, she was awarded the Galina Starovoitova Fellowship at the Wilson Center’s Kennan Institute in Washington, DC, where she took residence. There, she began to synthesize years of work on womens’ and girls’ rights and LGBT rights as she embarked on transforming her first-hand experiences into academic research.


Stephanie Chrispin | Communications Manager, Trinity Church Wall Street

Stephanie is an advocate, strategist, and relationship manager who draws upon her lived experience as a native New Yorker and daughter of immigrants in the fight for social justice. With nearly a decade of experience in grassroots organizing and philanthropy, her expertise lies in the intersection of community engagement, public policy, and multiracial coalition-building. She works as the communications manager at Trinity Church Wall Street, where she leads strategic communications and content development in support of the church’s social justice programming and grantmaking. She has a passion for connecting people to build power and bridge difference, while also using critical analysis to shift how organizations think about racial equity and gender justice. Stephanie holds an MPA from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of public service and a BS from Fordham University.


Michelle Dover | Director of Programs, Ploughshares Fund

Michelle works at the nexus of nuclear threats, philanthropy, and civil society. As the Ploughshares Fund’s director of programs, she and the team invest in efforts to eliminate the dangers posed by nuclear weapons. She co-hosts the podcast Press the Button, where she finds joy in hearing activists and experts share their stories. Michelle co-founded Gender Champions in Nuclear Policy and serves as the peace and security funders group steering committee chair, working in close partnership with other equity initiatives in the field. Previously, Michelle conducted research at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies on nuclear, chemical, and biological cooperative threat reduction programs. She was previously a Nonproliferation Graduate Fellow at the National Nuclear Security Administration. She holds a master’s degree in conflict resolution from American University and graduated with honors from the University of Denver with a degree in international studies and French.


Mónica Enriquez-Enriquez | Program Officer, Foundation for a Just Society

Mónica is a program officer for Mesoamerica at Foundation for a Just Society and has been working for social and gender justice for over twenty years, including ten years in progressive and feminist philanthropy. Mónica is a queer migrant based in Brooklyn, New York who came to the U.S. in 2001, was granted asylum in 2006, and has deep roots in the Andean mountains of Colombia. Mónica holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations and a Master of Fine Arts in digital arts. Mónica believes in the power of grassroots movements, in artivism as a tool to imagine and create a more just world, and in interdependence as a way to heal and sustain our planet and our communities.


Ayana Gabriel | Senior Program Officer, Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation

Ayana manages grantmaking in the areas of youth development, racial justice, and community development on the Westside of Atlanta. With over eighteen years of experience in planning and execution of complex projects across varied cross-functional teams, Ayana is passionate about bringing together diverse constituencies to design and implement innovative solutions to challenging problems. Ayana believes at its best, philanthropy creates spaces where the community is the decision-maker in solving problems in their community. Ayana began her career as a chemical engineer but her passion for improving education opportunities for children of color led her to pursue a role as a secondary science teacher, followed by work with the education non-profit Teach For America. Ayana has been a resident of the Westside of Atlanta since 2006 where she served as a neighborhood leader, working alongside many others to mitigate the impacts of gentrification on her community.


Storme Gray | Executive Director, Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP)

Storme is the executive director of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP), a national network of early and mid-career professionals who seek to advance social justice through inclusive philanthropic practice. A passionate change agent, servant leader, and advocate for justice, Storme’s professional career includes nearly 15 years of experience in the philanthropic sector, where she has led initiatives and projects that yield strategic partnerships to effect systemic change. Aside from the tremendous accomplishment of being the first Black, queer, woman to lead EPIP in its 20 years of existence, she is especially proud of a city-wide effort she developed for the Washington Area Women’s Foundation to improve the educational, economic, and life outcomes for cis and trans young women and girls of color. Storme credits her upbringing in Camden, NJ with providing her with the tenacity and authenticity that fuel her passion for a more just and liberated future for BIPOC and other historically marginalized people. And in her spare time, Storme serves as a board member of organizations that are focused on youth development and civic engagement, such as Women of the Dream and The Black Swan Academy. Storme is also a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc, a graduate of American University, and fur-mommy to her dog Bodhi.


