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Equity In PhilanthropyNews

Announcing The 2023 Equity in Philanthropy Cohort

By March 9, 2023March 23rd, 2023No Comments


Advancing social justice requires investing in powerful leaders from historically excluded communities to grow their capacities, increase their leadership effectiveness, and provide opportunities for relationship building and collaboration to support an equitable philanthropy movement. In support of this vision, Rockwood is proud to announce the 2023 cohort of the Equity in Philanthropy Fellowship in partnership with Wellspring Philanthropic Fund (WPF). Bringing together 18 leaders from across the nation, 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.

Please join us in congratulating our 2023 Equity in Philanthropy Fellows:

Aurelia Mora | Program Manager for Capacity Building, Liberty Hill Foundation

As a second-generation Chicana in Los Angeles, Aurelia has been witness to and felt the impacts of gentrification and the criminalization and systemic oppression of BIPOC communities. Through urban planning and social sciences lenses, Aurelia is dedicated to centering the histories and voices of BIPOC communities. In her position as a Program Manager for Capacity Building at Liberty Hill Foundation, Aurelia works in partnership and collaboration with community-based partners, organizations, and consultants to develop a broad capacity-building strategy that is responsive and relevant to the needs, interests, and strengths of our community partners. She believes that all capacity-building work should function as a reciprocal relationship in which philanthropic partners can share resources and offer organizational-and-leadership development opportunities while also uplifting the knowledge and expertise of community partners and organizers.

Brittany Schulman | Vice President of Indigenous Leadership & Educational Programs, Native Americans in Philanthropy

Brittany is an enrolled citizen of the Waccamaw Siouan Tribe and grew up in rural North Carolina. As a traditional storyteller, Brittany’s perspective is grounded in her experience growing up with her mother, siblings and grandparents on their family farm and her Waccamaw Siouan community. Brittany is a lifelong learner and educator, integrating her Indigenous values into everyday life. She is a results-driven educator and public speaker with a track record of maximizing efforts through relationships. As an advocate, Brittany has served in many leadership roles to ensure that Native Americans and Indigenous values are not only included but also at the forefront in every conversation. Recognized for providing practical, sustainable solutions to business challenges with exceptional communication skills and project management with a passion for Indigenous peoples, Brittany is currently the Vice President of Indigenous Leadership & Education Programs, where she continues her work as an organizer and educator. Brittany is married to a wonderfully supportive husband, Joseph (Leech Lake Ojibwe) and they have two children.

Carlos Rojas Alvarez | Director, Executive Affairs and Strategic Initiatives, Decolonizing Wealth Project & Liberated Capital

Carlos is a recognized champion of education justice, immigrant rights, and racial equity and brings close to fifteen years of experience in community organizing, movement building, and racial justice philanthropy. As an undocumented immigrant, he began to organize at 16 through the Student Immigrant Movement, where he eventually became the Campaign Coordinator, and later the United We Dream Network, where he played a critical role in coordinating the network’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) registration and Comprehensive Immigration Reform campaigns. Most recently, Carlos was the Director of Special Projects at Youth on Board, where he developed, staffed, and executed various capacity-building programs for the youth justice movement field and partnered with philanthropy to advance support for healing justice initiatives across the country. Carlos currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Schott Foundation for Public Education, Massachusetts Advocates for Children, and Resource Generation and lives with his husband in Brooklyn, New York.

Causten Rodriguez-Wollerman | Vice President of Programs, The Movement Voter Project

Causten is passionate about strategy and people, with nearly 20 years of experience in social change work at the local, state, and national level. Most recently, he was Deputy Director of Campaigns for the American Civil Liberties Union. In 2017, Causten was Director of Partnerships for Demos, where he led national coalitions, supported a network of people of color leaders reforming democracy, and led the dissemination of the Race Class Narrative. Causten has trained hundreds of organizers across the country with Re:Power (formerly Wellstone Action), supported dozens of campaigns across the country with the LGBTQ Task Force, and ran leadership development programs specifically with leaders from marginalized communities. His career began as a racial justice organizer in Denver CO, where he led campaigns that attempted to stop the building of a jail and address the overrepresentation of youth of color in the criminal justice system. Causten is passionate about finding strategic solutions to our biggest problems that build power and change people’s everyday lives for the better. Causten currently lives in Brooklyn with his toddler, partner, pandemic puppy, and two cats.

