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Our Team

Laura & John Arnold

Co-chairs

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.

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.

VICE PRESIDENT OF EVIDENCE-BASED POLICY

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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Kristin Bechtel, Ph.D.

Director of Criminal Justice Research

Kristin is responsible for developing and managing the execution of a rigorous research agenda focused on advancing effective criminal justice reforms. She identifies promising opportunities to design and evaluate criminal justice policies, programs, and risk assessment tools as well as to test both theoretical and innovative concepts aimed at improving outcomes for people involved in the justice system.

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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 Chief of Staff

Catie provides project management and strategic support to the Foundation’s Results Driven Government (RDG) team. She also helps to identify and manage philanthropic opportunities for the RDG 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 helps to identify and manage philanthropic opportunities for the Foundation’s Results-Driven Government portfolio.  She leads the Foundation’s Pay for Success initiative and supports the Policy Lab initiative.  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 Government Performance Lab, where she led the development of the first project in South Carolina to use Pay for Success financing.

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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 advises the Board of Directors and programmatic teams on the Foundation’s overall research agenda as well as specific external research investments. He works to help ensure that studies funded by the Foundation are rigorous, and that major research investments are evaluated by independent experts. Prior to his current role, Stuart led the Foundation’s efforts to advance a number of important initiatives aimed at improving the transparency and reliability of scientific research.

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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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Harrison Crist

Data-Driven Justice Analyst

Harrison provides analytical and strategic support for the Foundation’s Data-Driven Justice team, which works to help governments use data and technology to better serve individuals who are frequently involved with criminal justice and health care systems. He is also responsible for managing the team’s grant portfolio, assisting with stakeholder outreach, and overseeing day-to-day operations.

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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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Brenna Erford

Director of Retirement Policy

Brenna helps lead the Foundation’s strategic investments in retirement policy. She has worked extensively with state governments on initiatives related to tax and budget issues such as revenue forecasting; budget stabilization fund policy; revenue volatility; K-12 education; Medicaid and social services; and sovereign wealth funds. Most recently, she was a consultant with Alvarez & Marsal Public Sector Services, where she helped state and local governments identify and implement operational efficiencies.

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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.

Vanessa Goodwin

Grants Manager and Legal Counsel

Vanessa helps manage grants and other contracts for the Foundation’s Venture Development portfolio. Prior to joining the Foundation, Vanessa served as an assistant United States attorney for the District of Columbia. In that capacity, she investigated and prosecuted violent crime and weapons offenses. She also volunteered as a community prosecutor, where she worked with law enforcement to develop programming designed to enhance public safety and improve the quality of life in the District of Columbia.

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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

Washington, D.C. Office Manager and Human Resources Analyst

Danielle manages the day-to-day operations of the Foundation’s Washington, D.C. office. She also supports human resources matters involving talent acquisition and professional development. Prior to joining the Foundation, Danielle 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. Before that, she worked in sales and marketing in retail. 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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Mary Catherine Jones

Grants Manager and Legal Counsel

Mary Catherine helps manage grants and other contracts for the Foundation’s Education and Results-Driven Government portfolios.  Prior to joining the Foundation, Mary Catherine served as an attorney with law firms in Houston and New York City.  Her experience includes representing clients in mergers and acquisitions, capital markets transactions, sovereign matters, international arbitrations, and a variety of litigation matters including complex securities, enforcement, and regulatory actions.  While in private practice, Mary Catherine received recognition for both her legal advocacy work on behalf of homeless persons and her extensive pro bono practice.

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Sofia Kaufman

Receptionist & Executive Assistant

Sofia provides administrative support and assistance to team members in the Foundation’s New York office. Before joining the Foundation, she worked at a consulting firm focused on helping nonprofit organizations develop impactful fundraising initiatives. In that role, she provided administrative support to the CEO; conducted research and drafted materials for clients; and assisted with meetings, communications, and scheduling.  In addition, Sofia served as a community liaison for a member of the New York State Assembly, where she managed essential casework and community outreach.

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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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Josh B. McGee, Ph.D.

Senior Vice President of Results-Driven Government

Josh leads the Foundation’s Results-Driven Government team, which is aimed at helping governments make public services more effective and efficient. The team pursues philanthropic opportunities to support evidence-based decision making and sustainable public finance. Josh, who currently serves as chairman of the Texas State Pension Review Board, is also a leading retirement policy expert and has written extensively about retirement plan design, benefit security, and sustainability. He has provided expert testimony and technical assistance in more than 50 jurisdictions across the country. Josh also serves as a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, where he writes about retirement policy. In addition, he is a member of the board of directors of MDRC and EdBuild. Josh holds a B.S. and M.S. in industrial engineering and a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Arkansas.

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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Amanda Moderson-Kox

Evidence-Based Policy Manager

Amanda works with the Evidence-Based Policy team to evaluate newly released research studies and manage the Foundation’s investments to grow the body of evidence on effective social programs. Prior to joining the Foundation, Amanda worked for the nonprofit Family League of Baltimore, which funds and provides technical assistance to community‐based organizations that deliver programs and services to children and families in Baltimore. As director of data and evaluation, she was responsible for overseeing all data reporting, program quality, and evaluation efforts across Family League’s portfolio.  In addition, Amanda served as a consultant for the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy, and later the Foundation. Her work focused on reviewing randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of social programs in order to identify those with promising evidence of effectiveness.

