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2017 Institute Speakers

Publication date: 
May, 2017

Fred Ali, Weingart Foundation

Fred began his career in 1972 as a volunteer teacher and counselor in a small western Alaska village. Over the next 19 years, he held a number of key positions in Alaska including deputy director of the State Employment and Training Agency; president of Kuskokwim Community College; and vice chancellor of the University of Alaska Anchorage. In 1991, Fred became the executive director of Covenant House in Los Angeles. Under his leadership, Covenant House California developed into a large, multi-service program working with homeless and at-risk youth in Los Angeles and Oakland. Fred Ali has more than 35 years of senior management experience with nonprofit organizations, educational institutions and government. He received his undergraduate degree from Santa Clara University, and his graduate degree in education from the University of Michigan. Fred was elected president of Weingart Foundation in June 1999 and named chief executive officer of the Foundation in 2006. He serves on the boards of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations and the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles. He previously served as board chair of Southern California Grantmakers. 


Alexis Anderson-Reed, Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation

Prior to joining FCCP in 2016 Alexis served as the Senior Director of Programs for the State Voices network and led efforts to support and expand the work of state-based nonpartisan organizations in civic engagement, civic access and civic representation. Alexis brings a deep background in community organizing and over ten years of experience in convening and facilitation of coalitions, public policy, administrative management, issue organizing and strategic planning. She has developed and implemented workshops and curriculum on topics including racial equity, power and privilege, and non-profit management, and has helped create strategic plans and sustainability frameworks for new and established organizations. Previously, Alexis served as Director of Youth Reclaiming Our Communities and as Executive Director of Wisconsin Voices, where she founded the Our Democracy 2020 Table, which works to expand voting rights and strengthen democracy in the state. Because of her work, recent attacks on Election Day Voter Registration were stopped. In addition, Alexis played a strategic role in passing a historic Living Wage ordinance in Milwaukee County as part of the WI Economic Justice Steering Committee. 


Axel Aubrun, Topos Partnership

Axel Aubrun, Ph.D., is a psychological anthropologist who focuses on long-term culture change. He has authored articles in publications ranging from the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute to Non-Profit Quarterly. Aubrun is a graduate of Amherst College, Oxford University, and the University of California, San Diego, where he spent a year lecturing in cultural anthropology before co-founding Topos. The Topos Partnership has as its mission to explore and ultimately change the landscape of public understanding where public interest issues play out. Founded by Axel Aubrun and Joe Grady of Cultural Logic and Meg Bostrom of Public Knowledge, Topos was created to bring together the range of expertise needed to understand existing issue dynamics, explore possibilities for creating new issue understanding, develop a proven course of action, and arm advocates with new communications tools to win support.


Rob Collier, Council of Michigan Foundations

Robert S. Collier (Rob) has served as president & CEO of the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF) since 2000, however he has been involved with CMF as a volunteer throughout his career in philanthropy, which includes service as the founding director of the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation; executive director of Rotary Charities of Traverse City; grants director of the Gannett Foundation; and program officer at the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. His 33 years of experience covers every type of organized philanthropy and support to Michiganders in creating family and corporate foundations, as well as many donor advised funds at community foundations. Rob continues to be involved in leadership positions with state and national organizations that serve the charitable nonprofit sector and philanthropy, including service as a board member for the Michigan Nonprofit Association and the Michigan Association of United Ways, and as a member of the Public Policy Committees for the Council on Foundations, and the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers.


Nick Deychakiwsky, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation

Nick Deychakiwsky is the Civil Society program officer managing Mott’s United States and Global Philanthropy and Nonprofit Sector program areas. Deychakiwsky moved to Ukraine in late 1990, where he worked in many capacities supporting democratic and economic reforms before joining the Mott Foundation in 2000. While working in the Foundation’s former Prague office, he was responsible for Civil Society grantmaking in Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and Russia, until late 2006, when he assumed his current duties. Deychakiwsky serves on several boards and committees, including the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers Board, the Council on Foundations Global Philanthropy Advisory Group and the Independent Sector Public Policy Committee. In addition, from 2002–2006 Deychakiwsky was first a board member and then chair of both the Russia Donors Forum and the Ukrainian Philanthropists Forum. He holds an MBA from Columbia University and worked for Mobil Oil as a supply analyst before returning to school to study music and obtain a master’s degree in Choral Conducting. 


