Staff and Board

Staff

Eric Braxton

Executive Co-Director

Eric Braxton is the Executive Director of the Funders’ Collaborative on Youth Organizing. Eric’s involvement in youth organizing began at the age of 19 when he helped found the Philadelphia Student Union and served as its Executive Director for ten years.  The Student Union continues to be a leader in organizing public high school students to transform their schools.  At FCYO, Eric has been instrumental to incubating new funding initiatives to support grassroots community-led organizing, including FCYO’s Healthy Communities initiative, which supports youth organizing groups addressing the root causes of childhood obesity.  He has supported numerous foundations in developing youth organizing programs that align with foundation goals.  Eric is a father, and, in addition to being with his family, enjoys basketball and gardening.

Mónica Córdova

Executive Co-Director

Mónica Córdova is a native New Mexican who developed her leadership from a very early age through youth organizing programs that utilized social justice and empowerment approaches. In 2005, she became the youth organizer at the SouthWest Organizing Project (SWOP), a local community-based grassroots organization in Albuquerque, NM. There she developed innovative youth rights campaigns that focused on building the leadership of SWOP’s youth members and in 2008 went on to become a Co-Director at SWOP. Mónica brought her many years of experience in youth and multigenerational organizing, building networks, community and civic engagement organizing to the national level at Funders Collaborative on Youth Organizing (FCYO) team as a Program Director in 2014 to lead Healthy Communities: Youth for Healthy Schools and became Deputy Director in 2017. Mónica values the critical role FCYO plays to resources and uplift the work led by youth of color that sits at the interstation of racial and educational justice, healthy equity and building power.  She also stays connected to local efforts in New Mexico as the President of the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center Board of Directors.

Luis Gauthier

Financial and Operations Manager

Luis T. Gauthier is a Philadelphia-based accountant, finance and operations guru. He began his career as an accountant with the City of Philadelphia and then moved on to work with several non-profit organizations in accounting and financial management roles. Luis worked with the Philadelphia Student Union for over 8 years, serving as Director of Finance and Operations. Luis also worked with Media Mobilizing Project as their in-house Accountant. Working for Media Mobilizing Project provided Luis with experience accounting for government grants, in particular a federal grant covering both the BTOP program and Public Computer Centers project, initiated in Philadelphia. Luis completed his undergraduate studies at Temple University’s Fox School of Business earning a cum laude designation. He is a proud father of two little boys and continues to advocate for education equality and the abolishment of poverty. He takes great pride in assisting organizations with missions aimed at bettering our communities along with the lives of those that live in it.

Kandice Head

Communications Manager

As the Communications Manager of The Funders’ Collaborative on Youth Organizing, Kandice leads FCYO’s growing content strategy, helping to develop communications materials and implement multi-faceted narrative plans that center the role young people of color play in social movements. Prior to joining the FCYO team, she served as the Communications Specialist at the Forum for Youth Investment in Washington, D.C. for 2 years. In this role, Kandice developed and executed marketing strategies for the Forum’s products, services, and events. A Chicago native, Kandice earned her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism - Strategic Communication from the University of Missouri. When she’s not working, she’s writing and performing spoken word poetry.

Kel Kroehle

Director of Learning & Development

As Development and Events Manager, Kel supports FCYO's fundraising, events, financial management, and general operations. Prior to joining the FCYO team, Kel served for seven years as Director of The Bryson Institute at The Attic Youth Center in Philadelphia. In this role, they coordinated and resourced a youth-driven education and training program, working alongside queer and trans youth to advance anti-oppressive practices and just policies among the region’s youth-serving systems. Their experience also includes facilitating participatory action research projects on trans student equity and youth sociopolitical development and serving as a Contributing Writer for Everyday Feminism. An Ohio native, Kel earned their Bachelor’s degree in Gender Studies and LGBTQ studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison before earning their Master of Social Work degree at the University of Pennsylvania. Beyond the work day, Kel can typically be found connecting with loved ones and other rabble-rousers, negotiating with their four-legged muppet-companion, TumTum Geraldine, or prepping for an upcoming crossword competition.

