The Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy

The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University

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Advisory Group

Our advisory group members have vast and varied experience in philanthropy and social justice. They are important thought and action partners, helping to inform the content of our convenings, publications and strategic direction. They help us grow our networks and audience, build partnerships and find new collaborators locally and nationally.

Luz Benitez Delgado – Program Officer, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. (Battle Creek, Michigan) 

Luz E. Benitez Delgado is a program officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Michigan. As a member of the Racial Equity and Racial Healing, Community Engagement & Leadership and Learning & Impact teams, she participates in the development of programming priorities, reviews and recommends proposals for funding, manages and monitors a portfolio of active grants, and designs and implements national grants initiatives and multi-year projects. Previously as deputy director, Luz supported the vice president – program strategy for five years, providing overall coordination of the teams’ programming efforts in support of the foundation’s mission. She was responsible for grantmaking management and administration, and assisted the vice president in day-to-day management and oversight of the teams’ human, technical and financial resources. Before taking on the role as deputy director, Benitez Delgado supported the Latin America and Caribbean team at the foundation for eight years as the operations management liaison for its seven Latin American and Caribbean offices.

Martha McCoy – President of the Board, Paul J. Aicher Foundation & Executive Director, Everyday Democracy (Hartford, Connecticut) 

Martha McCoy has made important contributions to the fields of deliberative democracy, community problem solving, and racial justice. Under McCoy’s leadership, Everyday Democracy has become respected as a national organization that excels in helping local communities build their own capacity to organize large-scale, diverse dialogue for problem solving. Under her direction, Everyday Democracy is at the leading edge of connecting public dialogue to collective action and democratic governance, and of keeping race and inclusion at the forefront of practices to strengthen democracy. In 2004, McCoy was named president of the The Paul J. Aicher Foundation. She also serves on the advisory committee of the Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity.

Denise Porche, Executive Director, the Island Foundation (New Bedford, Massachusetts)

Denise Porche has held leadership roles in community activism, social service provision and community-based philanthropy for over three decades. Currently, Ms. Porche is executive director of the Island Foundation, which Ms. Porche has led since 2009. (The Island Foundation, founded in 1979 by W. Van Alan Clark, Jr. and Mary H. Clark, concentrates its funding on the South Coast of Massachusetts.) Prior to her leadership role at the Island Foundation, Ms. Porche, a licensed social worker, was Senior Program Coordinator for Catholic Charities in New Bedford. Ms. Porche is a member of the New Bedford Education Roundtable, the Executive Committee for the New Bedford Homeless Service Provider Network and the Community Advisory Board for the Leduc Center for Community Engagement.

Andrew Grant Thomas - Senior Consultant, The Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society and co-director, Embrace Race. Formerly Director of Programs, the Proteus Fund. (Amherst, Massachusetts)

Andrew Grant-Thomas has worked on a wide range of social justice issues including race and redistricting; money in politics; civil liberties, human rights, and national security policy; death penalty abolition; and social equity in philanthropy.  Prior to his position at Proteus, Mr. Thomas was Deputy Director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at the Ohio State University, where he oversaw much of the Institute’s US-based and global justice programming, directed its biannual Transforming Race conference, and served as Editor-in-Chief of its journal, Race/Ethnicity: Multidisciplinary Global Contexts

Lori Villarosa, Executive Director, The Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity (PRE) (Washington, DC)

Lori Villarosa has worked within the field of philanthropy for more than 20 years. Prior to launching PRE, Lori was a program officer with the C. S. Mott Foundation, where she worked closely with numerous organizations operating at local, regional, national and international levels from a diverse range of approaches. She began working at Mott in 1991 and was instrumental in developing the Foundation's U.S. Race Relations grantmaking portfolio, focusing on addressing institutional racism and building appreciation of racial and ethnic diversity. Until her departure in 2002, she was responsible for ongoing strategic planning, program development and evaluation of more than $24 million in new grants. Her portfolio covered a broad spectrum of community-based, academic, advocacy and research efforts at a time when a number of new approaches were emerging due to the changing demographics and post-Civil Rights Movement redefining of racial equity work.

Sara Whitman – Executive Director, The Wild Geese Foundation (Boston, Massachusetts)

Sara Whitman’s work with foundations spans two decades and includes widely recognized accomplishments in the areas of public education, early childhood, and LGBT civil rights. Prior to her work with the Wild Geese Foundation, Sara served on the boards of Mass Equality and The Schott Foundation for Public Education. She has been a leader in foundation investments, development and racial justice committees. She also has experience with shareholder activism and socially responsible investing. Sara has written widely about LGBT rights, and her personal— experiences as a divorced lesbian mom of three sons. Sara is has been an assistant professor at Berklee College of Music, where she taught writing and communication classes. An avid photographer, Sara’s work has appeared in 2013, Searching for Red, Montana Artist Refuge, Basin, MT, curated by Bentley Spang and Mary Ellen Strom, and 2014, Drawn to Water, Guest Juror,  Elizabeth Devlin, Boston, MA.

Knowledge Advancing Social Justice

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