John Diaz, San Francisco Chronicle

Before joining the opinion pages, he directed the newspaper’s East Bay news coverage. He started at The Chronicle in 1990 as an assistant city editor. John began his journalism career as a reporter for the Red Bluff Daily News. Two years later, he was promoted to the Washington, D.C., bureau of the newspaper’s parent company, Donrey Media Group. After that, he worked as a general assignment reporter for the Associated Press in Philadelphia and as a statehouse reporter and assistant city editor for the Denver Post. He graduated from Humboldt State University in 1977 with a degree in journalism. He received a Distinguished Alumni Award from HSU in 2009 and was the university’s commencement speaker in 2010.


Seyron Foo, Southern California Grantmakers

Seyron Foo develops, organizes, and implements efforts to create a well-connected network of grantmakers and public officials in order to strengthen communities and advance the public policy goals of SCG’s member organizations and Philanthropy California. In this capacity, he provides public policy analysis to issues affecting the sector and key policy areas relevant to grantmakers. Additionally, he is responsible for educating and informing government officials about philanthropic efforts, and identifies opportunities to convene grantmakers and government to tackle the state’s most pressing social issues. Seyron has experience in various government sectors, beginning his career as a legislative aide to the California State Senate Majority Leader, where he managed a diverse policy portfolio that included civil rights, transportation, and housing. His work led the successful passage of legislation in health, tenants’ rights, and banking reforms. Prior to SCG, he served in the City of Long Beach as the Senior Policy Analyst to the Director of Public Works, where he oversaw and managed citywide projects and led the Department’s press and community relations efforts. Seyron earned his Master in Public Affairs from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School and his B.A. in Rhetoric and Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley.


Wendy Garen, The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation

Wendy has played an integral role in the life of the Parsons Foundation, becoming President and CEO in 2008 after working for the Foundation for more than twenty years. Prior to joining the Parsons Foundation, Wendy was Executive Director of the Los Angeles Child Care and Development Council, program manager at Children’s Home Society of Orange County, and founding staff member of the children’s nonprofit Crystal Stairs. She has served on the founding board of the Broad Stage and board of The Trusteeship, the local affiliate of the International Women’s Forum. As a member of the Women’s Leadership Board at the Harvard Kennedy School, she traveled with delegations to Egypt and South Africa. She currently serves on the California advisory board of the Milken Institute and of the Center for Philanthropy and Public Policy at USC, the Los Angeles County Commission for Children and Families and the State of California commission Volunteer California. She is on the Board and is the immediate past-chair of Southern California Grantmakers, a regional association of 300+ foundations, corporations, government grantmakers and philanthropic advisors that is a leadership hub for members, helping them to connect, learn and act independently and collaboratively to increase the impact of philanthropy. Wendy is a frequent speaker and panelist at local and national meetings for philanthropy. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois and has a master’s in urban planning from UCLA.


Joe Grady, Topos Partnership

Joseph Grady, Ph.D. is a cognitive linguist whose academic research and publications have focused on the role of metaphor in thought and communication. Before founding Topos, Grady taught linguistics at Georgetown University and the University of Maryland, and also spent a number of years as a consultant helping to analyze and develop brand names. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. The Topos Partnership has as its mission to explore and ultimately change the landscape of public understanding where public interest issues play out. Founded by Axel Aubrun and Joe Grady of Cultural Logic and Meg Bostrom of Public Knowledge, Topos was created to bring together the range of expertise needed to understand existing issue dynamics, explore possibilities for creating new issue understanding, develop a proven course of action, and arm advocates with new communications tools to win support.


Chris Hoene, California Budget & Policy Center

Chris Hoene became the Budget Center’s executive director in October 2012, bringing to the organization 15 years of leadership in state and local policy research and analysis. He leads the strategic direction of the organization, acts as primary spokesperson, and works with the board of directors and community partners to implement our vision and mission. Prior to joining the Budget Center, Chris was director of the Center for Research and Innovation at the National League of Cities in Washington, DC, leading efforts to analyze trends in local and state government and promote constructive policy action on issues including public finance, economic development, housing, poverty reduction, infrastructure, and governance.  Chris also previously worked for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, DC, and the Public Policy Institute of California in San Francisco. Chris holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Claremont Graduate University and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science of the College of Idaho. In 2011, in recognition of his service to the state and local community, Chris was elected as a Fellow into the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA).


