Our Team

Laura & John Arnold


Laura and John established the Laura and John Arnold Foundation in 2008. They believe philanthropy should be transformational and should seek through innovation to solve persistent problems in society. As co-founders, Laura and John actively engage in the organization’s overall direction and daily execution. Laura is an attorney and a former oil company executive. John is an investor. They have three children and reside in Houston, Texas.

Matt Alsdorf, J.D.

Vice President of Criminal Justice

Matt is an experienced attorney who joined the Laura and John Arnold Foundation in 2011.  Since then, Matt has worked extensively on pretrial projects and has led many of the Foundation’s efforts around pretrial risk assessment and related reforms.  He has spoken widely across the country on the use of data and analytics to ensure the justice system protects the public, operates as fairly as possible, and makes effective use of limited public resources.

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David Anderson

Director of Evidence-based Policy

David joined the Foundation after a decade with the nonprofit, nonpartisan Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy, where he served as vice president from 2009 to 2015. In this role, he oversaw staff-level evidence reviews conducted for the Coalition’s Top Tier Evidence initiative—a widely cited resource used by policymakers, philanthropic officials, and practitioners to identify social programs shown in rigorous evaluations to produce sizable, sustained benefits to participants.

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Renice Armelin

Houston Office Manager

Renice helps manage the day-to-day operations of the Foundation’s Houston office. She previously worked for an international corporate law firm, where she assisted with attorney recruitment and helped to coordinate events for new and prospective employees.

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Elizabeth Banks

Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer

Beth is a certified public accountant with experience in budgeting, general accounting, and internal auditing in the private sector. Prior to joining the Foundation, Beth worked as a financial analyst at an energy company, where she was responsible for a wide range of financial management matters with a national organizational scope.

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Chris Barbic

Senior Education Fellow

Chris is working to advance the portfolio model of school governance in cities across the country in order to increase student achievement. Prior to joining the Foundation, he served as the founding superintendent of the Achievement School District (ASD) in Tennessee. In that role, Chris led the development and operations of a statewide school district designed to transform Tennessee’s Priority Schools, those categorized as being in the state’s bottom 5 percent. Under his leadership, the ASD opened and authorized 33 new schools in four years, serving nearly 10,000 students. ASD schools outperformed the Tennessee state average in math and science in every year of operation—at a time when Tennessee’s statewide academic achievement was improving faster than any other state in the country. By the second year of operation, ASD schools improved performance earning the highest value-add growth rating assigned by the state, and direct-run ASD schools averaged double-digit gains in math and science.

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Jon Baron, J.D.


Jon leads the Foundation’s strategic investments in rigorous research aimed at growing the body of evidence-based social programs and scaling those shown to produce meaningful improvements in people’s lives. He is the founder and former president of the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that worked with federal policy officials from 2001 to 2015 to advance important evidence-based reforms, many of which were enacted into law and policy.

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Marissa Bazan

Executive Assistant

Marissa provides administrative support and assistance to team members in the Foundation’s Houston office. Before joining the Foundation, she worked for a city government in the Houston area. During her time with the city, Marissa served in key positions at both the regional airport and in the assistant city manager’s office. She oversaw advertising and customer service initiatives, coordinated a public service program for youth, conducted research for the public safety department, and helped prepare reports about the city’s response to critical issues and events.

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Virginia Bersch

Deputy Director of National Implementation, Criminal Justice

Virginia helps manage the nationwide rollout of the Foundation’s pretrial risk assessment, the PSA, as well as other tools and reforms developed by the Criminal Justice team. Prior to joining the Foundation, she spent nine years developing innovative, data-driven approaches to improving government systems.

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Catie Bialick

Results-Driven Government Manager

Catie helps to identify and manage philanthropic opportunities for the Foundation’s Results-Driven Government portfolio. Prior to joining the team, she worked as a research analyst for the Community Advancement Network (CAN), a partnership of government, nonprofit, and faith-based organizations that seeks to improve health, education, and economic opportunities for residents of Central Texas. At CAN, she collaborated with stakeholders and data experts to identify socioeconomic trends and to develop strategic partnerships and programs that were intended to improve equity and opportunity throughout the region. Her experience also includes positions in marketing, public relations, and program management.

