Board of Directors

Eric Ward (Chair)

Eric Ward (Chair)

Executive Director, Western States Center and Senior Fellow, Race Forward and Southern Poverty Law Center

Eric is a nationally-recognized expert on the relationship between hate violence and preserving democratic governance and inclusive societies. His 30 years of leadership includes founding the Community Alliance of Lane County; establishing over 120 task forces in six states through the Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment; supporting immigrant...

Eric is a nationally-recognized expert on the relationship between hate violence and preserving democratic governance and inclusive societies. His 30 years of leadership includes founding the Community Alliance of Lane County; establishing over 120 task forces in six states through the Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment; supporting immigrant rights advocates as National Field Director for the Center for New Community; serving as The Atlantic Philanthropies’ U.S. Reconciliation and Human Rights Executive and Ford Foundation Program Officer; and volunteer leadership with numerous organizations. Eric’s writings and speeches are widely quoted and credited with key narrative shifts in defense of inclusive democracy.

Read more
Natasha Minsker (Vice Chair)

Natasha Minsker (Vice Chair)

Consultant

Natasha was most recently the Director of the ACLU of California Center for Advocacy & Policy for 14 years, advocating for criminal justice, education, freedom of expression, immigrants’ rights, LGBT rights, privacy, racial justice, reproductive justice, and voting rights throughout the state. She is a strong leader in the national movement to abolish the...

Natasha was most recently the Director of the ACLU of California Center for Advocacy & Policy for 14 years, advocating for criminal justice, education, freedom of expression, immigrants’ rights, LGBT rights, privacy, racial justice, reproductive justice, and voting rights throughout the state. She is a strong leader in the national movement to abolish the death penalty.

Read more
Odell Mays (Treasurer)

Odell Mays (Treasurer)

Founder and Principal, Mays2 Consulting, LLC

Odell is the founder and Principal of Mays2 Consulting LLC, a specialized management consultancy focused on working with non-profits in fiscal management and operations, in addition to governance and compliance issues. Odell has over 25 years of management experience in nonprofits and board leadership including chair and co-chair of the board of Gay Men’s...

Odell is the founder and Principal of Mays2 Consulting LLC, a specialized management consultancy focused on working with non-profits in fiscal management and operations, in addition to governance and compliance issues. Odell has over 25 years of management experience in nonprofits and board leadership including chair and co-chair of the board of Gay Men’s Health Crisis and as treasurer of the NYC LGBTQ Community Services Center. He is also an adjunct faculty instructor at Columbia University and NYU.

Read more
Nima Shirazi (Secretary)

Nima Shirazi (Secretary)

Director, Spitfire Strategies

Nima Shirazi is a communications and program strategist, writer and editor, podcaster and media producer with over a decade of eclectic experience working at the intersection of culture and politics, media and narrative, advocacy and the arts.

At Spitfire, Nima directs communications, campaign and message development for fearless advocates ...

Nima Shirazi is a communications and program strategist, writer and editor, podcaster and media producer with over a decade of eclectic experience working at the intersection of culture and politics, media and narrative, advocacy and the arts.

At Spitfire, Nima directs communications, campaign and message development for fearless advocates dedicated to defending civil and human rights, desegregating housing and education, and dismantling systems of white supremacy and racialized disinformation.


Prior to joining Spitfire, Nima was a founding member of the Narrative Initiative, a training and network-building project designed to equip leaders and their organizations with a better understanding of how deeply-embedded stories and stereotypes shape the unwritten rules of society. Previously, Nima managed communications, multimedia production, and media relations and grantmaking at The Atlantic Philanthropies. Nima's past work has traversed the worlds of film, theater, and music.

A published political analyst, Nima is editor-at-large for the digital foreign affairs magazine Muftah and a member of the Gulf/2000 Project, an academic forum and online resource service sponsored by the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. He also co-hosts the popular media criticism podcast Citations Needed, a 2020 Webby Awards Honoree.

Nima is a native New Yorker, former touring drummer, and erstwhile classicist.