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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

EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT

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 team to manage grants and other contracts for the team’s growing portfolio. She received her J.D. from Tulane University Law School, where she specialized in international and comparative law.

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Jennifer Reyes

Administrative Assistant

Jennifer provides administrative support and assistance to team members in the Foundation’s Houston office. Prior to joining LJAF, she worked as a writer and manager for a marketing company, where she created marketing collateral, conducted research, and managed client sales initiatives. Jennifer’s previous experience also includes her work as a community liaison for a home health agency and as a marketing coordinator for a media delivery corporation.  In these roles, she led advertising efforts, monitored marketing projects, and oversaw a variety of special events.  Jennifer began her professional career as a legislative aide in the Texas House of Representatives, where she assisted with scheduling and community outreach.

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Kelli Rhee

President and Chief Executive Officer

Kelli is the president and chief executive officer of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. She leads the Foundation in its mission to employ strategic entrepreneurial philanthropy to address some of society’s most complex and urgent challenges.

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Lauren Roach

Accounting Analyst

Lauren coordinates the Foundation’s accounts payable process and assists with grants management. Prior to joining the Foundation, she worked as the assistant treasurer of a private educational institution, where she was responsible for a wide range of duties including accounts payable and payroll management, human resources, and benefits administration. Lauren’s professional experience also includes her role in product development for a leading technology provider in Washington, D.C., where she coordinated quality testing, special projects, and database management.

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Chase Sackett, J.D.

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

Writer

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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John Scianimanico

Results-Driven Government Policy Lab Manager

John helps lead the policy lab initiative for the Foundation’s Results-Driven Government team. Prior to joining the Foundation, he taught high school math and statistics with Teach For America in Huntsville, Alabama. John’s professional experience also includes working with various mayors’ offices across the country, where he focused on issues related to public finance and education.  Most recently, John interned at the White House Council of Economic Advisors. There, he assisted in researching and writing the education chapter of the 2017 Economic Report of the President.

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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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Amy Solomon

Vice President of Criminal Justice Policy

Amy joined the Foundation after serving seven years in the Obama Administration. Most recently, she worked as executive director of the Federal Interagency Reentry Council. Under Amy’s leadership, the council spearheaded substantial policy reforms including the federal Ban the Box rule, fair housing guidance, the Second Chance Pell initiative, Medicaid guidance for the justice-involved population, and a critical modification related to child support. In addition, Amy served as director of policy for the Office of Justice Programs at the U.S. Department of Justice. In that role, she worked with Justice Department leadership and the White House to shape, launch, and implement a broad range of domestic policy initiatives focused on criminal justice reform, health care reform, urban policy, and building trust between the justice system and communities of color.

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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.

VICE PRESIDENT OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

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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Rosemary Townsend

Receptionist and Executive Assistant

Rosemary provides administrative support and assistance to team members in the Foundation’s Washington, D.C. office. Before joining the Foundation, she worked as a contractor in the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives. There, she helped to maintain the office’s large database of information about past members of Congress, conducted research on historic legislation, and provided administrative support. Rosemary’s previous experience also includes her role as an intern with Volkshilfe Wien, where she worked to serve refugee communities at a center in Vienna, Austria.

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Jeremy Travis, J.D.

Senior Vice President of Criminal Justice

Jeremy joined the Foundation after serving for 13 years as president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York (CUNY). Under Jeremy’s leadership, John Jay became a senior liberal arts college at CUNY, significantly increased the number of baccalaureate students, created the CUNY Justice Academy to serve community college students, and joined the prestigious Macaulay Honors College.  During his tenure, John Jay also significantly expanded the number of faculty; tripled outside funding for research; and launched research centers on topics such violence, prisoner reentry, juvenile justice, policing, race, cybercrime, terrorism, and the role of prosecutors.  The college now offers more than a dozen masters programs, three doctoral programs, and a growing suite of online degrees. Under Jeremy’s leadership, the college completed its first capital campaign, for $50 million, and announced a second for $75 million.

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Sarah Twardock

Venture Development Manager

Sarah helps manage the Foundation’s Venture Development portfolio by researching and analyzing issues that fall outside our established programmatic areas.  Prior to joining the Foundation, Sarah worked at a variety of nonprofit organizations as part of the AlumniCorps Project 55 program through Princeton University. As a Project 55 Fellow, Sarah oversaw a number of strategic projects, including education industry landscape analyses and the implementation of early childhood mental health programs in Medicaid clinics across New York City. In addition, she served as a member of the administrative team at a Partnership for Inner-City Education elementary school located in East Harlem, New York.  In this role, Sarah managed the school’s marketing and development initiatives.

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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 develops and manages grants for the Foundation’s Results-Driven Government portfolio, including projects designed to address the nation’s opioid epidemic. 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.

Writer

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 related to improving public finance as part of the Foundation’s Results-Driven Government team. Prior to joining the Foundation, she worked in the Civic Innovation office for the City of Houston, 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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