Carolyn Dickson, O’Donnell Foundation

TITLE: Executive Director

FUNDING AREAS: K-12, Advanced Placement, teacher training, higher education, and STEM education

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: For Carolyn Bacon Dickson, executive director of the O'Donnell Foundation, improving student achievement, especially in mathematics and science, and preparing students for success in college doesn't require magic or special programs. If students take academically rigorous courses taught by knowledgeable, qualified teachers, they are far more likely to achieve success in college and in the workplace.

That is why the O'Donnell Foundation has long championed initiatives designed to strengthen teacher knowledge so that they can better prepare students to take Advanced Placement (AP) and pre-AP courses in high school. Building on its work in the 1990s with a Texas public schools system, the O'Donnell Foundation has created non-profit organizations and funded programs designed to create outstanding teachers who can deliver an academically challenging curriculum, especially in math and science. This is a rather narrow focus for O'Donnell, but an important one. And Dickson is definitely a go-to person for all things AP.

Dickson's work with the O'Donnell Foundation has emphasized teacher training in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields, but that doesn't mean she is not interested in other academic areas. The foundation also has supported AP incentive programs in art and music. 

Dickson's advocacy of greater academic rigor is not limited to AP-related programs in secondary schools or to traditional public schools. O'Donnell also has supported charter schools, giving grants such as $337,000 in 2010 to Dallas-based Uplift Education, a charter school operator. So if you're a charter school operator that's serious about challenging your students academically to better prepare them for success in college, Dickson is a funder you should get to know. It's important to remember, however, that the foundation concentrates most of its work in Texas. In addition, O'Donnell does not award grants or fellowships to individuals.

In addition to its K-12 programs, the O'Donnell Foundation under Dickson has supported higher education programs that emphasize STEM-related fields.

Douglas Wood, Ford Foundation

TITLE: Program Officer

FUNDING AREAS: Higher education

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE:Douglas Wood is a program officer in the Ford Foundation's Youth Opportunity and Learning sector. His grantmaking helps students make a successful transition from high school to college. It also focuses on raising college completion rates among vulnerable student populations.

As the Ford Foundation's bio of Wood puts it:

Douglas Wood is part of the Youth Opportunity and Learning team. His grant making has focused on helping students transition from high school to college and also on improving the college completion rates of underserved students. He brings to his role at Ford broad experience in prekindergarten to 12th grade, as well as higher education policy and administration.

Prior to joining the foundation in 2011, Douglas was associate dean of administration and planning at the Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts at the New School. During the 10 years before coming to Ford, he also worked as executive director and chief executive officer of the Tennessee State Board of Education; served as a member of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission; and was executive director and principal investigator of the National Academy for Excellent Teaching, an institute of Teachers College, Columbia University.

Douglas began his career as a public school teacher. After five years of teaching, he worked as a research assistant at Harvard University, the Center for Collaborative Education Metro Boston, and the Annenberg Rural Challenge, among others. He then served as a course assistant at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and a teaching fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Douglas holds master of education and doctor of education degrees in administration, planning, and social policy from Harvard University; a master's degree in English from Middlebury College; and a bachelor's degree in history from Wofford College, where he is a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Kristen Whelan, Yawkey Foundation

TITLE: Senior Program Officer

FUNDING AREAS: Education

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: Many major philanthropic foundations are now outsourcing their senior program officer positions to third-party advisory teams. Boston baseball legacy the Yawkey Foundation relies upon the services of an advisory team known as The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI) to evaluate grant applications and decide which worthy non-profit organizations to support. More specifically, Yawkey depends upon Senior Program Officer Kristen Whelan to dole out the foundation's education money. Her TPI bio shares: 

Kristen Whelan researches various topics and issues of interest to clients to assist them in developing funding strategies and grants programs. Kristen also assists corporations, individual donors, and family foundations with design and implementation of their initiatives. Specific efforts include creation of a grants program to improve reading skills; development and management of a youth-focused initiative for a family foundation resulting in multi-year grants to after-school and mentoring programs in Boston; and design of a contemporary music fund to promote the proliferation and awareness of classical music composed within the 20 years. 

