Newsmakers for April 2009

Print More


Former attorney general Alberto Gonzales may be having a hard time finding a job (according to The New York Times), but not all Bush 43 alumni are having such trouble. MENTOR, a national mentoring advocacy organization, has tapped Dan Schneider to be its new chief executive officer.

Schneider, who got his start in Washington as chief of staff for former Rep. James Ryun (R-Kan.), had been acting assistant secretary of the Administration for Children and Families since Wade Horn left the Health and Human Services agency in April 2007. He spent two years before that as Horn’s principal deputy assistant secretary.

“Great guy,” said Schneider’s former ACF colleague, Harry Wilson, now a consultant for ICF International. “He’s a great manager, too. I think that’s kind of what we need to get mentoring to the next phase.”

Schneider is credited with leading the effort to match 100,000 children with mentors through the agency’s Mentoring Children of Prisoners initiative, for which MENTOR certifies mentoring groups to receive vouchers.

“It was pretty broken when he showed up,” Wilson said of the initiative. “He tracked everything, kept it on keel.”

Schneider also used about $5 million of Head Start funds to establish the National Center for Physical Development and Outdoor Play, which strives to reduce childhood obesity. The American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, a Reston, Va.-based nonprofit, won the contract to serve as that center.

Schneider will have his hands full as he inherits his new position, which was filled for eight months through an interim arrangement by board member Marian Heard, former CEO of the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, and before that for about 14 years by Gail Manza. Manza is now retired, along with her husband, former CEO (and ex-con) Bill Aramony of the United Way of America.

MENTOR has some exciting new projects, such as an online community forum for mentoring programs it launched and a pilot project with the FBI that allows mentoring programs to access FBI background checks cheaply and quickly.

But it has struggled to maintain its network of state partnerships; there were 22 in 20 states last year, compared with 32 in 25 states in 2006. And it has been operating at a deficit, dipping into its endowment for operating funds. The organization has also laid off 10 staff members this year.

MENTOR also has a new board chairman: Willem Kooyker, CEO of Blenheim Capital Management, takes over for MENTOR founder Geoffrey Boisi. Contact: (703) 224-2200,

Carolyn Spaht was hired to be Alexandria, Va.-based Communities in Schools’ (CIS) first executive vice president of the CIS national network. Her task is to coordinate and oversee two major components of CIS: the field operations department, headed by Vice President Louise Reaves, and the research, evaluation and learning management department led by Susan Siegel.

Spaht comes to the banks of the Potomac from Miami, where she was No. 2 for Miami-Dade school Superintendent Rudy Crew.

Communities in Schools Founder Bill Milliken has been chosen to receive a 2009 National Jefferson Award from the American Institute for Public Service in the category Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged.

Milliken launched the Communities in Schools program in Atlanta in 1977 as a way to help high school students graduate. It has become the largest dropout prevention program in the country, serving 1.2 million students annually through mentoring, community centers and social support. His book, The Last Dropout, was reviewed in the December/January issue of Youth Today.

Milliken will be honored at the Jefferson Awards Annual Gala Dinner and National Ceremony on June 16. Contact: (800) 247-4543,

Two major changes are afoot at Philadelphia-based Public/Private Ventures, which helps develop, research and reproduce effective programs for low-income families and children.

President Fred Davie will leave the research organization, effective April 30, with Executive Vice President Geri Summerville serving as interim president during a national search for Davie’s successor.

Davie will become senior executive for the D.C.-based Arcus Foundation (assets: $142 million), which focuses on two widely differing topics: LGBT advocacy and the protection of apes. Davie will operate out of the New York office. (Arcus has another office in Kalamazoo, Mich.)

Davie said he will keep a commitment he made at P/PV; he will serve on the White House Policy Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, created to assist President Barack Obama’s faith-based director, Josh DuBois.

Joining the P/PV staff is youth research expert Jeff Butts, its new executive vice president of research. Earlier this month, Butts left his post as a research fellow at Chapin Hall, where he had been since 2005.

Butts says he’ll operate out of the Philadelphia headquarters but will also spend a lot of time at P/PV’s New York and Oakland offices. Before joining Chapin Hall, Butts spent eight years at the Washington, D.C.-based Urban Institute (as senior research associate) and the six years before that with the National Center for Juvenile Justice in Pittsburgh. Contact: (215) 557-4400,

Human Rights Watch advocate Jo Becker has relocated to Washington, D.C., to serve as acting deputy director for Washington advocacy. Becker spent the last 10 years as the advocacy director for the organization’s children’s rights division in New York. Her purview there included Human Rights Watch’s global advocacy strategy on issues including child labor, juvenile justice and the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Becker is the founding chairwoman of the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, which campaigned successfully for an international treaty banning the forced recruitment of children under age 18 and their use in armed conflict.

She will spend at least six months in the office as the organization decides on a replacement for Mike Tan, the previous deputy director, according to Washington office Director Tom Malinowsky. It is possible that Becker will take the job permanently. Contact: (212) 290-4700,

America’s Promise Alliance linked itself more closely to the U.S. Department of Education last month when it hired Carmita Vaughan to be its chief strategy officer. Vaughan goes to the Washington, D.C.-based organization from the Chicago Public Schools system, where she served as chief of staff of the Office of High Schools and High School Programs.

As chief strategy officer, Vaughan will spearhead the Dropout Prevention Summits, the Alliance’s newest initiative, which brings together state and local policymakers from across the country.

Vaughan has close ties to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, whom she worked with closely when he served as CEO of Chicago Public Schools.