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Lesley Briones, J.D.

Executive Vice President, Chief Operating & Talent Officer, and General Counsel

Lesley is responsible for overseeing the Foundation’s management, performance, operational, and legal matters. Before joining the Foundation, she was an attorney at Vinson & Elkins, LLP, where her practice primarily focused on tax-exempt organizations. Lesley holds degrees from Yale Law School and Harvard University.

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Erica Brown

Director of Results-Driven Government

Erica has extensive experience working with governments and nonprofit organizations to improve the efficacy of social programs by focusing on evidence, outcomes, and rigorous evaluation. Prior to joining the Foundation, she was a Government Innovation Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Social Impact Bond Technical Assistance Lab, where she led the development of the first project in South Carolina to use Pay for Success financing. In addition, Erica conducted a feasibility study on Pay for Success in Rhode Island, and served as a program coordinator for Rhode Islanders Sponsoring Education (RISE), where she tracked long-term educational attainment among program recipients. She has delivered presentations to policymakers on various topics related to Pay for Success, including the project development process for state and local governments and innovative strategies for funding specific programs.

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Ken Bubp

Director of Education

Ken helps manage the Foundation’s portfolio of strategic investments in K-12 education. Throughout his career, he has served in a variety of leadership roles at organizations committed to making a meaningful impact on children and families. Prior to joining the Foundation, Ken worked as the executive vice president of The Mind Trust, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit working to expand the number of excellent public schools so that every child has access to a high-quality education. Before that, he served as the chief operating officer at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, a nationally recognized outdoor history and science museum, where he helped lead an organizational transformation that resulted in significant gains in both learning outcomes and guest satisfaction. Ken holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Taylor University and an MBA from Indiana University.

Stuart Buck, J.D., Ph.D.

Vice President of Research

Stuart works to ensure that research funded by the Foundation is as rigorous as possible, and that the Foundation’s major investments are evaluated by independent experts. An attorney and research expert with a background in education policy, Stuart has written and co-written numerous scholarly articles that have appeared in journals such as the ScienceHarvard Law Review, Education EconomicsEducation Next, Phi Delta Kappan, and Review of Public Personnel Administration.

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Kim Cassel

Evidence-Based Policy Manager

Kim has extensive experience conducting rigorous research and applying its findings to improve the effectiveness of social policy. Before joining the Foundation, she worked for the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, nonpartisan Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy. While at the Coalition, Kim helped to develop policy proposals aimed at increasing the effectiveness of social spending and performed evidence reviews for a wide range of audiences, including federal officials, foundation leaders, and social service providers.

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Paulina S. Diaz Aguirre

Results-Driven Government Analyst

Paulina performs policy research and data analysis for the Foundation’s sustainable public finance initiatives. Prior to joining the Foundation, she worked for a government organization in Mexico, where she helped to oversee the use of data in tax collection and administration. She also previously served as the director of fiscal policy in Mexico City, where she designed new policies and implemented corrective actions to encourage local revenue growth.

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Danielle Durbin

Communications Associate

Danielle is an award-winning writer and an experienced project manager. Prior to joining the Foundation, she served as a city public information officer in Central Texas, where she acted as a liaison to the media and developed and managed internal and external communications campaigns for a variety of platforms, including print, the Web, television, and social media.

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Thomas Flack

Evidence-Based Policy Analyst

Thomas provides analytical and operational support for the Foundation’s Evidence-Based Policy team. He conducts research on potential funding opportunities and helps to review social programs and policies as part of the team’s effort to identify highly promising interventions that produce sizable, sustained benefits to participants and society as a whole.