For the past 10 years, she has worked closely with a family foundation serving as program officer and working closely with its trustees to structure and evaluate grantmaking partnerships. She has created and manages scholarship programs for corporations and foundations to meet their specific objectives and has worked with corporations to design, manage and train employees involved in corporate giving and volunteering programs.

Kristen has a Master's degree from the Department of Urban and Environmental Policy at Tufts University, where she wrote her thesis on the benefits of strategic and integrated corporate giving programs. Prior to joining TPI in 1998 she worked in a number of nonprofit organizations, including Planned Parenthood Clinic of Greater Boston, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Oxfam America. Kristen received her Bachelor of Arts in politics and psychology at Bennington College.

Elizabeth Boylan, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

TITLE: Program Director, STEM Higher Education

FUNDING AREAS: Undergraduate and graduate STEM programs

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: Plucked from Barnard College in 2011, Elizabeth S. Boylan directs the STEM Higher Education program at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Her foundation bio shares: 

  • Elizabeth S. Boylan directs the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s programs on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) Higher Education, including programs for the education and professional advancement of underrepresented groups and for the study and improvement of STEM student learning and performance.  In 2014 she was elected to the Board of Directors of the Teagle Foundation.

    Dr. Boylan came to the Sloan Foundation after 16 years at Barnard College where she served as Provost and Dean of the Faculty and professor of Biological Sciences.  During her tenure, she led many efforts involved with faculty career enhancement, curriculum reform, international education, and capital projects.  Among the major grants for which she was responsible were those from the Mellon Foundation for a Center of Excellence supporting both facility and programmatic improvements in the sciences and for a consortium of 23 liberal arts colleges that provided faculty development opportunities in research and teaching.  From 1996 to 2000, she served on the Commission for Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.  She was also a member of the Leadership Network for International Education of the American Council on Education and the Advisory Board of Project Kaleidoscope.

    Prior to her work at Barnard, Boylan was associate provost for academic planning and programs at Queens College/CUNY.  She was a tenured member of the biology faculty at Queens College and the CUNY Graduate Center.  She served as Deputy Chair of Graduate Studies in Biology for four years, chaired of the Queens College Academic Senate for three years, and co-chaired University-wide efforts in program reform in science, engineering, technology and mathematics, and in secondary education.  Research in her laboratory was supported by the National Cancer Institute and the American Federation for Aging Research, as well as University grants.  She has served as a consultant for, among others, the National Cancer Institutes’ Breast Cancer Task Force, the American Cancer Society’s Review Committee on Prevention, Diagnosis, and Therapy, the National Science Foundation, the New Jersey Commission on Cancer Research, and various scientific journals.

    A specialist in developmental biology and hormonal carcinogenesis, Boylan earned a Ph.D. in zoology/embryology from Cornell University and a bachelor's degree in biological sciences from Wellesley College.  She was a pre-doctoral fellow at the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole and a postdoctoral fellow in biochemistry and oncology at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

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Deana Arsenian, Carnegie Corporation of New York

TITLE: Vice President, International Program; Program Director, Russia and Eurasia

FUNDING AREAS: International security and higher education (Russia and Eurasia)

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: Fostering peaceful civil societies in troubled corners of the world requires leaders and doers, but it has a need for thinkers, too. As a high-ranking decision-maker on grant giving at the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Deana Arsenian directs considerable amounts of fiscal support to the academics and scholars who author the reports, strategic visions, and analyses that international development programs across the world count on for guidance as they go about the heavy lifting of peace keeping and state building. Her foundation bio shares: 

Deana Arsenian, as vice president of the International Program, promotes the development of Carnegie Corporation’s grantmaking on international issues. She is also responsible for the Corporation’s work concerning Russia and Eurasia.

