Newsmakers for November 2011


Milwaukee-based Families Inter­national, which operates the major trade group Alliance for Children and Families, paused last month to remember its longtime leader, and then used its annual conference to reassure members with the introduc­tion of a high-pro­file successor.

Veteran child welfare director Susan Dreyfus will be the new CEO of Milwau­kee-based Fami­lies Internation­al, whose longtime leader Peter Goldberg died of a heart attack in August.

Families International is the par­ent organization for the Alliance, which is one of the largest member­ship organizations in the country for youth-serving nonprofits. It also op­erates United Neighborhood Centers of America, FEI Behavioral Health, and Ways to Work, which provides loans to credit-challenged poor fam­ilies through members of the Alli­ance.

Dreyfus, who is the secretary of the Washington Department of So­cial and Health Services for Gov. Chris Gregoire (D), will remain in her position until January.

Dreyfus served as Goldberg’s chief operating officer for five years between 2002 and 2007. She led the Wisconsin Division of Children and Families from 1996 until her first job with Families International.

The hire gives the organization a high-profile leader who has a deep working knowledge of its day-to­day functions, just months after los­ing Goldberg, one of the most iconic leaders in youth work.

“This is the exact right fit at the right time for this group of organiza­tions,” said Richard Cohen, chair­man of the Families International board. “I fully expect her to hit the ground running.”

Goldberg “was a dear friend and mentor,” Dreyfus said in a state­ment. “I am a better leader because of Peter, and I feel I am ready to take on this position because of him and the work I have done in Washington state with Governor Gregoire.”

Dreyfus was formally introduced in person in October during the Al­liance’s national conference. The night before the conference, the or­ganization held a memorial service for Goldberg, its CEO of 17 years, who died of a heart attack while hik­ing in Maine.

Dreyfus said she could only hope to meet and exceed Goldberg’s expec­tations of her. Fighting back tears, she told the crowd that Goldberg’s daughter, Jessica, had written her an e-mail encouraging her not to base her decisions on what Goldberg would have wanted.

Susan Dreyfus

“She said her father was not big on following other people’s legacies,” Dreyfus told the audience.

Dreyfus said she intended to use the Alliance’s newly released report as a “roadmap” for her initial work at the organization. She will take the reins in January after leading Wash­ington DSHS during a special ses­sion of the state legislature in which the agency’s fiscal future will be dis­cussed.

“I will love my work, and I am proud to serve and represent you,” she said. Contact: (414) 359-1040,

Marguerite Kondracke, CEO of America’s Promise Alliance, an­nounced in September that she plans to retire, and the organization has begun a search to replace her. Kond­racke has headed the 14-year-old or­ganization since 2004.

Kondracke said she would remain in her position until a replacement is named, and after retirement will re­main on the group’s board and as a senior adviser.

Before joining America’s Promise, Kondracke served as commissioner of human services for then-Gov. La­mar Alexander (R-Tenn.). She later followed Alexander to the U.S. Sen­ate, serving as staff director for the

U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Chil­dren and Families.

The executive recruitment firm Korn/Ferry has been retained to help conduct the search for a replace­ment. Alma Powell, chairwoman of America’s Promise’s board, said Bri­an Gallagher of the United Way Worldwide, will chair the search committee.

The alliance recently received a $3 million grant from Target to sup­port its Grad Nation Campaign. Contact: (202) 657-0600, www.ameri­

Sally Prouty, who had headed the Corps Network since 2002, stepped down as president in September. In an e-mail to colleagues, Prouty said she did not have any plans, other than to spend time with her family.

Established in 1985, The Corps Network is the voice of the nation’s 158 Service and Conservation Corps. Operating in 44 states and the Dis­trict of Columbia, the network annu­ally enrolls more than 33,000 young men and women in service. Today’s Corps, inheritors of the legacy of former President Franklin Roos­evelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps, enable members to improve commu­nities and the environment through programs that include Civic Justice Corps, Public Lands Corps, Clean Energy Service Corps, and Corps Re­spond.

The network most recently was in the news for having a $10 million grant withdrawn by the U.S. Labor Department after a losing applicant questioned the procedure that led to its award and another award to YouthBuild.

Before being named to head the Corps Network, Prouty spent four years as deputy director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and seven years as director of the Ohio Civilian Conservation Corps, which operated two residential and six nonresidential programs.