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Annie Frazier

Receptionist and Administrative Assistant

Annie provides administrative support and assistance to team members in the Foundation’s Houston office. She previously worked as a midstream analyst for a multinational oil and gas company. In that role, she managed competitor research and joint-owner marketing agreements. She also coordinated new well connections. Prior to working in the oil and gas industry, Annie held administrative positions at various publication firms in New York, where she provided support for high-level executives and assistance with multiple marketing events. Annie holds a bachelor’s degree in family and consumer sciences from Texas State University.

Jillian Green, CPA

Accounting and Human Resources Manager

Jillian is a certified public accountant who provides support in accounting and human resources. Prior to joining the Foundation, she worked at a preschool for underserved children in inner-city Houston, where she was responsible for overseeing the school’s budgeting process, annual external audit, and other accounting tasks. Jillian began her career at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). While at PwC, she worked with private sector clients  to solve complex business and management challenges. She holds a master’s in marketing and bachelor’s in accounting from Texas A&M University.

Rachele Grieco

New York Office Manager

Rachele manages the day-to-day operations of the Foundation’s New York office. She previously worked as an office manager and an executive assistant at an investment bank that specializes in technology mergers and acquisitions. Rachele holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Georgian Court College and a master’s degree from The General Theological Seminary. She actively volunteers with several nonprofit organizations in New York City.

Danielle Hale

Human Resources Analyst and Special Projects Coordinator

Danielle provides administrative support and assistance with special projects. Prior to joining the Foundation, she served as an executive assistant at one of the top public affairs firms in Washington, D.C. While serving in that role, she managed day-to-day operations, coordinated events, and filed reports for the firm’s 120 clients. Danielle graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a degree in history.

David Hebert

Director of Communications

David is a communications professional with extensive experience working as a media spokesperson and broadcast journalist. Prior to joining the Foundation, he served as the director of communications and public relations for the Houston Airport System, where he managed media relations, web and social media platforms, executive messaging, and a host of other communications initiatives.

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Noor Iqbal

Education Manager

Noor helps manage the Foundation’s Education portfolio. Prior to joining the Foundation, she worked as a senior policy associate at MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), where she analyzed results from impact evaluations of international poverty alleviation programs and managed J-PAL’s multi-million dollar investments in efforts to expand the evidence base around post-primary education.

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Kelly Jin

Director of Data-Driven Justice

Kelly helps lead the Foundation’s data-driven justice project. The effort is closely related to work that she did while serving as policy advisor to the U.S. chief technology officer and chief data scientist in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. It helps governments use data to identify those who are frequently involved with local criminal justice and health care systems, and assists jurisdictions in finding ways to better serve this population while reducing taxpayer costs.

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Neerav Kingsland

Senior Education Fellow

Neerav leads the Foundation’s efforts to improve K-12 education. He is the former CEO of New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO), an organization that is working to ensure every child in New Orleans, Louisiana, is able to attend a high-quality public school. NSNO is playing a critical role in the remarkable school turnaround effort in that city. As CEO of the organization, Neerav helped develop the strategy and lead the transformation of New Orleans’ schools. Students have made dramatic gains under the new system and are now achieving at the highest levels in decades. Neerav has appeared throughout the country to detail the impact of New Orleans’ reforms and frequently writes on education policy for multiple national blogs. He is a graduate of Tulane University and Yale Law School.

Angela LaScala-Gruenewald

Criminal Justice Manager

Angela helps manage the Foundation’s Criminal Justice Initiative. Prior to joining the Foundation, she worked as a research associate in the New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice. In that role, she provided data, research, and evaluation expertise on projects related to reforming police enforcement practices and identifying opportunities for improvements to the pretrial system.

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Robin Lipp, J.D.

Results-Driven Government Manager

Robin helps manage the Foundation’s Results-Driven Government portfolio. Before joining the Foundation, he served as a Rockefeller Brothers Fund Fellow in Nonprofit Law at the Vera Institute of Justice, where he worked on a number of initiatives to support Vera’s legal department, demonstration projects, and centers, including its Center on Sentencing and Corrections. Robin holds a law degree from Harvard Law School, a master’s degree in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School, and a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from Swarthmore College.