From 1983 to 1990, Ms. Arsenian worked as a program officer in the Corporation's Avoiding Nuclear War Program. In 1990, she left the Corporation to become the assistant director of the Center for Foreign Policy Development at Brown University, which later merged with the Watson Institute for International Studies. In 1997, Ms. Arsenian returned to the Corporation from the Watson Institute, where she was assistant director for development and special projects.

Ms. Arsenian earned a BA in political science from Barnard College and an MA in international affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. She is a former member of the board of directors of the Armenian Assembly and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

She and her husband, Mark Malkasian, are parents of a daughter, Anais.

Eugene M. Tobin, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

TITLE: Senior Program Officer, Higher Education and the Liberal Arts Colleges Program

FUNDING AREAS: Liberal arts, humanities scholarships, diversity and inclusion in higher education

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: Program officer Eugene M. Tobin manages grants for liberal arts colleges and higher education at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. His foundation bio shares: 

Eugene M. Tobin is senior program officer in the program for Higher Education and Scholarship in the Humanities, where his areas of responsibility include grants to liberal arts colleges, research universities, humanities centers and institutes, the development of cross-institutional collaboration and consortia, and coordination of joint initiatives with the Foundation's Diversity program.   

Mr. Tobin spent 23 years at Hamilton College as a faculty member, department chair, dean of faculty, and as the eighteenth president (1993-2003).  Prior to joining the Hamilton faculty in 1980, he taught at public colleges in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, was a National Endowment for the Humanities postdoctoral fellow at Vanderbilt University, and held visiting appointments at Miami University (Ohio) and Indiana University, Bloomington.  His research focuses on late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American social and political history and the history of US higher education.  

Mr. Tobin earned his BA in history from Rutgers University and his MA and PhD in the history of American civilization from Brandeis University.  He is the co-author with William G. Bowen and Martin A. Kurzweil of Equity and Excellence in American Higher Education (University of Virginia Press, 2005), winner of the 2006 American Education Research Association’s Outstanding Book Award, and co-author with William G. Bowen of Locus of Authority:  The Evolution of Faculty Roles in the Governance of Higher Education (Princeton University Press, 2015). 

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Caroline Altman Smith, The Kresge Foundation

TITLE: Deputy Director, Education 

FUNDING AREAS: Higher education opportunities for low income and vulnerable students

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: The Kresge Foundation's Caroline Altman Smith has a long history in philanthropic and educational work. Her foundatnoi bio shares: 

Caroline Altman Smith is deputy director of The Kresge Foundation’s Education Program. She supports the team’s domestic grantmaking, which funds higher education institutions and national nonprofit organizations that work to help more underserved students enter and succeed in postsecondary education.
Before joining Kresge in 2008, Caroline served for five years as a program officer at the Lumina Foundation in Indianapolis where she worked to create opportunities for low-income, minority and first-generation students to enter college and complete their undergraduate degrees.
A graduate of the University of Virginia, Caroline holds a master’s degree in philanthropic studies and a certificate in nonprofit management from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University. She is an instructor for The Grantmaking School at Grand Valley State University, previously chaired the Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy National Board of Advisors, and currently serves on the boards of the Council of Michigan Foundations and Grantmakers for Education.

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William F. L. Moses, The Kresge Foundation

TITLE: Managing Director

FUNDING AREAS: Higher education opportunities 

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: Currently Managing Director of Education at The Kresge Foundation, William F.L. Moses weaved his way through California, Alaska, the Eastern Seaboard, and South Africa before landing in the Great Lakes State of Michigan. His foundation bio shares:

William F. L. Moses serves as managing director for The Kresge Foundation’s Education Program, which supports postsecondary access and success for low-income, first-generation and underrepresented students.  The key architect of Kresge’s education programming, Bill leads the team’s continuum of domestic and international grant activities from developing program strategy, reviewing preliminary ideas, and helping grantees develop proposals or initiatives, to awarding funding and monitoring existing grants. Since his arrival at Kresge, Bill has served as a program officer and senior program officer, was instrumental in developing Kresge’s Green Building Initiative and has spearheaded the foundation’s grantmaking in South Africa.
Before joining Kresge, Bill served as executive director of The Thomas J. Watson Foundation in Rhode Island and as a senior analyst at the Investor Responsibility Research Center in Washington, D.C. He also worked as a research officer at TechnoServe and held various administrative positions in Alaska’s state legislature and the federal government, including the U.S. Embassy in Cape Town, South Africa.
A graduate of Claremont McKenna College, Bill holds a master’s degree in international relations from Yale University. He is the author of “A Guide to American State and Local Laws on South Africa” and co-author of “Corporate Responsibility in a Changing South Africa.”  He was the co-chair of the seven-foundation Partnership for Higher Education in Africa and serves on the steering committee of the Africa Grantmakers’ Affinity Group, an organization he co-founded. He also is a member of the National Advisory Board of The College Promise Campaign.

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Armando Bengochea, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

TITLE: Program Officer, and Director of Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship

FUNDING AREAS: Diversity in higher education, undergraduate fellowships

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: Mellon program officer Armando Bengochea works at the foundation's Diversity Initiative. He oversees their Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) program and directs the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF), taking over the position after Carlotta Arthur's 2011 resignation. His foundation bio shares:

Armando Bengochea became program officer for Diversity and director of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) program in July 2012.  He has played a role in MMUF programs since 1992, first at Brown University, and then at Connecticut College.  

After completing his undergraduate education with an independent major in social and political philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, Mr. Bengochea earned a PhD in politics at Princeton University where he wrote a political philosophy dissertation on Tocqueville.  From 1986-2006, he worked as an undergraduate academic dean at Brown University, where he served as dean of freshman studies and associate dean of the college.  In 2002, Mr. Bengochea helped create, launched, and then oversaw the university’s First Year Seminar program.  Throughout his 20-year tenure at Brown, Mr. Bengochea was charged with monitoring the academic and social well-being of Latino undergraduates across all four undergraduate classes.

In 2006, Mr. Bengochea was appointed dean of the college and senior diversity officer at Connecticut College.  At Connecticut College, Mr. Bengochea planned and executed with the chief academic officer a successful and rapid diversification of the faculty.  He was also a founding member of the Liberal Arts Diversity Officers (LADO) group.

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Sara B. Cobb, Lilly Endowment

TITLE: Vice President, Education

FUNDING AREAS: Elementary, secondary, and higher education in Indiana

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: Sara B. Cobb serves as Vice President, Education at the Lilly Endowment. Her Purdue University alumni bio shares:

Sara Cobb, Vice President for Education for Lilly Endowment, Inc., was at a banquet for the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program when she knew she had chosen the right career path. The Lilly scholarships provide tuition and other expenses for Indiana high school students to attend an Indiana college or university of their choice, and the banquet brought together the scholarship recipients, their parents or guardians, a high school mentor from each student’s career, representatives from local community foundations, and the presidents of Indiana’s higher education institutions.

“One year we had Robert Ballard, who was the undersea explorer who discovered the Titanic, as a guest speaker,” says Cobb. “He addressed the audience of about 1600, and I had the privilege of closing that banquet with a charge to the scholars. But as I stood there, looking out over this vast audience of bright, talented young people who were poised to change the world, I was overwhelmed by gratitude and blessings and that “a-ha” moment. This is what it’s all about. These are the young lives that are going to impact the world—and we have a fraction of time with them right now to help them do that.”

Favorite Purdue Memory

I loved getting a cup of coffee in the Purdue Memorial Union and then walking across the mall to class. The faculty members I had were inspiring, thought-provoking, and very engaging. And the coffee was delicious!

