Paul Dinovitz, Hearst Foundations

TITLE: Executive Director

FUNDING AREAS: Education, health, culture, social services

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

PROFILE: Paul Dinovitz (known as "Dino") joined the Hearst Foundations in 2005, originally vice president and western director, working from their San Francisco office. He later ascended to his current post as Executive Director of the Hearst Foundations, still operating out of their San Francisco headquarters.

Per the press release when Dinovitz was first hired by Hearst, here is his background:

Dinovitz began his career at Taft Broadcasting in 1970 as an account executive for WDAF-FM in Kansas City and later went on to serve as vice president & general manager of Columbus, Ohio's WTVN-TV. In 1985 he joined Hearst Broadcasting (now Hearst-Argyle Television, Inc.) as vice president & general manager of KMBC-TV in Kansas City. In 1996 Dinovitz assumed the same title at KCWB-TV, also in Kansas City, when Hearst resumed responsibility for operating that station. In 1997 he was promoted to president & general manager of both stations. After 13 years with KMBC, he left Kansas City to serve as president & general manager of KCRA-TV and KQCA-TV in Sacramento.


Laysha Ward, Target Foundation

TITLE: Executive Vice President and Chief External Engagement Officer for Target

FUNDING AREAS: Arts and social services, Twin Cities

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

PROFILE: Ward is the Executive Vice President and Chief External Engagement Officer for Target

Here is Ward's full bio on the Target website:

Laysha Ward is executive vice president and chief external engagement officer for Target and a member of the company’s executive leadership team. She leads Target’s enterprise-wide approach to actively engage and deepen relationships with external stakeholders to drive positive business and community impact.

Ms. Ward is a member of the Executive Leadership Council; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority; The Links, an international woman’s service organization; the International Women’s Forum; the Advisory Board for the Aspen Institute Latinos and Society Program; and the Stanford Center for Longevity. She also sits on the for-profit board of directors for Denny’s Corporation.

Ms. Ward received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from Indiana University and a master’s degree in social services administration with an emphasis in management and public policy from the University of Chicago.


Peter Lettenberger, Brady Education Foundation

TITLE: Director and Officer

FUNDING AREAS: Early childhood education

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

PROFILE: An attorney by profession, Peter Lettenberger knows how to gather evidence, build a persuasive case, and spot weaknesses in opposing arguments and analyses. These skills serve him well at the Brady Education Foundation, where he serves on the board, which is tasked with selecting proposals for funding. Lettenberger has been active in the foundation for more than 30 years.

His foundation bio shares: 

Peter Lettenberger has been a Director and Officer of the W.H. Brady Foundation and the Brady Education Foundation for over thirty years. He retired after forty years of legal practice as a partner in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin law firm of Quarles & Brady. He has been and continues to be active in numerous civic and charitable organizations including having served as Chairman of the Board of his local Community Foundation, United Way and Health Care System.

Elizabeth Pungello Bruno, Brady Education Foundation

TITLE: President

FUNDING AREAS: Early childhood education research focusing on low income communities

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

PROFILE: When Dr. Elizabeth Pungello (now Elizabeth Bruno) became president of the Brady Education Foundation in 2001, she realigned its giving strategy, moving from public policy to exclusively dealing in education. Her foundation bio shares: 

Elizabeth Bruno, Ph.D., is the President of the Brady Education Foundation. She is also a Research Associate Professor in the Developmental Psychology Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to shifting her primary professional efforts to the Foundation, Elizabeth was a Scientist at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where her main research focus was on early care and education environments and school readiness skills of at-risk children, funded by grants from private foundations (Buffett Early Childhood Fund) and government agencies (e.g., National Institute of Child Health and Human Development). More specifically, her work included the investigation of the long-term outcomes of the Abecedarian Project (an early educational intervention for children at high risk for poor cognitive and academic outcomes); the exploration of the associations among race, income, parenting, childcare quality and language development and school readiness; and the investigation of factors that influence why and how parents search for and select child care. In addition, she led the initial phases FPG Infant-Toddler Initiative and served on the NonBiomedical Institutional Review Board at UNC-CH for over a decade. Dr. Bruno currently serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Marriage and Family and Early Childhood Research Quarterly, the Frank Porter Graham Executive Leadership Board, as well as on a number of other non-profit boards. Elizabeth received her doctorate in Developmental Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has published several articles on early education environments, family circumstances, and child outcomes.