Cesar Boc | Manager of Organizational Giving, Hispanics in Philanthropy

Cesar is a Guatemalan Mayan Kaqchikel immigrant, a passionate fundraiser and grants writer, and a believer in justice for all. He has deep roots in grassroots organizing, community-lawyering, and is an avid learner of religious and holistic approaches to heal BIPOC communities. Cesar is the Manager of Organizational Giving at Hispanics in Philanthropy, a multi-national high impact Latinx Philanthropy-Serving Organization where he leads the pipeline of private foundations and institutional giving. Previously, he managed fundraising at the Center for Migration Studies and Legal Outreach in New York. He has organized immigrant workers in multiple states and is committed to empowering Latinx immigrant communities. Cesar obtained an MA in Human Rights and Theology from Boston College, and a BA from St. John’s University. Cesar is an avid soccer fan whose favorite team is FC Barcelona. He enjoys cooking, running, walking his two dogs and is a self-proclaimed lover of literature.

Chika Onwuvuche | Program Officer, Washington Area Women’s Foundation

Born and raised in Washington, DC, Chika is committed to ensuring residents are afforded equitable resources and services to live self-determined productive lives. Chika manages the youth and safety/violence prevention portfolios and supports the advocacy efforts of Grantee Partners at Washington Area Women’s Foundation, a community-supported foundation that invests in the power of women and girls of color in the Washington DC area. Prior to her role at The Women’s Foundation, Chika coordinated youth-led initiatives aimed at empowering youth through a systems-change and racial equity analysis of agencies, policies and institutions meant to serve its community. Her role as a social worker has helped her assist, learn from and work alongside youth who have emancipated from the child welfare system and navigated the higher education system. Her personal philosophy in the necessity of engaging those most affected as decision-makers for policies and practices drives her passion for the change that needs to happen to invest in women, girls and gender expansive folks of color. Chika has an undergraduate degree in political science and social work from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Pennsylvania. 

Christine Rodriguez | Senior Program Manager, AIDS United

Christine currently oversees AIDS United’s national Harm Reduction strategic grantmaking and technical assistance portfolio, through which she and her team support (primarily) syringe services programs across the United States as an intermediary funder. Being deeply committed to strengthening community-based harm reduction and its sustainability, she believes the leadership of people who use drugs is essential to ending the syndemic of HIV, viral hepatitis, and fatal overdose. Christine is a dyed-in-the-wool harm reductionist, bringing to her senior program manager role over 15 years’ experience in drug user health. Prior to stepping into philanthropy in 2021, she excelled in varied roles across policy advocacy, capacity building, training, and direct service in the public and nonprofit sectors. Christine earned her Master of Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley, and her Bachelor of Arts in American Studies, specializing in sociology, from Pomona College.

Danielle Royston-Lopez | Grants and Programs Associate, Kataly Foundation

Danielle’s work is defined by a commitment to co-create the conditions for safety, deep witnessing and liberated ways of being in community. She is the Grants and Programs Associate at the Kataly Foundation, whose mission is to move resources to support the economic, political and cultural power of Black and Indigenous communities, and all communities of color. Danielle facilitates grantmaking processes grounded in a relational approach that centers over-excluded communities’ lived experiences and knowledge to organize philanthropy toward accountable partnership. Born into a military family, Danielle grew up in many states and countries before arriving on unceded Ramaytush Ohlone land where she earned her B.A. at San Francisco State. Danielle is a Black, queer femme, who delights in caring for her people through consistent practices of harm reduction, cooking, growing food, and holding meaningful spaces for connection. She lives on unceded Chochenyo Ohlone land with her partner, dog and cat.