Jennifer Maldonado

Program Manager

Jennifer Maldonado, also known as J-Mo, was raised in El Sereno, Los Angeles (CA). She is the youngest of 4 and shares the same birthday as her grandfather, Malcom X and Yuri Kochiyama- May 19! At an early age, she began organizing with InnerCity Struggle’s youth program called United Students. J-Mo’s first campaign win brought millions of dollars to under-resourced and over-crowded schools in the Eastside and Southside schools. She graduated from UC San Diego with a BA in Ethnic Studies and minor in Education Studies to return to her Eastside communities and work with families for educational justice. She loves to travel- while in college she did a study aboard program in Ireland and was able to visit France, Spain, Portugal, Scotland and Italy. Her favorite movie is Yes Man! with Jim Carrie and the Jurassic Park series.  If she could live in any creative world it would the Matrix to take down the status quo with karate.  

She was first hired as a Fellow through the Funder’s Collaborative on Youth Organizing(FCYO) at InnerCity Struggle, later as a School Site Organizer at Woodrow Wilson High and Lincoln High School and recently as the Community Planning Justice Organizer.  

From school based organizing, city, and county organizing, J-Mo has been able to mentor generations of youth in her community and shift power in tenant and land use policies in the county. She is now joining FCYO as incoming Program Associate.  

Tatianna Santos

Donor Engagement Manager

Tatianna Santos, known as Tati, was raised in Paraná, Brasil. At the age of seven she moved to the United States and has since lived in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Colorado. Growing up as an undocumented immigrant she began her work in activism at an early age, supporting work in Newark, New Jersey combatting the attacks of ICE and barriers to citizenship in her community.

During her time at Lehigh University, she began exploring activism in the LGBTQ movement all the while coming into her own identity as a queer woman. Previously she has worked with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metro Denver, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, and the Gill Foundation, a leading LGBTQ funder.

As FCYO's Donor Engagement Manager, Tati will support efforts in building out a new individual donor network and increasing resources for the field of youth organizing. Outside of working hours you can find Tati watching the sunset with her cat (Bandit), browsing the internet for artwork, growing her earring collection, and kitchen dance parties to Marc Anthony's "Vivir Mi Vida". 

Jen Stevens

Operations and Admin Associate

Jen is a mixed race queer living on Creek Territory (Atlanta, Georgia). Jen first got involved in the youth organizing field as a volunteer at the Carolina Youth Action Project (CYAP) - an abolitionist organization that centers political education and community organizing to build power among girls, trans youth, and gender nonconforming youth. They helped organize CYAP’s annual summer rock camp program for 4 years, a music and arts based program that amplifies the narratives of young people in the Charleston area and builds community at the intersection of art and political education.

While organizing with CYAP, Jen became involved with the Girls Rock Camp Alliance (GRCA) - an international membership network of youth-centered arts and social justice organizations. The GRCA provides resources and space for community building to over 100 members worldwide in order to build a strong movement for collective liberation. Jen has been involved with the GRCA movement since 2014, most recently serving on the member-elected Board of Directors for the last 5 years. As a Board member, Jen helps organize an annual convening of over 200 program organizers and volunteers and focuses most of her time on member connectivity and engagement.

When not working at FCYO or organizing with the GRCA, Jen can be found reading about astrology (they’re an Aquarius sun, Capricorn rising, and Gemini moon), creating to-do lists in Google Drive, playing sports, or taking photographs of cats. They love to travel and sing karaoke - their go to song is I Want It That Way by the Backstreet Boys.

Jen joins FCYO as the Operations and Admin Associate after nearly a decade of working in higher education administration. She is excited to help support the operational and logistical side of FCYO’s work.

