Meet the Team
Executive Director and Founder
Ben Starrett is the founding executive director of the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities, created in late-1999. Despite having been a football and rugby player for over 30 years, he graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University with a degree in politics and economics. Ben is a member of Leadership Florida Class XIX, was a Knight Fellow in Community Building, and serves on the board of Rail~Volution. Active in numerous national and local organizations, he lives in South Florida, where he enjoys kayaking, snorkeling, trying to run marathons, and most other aspects of outdoor life. Download full bio
D. Elizabeth Almonte
Elizabeth has been with the Funders’ Network since 2008 and works in a variety of areas throughout the Network. As a program associate she serves as meeting planner, IT network administrator and database manager, supervisor, and assists in developing the PLACES fellowship program. In addition, she also provides support to projects as they arise and manages employee recruitment for TFN. She has served for over a decade in the U.S. Army Reserves and has both civilian and military experience in customer service, office management, human resource management, patient administration, and civil affairs. Elizabeth graduated with honors from Hawaii Pacific University in Honolulu earning an associate’s degree in supervisory leadership. Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Miami, Elizabeth is fluent in English and Spanish and enjoys long distance running.
Director of Finance and Operations
Jennifer works both in programmatic and administrative areas including board relations, human resources, finance and budgeting, logistical planning, green building, and the inclusiveness initiative. Before joining the Network in 2005, she was the executive director of the Kidney Foundation of South Florida, responsible for all areas of nonprofit management including special events, operations, board development, educational programming, community outreach, and communications. Jennifer graduated magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University with a degree in English and Russian. The daughter of a Peruvian mother and American father who flew for Pan Am, she has traveled extensively and lived abroad. Jennifer enjoys her extended family, reading too much, making things with her hands, and swimming in open water as long as it’s 84 degrees or somewhere foreign. While her favorite animals are feline, she knows the best horse in the world is a Caballo de Paso named Miski in Lima, Peru.
Director of Member Services
Maureen manages the River Partnership of Community Foundations, coordinates the Network’s research and publications agenda, and organizes fundraising and membership communications. Prior to joining the Network, she spent her early career managing membership and publications at the Georgia Center for Nonprofits. A magna cum laude graduate of Villanova University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, Maureen later received a master’s degree from the Georgetown University Public Policy Institute. While there, she was a Jessie Ball duPont Fund Emerging Nonprofit Scholar at the Institute’s Center for the Study of Voluntary Organizations and Service. An avid sports fan, Maureen often bores her colleagues with tales from her beloved Villanova Wildcats, New York Giants, and Boston Red Sox and other useless sports trivia.
Amy is responsible for the Network's communications. Prior to joining the Network in September 2010, Amy worked in communications and public relations for Animal Welfare Approved and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and in political media and television in the Washington, D.C. market. She has a bachelor’s degree in film and television from American University and master’s degree in English from Iowa State University. A newcomer to South Florida, Amy looks forward to exploring the Miami area and not having to shovel or scrape snow and ice off of anything.
Carlos is the administrative assistant for the Funders’ Network. His duties include assisting the Executive Director and program associates, scheduling calls and making travel arrangements, data entry, and office maintenance. Before joining the Funders’ Network, he held a Purchase Order Management position at Cool-Breeze Air Conditioning and worked for the U.S. Army Reserve as a Combat Medic, Physical Therapy Specialist, and Human Resources Specialist. Carlos likes various outdoor activities including camping, running, and kayaking, none of which are shared with his wife. He grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada where he spent 13 years in Olympic wrestling achieving a gold at the Manitoba Provincial championships for 12 of those years and reaching top 5 in the Canadian nationals. He ran his first 5k last March and hopes to run with his new co-workers for his next.
Director of Leadership Development
Kris provides staff leadership to the Restoring Prosperity in Older Industrial Cities funder working group. He also manages the Network’s philanthropic leadership development program, PLACES. Prior to joining the Funders’ Network, Kris worked for the South Florida Local Initiatives Support Corporation as a senior program officer, the city of Miami as a neighborhood services administrator, and the Miami Office of the National Conference for Community and Justice. Kris served as a grant reviewer for the Department of Education and was selected for the University of Miami Knight Fellowship in Community Building. He has a master’s degree in public administration from Nova Southeastern University and a bachelor’s degree in public science from Bethune Cookman University.
Ann Fowler Wallace
Director of Programs
Based in Boston, Ann staffs the One Region Funders’ Group, heads up the Network’s responsive service work in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, and staffs the Green Building Green Neighborhoods Working Group in partnership with Jennifer Cummings. She also provides support to the Network’s Restoring Prosperity in Older Industrial Cities working group, and manages the Network’s team of field consultants. Before coming to the Network, Ann facilitated the planning and design of smart growth collaboratives in Vermont and Massachusetts. She has worked as a program consultant to the John Merck Fund, principally on JMF’s environmental health grants program, and consulted with other foundations and funder networks focusing on environmental, sustainable agriculture, and smart growth issues. She is a former partner at GMA Foundations, a philanthropic consulting firm serving charitable foundations and individual donors, where for fifteen years she headed up GMA’s environmental grantmaking and consulting practice. Among her past environmental clients, Ann worked for the Jessie B. Cox Charitable Trust, the Conservation, Food & Health Foundation, the Dolphin Trust, and The Elizabeth Ordway Dunn Foundation. She is currently a trustee of the Environmental League of Massachusetts and sits on the Massachusetts Advisory Council for the Trust for Public Land. Ann has a B.A. from Duke University and an M.A. with concentration in environmental policy from Tufts University
Director of Public Policy
Diana Williams is a Washington, DC-based program director for the Funders' Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities. She works with staff at key federal agencies, such as the EPA, DOT and HUD, to maximize coordination with the goals of TFN's members. Working with national, regional and local grant-makers, Diana promotes transportation and land use reforms that range from the very broad -- for example, shaping the federal transportation bill -- to the very local -- for example, promoting Transit-Oriented Development in place-based settings such as the Twin Cities, Baltimore and San Francisco. Prior to joining the Funders' Network, Diana worked as a grantmaker at the James Irvine Foundation, where she oversaw development of a new land use program. Diana also served as executive director for the nonprofit Urban Ecology, which offered pro-bono community design services to low-income communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. Diana started her professional career as a journalist for local and regional newspapers in Maryland and California. She is a graduate of Hamilton College and the Kennedy School of Government and lives on Capitol Hill with her husband and three children.