Read more
Ryan Alexander

Ryan Alexander

Principal, Hyphen Consulting

Ryan is principal and founder of Hyphen Consulting and a Senior Fellow at Taxpayers for Common Sense, where she served as president for 13 years. Over the past two decades, Ryan has served as a litigating attorney, funder, small business owner, and nonprofit executive. She testifies regularly in Congress on a wide range of topics relating to federal spend...

Ryan is principal and founder of Hyphen Consulting and a Senior Fellow at Taxpayers for Common Sense, where she served as president for 13 years. Over the past two decades, Ryan has served as a litigating attorney, funder, small business owner, and nonprofit executive. She testifies regularly in Congress on a wide range of topics relating to federal spending, subsidies, and fiscal policy; and her comments have been broadly featured in national media outlets.

Ryan co-founded Appalachian Mountain Advocates, and is a director of the Fund for Constitutional Government, Project on Government Oversight, and R Street Institute.

Read more
Richard Burns

Richard Burns

Interim Executive Director, Johnson Family Foundation

Richard D. Burns is a non-profit management consultant and activist who is the Interim Executive Director of the Johnson Family Foundation. He has served as Interim Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, Lambda Legal, the North Star Fund, PENCIL, The Funding Exchange, Funders for LGBTQ Issues and the Stonewall Community Foundation.

...

Richard D. Burns is a non-profit management consultant and activist who is the Interim Executive Director of the Johnson Family Foundation. He has served as Interim Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance, Lambda Legal, the North Star Fund, PENCIL, The Funding Exchange, Funders for LGBTQ Issues and the Stonewall Community Foundation.

He was previously the Chief Operating Officer of the Arcus Foundation and was Executive Director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center in New York City for 22 years, from 1986 to 2009.

Richard serves on the boards of directors of the Proteus Fund and the New York City AIDS Memorial Park. He recently retired from the board of Nonprofit New York and was a longtime member of the Selection Committee of the New York Community Trust Nonprofit Excellence Awards.

He serves on the Advisory Board of the Center for HIV Law & Policy and was president of the founding board of directors of GLAD in Boston from 1978 through 1986.

He is a graduate of Hamilton College and the Northeastern University School of Law.

Read more
Patricia Eng

Patricia Eng

President & CEO, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy

Pat is President & CEO of Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP), working to build democratic philanthropy through a racial and gender equity lens. Prior to her role at AAPIP, Pat served as Chief Service Officer at the Mayor's Office of the City of NY. Pat has served in various positions within the philanthropic and non-profit communi...

Pat is President & CEO of Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP), working to build democratic philanthropy through a racial and gender equity lens. Prior to her role at AAPIP, Pat served as Chief Service Officer at the Mayor's Office of the City of NY. Pat has served in various positions within the philanthropic and non-profit communities. She founded the first organization on the East Coast working with battered immigrant Asian women in the early days of this new national movement. She managed a portfolio of programs including 8 shelters, 4 citywide 24-hour hotlines, and one of the largest batterer intervention programs and anti-trafficking programs in the country. In philanthropy, at the Ms. Foundation for Women, Pat innovated grantmaking strategy in several areas including early support for men’s efforts to address masculinity and violence and supporting the emerging movement to prevent child sexual abuse. At the New York Women’s Foundation, she launched and managed the NYC Fund for Girls and Young Women of Color, the first collaborative fund in the country focused on young women and gender non-binary youth of color.

Read more
Jason Franklin PhD

Jason Franklin PhD

Kellogg Community Philanthropy Chair, Johnson Center for Philanthropy and Founder & Principal, Ktisis Capital Advisors

Dr. Jason Franklin is Founder & Principal of Ktisis Capital through which he serves as a strategic advisor to a mix of progressive individual donors, families, foundations and philanthropic collaboratives. He also serves as the W.K. Kellogg Community Philanthropy Chair at the Johnson Center for Philanthropy. As holder of the nation’s first endowed chair f...