Helena Wong

Special Projects Director

Helena joins FCYO as its Special Projects Director where they are excited to develop and test out new initiatives. Prior to FCYO, Helena's experience spans over two decades playing different roles in social justice organizations around the US: director of Seeding Change, Feminisms and Gender Justice Organizer at Grassroots Global Justice Alliance and coordinator of It Takes Roots, organizer and executive director of CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities in NYC where she organized in low-income Asian immigrant and refugee communities around gentrification, community development/land use, and police violence. Helena has also led delegations to China, meeting with organizers and advocates around land rights, migrant workers, environmental protection, queer visibility and sex work.  She is based in NYC and one day hopes to cultivate a green thumb.

Christopher June Zizzamia

Program Director

Christopher June is an experienced organizer, trainer, and strategist who believes that building the multi-racial working class’s power is the key to transforming the world towards justice. They bring to FCYO a deep history of building Black and Brown-led community organizing groups, centering the development of those with the most to gain from society’s transformation; youth, LGBTQ folks, gender-oppressed folks, working class folks, and immigrants. They come to the FCYO team after a decade spanning different parts of the movement eco-system, from educational justice in a base-building organization to statewide community-labor coalition work.

Before organizing Christopher June could be found on roofs and in basements all over Connecticut where they spent years as a construction worker. And before that they could be found nose buried in a comic book or making an elaborate  play-city with garage finds. All of – the commitment to their people, the construction, the reading, the imagination – grounded in one desire: to close the gap between what is and what can be.  

Board

Isabel Sousa-Rodriguez

The Edward W. Hazen Foundation

Sam Kiyomi Turner

The Kresge Foundation

Jonathan Jayes-Green

Marguerite Casey Foundation

Dimple Abichandani

Executive Director

General Service Foundation

Dimple Abichandani is the Executive Director of the General Service Foundation (GSF), a private foundation that supports organizations building power at the intersection of racial, gender and economic justice. Dimple joined General Service Foundation in 2015, bringing almost two decades of experience advancing social justice as a lawyer, funder and educator. Prior to joining GSF, Dimple was the Executive Director of the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice at UC Berkeley School of Law. As the founding program officer of the Security and Rights Collaborative (SRC) at the Proteus Fund, Dimple managed a donor collaborative aimed at challenging post-9/11 Islamophobia and discrimination. Earlier in her career, Dimple worked at Legal Services NYC, first as a staff attorney where she represented low wage workers and later as the Director of Program Development. Dimple currently serves on the board of Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees and Northern CA Grantmakers and has served on the boards of Asian Americans Advancing Justice- Asian Law Caucus, Forward Together and the Third Wave Foundation. Dimple earned a JD at Northeastern University School of Law, and a BA in English with Honors at the University of Texas at Austin.

Manuela Arciniegas

Senior Program Associate

Andrus Family Fund

Manuela Arciniegas is the Senior Program Associate for the Andrus Family Fund and brings over 14 years of experience in youth organizing, community outreach, and cultural arts education.  She is currently a Next Generation Fellow with Hispanics in Philanthropy, a member of the Steering Committee of the New York City Chapter of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy, a Public Humanities Fellow at the National Council of the Humanities and a Magnet Presidential Fellow at the CUNY Graduate Center where she is pursuing a PhD in Ethnomusicology. Her research interests lie in the intersection between empowerment, low-income people of color communities, and Caribbean religious drum music. Manuela has worked as an adjunct professor of Caribbean music at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and has been working as an educator in cultural arts and environmental justice with organizationslike Sustainable South Bronx, the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, Mothers on the Move, BronxWorks, Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, The Caribbean Cultural Center/African Diaspora Institute, CityLore, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and others.