Favorite Word

I couldn’t narrow it down—I have two:  family and hope.

Quality I Appreciate Most in Friends

Sincerity

Favorite Place I Have Traveled

The Grand Tetons, for two reasons. First, I traveled there with my family, and we’re very close. Second, the mountains are very majestic, but very fragile—which is a juxtaposition I find very interesting. They are mountainous and soar to over 13,000 feet, but they’re a lot of sand and loose rock, so care must be taken when you’re climbing and hiking. I love visiting all of our nation's parks; the photo above was taken in Death Valley National Park in April of this year.

My Motto

To live every day with joy, and to be kind to all in everything I do. It’s a little hokey, but it’s who I am. Being kind while having to deliver unfortunate or discouraging news is a real balance and a real challenge. To be able to do so while allowing people to maintain their own personal stature and well-being and dignity is really important to me. People spend a lot of time and passion in working for their causes, and no matter whether those causes fit within our scope of guidelines or philanthropy, the people I meet with should feel appreciated when they leave, whether the answer is yes or no. I feel really strongly about that. I also have a strong faith, and I think that helps keep me grounded and focused, and allows me tobe helpful in ways that might cause others to benefit from kindness and care.

My Heroes

Jesus would be my number one. I also really look up to my father. I learned about one of the other people I admire from one of the best books I’ve read: Truman, by David McCullough. I grew to appreciate Truman’s leadership style, his commitment to being the last one standing, by his phrase, “The buck stops here.” I really admire that quality in leaders.

Martha Karsh, Karsh Family Foundation

TITLE: Trustee

FUNDING AREAS: Education, human services, Jewish concerns

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: Martha Karsh, alongside her husband Bruce, serves as trustee of the Karsh Family Foundation. She's also a supporter of the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), which shares the following bio:

Martha L. Karsh, an attorney, has practiced law, formed an architecture/design/development firm and done extensive non-profit work.

In 1998, Martha co-founded the Karsh Family Foundation, focusing primarily on supporting education.  To date, the Karsh family and their Foundation have made gifts and pledges of over $175 million to support scholarship and education at all levels. Their largest gifts have been for need-based financial aid at Duke, Penn, Brown, Spelman, and Virginia Law School, as well as for KIPP and Teach for America in K-12. Martha chairs KIPP LA’s 2020 growth campaign, and recently named and dedicated a two-school KIPP Campus in East LA and a community outreach center at Wilshire Boulevard Temple providing a food, dental, vision, legal, and mental health services. She also serves on the Board of LA 2024, Los Angeles’ Olympic committee, and is a Trustee Emerita of the University of Virginia Law School Foundation.

In September 2016, The Beatles A Hard Day’s Night: A Private Archive, a book created and edited by Martha, was published by Phaidon Press.

Martha graduated from Virginia Law School (1981) and the University of Virginia (1978); she and Bruce Karsh married in 1980, and together they have raised three children.

R. Matthew Simon, Helen V. Brach Foundation

TITLE: President

FUNDING AREAS: Animal welfare, arts, youth services, environment, homelessness, secondary education, higher education, and human services

CONTACT: Visit PeopleFinder for email and phone number (paid subscribers only)

PROFILE: R. Matthew Simon serves as president of the Helen V. Brach Foundation. He also serves on the board of the Red Cloud Indian School, where his offcial bio shares:

Mr. Simon is President of The Helen Brach Foundation. He practiced law for more than 25 years with Chicago law firm of Simon & Griseta. He also served as a member and as the chairman of the Civil Service Board of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago for a period of 13 years. He also served as a member of the Illinois Supreme Court Character and Fitness Committee for a period of 10 years. The Committee certifies candidates seeking admission to practice law in the State of Illinois. He is the immediate past president of the Catholic Lawyers Guild of Chicago and has served as a member of the Board of Trustees of Dominican University. He and his wife, Jacqueline, have four children and live in Chicago. He is a member of the Finance Committee.