Sadia Hameed | Executive Director, Thought Partnerships

Sadia is founder and executive director of Thought Partnerships and has spent 20 years deeply engaged in field-building. She has worked both within philanthropy and across a range of diverse social justice organizations. By identifying and inviting new stakeholders into conversations, Sadia serves as a thought partner who seeks to identify and create opportunities, connections, and collaborations that help the global peacebuilding and conflict prevention fields to thrive and grow. Sadia has pioneered grantmaking approaches and technical support programs to seed and support local to global networks and locally led peacebuilding initiatives to help counter hate, division and prevent mass violence. Sadia approaches all her endeavors with a whole-society and whole-of-self approach believing that lasting positive change is created when we each see a stake in creating inclusive, just and non-violent societies, and leverage our own life experiences toward that outcome. Sadia remains committed to lifelong learning and self-evolution.


Hanni Hanson | Program Officer, Compton Foundation

Hanni is committed to working toward a vibrant, multiracial democracy that can make our communities safer, more equitable, and more resilient to the climate crisis. As a senior program officer at the Compton Foundation, she resources social movements fighting for democracy reform, climate solutions, peaceful US foreign policy, and reproductive justice, with particular focus on narrative strategy and building grassroots power. Hanni began her career at a nonprofit organization running leadership development programs for young activists, which made her a firm believer in the power of relationships to foster personal and community transformation. She holds a BA from Stanford University, where her coursework and research focused on religion as a force for social change. A Pacific Northwesterner at heart, she now lives in Oakland with her partner and can often be found playing the piano, watching bad TV, and working on her homemade pizza recipe.


Angie Junck | Director of Human Rights, Heising-Simons Foundation and Action Fund

Angie is the first director of the Human Rights program at the Heising-Simons Foundation and Action Fund, overseeing programmatic strategy and grantmaking to challenge mass criminalization of Black, indigenous, and people of color in the criminal legal and immigration enforcement systems by shifting power from these punishment systems to BIPOC impacted by criminalization and working towards reimagined approaches to justice and safety that invest in communities rather than prisons and surveillance. Previously, Angie was a national legal and policy expert at the intersection of the criminal legal, youth justice, and immigration systems, serving as the director of Immigrant Defense Programs and supervising attorney at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center for over 13 years. In that role, she led state and federal policy agendas and strengthened the capacity of the criminal legal, youth justice, and immigration movements to address immigrant criminalization. She incubated and led multi-issue collaboratives and campaigns engaging a variety of partners, which resulted in innovative state and local models and policies to address the intersection of criminalization, incarceration, and deportation.  Angie currently serves as the co-chair of the board of Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees and also on the boards of Al Otro Lado, California Coalition for Women Prisoners, and the US program of Human Rights Watch.


Dini Merz | Executive Director, Colombe Foundation

Dini is the executive director of the Colombe Peace Foundation, a family foundation that focuses on creating a more peaceful world through changes in US policy. At Colombe, she manages all aspects of the foundation’s functioning, including: working with the Board to design, implement and evaluate the foundation’s strategies based on the foundation’s vision and goals; identifying grants and activities to advance these strategies; designing governance structures to facilitate the work of the foundation; planning and facilitating grant review meetings, and representing the foundation in the progressive community. From 2003-2020, Dini served a director of the Peace and Security Program at Proteus Fund, where her portfolio included managing Colombe Peace Foundation but also other time-limited, peace and security efforts including setting up the governance and grantmaking of the CarEth Foundation and managing the first iteration of the “Security Policy Working Group.”  Prior to Proteus, Dini was the program director for the Tremaine Foundation for which she designed and implemented grant-making strategies and their evaluation for the foundation’s three focus areas: Learning Disabilities, Arts, and the Environment. Before the Tremaine Foundation she was an environmental policy consultant for Public Sector Consultants where she worked extensively on sprawl and contamination remediation. Dini is on the steering committee of the Peace and Security Funders Network, where she served various terms over the years. She is also an advisory board member for the Congressional Progressive Caucus Center.  In the past, she has served as secretary of the Board of New England Grassroots Environment Fund. She has a JD from George Washington University and graduated cum laude in international relations from Cornell University.


Tania Morrison | Program Officer, Kalliopeia Foundation

Tania is a member of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte (Tyendinaga) in southeast Ontario, where her mother’s family is from, and was born and raised in Kingston, Ontario. She is a program officer with Kalliopeia Foundation and leads Kalliopeia’s grantmaking to Native-led organizations across the United States and in Canada, and brings a spirit of service to the work. Previously, Tania worked in the field of Indigenous food security and population health in roles such as nutritionist, project or program lead, and manager for over ten years, at a national level for the Canadian federal government and in 2017 as the provincial manager, food security, in British Columbia. Tania is also a Registered Dietitian (Canada) with a master’s in health science from the University of Toronto.