Lori Bezahler

President

Edward W. Hazen Foundation

As President of the Edward W. Hazen Foundation, Lori Bezahler leads a national grant making program supporting organizing and leadership by young people and communities of color to dismantle structural inequity based on race and class. During 2013, Ms. Bezahler was also a Senior Fellow at the Center for Social Inclusion where she now serves as chair of the Board of Directors. Her writing and commentary have appeared in The Nation, the Washington Post, Education Week, Foundation Review, the Journal of Responsive Philanthropy, and on numerous blogs and other media outlets. With over 20 years’ experience as a leader in the not for profit sector, she has served on several boards including Grantmakers for Education, the National Center on Schools and Communities at Fordham University, Philanthropy New York, and the Center for Community Alternatives, and has taught as an adjunct assistant professor at NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service.

Tessa Callejo

Senior Program Officer

The San Francisco Foundation

Shona Chakravarty

Senior Program Officer

The Hill-Snowdon Foundation

Shona Chakravarty is Senior Program Officer at the Hill-Snowdon Foundation (HSF), and is responsible for leading and managing HSF’s Economic Justice grantmaking program, as well as developing and implementing learning and leveraging activities related to HSF’s economic justice interests. She was previously the co-chair of Neighborhood Funders Group (NFG) Working Group on Labor & Community Partnerships, and currently serves on the board of the Funders’ Collaborative on Youth Organizing. Before joining the Hill-Snowdon Foundation staff in 2006, Shona served as Program Officer for the Four Freedoms Fund, a philanthropic collaborative that made grants to enhance the capacity of local and state organizations to actively engage immigrants in the civic, social and economic life of their communities and participate in national policy and advocacy efforts.

Alicia Olivarez

Narrative and Policy Director

Power California

Alicia is a daughter, sister, xicana and organizer in Fresno, CA. Growing up in a small Central Valley farm working town has served as the main motivation to create leadership pathways and opportunities for young people to grow into their power across the Central Valley. Alicia brings 10 years of experience in program development, youth organizing, and collaboration management. After receiving her BA from UC Berkeley, Alicia worked for an Oakland social-impact organization to build coalitions and programs on the issues of reentry, housing, and economic development. She went on to receive her Masters in Public Policy from Harvard and has since returned to the Central Valley to build 99Rootz, Power California's organizing and voter engagement program that’s building a transformative youth-led movement in rural communities. In 2019, she became the organization's Narrative and Policy Director where she leads communications, policy and cultural strategies.

Eli Cuna

National Field Director

United We Dream

Eli Cuna is United We Dream’s National Field Director. Eli is a community organizer and movement builder from New Mexico, and develop the field and political strategy and implementation plan for our branches Texas, New Mexico, Florida, and affiliates from CA, NY, OK and other states to mobilize. She came to the U.S. at age 14 with one of her siblings and reunited with her parents and the rest of her siblings at age of 16. Eli is proud of her story as an undocumented young womxn of color who was raised by hardworking migrant workers. Eli came out as undocumented and joined the immigrant youth movement in 2004 when she participated in her first class walk out at Capital High School in Santa Fe to voice the need for access to college education for undocumented youth in New Mexico. Eli’s organizing practice is rooted in racial justice, intersectionality and indigenous epistemology. She has organized in rural communities and developed curricula to engage her community in the necessary work of undoing racism and fighting for environmental and economic justice. She also served as a racial justice community project manager at the Community Engagement Center at the University of New Mexico and was an ethnographic research associate at the Center for Study of Urban Poverty at UCLA. Eli co-built a statewide network of immigrant youth in New Mexico and has strengthened the organizing and advocacy infrastructure in the state by creating initiatives like: UndocuHealing, UndocuResearch, The (Un)documented Story Project, and NM DREAMZone. Eli is a member of the Board of Directors for the Center for Civic Policy and holds two B.A. degrees and a M.P.A from the University of New Mexico. Eli’s search for justice comes from her journey of learning from the elders in her tribe & community and is proud to share the wisdom of those elders and her experience with United We Dream as the network embarks on a multi-racial, intersectional strategy to bring justice and dignity to people’s lives.