Dr. Jason Franklin is Founder & Principal of Ktisis Capital through which he serves as a strategic advisor to a mix of progressive individual donors, families, foundations and philanthropic collaboratives. He also serves as the W.K. Kellogg Community Philanthropy Chair at the Johnson Center for Philanthropy. As holder of the nation’s first endowed chair focused on community philanthropy, he engages in research, teaching, service, and thought leadership to explore and advance the field, nationally and internationally.

He serves as board chair of the Proteus Fund; co-founder and chair of the Solidaire Donor Network; and on the boards of the Threshold Foundation and Michigan Civic Education Fund. He is an advisory board member of Our LGBT Fund at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation and is a member of the Philanthropy Initiative Working Group at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, Threshold Foundation’s High Impact Documentary Funding Circle, and WINGS: Worldwide Initiatives for Grantmaker Support.

He received his PhD in Public Administration from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service where he also held an appointment for ten years as an award-winning adjunct professor teaching about philanthropy and social change. He also served as Executive Director of Bolder Giving, an organization that inspired people to give big & take more risks with their philanthropy and was credited by Melinda Gates as an inspiration for the billionaire Giving Pledge. He has previously worked for the 21st Century School Fund, the Rockefeller Foundation’s Next Generation Leadership Network housed at NYU’s Research Center for Leadership in Action, the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and White House Office of National AIDS Policy.

Read more
Tia Oros Peters

Tia Oros Peters

CEO of the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples

Tia has been active in community organizing, issue advocacy, and nonprofit development for social, cultural, and environmental justice for over three decades. She serves as the CEO of the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples, the oldest Native identity-based philanthropic, advocacy, leadership development and capacity building organization that ...

Tia has been active in community organizing, issue advocacy, and nonprofit development for social, cultural, and environmental justice for over three decades. She serves as the CEO of the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples, the oldest Native identity-based philanthropic, advocacy, leadership development and capacity building organization that supports community generated strategies for Native Peoples’ cultural revitalization, movement building, self-determination, and Re-Indigenization. A mother and grandmother, writer and cultural artist, Tia is a recognized expert on the protection of Water as a sacred element for Indigenous Peoples’ cultural and spiritual sustainability; in Indigenous women’s leadership, and on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

She earned a BA in Law & Society from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University, Los Angeles. She and her husband, Christopher Peters, live in the far north in California redwood country, where they have created the Red Deer Center for Indigenous Thinking, Creating, and Being. Part of the NFG and Aspen Institute’s Philanthropy Forward 2019-2020 cohort focused on supporting grassroots power building for racial equity and social justice, Tia also serves on the board of Tools and Tiaras and is honored and thrilled to join the Proteus Fund board of directors, Spring 2020.

Over her career, she served on the board of directors for Native Americans in Philanthropy, the Paul Robeson Fund for Independent Media, and the Resist Fund, and on the Advisory Boards of Youth United for Community Action, the A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Heritage Center in Zuni, and the Women’s Building of New York. Tia has received the honor of a Louis T. Delgado Distinguished Grantmaker Award from Native Americans in Philanthropy; a Center for Civic Partnerships Executive Leadership Fellowship; a Silver Cloud Award for Indigenous Peoples’ international diplomacy, and a Shannon Institute Leadership Fellowship.

Read more
Elizabeth (Betsy) Schmidt

Elizabeth (Betsy) Schmidt

Professor of Practice, School of Public Policy, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Elizabeth (Betsy) Schmidt is a Professor of Practice, specializing in nonprofits, social enterprises, and solutions-based policy analysis. She currently teaches two graduate school courses, Nonprofit Law and Management and Social and Environmental Enterprises, and two undergraduate courses, Making a Difference: Policies and Strategies for Successful Socia...

Elizabeth (Betsy) Schmidt is a Professor of Practice, specializing in nonprofits, social enterprises, and solutions-based policy analysis. She currently teaches two graduate school courses, Nonprofit Law and Management and Social and Environmental Enterprises, and two undergraduate courses, Making a Difference: Policies and Strategies for Successful Social Change and Catalyzing Change: Creating and Operating a Nonprofit.

She has also taught at George Mason University, Vermont Law School, William and Mary Law School, and Marlboro College’s MBA for Sustainability program. Betsy writes in the areas of nonprofit governance, accountability, policies, and ethics. She also writes about the legal framework for social enterprises.