Jenny Negron | Program Officer, The Pinkerton Foundation

Jenny has a unique perspective on the value of Pinkerton grants. In 1998, three days after graduating from New York’s high school for pregnant and parenting teens and six weeks after the birth of her son Joel, she went to work as an “Explainer” in the Science Career Ladder program at the New York Hall of Science–a longtime Pinkerton grantee. While there, she completed her BA at Queens College and went on to earn a master’s in public administration at Baruch College. She eventually rose to lead the 100 high school and college Explainers who guide thousands of visitors through the Hall of Science each year.  Jenny has presented papers and led discussions at science education conferences at home and abroad and has been recognized as a Next Generation Getty Leadership Fellow. She brought her interest and expertise in youth programs and science and technology training to Pinkerton in January of 2012.


Danielle Pulliam | Program Officer, The Pinkerton Foundation

Danielle works with multiple stakeholders to address the needs of economically disadvantaged residents in New York City. During her career she has focused on issues including housing, workforce development, financial literacy, and education. As a program officer with The Pinkerton Foundation, Danielle manages grants for literacy, sports, and arts programs for young people and serves as a thought partner for the foundation’s Racial Equity Initiative to support BIPOC leaders. She is also co-chair of the New York City Youth & Education Funders Working Group which facilitates funder learning exchanges and analyzes issues facing New York City youth. A native of the Bronx, Danielle earned a BA from Brown University and an MPA from the Baruch CUNY School of Public Affairs through the National Urban Fellows Program.  In addition to her work, she finds joy in practicing her faith and liturgical dance, traveling, and enthusiastically sampling the world’s cuisines.


Lorraine Ramirez | Executive Director, Funders for Justice

Lorraine is the executive director of Funders for Justice. Lorraine has worked in social justice philanthropy for over 15 years, in the areas of housing and the foreclosure crisis, LGBTQ rights, gender justice, racial justice, immigrant rights, and anti-violence organizing strategies. Lorraine previously worked at Neighborhood Funders Group, managing their housing and place-based funder organizing work in its earlier formation, and then as co-founder and director of Funders for Justice while it was a program of NFG. Prior to NFG, Lorraine was part of the US Programs team at the Open Society Foundations, as a member of the Equality and Opportunity Fund. She began her work in philanthropy with five years on the grantmaking team at the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice.  Lorraine has consulted and partnered with a number of grassroots social justice community-based organizations across the US, in the areas of fundraising strategies, organizational development, and coalition-building. She currently serves on the board of She has previously served on the board of the Audre Lorde Project, Queers for Economic Justice, and the Justice Committee, a people of color organization dedicated to building a movement against police violence and systemic racism in NYC. More recently, Lorraine served as a board member of the Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training (GIFT), Trans Queer Pueblo, and Resource Generation; and as a member of the grants panel for the Mobilize Power Fund of Third Wave Fund. Lorraine holds a BA in women’s studies from Pomona College.


Tracy Rector | Managing Director, Storytelling, Nia Tero Foundation

Tracy has a passion for amplifying and empowering Indigenous and BIPOC voices. She brings two decades of experience as a community organizer, educator, filmmaker, film programmer, and arts curator, all infused with her deep roots in plant medicine. For the last 20 years she has directed and produced over 400 films including shorts, features, music videos, and virtual reality projects. Her work has been featured on Independent Lens, ImagineNative, National Geographic, and the Smithsonian’s Museum of the American Indian, as well as at international film festivals including Cannes and Toronto. Tracy served as a Seattle arts commissioner for 8 years, sits on the board of the Mize Foundation, and is the co-founder of Longhouse Media and the founder of Indigenous Showcase. Currently, Tracy is the managing director of storytelling, at Seattle, WA based non-profit Nia Tero, where she manages a robust portfolio of grantees, fellowships, and communications while overseeing all original content productions for the organization.