Emily Katz, Northern California Grantmakers

Emily directs policy and communications - which means finding the threads that bring foundations together with nonprofits, business, government and each other for greater good. She’s a big believer in joining forces for greater good and getting to spend her days furthering this mission makes her job a pleasure. Emily landed her first job out of college at a non-profit start-up where she began in telemarketing and through her impressive tenacity left six years later as a senior vice president with quintupled budget, national honors and a half million square feet of warehousing. At the Women’s Funding Network, Emily developed and implemented a four-year multi-million dollar scope of work building the communications capacity of members across the US, Canada and on every continent.  She is proud to serve on the boards of Equal Rights Advocates and the Arab Film Festival, where she chairs communications and governance committees. 


Surina Khan, Women's Foundation of California

Surina Khan is CEO of the Women’s Foundation of California where she leads the Foundation’s work to advance the health, safety, and economic security of women, girls and transgender people in California. The Foundation’s program strategy is focused on building community-based power through investing in community organizations, training community leaders in policy advocacy, convening key partners, and mobilizing significant financial resources. For more than two decades, Surina has been a leader in the philanthropic and non-profit social justice sector starting with local community-based publishing in New England and then shifting to national and global work on an array of social justice issues including women’s rights, LGBT rights, human rights and more. She is a recognized advocate for gender, racial, and economic justice and a frequent commentator on the power of women’s philanthropy. 


Ethan Lindsey, KQED Public Media

Ethan Lindsey is KQED's managing editor for news. In his position, Ethan helps the public media organization’s transition to a 21st-century newsroom and further deepen KQED’s commitment to regional news, especially on digital platforms. Ethan came to KQED from the WBUR and NPR newsmagazine Here & Now, in Boston, where he was the show’s senior managing editor. Previously, he was senior digital editor and interim managing editor for the public radio show Marketplace. In 2009, Ethan won a Peabody Award for his work as a correspondent for Oregon Public Broadcasting. He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 2000, and is a die-hard Cal fan.


Debbie McKeon, Council of Michigan Foundations

Debbie is Senior Vice President, Member Services for the Council of Michigan Foundations where she leads the team that provides CMF members with its core suite of services and special initiatives. Prior to joining the CMF staff in December 2012, Debbie was with a CMF member foundation, Rotary Charities of Traverse City, for six years.   Her primary role was to lead the design and development of the capacity building arm of the foundation, NorthSky Nonprofit Network, as a sustainable model integrated into what became the foundation’s new strategic framework. As NorthSky’s executive director, she led the development of services to Northern Michigan nonprofit organizations and government including professional development, consulting, convening, backbone support, project management, strategic partnership and network formation, and connection to resources.  She holds a Bachelor of Music and Interdisciplinary Business Administration minor from Central Michigan University and certification from the Small Business Consultant Academy at Grand Valley State University and has completed advanced coursework with the Indiana University School of Philanthropy and Harvard University, Executive Education. 


John Mullaney, Nord Family Foundation

John Mullaney has been the Executive Director of the Nord Family Foundation since April 1998.  Prior to his tenure at The Nord Family Foundation, Mr. Mullaney served in both the education and non-profit sectors and developing countries.  He was a program and research manager at Harvard University’s Institute for International Development and a program director for the Latin American Scholarship Program of American Universities, also at Harvard University.  In each of his positions, he had the opportunity to work directly with university faculty and public officials in Latin America, Europe and Africa.  His experience in philanthropy began in 1982 as a country representative for Catholic Relief Services in El Salvador during that country’s civil war. John completed his undergraduate education at Boston College and a Master’s degree from Georgetown University.


Daranee Petsod, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR)

Daranee Petsod has led GCIR since 1999 and has worked on immigration and social and economic justice issues since 1987. As president of GCIR, she develops and leads new areas of work, in addition to providing programmatic, fiscal, and administrative oversight. Prior to joining GCIR, Daranee was a program and communications consultant for foundations and nonprofits. She previously held leadership positions at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and was a program officer at the Field Foundation of Illinois, Inc. and the Sophia Fund, one of the first women’s funds in the United States. She has served on the boards of the Donors Forum and the Heartland Alliance, both in Chicago, the Asian Americans Advancing Justice in Washington, D.C.