Glo Ross | Program Officer, Arcus Foundation

Glo currently serves as the U.S. Social Justice Program Officer at the Arcus Foundation where grantmaking focuses on increasing safety, protections, and the inclusion of LGBTQ people most impacted by systemic injustice. Before joining Arcus, Glo supported member-led campaigns at FIERCE! to build power among LGBTQ youth of color in New York City, helped lead police accountability organizing in Atlanta, and facilitated organizing trainings and strategy sessions for various communities and organizations across the country. After graduating with a degree in Sociology of Science and Technology from Georgia Tech, Glo spent seven years as a policy analyst evaluating federal environmental programs. Glo lives in Atlanta, Georgia on unceded Muscogee Creek land and enjoys hiking with their pit bull pups, learning jiu-jitsu, and discovering new ways to live in right relationship with nature.

Jessika Ava | Founder and CEO, Founder and CEO, Thrive Philanthropy

Jessika is a member of Choctaw Nation, her ancestors survived the Trail of Tears and her great-grandmother survived Indian boarding schools. Her philanthropic career spans over a decade and her social justice activism spans over two decades. Jessika’s philanthropy equity work surrounds dismantling accessibility barriers for non-USA grassroots organizations and ensuring justice advocates across the globe have equitable access to funding opportunities, all while pushing the philanthropic sector to embrace non-harmful practices. She is vegan and an animal rights activist; recognizing the deep interconnections between violence toward humans and violence toward other animals, Jessika’s animal rights activism is a significant element of her equity journey. She is founder and CEO of Thrive Philanthropy. She has an MS in Biostatistics and an MPA in Evaluation and Nonprofit Management. She splits her time between New York and Kathmandu, Nepal.

Juan Galeano | Program Officer, The Clowes Fund

As Program Officer at The Clowes Fund, Juan is responsible for the Fund’s Indianapolis immigrant services and workforce development grants and administers the organization’s Matching Grant program. In his previous role, Juan worked as a consultant for The Cleveland Foundation, leading their 2020 Census Efforts and coordinating their Coronavirus Vaccine Outreach efforts. Juan began his career as a faith-based community organizer in Central Florida. He worked on issue campaigns to reduce the over-arresting of children for minor offenses and to increase access to primary health care for the uninsured. He is the son of immigrants from Colombia and the first member of his family to be born in the United States. A native of Queens, NY Juan earned a BA from Temple University and an MPA from Baruch College Marxe School of Public and International Affairs through the National Urban Fellows Program.

Kehinde Togun | Managing Director for Public Engagement, Humanity United

Kehinde is a Nigerian-American whose career has straddled philanthropy, nonprofits, and the private sector. He is the Managing Director for Public Engagement at Humanity United, leading a portfolio comprised of Independent Journalism, Strategic Communications, and Policy. As a foreign policy professional, Kehinde is committed to expanding diversity within the field and nurturing young people of color to see themselves as future practitioners of policy. He is a relatively new leader in philanthropy and has supported the growing movements to decolonize aid and philanthropy. Kehinde is on the steering committee of the Peace and Security Funders Group as well as on the boards of Partners West Africa – Nigeria, and the Center for Racial Justice in Education, an organization that trains and empowers educators to dismantle racism in the US education system. He is also an adjunct lecturer in the Political Science Department at Rutgers University – Newark.

Lizette Garza | Program Manager, Crossroads Fund 

Lizette is a lifelong Chicagoan with deep family roots in Texas/Mexico. For over a decade, Lizette has dedicated her career to local nonprofits that prompted her passion for social change. Her experience as a community organizer, arts educator and youth programmer drives her commitment to actualize equity and expand opportunities for historically excluded communities while using Black, queer, womanist frameworks. Lizette is a values-driven leader working as the Program Manager at Crossroads Fund, a public foundation that provides critical resources to community organizing groups working on issues of racial, social and economic justice. She currently leads grantmaking and capacity building initiatives, and co-facilitates the Giving Project program uplifting community-led grantmaking, political education and grassroots fundraising. Lizette previously served as a Program Specialist at After School Matters, where she supported youth programming on Chicago’s Westside and as a Teaching Artist for ElevArte Community Studio, preserving cultural celebrations. She earned her BA in Arts Management from Columbia College Chicago, and is a proud fellow of National Association of Latino Arts & Culture 2016 Leadership Institute and Crossroads Fund’s 2017 Giving Project. In addition to her work, she finds joy in music, poetry, preserving her family’s recipes and being a Tía.

