Program Leadership

Melissa Spatz, Program Director 

As Director of the Piper Fund, Melissa brings over 25 years’ experience as a community organizer, non-profit executive, and attorney. Prior to joining Piper in 2012 (and assuming the director role in 2014), she led two award-winning Chicago-based organizations and national organizing campaigns through the National People’s Action network. Her work has addressed a wide range of issues including media justice, housing rights, police accountability, health care, and gender equity. Melissa has founded and co-founded numerous projects and organizations, including the Columbia Journal of Gender & Law, the Women’s Rights Project at Human Rights Watch, the Chicago Freedom School, Chicago Youth United, and the Center for Emerging Leadership. She holds a BA from Swarthmore College and a JD from Columbia Law School. She can be reached at mspatz@proteusfund.org.

Kathy Bonnifield, Program Officer, Judicial Independence Project 

Kathy began work with the Piper Fund in July 2014, and is focused on our efforts to promote fair and impartial state courts. Kathy's nonprofit experience has focused primarily on civil and human rights, including positions at The McKnight Foundation and Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota. As the Executive Director of Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota, Kathy was a member of a coalition that successfully fought to protect Minnesota's Constitution from requiring individuals to have a voter photo ID. At the McKnight Foundation, she worked in its international grantmaking program, where her work focused on land and water rights in Southeast Asia and women's economic advancement in East Africa. She has gone on numerous election observation missions with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and served on Governor Dayton's Electronic Poll Book Task Force. Kathy is a 2011-2012 Humphrey Policy Fellow and has an MBA from the University of St. Thomas.

Estevan Muñoz-Howard, Program Officer, Money in Politics 

Estevan Muñoz-Howard is a Program Officer at the Piper Fund, where he oversees our grantmaking to support state and municipal money in politics reform. Estevan is a tireless advocate for fair representation and racial equity in our political system. He has been working to amplify the voices of Seattle voters since 2007, and most recently helped lead the successful Honest Elections Seattle campaign of 2015—the historic initiative to implement a democracy voucher program and create a floor for political voice in the city. Estevan comes to Proteus Fund from Seattle’s nonprofit sector. He previously worked as Development Director for Arts Corps and Social Justice Fund NW, and as Executive Director of the Youth Media Institute. He is passionate about youth engagement, community organizing, and the diffusion of power. Estevan also previously served as president of the Washington Bus Education Fund. In 2015, he was named democracy volunteer of the year by Fix Democracy First. A graduate of the University of Puget Sound, Estevan continues to live in Seattle with his wife and two growing boys. He is excited to bring his passion and experience to Proteus Fund and looks forward to having a national impact on the money in politics reform movement. He can be reached at emunozhoward@proteusfund.org.

Stephanie Jones, Partnership Associate Grant Writer 

Stephanie joined the Proteus Fund as Partnership Associate Grant Writer in February 2015. She is responsible for the development, writing and submission of grant proposals and written materials to foundations and individual donors. Before joining Proteus, Stephanie was a Research Professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who worked on foundation-funded research into the mechanisms underlying mobility impairments in people with Multiple Sclerosis. She has worked extensively as research staff in laboratories at the University of Vermont, University of Wisconsin and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, coordinating large scale federally-funded grant activities. Stephanie has 10 years of grant-writing experience seeking grants from government, private foundation and corporate entities. She earned her Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Science from McGill University, her Master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and her Honours Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Guelph, Canada.

Sofía Jarrín-Thomas, Program Associate 

Sofía joined the Piper Fund on April 2015. She is responsible for providing general support to the grant making process, including communicating with grantees, researching and evaluating proposals. She also coordinates print and promotional materials, correspondence with internal and external audiences, and provides general administrative support to the Program Director and the Piper Fund team. Sofía comes with a strong background in the nonprofit/academic world and in communications strategies, at Harvard University and overseas with different indigenous, women, media, and environmental rights organizations. She is an experienced copy editor and helped publish several books, including Beyond Development: Alternative Visions from Latin America (Abya Yala, 2011). She has also worked as a freelance journalist, both for independent print and radio news services, and as a radio producer and co-host at MIT's WMBR and an international news service, ALER, in Quito, Ecuador. She has a Master's in journalism from Harvard University Extension School.