Newsmakers for December 2008-January 2009

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The Atlantic Philanthropies (assets: $3.3 billion) has hired Donna Lawrence to oversee its disadvantaged children and youth program, which last year made 50 grants totaling $107 million to programs in the United States, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Bermuda.

She leaves her post as executive director of the New York-based Riggio Foundation, which was started in 1994 by Barnes and Noble Founder Leonard Riggio and holds assets of around $78 million. Its largest youth-related grantee over the years has been the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF).

Before joining Riggio, Lawrence was executive director of the Susan Komen Breast Cancer Foundation’s New York office.

Her early career stops were more relevant to youth. Until 1995, Lawrence was executive director of Family Dynamics, a New York City-based social service and family support agency serving about 9,000 families annually, with a $2.5 million budget and a 75-member staff. That agency merged with SCO Family Services in 1997.

Lawrence left Family Dynamics in 1995 to become director of the Children’s Defense Fund’s New York state office, then served as the organization’s national vice president of field operations. She was former New York Mayor David Dinkins’ senior adviser on children and youth when he was Manhattan borough president, then served as director of the city’s office of children and youth when Dinkins became mayor.

Lawrence also sits on New York City’s child fatality review team.

Contact: (202) 842-9202,

Kim Brien

A correction to a Newsmakers entry from last month: When Newsmakers mentioned that Texas Gov. Rick Perry had removed the Texas Youth Commission (TYC) from conservatorship, we assumed that Conservator Richard Nedelkoff was returning full-time to his post as chief operating officer of Eckerd Youth Alternatives. That’s because Nedelkoff had entered the TYC job without leaving his job with Eckerd, a multiservice agency based in Clearwater, Fla., with programs in nine states.

Turns out, Nedelkoff and Eckerd decided that the COO position could not be handled in absentia. In July, Eckerd hired Kimberly Brien to do that job.

Brien has more than 25 years of experience in the child welfare field and was once the senior program manager at Child Services in Orange County’s Department of Human Services. For the past six years, Brien served as vice president of operations for Children’s Home Society of Florida. Contact: (727) 461-2990,

The news from the National Center for Youth Law – an Oakland, Calif.-based group headed by John O’Toole that litigates on behalf of poor and disadvantaged youth – includes new faces, tearful goodbyes and world championships.

Long-time Development Director Dan DeVries, who joined the center 15 years ago, moved across the bay to become development and communications director for the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at the Hastings College of Law in San Francisco. Also departing is Molly Dunn, who for the past year has specialized in foster youth education and assisted senior attorney Pat Arthur on juvenile justice issues. Dunn will be an associate clinical professor of law at the Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.

Jora Trang

Joining the center is Jora Trang, a self-employed attorney in Oakland, who will assist the center pro bono with Clark K. v. Willden, a case that seeks to reform the foster care system in Clark County (Las Vegas), Nevada. Trang was the program director for East Bay Mentors in Parole, which sought to reduce recidivism by pairing lawyer-mentors with youth who were paroled from the California Youth Authority.

And finally, kudos to center staff attorney Bryn Martyna, whose Bay Area ultimate Frisbee team, the Fury, won the world championship held in Vancouver this summer. Martyna scored twice in the 13-10 win over Japan in the title match. Contact: (510) 835-8098,

Thomas Atwood resigned in early November as CEO of the Alexandria, Va.-based National Council for Adoption. The 28-year-old nonprofit advocates on behalf of adoption and child welfare organizations around the country, and produces data and information on adoption.

Atwood, who has led the council for six years, said only that he intends to pursue other professional opportunities. Taking over as interim boss will be Chief Operating Officer Chuck Johnson, while the board conducts a national search. Contact: (703) 299-6633,

Nancy Loving is the YWCA USA’s new director of communications and marketing. Loving previously served as executive director of WomenHeart: the National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease, and before that as president of Lomax, Loving & Lee LLC, a public relations firm she helped found. She has also worked for several presidential campaigns and provided media training and strategic communications expertise to state and local political campaigns. Contact: (202) 467-0801,

Richard Greif is the new executive director of Boston-based Everybody Wins! USA, which conducts literacy and mentoring programs for low-income elementary school students by bringing volunteers into the classroom.

Greif has been a board member of Everybody Wins! Metro Boston for three years and is the author of Big Impact: Big Brothers Making A Difference. Contact: (617) 517-9747,

Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) is shaking up its upper management structure as Glenn Permuy, its longtime senior vice president for service to clubs, eases into retirement over the next year. Permuy, who essentially serves as CEO Roxanne Spillett’s No. 2 at the Atlanta headquarters, will transition in July to a part-time position overseeing special initiatives.

With Permuy taking on a lesser role, the changes appear to reduce the number of people who answer directly to Spillet.