Tom Leedy, Dekko Foundation

TITLE: President

FUNDING AREAS: Early-to-adolescent childhood development and education 

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

PROFILE: In addition to being president of the Dekko Foundation, Leedy also serves on the state of Indiana's Commission on Community Service and Volunteerism, which volunteers this info on his bio:

"Tom joined the Foundation in 2001 after working for Group Dekko Services as Performance Improvement Manager for eight years. Tom has served his community through board membership on the local chamber of commerce, library foundation, YMCA and economic development corporation. He has served on the board of directors of Indiana Grantmakers Alliance and Northeast Indiana Corporate Council. He currently serves on the board of directors of Freedom Academy, Kendallville Heritage Association, and Noble County Convention and Visitors Bureau. He is on the advisory committee for Northeast Indiana’s Vision 2020 initiative, serves on the Indiana Achievement Awards steering committee. Tom has also worked as a consultant with nonprofit organizations, assisting with board and organizational development and strategic planning. Tom is a graduate of Indiana Tech and earned his MBA from the University of Notre Dame in May of 2000.  Tom and his wife Kerri live in Kendallville with their daughter Emma and son Jackson."

Eva Lester, Buffett Early Childhood Fund

TITLE: Director of Program Development

FUNDING AREAS: Early childhood education programs, advocacy and research

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

PROFILE: Buffett Early Childhood Fund and a group of wealthy donors, including the Gates, Irving Harris, and Kellogg Foundations, have fueled the nationwide expansion of Educare, a network of early childhood learning centers, and in terms of funding, Educare plays an important role in Buffett's strategy. In the foundation's 2012 Outlook report, the subject was prominently featured, a signal for its renewed commitment.

As Buffett's Director of Program Development, Eva Lester, who joined the fund in January 2013, will likely play a role in expanding the fund's support of the Educare Learning Network. And it makes sense too. Lester was the project coordinator for Educare Arizona itself and played a major role in getting that program up and running.

The Educare Arizona campaign began in 2009, and in September 2011, an early childhood learning facility opened in Phoenix. The campaign placed a strong emphasis on partnerships—both public-private and partnerships between groups of connected donors—and in many ways, it was a model example of how Educare facilities are opened in cities across the country.

Of course, providing educational opportunities to at-risk students is the primarily goal of the program, and Lester has plenty of experience on that side, as well, stating

Brain science shows that we have the best chance at helping young at-risk children sow the seeds of success if we can provide them with what they need to thrive before they reach three years of age. At this early stage, we have the opportunity to work with them to develop school readiness skills that will help close the achievement gap later on.

Prior to joining Buffett, Lester was the senior manager of strategic initiatives at Southwest Human Development, an Arizona-based early childhood nonprofit, and before that, she spent that time at Educare Arizona. Pre-dating both of those gigs was a series of positions Lester held in Janet Napolitano's Arizona governership. Lester started as her policy assistant, became a strategic projects manager, and ultimately rose to director of the govenor's office Division for School Readiness as well as serving as an Early Childhood Policy Advisor.

The totality of these likely guide Lester's giving at Buffett, as it's clear that she is skilled at forming meaningful partnerships, a key principle behind Buffett's giving.

For instance, Buffett and a group of wealthy donors fund capital campaign for the construction of Educare schools, and operating costs for the facilities come from a variety of public sources on the local, state, and federal levels. Generating interest from local philanthropists is also a key, Lester's efforts have generated support and interest from a lot of different local players. Include basketball players; NBA basketball star Steve Nash was a key funder of Educare Arizona (as were several Arizona-based foundations).

Further, "the Educare team—a national staff housed at [Ounce of Prevention], the Buffett Foundation and more mature Educare Schools—helps develop new partnerships among like-minded individuals who want to create Educare Schools in their communities," its website states. So as the foundation continues to develop the network in new cities, it's clear why they've enlisted Lester to lead the efforts. You can find information about starting an Educare school online.

Karen Davis, Hasbro Children’s Fund

TITLE: Vice President, Community Relations

FUNDING AREAS: Early childhood education

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

PROFILE: When it comes to education funding, Karen Davis has been on both sides of the fence. For 14 years she worked in higher education development, leading fundraising campaigns and working to secure support from corporate and other funders. In fact, Hasbro, where Davis is now Vice President for community relations, was one of the companies from which she secured funding. She told Forbes magazine that when she interviewed for the job at Hasbro, the company's CEO asked if he hired her, would she stop asking him for money.

Davis now heads all philanthropic efforts at Hasbro, the Rhode Island-based toy and game giant that introduced G.I. Joe and My Little Pony, among other successful toy lines, to children around the world. Her responsibilities include leading grantmaking efforts at the Hasbro Children's Fundn and coordinating volunteer programs in which Hasbro employees help serve needy children. These efforts involve Hasbro employees at all levels, including senior executives.

"Executive involvement is part of our DNA," Davis told CSR Wire. "We go in deep—it's not checkbook philanthropy."

Early childhood education funding is a natural fit for a foundation affiliated with a major toy company, and the Hasbro Children's Fund's grantmaking emphasizes three core principles: programs that provide hope to children who need it the most, playtime for children who might not otherwise experience it, and empowering youth through service. Davis believes that when children learn to give back when they are young, that becomes an important part of who they are.