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Sam Mar

Director of Venture Development

Sam helps manage the Foundation’s Venture Development portfolio and works to analyze high-leverage philanthropic opportunities in emerging areas of strategic interest. Prior to joining the Foundation, he held various positions globally in technology consulting, banking, private equity, and product innovation.

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Josh B. McGee, Ph.D.

Senior Vice President of Results-Driven Government

Josh is an economist and public policy expert. Prior to joining the Foundation, he was a doctoral fellow and research associate in the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas. He currently serves as an adjunct faculty member at Rice University, where he teaches in the Summer Institute for the Rice Education Entrepreneurship Program at the Jones Graduate School of Business.

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Pamm McNeil

Washington, D.C. Office Manager

Pamm manages the day-to-day operations of the Foundation’s Washington, D.C. office. Prior to joining the Foundation, she served as the director of operations for a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit which provides emergency shelter, transitional housing, counseling, case management, and legal assistance to victims of domestic violence. Pamm has more than 25 years of experience in operations, administration, and office management. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics from Wellesley College.

Meredith McPhail

Science and Technology Manager

Meredith helps manage the Foundation’s Science and Technology portfolio. Before joining the Foundation, she served as a decision science analyst at a major financial service provider. In that role, she helped departments use analytical methods to solve internal problems, mitigate risks, and achieve their objectives. She also previously worked as an analyst for a global economic consulting firm in Washington, D.C., where she researched the potential impacts of proposed energy and environmental regulations for clients.

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Jennifer Nelsen, J.D.

Assistant General Counsel

Jennifer is responsible for assisting the general counsel with overseeing the Foundation’s legal matters. Before joining the Foundation, she was an attorney with Winston & Strawn LLP and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, where her practice focused primarily on complex commercial litigation. Jennifer assisted clients in a variety of industries with state and federal lawsuits, alternative dispute resolution proceedings, and counseling on internal and investigative issues. In addition, she provided pro bono legal services to those in need, working with organizations such as the Houston Volunteer Lawyers, Human Rights First, Tahirih Justice Center, and Disability Rights Texas. Prior to her time in private practice, she was a judicial law clerk for The Honorable Melinda Harmon, United States District Judge for the Southern District of Texas.

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Luna Nguyen

Venture Development Manager

Luna helps manage the Foundation’s Venture Development portfolio and works with the team to identify new areas for high-impact investment. Prior to joining the Foundation, she was a program manager for a college access program. In this role, she supported high-achieving students from underserved communities in Houston to prepare them for admission to top-tier universities. Luna also worked as a public school teacher in Houston- and Dallas-area schools. She holds a master’s in public affairs from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Megan O’Flaherty

Executive Assistant

Megan provides administrative support for the Foundation’s co-chairs. She previously worked as a business development coordinator at an international corporate law firm, where she prepared proposals, coordinated events, and helped manage marketing initiatives. She has held a variety of positions in the legal field over the past five years and has served as the project manager for a number of high-profile conferences.

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Jennifer Olmos


Jennifer provides administrative support and assistance with special projects to the senior management of the Foundation. Prior to joining the Foundation, she worked as a community outreach coordinator and development project specialist in the nonprofit sector. Jennifer has 25 years of administrative experience, primarily as a legal secretary and paralegal. She attended Ashford University and studied public administration.

Lynn Overmann

Vice President of Data-Driven Justice

Lynn leads the Foundation’s data-driven justice project, a continuation of work that she started as senior advisor to the U.S. chief technology officer in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. The effort helps governments use data to identify those who are frequently involved with local criminal justice and health care systems, and assists jurisdictions in finding ways to better serve this population while reducing taxpayer costs.

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Justine Palacios, J.D.

Grants Manager and Legal Counsel

Justine serves as the team lead for the Foundation’s grants management department and works directly with the Foundation’s Results-Driven Government and Venture Development initiatives to manage the grants and other contracts for those growing portfolios. She received her J.D. from Tulane University Law School, where she specialized in international and comparative law.