Daranee has authored and co-authored numerous research reports on a range of immigration issues, as well as opinion pieces on the role of philanthropy in supporting immigration and immigrant integration issues. Daranee earned an M.A. in social policy from the University of Chicago and is a recipient of the 2014 Professional Development Fellowship from the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation. When not immersed in immigration and philanthropy, she enjoys the great outdoors, savoring gourmet meals, and traveling the world with her family.


José A. Quiñonez, Mission Asset Fund

José A. Quiñonez, CEO, founded Mission Asset Fund (MAF) in 2007. He continues to drive its mission of providing pathways to prosperity for low-income communities. Under his leadership, MAF has become an award-winning organization. Its innovative social lending programs bring communities across the nation out of the financial shadows and into the financial mainstream. In 2016, José received a MacArthur “Genius” award for his vision and creativity as a financial services innovator. MAF’s pioneering Lending Circles programs have allowed over 7,000 people to build their credit scores and access zero-interest loans. Participants use their loans to rent apartments, start businesses, and apply for citizenship. In 2014, José’s tireless advocacy enabled the passage of SB 896. This law made California the first state to regulate and recognize credit-building loans as a powerful tool for change. José lived undocumented for much of his youth before gaining legal status through the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. That experience shaped his lifelong commitment to breaking down the barriers that keep people from realizing their full potential. José received a B.A. from the University of California at Davis and an M.P.A. from Princeton University. He currently serves on the Consumer Advisory Councils for Capital One, Experian, and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. From 2012 to 2014, he was the inaugural chair of the CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board.


Michael Remaley, Philanthropy New York

As the Senior Vice President of Public Policy & Communications, Michael Hamill Remaley directs all communications and research activities for Philanthropy New York; develops and executes public policy strategies and activities; monitors legislative and regulatory activity to inform members and other external audiences of pending issues at the federal, state, and city levels that may impact philanthropy and nonprofits; and serves as a key organizational and sector voice in informing and educating public policymakers about the scope and impact of foundation and corporate giving in New York. Michael is also the creator and Executive Editor of the New York PhilanthroPost. Prior to joining PNY, Michael had his own consulting practice, HAMILL REMALEY breakthrough communications. In addition to the firm’s work with nonprofit and foundation clients, he was the Co-Founder and Director of Public Policy Communicators NYC and was a regular contributor to The Communications Network blog, Philanthropy News DigestTransparency Talk and other media focused on philanthropy and communications. Michael has a Master of Social Work degree from Temple University, with the primary focus of his graduate work on planning and evaluation. He has a B.A. (also from Temple University) in Journalism, concentrating in Public Relations.


Laurel Rosenhall, CalMatters

Laurel covers California politics for CALmatters, with a focus on power and personalities in the statehouse. Her weekly news analyses explain political dynamics in the Capitol and examine how money, advocacy and relationships shape the decisions that affect Californians. She joined CALmatters after more than a dozen years as a reporter for the Sacramento Bee, where she covered the influence of lobbyists on state government. Previously, she covered education for the Sacramento Bee, winning awards for stories that exposed unintended consequences of standardized testing and revealed abuses in the teacher pension system. Laurel is a native Californian and holds a master’s degree from the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. 


Mike Smith, The James Irvine Foundation

Mike joined the Irvine Foundation as Director of Communications in January 2016. He directs the Foundation’s use of strategic communications to advance its goals of expanding political and economic opportunity for families and young adults in California that are working but struggling with poverty. This includes communications strategy and planning, messaging and narrative-shifting efforts, an active online and social media presence, trainings, and more. Previously, he served as the Director of Communications and Administration at Californians for Safety and Justice, a nonprofit project of the Tides Center that is working to replace criminal justice system waste with solutions that create safe, healthy communities. There he led public education campaigns and other communications efforts to change the understanding of who experiences crime, what they want from the justice system and what approaches more effectively address drivers of crime. Prior to that, Mike was a Vice President at Fenton Communications, a public relations firm focused on social change clients. He graduated from Colorado College with a B.A. in English and a minor in African studies.