Brian Dixon

Program Officer and Grants Manager

W. Clement & Jesse V. Stone Foundation

Brian Dixon joined The Stone Foundation in 2012, where he has worn many hats, allowing him to participate at every level of foundation management, including orchestration of the Foundation’s move from San Francisco to its current home in Chicago. Currently, he works with his program making colleagues to support work in education, early childhood development, and youth development, particularly focusing on elevating youth voice through organizing, youth-lead social change, and youth media. Prior to 2012, Brian primarily worked in faith-based non-profits, where he created opportunities to build community and support the needs of marginalized groups which included highlighting and celebrating the contributions of teens and young adults.

James Lopez

Executive Director

Power U Center for Social Change

A native to Rochester, New York, and a graduate from the University of Buffalo, James Lopez first began getting involved in organizing as a college student around issues of environmental justice and policing issues in the city of Buffalo. He worked with the Western New York Law Center where he supported their consumer debt legal clinic, and helped advocate for polices that address predatory lending and Community Reinvestment issues. James was an organizer for VOICE-Buffalo, where he organized with residents and formerly incarcerated in order to push for police accountability and diversion programs in the city of Buffalo. He was also involved in Just Resisting (JR), which is a collective of organizers of color in the city of Buffalo committed to developing transformational organizing in the city of Buffalo. James is an alumnus of Black Organizing for Leader and Dignity (BOLD) and is committed to assisting in the development of the young Black and Brown leadership necessary to usher in a new society where all oppressed people are liberated.

Albert Maldonado

Program Manager, Healthy Youth Development

The California Endowment

Albert Maldonado is Senior Program Manager tasked with developing and managing The California Endowment’s cross-cutting Youth Power & Youth Development Strategy and Portfolio. The Endowment’s approach to youth engagement expands beyond traditional notions of “youth development” by supporting a youth organizing framework and approach to address issues of race, power and equity as part of young people's socio-political development and agency. Albert has played a key role in building grant making strategies and incubating organizations to support youth-organizing and civic engagement, youth-voice, youth-healing and youth-participatory action research at the local and statewide levels with an emphasis on low income, marginalized communities for The California Endowment. Realizing the power of youth as health equity change-makers, he has spearheaded the development and launch of The Endowment’s signature youth engagement strategies and gatherings, including developing and staffing The President’s Youth Council, The Endowment’s Youth Organizing Camps, Youth Advocacy Day in Sacramento, Trans Youth Health Summit, Youth Awards and youth media retreats to hone the story telling craft of youth journalists who cover community health issues across California. Prior to joining The Endowment, Mr. Maldonado was the Senior Director of Central Valley Programs at the Youth Leadership Institute (YLI), an organization committed to creating space where young people and their adult allies come together to address public health issues through youth-led campaigns. Albert received a bachelor’s degree in Politics & Sociology from UC Santa Cruz and lives in Los Angeles with his son, Malachi.

Laura McCargar

President

Perrin Family Foundation

Laura McCargar was appointed as President of the Perrin Family Foundation (PFF) in June of 2016. Laura joined the foundation in 2011 as a Program Officer, where she played a central role in designing the foundation’s youth-led social change grantmaking and the oversaw the development and implementation of capacity building initiatives designed to strengthen, promote and expand youth organizing across Connecticut. Prior to joining the Perrin Family Foundation, Laura was awarded a Soros Justice Fellowship from Open Society Foundations to engage in research and organizing around the role that alternative schools and adult education programs play in Connecticut’s school-to-prison pipeline. Laura brings to her work more than a decade of experience as a youth worker and organizer, having served as the founding Executive Director of a New Haven-based nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering youth to use media and organizing strategies to create community change.

Mark Mildner

Chief Financial Officer

Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice

As Chief Financial Officer of Bend the Arc, Mark Mildner has overall responsibility for all financial aspects of the organization. His responsibilities also include oversight of human resources and office service functions. He brings over 25 years of financial experience and professional expertise to Bend the Arc. Mark has held senior financial positions with several not-for-profit organizations – providing expense controls, instituting best practices and managing complex assignments. Mark earned a BBA degree with high honors in public accounting from Hofstra University and a MBA degree with high honors from Boston University. He is both a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA). Mark is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants.