Adela C. Ruiz | Program and Grants Manager, NBA Foundation

Adela is a professor, grantmaker, strategist, and lifelong New Yorker with proud Dominican/Afro-Caribbean roots. Her experiences as a member of historically excluded communities drive her commitment to actualize equity and expand opportunities for disabled, Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous, People of Color (QTBIPOC), women, and immigrant families. Adela is a values-driven leader who has worked in Philanthropy, nonprofits, and higher education for over a decade, leading sector-wide initiatives that uplift disability justice, racial equity, and inclusive approaches to grantmaking and programming, most recently at Ford Foundation and Open Society. Adela is a Hispanics in Philanthropy Líderes Fellow (2018 cohort) and worked closely with the President’s Council for Disability Inclusion in Philanthropy. Adela now serves as the program and grants manager at the NBA Foundation; whose mission is to drive economic opportunity for Black youth. Adela earned her BA and MA in sociology from St. John’s University and is pursuing her PhD in sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center.


Victoria Sweet | Director of Indigenous Communities Grantmaking, Novo Foundation

Victoria, Anishinaabe (Ojibwe), serves as director of Indigenous Communities Grantmaking, overseeing grants to Indigenous communities and organizations throughout the world. Her passion for raising awareness about the violence against and exploitation of Indigenous women and girls caused her as a first-generation college student to learn how to navigate educational, governmental, and non-profit systems to speak out on behalf of her community. Victoria researched the link between climate change, extractive industries, and risks for Indigenous communities in the circumpolar Arctic and spent time in rural Alaska Native villages, assisting with the creation of culturally appropriate justice systems. She has trained state and tribal court judges, attorneys, and advocates on human trafficking, domestic violence, and child abuse and neglect, and serves on advisory boards for organizations working to create lasting changes to improve the lives of community members. Victoria is often found out in nature, hiking, kayaking, and finding her peace.


Jeree Thomas | Senior Program Officer, Communities Transforming Policing Fund

Jeree is a Black southern woman dedicated to resourcing, contributing to, and making a reality the liberatory imagination of Black, Indigenous, people of color.  She currently leads the Communities Transforming Policing Fund at Borealis Philanthropy. Before joining Borealis, Jeree was an attorney for youth incarcerated in Virginia, led a state campaign to close youth prisons, and served as a national policy director to end the prosecution of children in the adult criminal legal system. In 2016, Jeree was the inaugural recipient of the Youth Justice Emerging Leader Award from the National Juvenile Justice Network. Jeree graduated from the College of William and Mary with a double major in social justice and community advocacy and religious studies.  She graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law with a concentration in law and public service.


Tasha Tucker | Senior Program Director, Trinity Church Wall Street

Tasha is an experienced grantmaker and racial justice strategist committed to increasing people’s access to power and opportunity. With 15 years of experience in social justice philanthropy, she serves as the senior program director of the Racial Justice initiative with the Grants and Mission Investing team at Trinity Church Wall Street. She directs grantmaking activities and strategy implementation of the Racial Justice initiative, which seeks to break the cycle of mass incarceration in New York City and beyond.  She has held positions at The Atlantic Philanthropies and the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina.  In addition to her work, she finds joy and relaxation by doing yoga, reading, and watching movies. A South Carolina native, Tasha received her BA in business administration from Converse College and a master’s in public administration from the College of Charleston.


Claudia Williams | Program Officer, Washington Area Women’s Foundation

For over a decade Claudia has worked at the nonprofit and philanthropic sector in Washington, DC bringing a nuanced understanding of racial justice, social change, and gender equity. She has devoted her career to advancing workplace policies that end the systemic imbalance of power women face, listening to girls’ stories to amplify their message to wider audiences, mobilizing resources that girls and gender-expansive youth identify themselves through innovative grantmaking approaches, and supporting grassroots leaders to end gender-based violence.  Originally from Mexico, Claudia has been living in the United States since 2007. She began her career at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research conducting research on women’s economic security. She is currently a program officer at Washington Area Women’s Foundation where she provides strategic direction to programming and leads a grantmaking portfolio to resource organizations by and for women and girls of color. Claudia holds a MA in public policy and women’s studies from the George Washington University and a BS in economics from Universidad Iberoamericana. Her favorite hobby is decorating cakes for her friends and family, and she loves listening to audiobooks and spending time with her son Alejandro.

Rockwood Community Call

Kris Mereigh,  MPH, CWP.

public health and wellness strategist

June 27 | 12 PT / 3 ET