Remy Trupin, Philanthropy Northwest

As Philanthropy Northwest's inaugural Advocacy Catalyst Fellow, Remy is curating a knowledge base that explores how the foundation sector can leverage its place-based voice to affect policy. He brings a broad range of strategic insight from his experience working with organizations and coalitions developing and implementing legislative advocacy, communication and ballot campaigns, in addition to his nonprofit leadership experience. In his role as Senior Fellow with the Topos Partnership, Remy uses his revenue and budget expertise to inform communications challenges facing organizations at national, state and local levels. Remy is also a senior consultant with Luma Consulting. Remy was the founding executive director of the Washington State Budget & Policy Center, a think-tank that works to bring about shared prosperity for all Washingtonians, an organization which he led and grew into a national model. Remy’s previous experience includes a variety of lobbying, policy analysis and research leadership positions with large non-profits at the local, state and national level. Remy kicked off his career as a VISTA in northern Florida and then as a Mickey Leland Hunger Fellow through the Congressional Hunger Center. His academic background includes undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Washington. 


Eric Weinheimer, Forefront

Eric became our President and CEO on July 1, 2014.  From 1996 to 2014, he was President and CEO of The Cara Program, a nonprofit that provides comprehensive training, job placement, and support services to individuals who are homeless and struggling in poverty. Eric earned a BS from Boston College and an MBA from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, where he was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award for Public Service. Eric was selected as a member of the Emerging Leaders Program for the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Class of 2011.  Eric was selected as a Chicago Community Trust Fellow for 2013. Eric was appointed by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to the Social Innovation, Entrepreneurship, and Enterprise Task Force. He serves on the Advisory Board for the Social Enterprise Initiative at The University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation.


Alfonso Wenker, Minnesota Council on Foundations

Alfonso Wenker is a nerd about all things philanthropy, facilitation and movement building. In addition to his consulting practice, he is vice president at the Minnesota Council on Foundations. In his role he serves as lead trainer for the Council’s professional development programs, consults with grantmakers interested in advancing equity and inclusion and leads internal organizational development. He received his bachelor of arts in public relations from the University of St. Thomas and has held previous roles with Bush Foundation, Minnesotans United for All Families and PFund Foundation. He is vice chair of the board for Pollen and serves on the leadership teams for Solidarity MN and Better OUTComes, two funder collaboratives focused on advancing equity in the state of Minnesota. Alfonso’s story is featured in the book, "Become a Nonprofit Rockstar: 50 Ways to Accelerate Your Career” and he is the recipient of the 2014 Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Catalytic Leader Award and 2016 Saint Paul Foundation Facing Race Ambassador Award. Alfonso is a 2015-2016 Humphrey Policy Fellow and a 2017 MSP Business Journal 40 Under 40. 


Erica Williams, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Erica Williams is Deputy Director of State Fiscal Research with the Center’s State Fiscal Policy division. Since joining the Center in 2009, her research has focused on tax and spending limits and other anti-tax threats, state EITC developments, poverty, cuts to state services, and immigration. She also works closely with State Priorities Partnership organizations. Prior to joining the Center, Williams worked as a Study Director at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, where she researched a variety of issues of concern to women including equal pay, job training and education, early care and education, Social Security, and civic engagement. Williams holds a B.A. in Sociology and Spanish Studies from Santa Clara University and an M.A. in International Policy from the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

Corrine Yu, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

At the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and The Leadership Conference Education Fund, Ms. Yu is responsible for seeking and developing new program opportunities; coordinating policy development on priority issues within the coalition and devising coalition-based strategies; and assisting in the day-to-day management of the policy department. Ms. Yu was previously the director and counsel of the Citizens’ Commission on Civil Rights, a private, bipartisan organization established to monitor the civil rights policies and practices of the federal government and to examine important policy issues affecting equal opportunity. She was the co-editor of the Citizens’ Commission’s highly respected biennial reviews of the Clinton administration’s civil rights track record. Prior to joining the Citizens’ Commission, Ms. Yu was an attorney in the Washington, D.C., office of Nixon, Hargrave, Devans and Doyle where she specialized in First Amendment, antitrust, and other litigation. She is a graduate of Brown University and Boston College Law School.

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