Rob Spath, former executive di­rector of the Washington Conserva­tion Corps, has been named interim CEO. Contact: (202) 737-6272, www.

Harrisburg, Pa.-based Youth Ad­vocate Programs (YAP), which oper­ates community-based services for juveniles and at-risk youth in 25 cit­ies, has added one key staff member and promoted another.

Kathy Geller Myers will be direc­tor of marketing and media relations for the organization, which is head­ed by Jeff Fleischer. Prior to join­ing YAP, she spent six years as com­munications director of PA Partner­ships for Children, where her com­munications strategies focused on expansion of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), passage of the Children in Foster Care Act and creation of Pre-K Counts, a pub­lic funding stream for pre-kindergar­ten in Pennsylvania.

Before that, Myers worked for the Philadelphia-based public re­lations firm Neiman Group, where her clients included the Pew Char­itable Trusts, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Edison Schools.

YAP tapped its Chicago jack-of-all­trades, Shaena Fazal, to be the or­ganization’s first D.C.-based director of policy. Fazal is the policy coordi­nator for YAP-Chicago, and also pro­vides legal assistance to the youth served by its programs. Prior to join­ing YAP, Fazal directed the Long-Term Prisoner Project for the Chica­go-based John Howard Association from 2005 to 2010.

YAP also added Randolph Stone to its board of directors. Stone di­rects the Criminal and Juvenile Jus­tice Project at the University of Chi­cago Law School, which is designed to provide law and social work stu­dents with the opportunity to repre­sent children accused of crime and delinquency. Before moving to aca­demia, he was the public defender for Cook County. Contact: (717) 232­7580,

Professor Asher Ben-Arieh, an international expert on social in­dicators as they relate to child wel­fare, has formally been appointed di­rector of the Haruv Institute in Is­rael. The institute was established by the Schusterman Foundation, in part to foster international dialogue on child welfare practices and strat­egies.

Ben-Arieh, who is also a social work faculty member at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, will be re­placing Professor Hillel Schmid, who has held the position since 2008 and will be leaving for a sabbatical at Columbia University in New York. Contact:

Pressley Ridge named two new board members in October: Brian Bronaugh, president of Mullen Ad­vertising, and Linda Fisher, a mem­ber of a philanthropic family in the Pittsburgh area that gave $1 million to Pressley Ridge in 2007. Pressley Ridge is a Pittsburgh-based nonprof­it with a $70.7 million budget that provides juvenile justice and child welfare services for children in six states and Washington, D.C.

Mike Harter was named chair­man of the board of directors at Pressley Ridge, succeeding John Culbertson. Contact: (412) 872-9400,

The Independent Sector elect­ed three new board members last month: Barbara Arnwine, execu­tive director of the Lawyers’ Com­mittee for Civil Rights Under Law; Steven McCormick, president of the Gordon and Betty Moore Founda­tion; and Neil Nicoll, CEO of Chica­go-based The Y (formerly YMCA of the USA).

Stepping down from the board were two notable West Coast lead­ers in youth-related philanthropy: Luz Vega-Marquis, president and CEO of the Seattle-based Marguerite Casey Foundation, and Gary Yates, who is set to retire soon as CEO of The California Wellness Foundation in Woodland Hills.

The D.C.-based Independent Sec­tor represents and advocates for 600 nonprofits, foundations, and corpo­rate philanthropy programs. Con­tact: (202) 467-6100, www.indepen­


Dr. Diana M. Bontá has been ap­pointed CEO of The California Well­ness Foundation and will succeed Gary Yates in January. Yates, who has led the Woodland Hills-based grant maker since 1995, announced in December 2010 that he would leave this year.

TCWF lists eight priorities for fund­ing: diversity in the health professions, environmental health, healthy aging, mental health, teenage pregnancy pre­vention, violence prevention, women’s health, and work and health.

Bontá, a nurse with a doctorate 

in public health, is vice president of public affairs for Kaiser Perma­nente’s Southern California Region, where she has been since October 2004. Contact: (818) 702-1900, www.

The San Francisco-based Rosen­berg Foundation, a 76-year-old grant maker established to ensure fair and equitable opportunities in Califor­nia, has named Lateefah Simon as director of the foundation’s Califor­nia’s Future initiative, a strategic ef­fort to change the odds for women and children in the state.