Raul Araiza | Program Officer, Ploughshares Fund

Raul leads Ploughshares Fund’s nuclear non-proliferation and regional security grantmaking efforts in the Middle East region. As a member of Ploughshares Fund’s Equity Rises working group, he helps develop and implement goals that advance the organization’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA). Through his work, Raul looks to ensure that grantmaking efforts are reflective of the diverse perspectives of those working to end the nuclear threat, while centering the voices of those most impacted. Raul is a cis gay man born and raised in Mexico who moved to the United States in 2016. Raul holds a master’s degree in science and technology policy from the University of Sussex, and graduated with honors from Tecnológico de Monterrey with a degree in biotechnology engineering. Having been instilled with a strong sense of social responsibility from an early age, Raul is committed to working towards building a safer, more equitable world.

Sequoia Thompson | Coordinator, Equity, Arts & Culture, SoCal Grantmakers

Sequoia supports the Vice President of Professional Learning & Family Philanthropy by managing the development and implementation of programs and events in coordination with outside partners and other SoCalGrantmakers staff. She oversees programmatic, logistical, and administrative aspects of programs to support the Programs and Conferences team. Sequoia also works closely with NCG, Catalyst, & PhilCa, by leading Foundations of Racial Equity and Racial Equity Action Institute. In addition to joining the SCG team, Sequoia is a Senior Trainer for the Los Angeles County Lesbian Bisexual and Queer Women’s Health Collaborative, where she presents at various organizations such as The American Heart Association and The Department of Public Health. Sequoia is dedicated to being a part of healing the hearts of those affected by systemic anti-black racism, challenging the institutions who overtly and/or covertly perpetuate it, and inviting self-reflection so we don’t perpetuate this systemic plague that separates us.

Shavaun Evans | Director of Programs and Movement Support, Food and Farm Communications Fund

Shavaun was raised in Louisville, KY where she learned from her family and neighbors the power in community. She has worked in food systems, cooperative economics, and communications strategy for more than 15 years and is passionate about co-creating the healthy and abundant spaces that our communities need. Shavaun is the Director of Programs and Movement Support at the Food and Farm Communications Fund, a participatory grantmaker rooted in collaboration and community power. She co-leads FFCF’s initiatives to resource grassroots and frontline food and farm systems change organizations and manages the fund’s participatory decision-making process. She has spent most of her career organizing coalitions and is committed to working collaboratively to find solutions. Shavaun lives in her hometown where she is active with a Black-led childcare and family collective she helped co-create in 2017, Play Cousins Collective.

Sierra Judy | Program Associate, Headwaters Foundation for Justice

Sierra is an emerging leader with a commitment to social justice and collective liberation. As a critical thinker and cross-pollinator, Sierra’s passions lie at the nexus of empowering communities and abolishing oppressive systems. She holds a BA in Urban Studies from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities and has varied professional experience in regional government, higher education, and her current practice in social justice philanthropy. In her role at the Headwaters Foundation for Justice, Sierra guides processes to resource local movements for change through community-led grantmaking, with a priority on funding grassroots organizations led by and for Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color. She is grateful to be part of an ecosystem that honors and trusts the decision-making of those most impacted by injustice. As a proud resident of Minneapolis, Sierra finds joy in exploring the vast local food scene and spending time with her favorite people.

Sulma Gandhi | Hawaiʻi Health Program Officer, Stupski Foundation

Sulma’s passion is building diverse, equitable, and inclusive communities for a thriving world. For more than two decades, she has worked in the fields of health, human service, and education with both private nonprofit and public organizations. As a social entrepreneur and innovator dedicated to improving health outcomes, she founded Conscious Communities, which provides groundbreaking programs that empower individuals and organizations to practice collective responsibility toward eliminating violence and promoting safe and respectful environments. Sulma is a reiki master, an executive coach, and holds master’s and bachelor’s degrees in science and a doctorate degree in healthcare management and leadership. She is the recipient of the Athena Award, which recognizes women’s contributions and leadership in business and community service and an Omidyar Fellow through the Hawai‘i Leadership Forum. Sulma is the proud daughter of Indian immigrants and loves to travel, compose poetry, and delight in the authentic foods and art of diverse cultures with her family.