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Kelli Rhee

Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer

Kelli is responsible for developing and refining the Foundation’s overall strategy, and overseeing each programmatic team to ensure that its grantmaking is aligned to the Foundation’s mission and to the work of the other teams.

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Chase Sackett

Results-Driven Government Manager

Chase develops and manages grants as a member of the Foundation’s Results-Driven Government team. Before joining the Foundation, he promoted evidence-based policymaking through various roles within the federal government. Most recently, Chase was a management and program analyst at the U.S. Department of Education (ED), where, in 2016, he helped coordinate guidance on the evidence-related provisions of the Every Student Succeeds Act and worked to update the department’s evidence rules for competitive grants. Prior to that, he served as a Presidential Management Fellow at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). During his fellowship at HUD, Chase wrote a report on college student housing insecurity that helped spark the creation of an interagency working group focused on providing guidance to support students. Chase has also served as a policy advisor on the White House Domestic Policy Council’s education team. In that role, he helped develop the 2015 Student Aid Bill of Rights Presidential Memorandum.

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Karla Sainz

Chief of Staff

Karla serves as a liaison between the board of directors and the staff. She provides project management and strategic support to the board and leadership team. Karla also manages the Foundation’s Innovation Labs program, an initiative that is focused on engaging leading academics and practitioners to brainstorm how to solve some of society’s most pressing issues. In addition, she helps to identify and manage philanthropic opportunities for the Foundation’s Pay for Success portfolio.

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Hannah Sawyer


Hannah works with the Foundation’s communications team to prepare solution papers, policy briefs, and other materials. Previously, she worked as a journalist in Pennsylvania, where she covered complex municipal issues, including local government budgeting and urban redevelopment planning.

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Angela Seaworth, Ph.D.

Director of Grants Management

Angela is responsible for leading the Foundation’s grants management team. Prior to joining the Foundation, she served as the founding director of Rice University’s Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership, an entity dedicated to helping domestic and international nonprofits become more effective and impactful. She also worked as an analyst with the consulting firm Marts & Lundy, where she helped nonprofit organizations achieve their philanthropic missions through capacity analysis, benchmarking studies, and feasibility study design. In addition, Angela served as the vice president of development for Strake Jesuit College Preparatory and holds the Advanced Certified Fundraising Executive designation.

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Raquel Segundo

Grants Manager

Raquel provides grant development and management support for the Foundation’s Criminal Justice initiative. Prior to joining the Foundation, Raquel worked at the New York County District Attorney’s Office, where she managed the Immigrant Affairs Program. In that role, Raquel organized public outreach initiatives, conducted crime screening and victim interviews, and worked to build anti-crime coalitions in underserved immigrant communities.

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Kirby Smith

Director of Venture Development

Kirby works to identify new, high-leverage philanthropic opportunities and helps manage the Foundation’s Venture Development portfolio. She has expertise helping organizations in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors address their most critical strategic challenges. Before joining the Foundation, Kirby worked as a management consultant in Bain & Company’s Chicago and Johannesburg offices, served as a fellow at the Civic Consulting Alliance in Chicago, and was an analyst focused on higher education and technology issues at Ithaka Strategy and Research. She has also worked as a project manager on a Baltimore-based education reform project, and as a language arts teacher at the American School of Sao Paulo.

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Kathy Stack

VICE PRESIDENT OF Results-Driven Government

Kathy joined the Laura and John Arnold Foundation after a distinguished career in the federal government, including 27 years at the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), where she served under five Presidents. Under the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, Kathy helped federal agencies design innovative grant-making models that allocate funding based on evidence and evaluation.

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Michael Stebbins, Ph.D.


Michael is responsible for identifying and pursuing opportunities for philanthropic investment in science and technology. He joined the foundation after serving as the assistant director for biotechnology at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy for six years. At the White House, Michael was responsible for developing and driving initiatives in life sciences research, including the Administration’s efforts focused on improving veterans’ mental health, combating antibiotic resistance, increasing access to federally funded scientific research results, restoring pollinator health, and reforming the regulatory system for biotechnology products.