As part of the project, Rosen­berg will partner with nonprofit Futures Without Violence to pre­vent children’s exposure to vio­lence and trauma, and create a net­work of services for child victims.

During high school, Simon got her start in the employment world by working at Taco Bell, and then caught on as a street outreach work­er for the Center for Young Wom­en’s Development in San Francisco. In 1997, when she was just 19, CYWD hired her to replace its founding ex­ecutive director, Rachel Pfeffer.

Six years later, as she transitioned out of CYWD to make room for a new young leader, Marlene Sanchez, Si­mon was given the MacArthur “Ge­nius” Fellowship, an honor that comes with $500,000, with no restrictions.

Simon most recently served as the executive director of the Law­yers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area. Prior to joining the Lawyers’ Committee, Si­mon led the creation of the re-entry services division at the San Francis­co District Attorney’s Office.

Lateefah Simon

“We are delighted to have a civil rights activist of Lateefah’s caliber and experience on board to move this ini­tiative forward,” said Rosenberg Pres­ident Timothy Silard. Contact: (415) 644-9777,


The nomination of Wendy Spen­cer, a longtime Republican and head of Volunteer Florida, which serves as the state’s commission for Ameri-Corps, to be CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Ser­vice was sent to the Senate in October for confirmation.

Spencer, who has worked on Capitol Hill, has headed Volunteer Florida since 2003, has served un­der three Republi­can governors and was a member of President George W. Bush’s Presi­dent’s Council of Service and Civic Participation.

Her nomination comes as Republican members of Congress, especially House members, are working to shut down CNCS and its AmeriCorps program.

Spencer would replace acting CEO Robert Velasco, CNCS’ operating of­ficer, who took over in April after Pat­rick Corvington resigned abruptly after just 15 months in the job.

Although President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama often hail the work of CNCS volunteers, especially members of AmeriCorps – and worked earlier this year to protect the agency’s fund­ing in the face of attempts by Repub­licans to kill the program – the pres­ident’s history with appointments at the agency has been troubled.

The first person slated to be nom­inated, Nike Vice President Maria Eitel, withdrew from consideration for personal reasons, and her nomi­nation was never sent to the Senate.

Wendy Spencer Corvington, who previously had worked as a senior associate of the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation, never found widespread acceptance with the CNCS rank and file. His resignation was widely re­garded with relief among those in the agency and grantees.

In contrast, Spencer’s selection brought high public praise from some of AmeriCorps’ major play­ers, including Michael Brown, head of the Boston-based City Year; An­nMaura Connolly, a City Year ex­ecutive who heads the Save Service in America organization that has led the battle to preserve AmeriCorps funding; and Michelle Nunn, head of the Points of Light Institute, the successor organization to the non­profit spawned by George H.W. Bush’s “Points of Light.”

Spencer, whose organization ap­proves grants to and oversees Amer­iCorps activities in Florida, has worked closely with City Year and its efforts to help improve attendance and reduce the number of drop­outs in the Miami schools, work that school Superintendent Alberto Car­valho has also praised.

Brown called Spencer a “powerful voice for the millions of Americans who want to serve their communi­ties.” The sentiment was echoed by Connolly, who has been the prime or­ganizer of a nationwide campaign to educate senators and representa­tives about the projects that Ameri-Corps volunteers are doing in their own communities.

Connolly noted that under Spen­cer’s leadership, more than 250,000 volunteers were coordinated by Volunteer Florida during the bru­tal 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons in the state. At that time, it was the largest mobilization of volunteers in the history of U.S. natural disasters, Connolly said.

Although Spencer’s confirmation may not be controversial, almost all nominations have been backed up for months in the Senate. Velasco plans to return to his old job when Spencer is confirmed. Contact: (202) 606-5000,

Leon Rodriguez has been ap­pointed director of the Office for Civ­il Rights for U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebel­ius. Rodriguez most recently served as chief of staff and deputy assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. Con­tact: (202) 690-6343,

Passages Peter Benson, 65, long-time CEO of the Minneapolis-based Search Institute. Under Ben-son, Search Institute emerged as a major research and assis­tance entity for programs work­ing to make positive youth de­velopment the focus of their work. The Institute is perhaps best known for its promotion of “developmental assets,” a list of 40 assets that programs should strive to instill in youth. Over time, Search developed separate asset lists for four age ranges: 3 to 5, 5 to 9, 8 to 12 and 12 to 18.


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