In addition to academic positions, Betsy has practiced law, consulted with nonprofits, and worked directly for nonprofit organizations in legal and management capacities. Among her accomplishments were the creation and development of a data licensing program at GuideStar and a distance learning program at Colonial Williamsburg.

She has an undergraduate degree in history from Princeton and a law degree from Stanford University.

Read more
Mai-Anh Tran, CFA

Mai-Anh Tran, CFA

Chief Financial Officer, Ford Foundation

Mai-Anh is the Foundation’s chief financial officer. She was previously the director of financial planning and budgeting. Prior to joining Ford, she worked in mergers and acquisition and private equity, specializing in media and technology. She was also the director at the Alliance for Downtown New York, where she managed a loan and grant portfolio pro...

Mai-Anh is the Foundation’s chief financial officer. She was previously the director of financial planning and budgeting. Prior to joining Ford, she worked in mergers and acquisition and private equity, specializing in media and technology. She was also the director at the Alliance for Downtown New York, where she managed a loan and grant portfolio program to help small businesses in Lower Manhattan recover following 9/11. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from New York University and an MBA from Yale. Mai-Anh serves on the board of Proteus Fund, a social justice not-for-profit, and is a Certified Financial Analyst.

Read more
Paul Di Donato

Paul Di Donato

President and CEO, Proteus Fund & Proteus Action League

Paul has been President and CEO of Proteus Fund since 2016. He is a deeply committed activist for comprehensive, progressive social change with a record of over thirty years of accomplishments.

Prior to becoming President, Paul directed Proteus Fund’s Civil Marriage Collaborative (CMC) for eight years. The CMC was a groundbreaking donor col...

Paul has been President and CEO of Proteus Fund since 2016. He is a deeply committed activist for comprehensive, progressive social change with a record of over thirty years of accomplishments.

Prior to becoming President, Paul directed Proteus Fund’s Civil Marriage Collaborative (CMC) for eight years. The CMC was a groundbreaking donor collaborative that played a critical role in winning the freedom to marry in the United States in 2015. Under his leadership, the program awarded over $20 million in grants strategically targeted to support a cultural sea change on the issue of marriage equality and LGBTQ justice at the state and national levels.

Before the CMC, Paul worked in San Francisco and New York (where he is still based) pursuing his social justice values and vision as a philanthropic leader, non-profit executive, public policy advocate, consultant, and civil rights litigator. As Executive Director, he transformed Funders Concerned About AIDS into a leading international philanthropic actor in the response to the pandemic while advancing a variety of other initiatives mobilizing grantmakers to fight HIV/AIDS. At the beginning of Paul’s tenure in 1997, global investment in HIV/AIDS by American philanthropy was under $50 million. By the time he left FCAA in 2005, that figure had leaped to over $350 million. As Federal Affairs Director and Public Policy Director at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and Public Policy Director at the AIDS Legal Referral Panel, Paul provided key leadership on a wide range of national and California-specific HIV/AIDS public policy victories on issues ranging from health care reform and privacy rights to housing and government appropriations. He also served as both Executive and Legal Director for National Gay Rights Advocates, one of the first national LGBTQ legal rights organizations.

Paul has also consulted on high-level strategy, program development and evaluation, leadership coaching and governance with a wide range of philanthropic, non-profit, and academic clients. He has served in several volunteer leadership positions, including the last eighteen years as a Trustee for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS – one of the largest HIV/AIDS grantmakers in the United States, having awarded over $200 million since its founding in 1987.

Paul became an activist as an undergraduate at University of Pennsylvania, where he dedicated his energies to anti-Apartheid, gender, and LGBTQ justice issues. While at Harvard Law School, his summer work at the National Women’s Law Center led to his appointment as the first man to be named a Revson Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellow. As an attorney in private practice, Paul litigated prison reform, employment discrimination, and voting rights cases. Paul is an honors graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Law School. He lives in New York with his husband.

"Resist much, obey little." - Walt Whitman

Read more