Gen. Colin Powell founded America’s Promise Alliance in 1997. Contact: (202) 657-0600,

Lesia Bates Moss, a real estate finance expert, is the new president of Seedco Financial, the arm of national nonprofit Seedco that provides financing and technical assistance to nonprofit organizations in low-income communities.

Moss has been a strategic and financial planning consultant, and before that served as vice president of counterparty risk management in Fannie Mae’s Single-Family Mortgage Business. (212) 204-1300,

Lorrie Henderson is the new chief clinical officer at Villanova, Pa.-based Devereux, which provides behavioral health services to about 15,000 children annually at its 15 centers in 11 states.

Before joining Devereux, Henderson served as the acting president, CEO and executive vice president of KidsPeace, the Bethlehem, Pa.-based nonprofit that provides therapy, treatment and foster care to families in crisis.

KidsPeace hired William Isemann, former CEO of Danville Regional Health System, as its new CEO in September. Contact: (610) 520-3000,

Kenneth Holdsman, who was a senior program officer at the Academy for Educational Development (AED) for six years, is the new president of Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education, a Philadelphia-based tennis and academic enrichment organization.

Holdsman is a former director of service-learning for the Philadelphia public schools and has long been involved in the city’s youth sports. At AED, Holdsman was the national director of the W.K. Kellogg Youth Innovation Fund. He has also served as legislative director for Rep. Robert E. Andrews (D-N.J.). Contact: (215) 487-3477,

Gwen Foster has joined the California Social Work Education Center (CalSWEC) in the newly created position of director of mental health and training.

CalSWEC is a consortium of California graduate schools and government agencies that is based at the University of California-Berkeley. Foster will oversee a program that provides stipends and training to graduate students who are planning to enter the mental health field.

Foster goes to CalSWEC from the California Endowment, where she served for eight years as a senior program officer and ran the mental health program. A former clinical social worker, Foster has also worked as a program officer at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Zellerbach Family Foundation. Contact: (510) 642-9272,


The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (assets: $7 billion) announced that Georgetown Dean Robert Gallucci will succeed MacArthur President Jonathan Fanton in July.

Robert Gallucci

Gallucci, the dean of Georgetown’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, will be the Chicago-based foundation’s first chief who is not a former university or college president. He does, however, have extensive government experience, including serving as assistant secretary of state for political and military affairs under President Bill Clinton.

Fanton, the former president of New York City’s New School for Social Research, has led the foundation for the past 10 years. MacArthur has committed $100 million to its Models for Change initiative, which aims to assist juvenile justice reform in four states and help other states replicate their success. Contact: (312) 726-8000,

The Baltimore branch of the Open Society Institute has hired Tricia Rubacky to be its development director. Rubacky is a former development director at Baltimore-based Advocates for Children and Youth, a public policy and lobbying organization.

She has spent 32 years in the nonprofit field as a financial coordinator and fundraiser. At OSI-Baltimore, she is coordinating an ongoing fundraising campaign. Contact: (410) 234-1091,

The New York City-based MetLife Foundation, the philanthropic arm of insurance provider MetLife, has named Dennis White to be CEO. White, who has worked for MetLife for the past 20 years, heads social investments for MetLife corporate and will continue in that role as well.

In 2008, MetLife and its foundation made a combined $43 million in donations and $188 million in loans and community investments. Contact: (212) 578-9561,

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Mich., has named Joanne Krell vice president of communications.

Kellogg is in the process of refocusing its grant making (see “A Foundation Changes Course,” October), a huge undertaking for any foundation. But crafting the message on that and all other things Kellogg should be a cruise down easy street, compared with Krell’s old assignment. She was the spokeswoman for Detroit-based General Motors Corp., where she spent the past 12 years, and in the past year and change was fielding questions about the auto manufacturer’s financial health and government bailout. Contact: (269) 968-1611,

Robert Struyk was unanimously elected chairman of the Minneapolis-based McKnight Foundation board of directors.

Robert Struyk

Struyk, a senior vice president at Dorsey & Whitney Trust Co., replaces Erika Binger, whose term expired in January. He previously served on the board from 1996 to 1999 and becomes the first non-family member to lead the nonprofit since it was founded in 1953.

The McKnight Foundation, with assets of about $1.6 billion, made $99 million in grants in 2008 to community projects in Minnesota. Contact: (612) 333-4220,

Pier Hickman Blake is the new executive director and chief development officer of D.C.-based Jack and Jill of America Foundation. Hickman Blake joins the foundation from the American Red Cross, where she served as national manager for events and conferences. She also worked previously as a fundraiser at the United Negro College Fund.

Jack and Jill is an African-American organization that provides funding to programs that encourage youth leadership. Hickman Blake inherits the type of tough situation facing scores of nonprofits: Jack and Jill spent about $350,000 more than it took in, according to its 2008 tax filing, largely due to losses on investments. It does carry about $3 million in assets. Contact: (202) 232-5290,


Jerry Stermer, the founder and longtime head of Voices for Illinois Children, is the new chief of staff for Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D).

Jerry Stermer

Stermer founded Voices for Children in 1987 and served as president of the organization until joining Quinn’s staff in February. Under Stermer, Voices for Illinois Children was influential in creating and developing state programs for early childhood education and low-income families.

Former Voices for Illinois Children Vice President Gaylord Gieseke replaces Stermer as interim president of the organization.

Gieseke, a 21-year veteran at the agency, has worked extensively on policy analysis and development. She is the co-author of the Healthy Families Illinois initiative and sits on the board of numerous statewide advisory groups. Contact: (217) 782-0244,; Voices (312) 456-0600,