Sanjiv Rao

Program Officer, Youth Opportunity and Learning

The Ford Foundation

Sanjiv Rao is a program officer on the Youth Opportunity and Learning team. He has focused on educational equity issues in the United States, making grants that have supported improvements in the public education system’s school day to benefit low-income communities in particular. He has supported innovative efforts around the development, advocacy, and scalability of a redesigned school day and year to close opportunity gaps so that underserved youth have access to the high-quality educational and other learning experiences they need to succeed. Sanjiv has been with Ford since 2012. Earlier, he served as executive director of the New York State Afterschool Network, where he led policy efforts to link and integrate youth development and expanded learning more effectively with the public education system. Sanjiv began his career as an elementary school teacher in California, Texas, and Mexico. He has worked in school system improvement as a senior associate at the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University and as a member of the research team studying the Ford-funded Leadership for a Changing World program while a doctoral student at New York University. Sanjiv has a PhD in public administration from New York University, a master’s degree in education from the University of California, Berkeley, and a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Liz Sak

Executive Director

Cricket Island Foundation

Liz Sak is the executive director of the Cricket Island Foundation a private, family foundation founded in 2000. CIF funds youth-led social change programs nationally with a particular emphasis on emerging organizations that work with extremely marginalized populations. Liz came to Cricket Island 8 years ago after almost two decades of experience running non-profit organizations – from a Beacon School in the South Bronx to an arts and youth-led social change group in Manhattan. She currently serves on the Board of Philanthropy New York and on the Executive Committee for the Communities for Just Schools Fund. She spearheaded an effort to analyze the impact of the recession on social justice philanthropy that resulted in release of Diminishing Dollars for Social Justice Philanthropy in partnership with the Foundation Center and often speaks on organizational development and capacity building in grantmaking strategies. Liz got her BA from Lehigh University and her MBA from the Yale School of Management.

Jidan Terry-Koon

Acting Program Director

The San Francisco Foundation

Jidan Terry-Koon is a second generation Chinese American born and raised in the SF Bay Area. As an artist, organizer, and community builder for the past 20+ years, Jidan’s field experience encompasses grassroots organizing, civic engagement, service provision, and institutional reform led by low-income people of color communities. Prior to joining the San Francisco Foundation, she served as the Deputy Director for Mobilize the Immigrant Vote and played a critical role in launching the YVote project to build a powerful millennial of color voting bloc in California. As a service provider, she founded mentoring and enrichment programs for under-represented youth through Reach!, the East Bay Asian Youth Center, and Stiles Hall. Through Youth Together, she launched a multi-service youth center in Oakland that engaged the school community in education reform campaigns. Jidan has also held positions in the Oakland Unified School District as the Special Assistant to the Superintendent and consultant to its Meaningful Student Engagement Initiative. Jidan has a BA in Political Science and a minor in Education from the University of California at Berkeley and a Masters of Public Policy with a certificate in Urban and Regional Planning from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.

Nahir Torres

Program Officer - Teen Development

The Hyams Foundation

Nahir Torres joined The Hyams Foundation in 2012 with a background in access to educational opportunities for Boston teens and positive youth development. At Hyams, her portfolio includes strategies to disrupt the school to prison pipeline, youth organizing, and immigrant rights. Prior to coming to Hyams, she was a Program Officer for Education at The Boston Foundation (TBF), where she worked on TBF’s college completion portfolio including Success Boston and Achieving the Dream. Her previous work in the nonprofit sector focused on family engagement, child development, and adult education. A graduate of the Boston Public Schools, Nahir received her B.A. degree from Wellesley College and a Master of Education from Harvard University. She is an active member of the Greater Boston Social Justice Funders Network, the Communities for Just Schools Fund, and the Youth Transitions Funder Group. In July of 2017, Nahir was sworn in as a member of Massachusetts' first-ever Latino Advisory Commission to the Governor.