Under Davis' leadership, the Hasbro Children's Fund appears to operate on two levels: a national level, in which the foundation concentrates on working with strategic partners that support children in need nationally and even globally; and a local level, supporting programs and activities in communities in which Hasbro has operating facilities. These communities include Los Angeles; Springfield, MA; Renton, WA; and the state of Rhode Island.

At the national and global level, Davis and the Hasbro Children's Fund work with partners that include Generation On, Toys For Tots, and Operation Smile. At the local level, meanwhile, Davis funds programs and projects that include pediatric health care services, early childhood education, and youth service programs. Recipients of past grants have included local chapters of Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Salvation Army, and United Way, as well as children's museums, shelters and soup kitchens, educational nonprofits, and foundations. For organizations in the above-mentioned communities, the local program at Hasbro is the best avenue for securing grant funding.

Because of her belief in youth service, Davis is also interested in local projects that teach children how they can make a difference in their communities. One of the Hasbro Children's Fund's national programs is its collaboration with GenerationOn, a global service organization that helps kids bring joy to their communities through service. Local programs that foster youth service are sure to be a big hit with this funder.

A Warwick, Rhode Island, native, Davis is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island, earning a degree in business administration. She serves on the board of the Grantmakers Council of Rhode Island and a wide range of advisory councils and boards. Davis is a past vice chair of the Rhode Island United Way Children, Youth and Families Impact Group and Out-of-School Time Initiative Chair.

Hasbro Children's Fund conducts its grantmaking at the local level through an RFP process, which means nonprofits interesting in securing support from this funder should keep an eye on the foundation's website for funding opportunities.

LinkedIn Profile

Susan True, Kenneth Rainin Foundation

TITLE: Director of Education Strategy & Ventures

FUNDING AREAS: Early childhood education, preschool teacher training, birth-to-eight literacy

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


Susan True serves as Director, Education Strategy & Ventures at the Kenneth Rainin Foundation.

Her foundation bios shares:

Susan began leading the Foundation’s education investments in 2013. Her work focuses on increasing the number of Oakland children who are ready for kindergarten and reading at grade level by the end of third grade.  She directs initiatives to help teachers use effective teaching practices, grants to support families with young children, and funding to build early learning leadership and systems in Oakland.

Susan’s career reflects a deep passion for the healthy development of children. In 2013 – 2014, Susan led the Bay Area Council’s development of the Talk, Read, Sing Campaign, for which she won an International Effie Social Good Award. The campaign promotes families as the first teachers of infants and toddlers. Her background includes serving as executive director of First 5 Santa Cruz County for nine years. During that time, over 95% of the county’s children were enrolled in health insurance, the rate of child maltreatment decreased, and the percentage of pre-school children on target for later reading success more than doubled. Prior to her work at First 5, Susan was director of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Santa Cruz County, Co-Principal Investigator of a University of California public health research project, and founder of a grassroots HIV prevention program. In 2008, she was elected to the Cabrillo College Board of Trustees. She has also been a foster parent and advocated for improvements in the child welfare system.

Susan has a BA in Community Studies from University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Master’s degree from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.

Nancy Lee, Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund

TITLE: Senior Advisor, Special Initiatives

FUNDING AREAS: Early childhood education and community college student success

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

PROFILE: Nancy Lee serves as senior advisor of special initiatives at the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, where his official bio shares:

Nancy co-manages special initiatives grants of particular significance to the Fund’s founders and trustees, including the Chronicle Season of Sharing Fund. She also works closely with the Fund’s program staff in other grantmaking areas.  

Nancy first joined the Fund in 1996 as a program consultant. She has held a range of positions over the years at the Fund, including Senior Program Officer for the Education Equity program. She has 30 years of experience working to improve the lives of low-income children, youth and their families. 

Most recently, Nancy helped shape the funding strategy and managed an annual $3M education and workforce development grantmaking portfolio for the Marcled Foundation.  She has worked with a variety of other private and public funders deeply involved in these issues, including San Francisco Foundation, Levi Strauss Foundation, Packard Foundation, and the San Francisco Department of Children, Youth and their Families. She also has extensive experience in public policy and organizing, including serving as an aide to then-California Assemblyman John Burton.

Nancy’s many career achievements include: developing and overseeing programs providing sports opportunities to more than 30,000 young people in the Bay Area as director of programs and grantmaking for Coaching Corps; creating a nationally recognized welfare reform program in Oakland for the Clorox Co. Foundation; and developing the community outreach strategy for the implementation of a successful early childhood initiative in Alameda County.

A former Coro Fellow, Nancy has served on the Alameda County Human Relations Commission and was a board member of the United Way of the East Bay.  Nancy has a master’s degree in social work from San Francisco State University.