Kirk Dominick

Permuy’s responsibilities will be handed to Kirk Dominick, who becomes executive vice president of club services. Dominick has a well-rounded view of the BGCA world: He was an executive for the BGCA in Greenville, N.C., was the national office’s director of services for the Southeast region, and has worked on the government relations staff, where he spearheaded a team of state alliance directors.

BGCA is also folding two operations into one executive silo: resource development, with marketing and communications. Cyndi Court, who is the senior vice president of resource development, becomes an executive vice president in charge of both operations. Evan McElroy, who has been the top person on marketing, will report to Court. Contact: (404) 487-5700,

The economy has taken a prominent victim in youth work, as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Colorado was forced to eliminate the job of Chief Operating Officer Denis Murstein just five months after hiring him.

Murstein was executive director of the Chicago-based Youth Network Council/Illinois Collaboration on Youth, which among other things serves as the U.S. Administration on Children and Families’ Region V technical assistance and training provider for runaway and homeless youth grantees.

Murstein left the council after 25 years to move to Denver and be closer to his family. BBBS Colorado brought him on in June to assist with ambitions of expansion. Economic conditions have put any expansion on hold.

Murstein, ever the gentlemen, held no grudge and thanked CEO Dave DeForest-Stalls in a notice to colleagues.

“I know this goes without saying, but these challenging times – more than ever – will require each of us to re-commit to service,” Murstein wrote. “Regardless of the ebb and flow of forces seemingly beyond our control, our young people will continue to deserve nothing less.”

Murstein will leave the staff on Dec. 15. Contact: (303) 433-6002,



The National Guard Youth Foundation has named James Tinkham to be its new executive director. Tinkham was chief of athletics and youth development at the National Guard Bureau in Arlington, Va.

The foundation was created to support the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe, an intervention program for at-risk youth. It does not receive funding from the National Guard. Past grantees of the foundation include Fox Valley Technical College, Children and Family Services of Western Michigan and the Montana Youth Challenge Foundation. Contact: (703) 684-5437,

Kara Carlisle

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation announced the selection of three new program directors. Kara Carlisle and Lisa Flick Wilson will serve in the foundation’s Civic and Philanthropic Engagement division, and Marjorie Sims will serve in Family Income and Assets.

Carlisle was associate program director at Zocalo Public Square Lecture Series in Los Angeles, and holds her bachelor’s degree in religious studies, political science and philosophy from Anderson University in Anderson, Ind.

Marjorie Sims

Wilson was vice president of affiliate affairs at HandsOn Network in Atlanta, and earned her bachelor’s degree in anthropology and psychology from Emory University in Atlanta.

Sims was the chief operating officer at the Washington Area Women’s Foundation, and earned her master’s degree in governmental policy from California State University. Contact: (269) 968-1611,

The Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE) has chosen Susan Taylor Batten as its new president. Batten has more than 20 years of experience in philanthropy and public service, including stints as a senior associate for the Annie E. Casey Foundation and as vice president at the Center for Assessment and Policy Development. She was in the inaugural class of ABFE Connecting Leaders Fellows, which trains and improves the skills of philanthropists and service workers for the black community. Contact: (646) 230-0306,



With discussion about possible secretaries of state and defense dominating headlines, President-elect Barack Obama’s first Cabinet choices took on a domestic focus. Word at press time was that Obama intended to nominate Covington and Burling law firm partner Eric Holder as his attorney general, in charge of the Department of Justice (DOJ), and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) to be secretary of Health and Human Services.

It is the third go-round at DOJ for Holder, who, if confirmed, will be the nation’s first black attorney general. He was confirmed in 1997 as deputy attorney general under Attorney General Janet Reno. Before that, he had served as a U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, a federal judge for the D.C. Superior Court, and a prosecutor investigating political corruption for DOJ.

The next attorney general inherits a department that has weathered a heavy load of criticism under President George W. Bush. Congress has been investigating what many see as highly politicized hiring and firing procedures at DOJ. And when it comes to youth, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) has come under fire for questionable grant making practices during the tenure of Administrator J. Robert Flores. (For complete coverage, see “Special Report: OJJDP Grant Making Scandal” at

Daschle, one of Obama’s closest advisers throughout the presidential campaign, would run point on any health care proposals the White House develops. That includes what many believe will be a reauthorization of SCHIP (State Children’s Health Insurance Plans) that allows states to dramatically expand their universe of coverage under the children’s health program.

At least one knowledgeable youth work professional has Daschle’s ear: His brother, Steve Daschle, is the executive director of Seattle nonprofit Southwest Youth and Family Services.

For more on Holder’s public statements on juvenile justice issues, visit

Another safe bet for an Obama nomination appears to be Congressional Budget Office Director Peter Orszag, an economist who, according to media reports, Obama intends to nominate to head the Office of Management and Budget. Orzsag is much more known for his work on behalf of the nation’s elders, although fixing Social Security is ultimately more for the younger generations. But at the Congressional Budget Office, Orzsag has been perhaps the most credible voice in pushing to rescind the Bush administration’s directive to inhibit growth in SCHIP.