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Adaeze Ugwu, J.D.

Grants Manager and Legal Counsel

Adaeze helps manage grants and other contracts for the Foundation’s Education, Research Integrity, Evidence-Based Policy, Data-Driven Justice, and Science and Technology portfolios.  Prior to joining the Foundation, Adaeze worked for a boutique law firm. In that role, she represented accounting firms during litigation, advised clients on federal and state compliance matters, and drafted professional engagement, nondisclosure, consulting, and settlement agreements.  She also has experience in the health care industry, where she worked as an analyst for multiple Fortune 25 corporations, conducting financial modeling and due diligence for acquisitions and joint ventures, preparing financial reports, and managing international payment processes for pharmaceutical products.

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Leila Walsh

Vice President of Communications

Leila is a former journalist with experience producing award-winning television reports, leading complex multimedia campaigns, and developing internal and external communications strategies. Prior to joining the Foundation, she was a senior manager in the Office of Communications at one of the largest school districts in the country.

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Joanna Weiss, J.D.

Director of Criminal Justice

Joanna is an experienced attorney and project manager who joined the Foundation after a varied career in New York City government, where she held legal, operational, and policy positions. Joanna worked in the Office of the Criminal Justice Coordinator improving efficiency, transparency, and fairness in administrative courts.

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Michelle Welch

Results-Driven Government Research and Policy Manager

Michelle is a research and policy expert who leads the Foundation’s Policy Lab initiative. She has extensive experience working with governments conducting rigorous research and policy analysis. Prior to joining the Foundation, Michelle was an analyst at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, where she was one of the first members of the Office of Financial Stability and Policy, a newly created department with the purpose of implementing Dodd-Frank regulations. She was part of the team that modeled and evaluated bank stress tests and developed the framework for designation of systemically important non-bank financial institutions.

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Julie Williams

Results-Driven Government Analyst

Julie helps manage the Foundation’s Results-Driven Government portfolio. Before joining the Foundation, she worked for Communities in Schools, the nation’s largest dropout prevention organization, where she conducted research focused on adverse childhood experiences, low parent engagement, and other poverty-related education issues. Prior to her time at Communities in Schools, Julie worked for a community development organization, where she helped local families engage with the public school system and promoted policies that improved the quality of life for the neighborhood’s senior citizens. In addition, she taught middle and high school students in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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Bridget Williamson

Grants Budget Manager

Bridget is responsible for reviewing and monitoring all grant budgets. She also analyzes financial information and trends related to the Foundation’s overall grantmaking. Prior to joining the Foundation, Bridget worked for Amegy Bank, where she most recently served as vice president of syndicated finance. In that role, she developed term sheets and fee structures; monitored compliance reporting; managed closing processes; and led a variety of related projects. Before her promotion to vice president, Bridget served as Amegy’s assistant vice president of energy upstream/midstream lending, helping to underwrite and manage an asset portfolio of approximately $3 billion.

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Ashley Winstead, Ph.D.


Ashley works with the Communications team to prepare written materials related to the Foundation’s activities and initiatives. She holds a Ph.D. in English from Southern Methodist University (SMU), where she specialized in twentieth and twenty-first century American literature and philosophy of language. During her time at SMU, Ashley served as a Fellow for a University seminar that brought together faculty from multiple disciplines to theorize contemporary philosophies of mind. She also taught a variety of undergraduate courses and was an instructor for a national program that prepares middle school, high school, and college students for careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.

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Mimi Xi

Results-Driven Government Manager

Mimi helps to identify and manage philanthropic opportunities for the Foundation’s Results-Driven Government portfolio. Prior to joining the Foundation, she worked in the Civic Innovation office of a major city, where she led cost savings initiatives, managed operational efficiency projects, and assisted with strategic planning. She also previously served as a consultant in Washington, D.C., advising representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Navy, the Department of the Army, and the General Services Administration in operations and strategy.

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