PLACES Fellows | 2016 - 2017


Karen Abrams

Community Reinvestment Fund Manager

Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh

twitter: @unblight

Karen Abrams began her acreer at the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh in 2011 as a Community and Diversity Affairs Manager.  She works directly on planning and design projects with residents and community groups in “blighted areas” – the parts of the City that have been historically underserved and suffered through decades of disinvestment and neglect. Ms. Abrams currently is managing Urban Matters, an arts-and-design based pilot program teaching youth within Pittsburgh’s distressed neighborhoods how to examine and communicate key civic processes to their peers, community residents and other stakeholders.

In 2016 Ms. Abrams will continue her work within the community by managing a community reinvestment fund housed at the URA.  This fund will provide grants to residents and community organizations within six Pittsburgh neighborhoods.

Ms. Abrams holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in African and African American Studies from the University of Virginia, and a Master of Science in Sustainable Systems from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania.  She currently sits on numerous boards and committees and frequently speaks at seminars and conferences about sustainability, particularly in low-income and distressed communities. A Harlem, NY native, Ms. Abrams currently lives in the historic Hill District neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

Gilbert Achay

Project Manager at the Center for Prevention

Blue Cross Blue Sheild Minnesota


Gilbert Achay is a Project Manager at the Center for Prevention at  Blue Cross Blue Shield Minnesota. He joined the Center in 2013 to support its efforts to advance health equity through tobacco control, healthy eating, and active living. His portfolio includes managing projects across multiple funding initiatives, overseeing technical assistance, leadership development and community engagement. He is also a co-chair of Blue Pride, the company’s employee resource group for LGBTQ staff and their allies.

Prior to Blue Cross, Gilbert spent a decade at local and national non-profit groups in youth work and health advocacy serving diverse communities. He was born and raised in Hawai’i, and studied child psychology at the University of Minnesota.

Kris Archie

Project Manager of the Youth Homeless Initative

Vancouver Foundation


Kris Archie is the Project Manager of the Youth Homelessness Initiative for the Vancouver Foundation. Kris Archie is a Secwepemc and seme7 woman who grew up in small town BC. Her passion for social justice began at a young age with the development of a youth centre in her First Nations community at age 15. Her work as a youth leader led her to various events where she discovered a passion for child rights. In her experience as a young person in foster care, and from her experience becoming a foster parent to her two younger siblings, she learned more about the child welfare system and its impact on families. She worked with the Child and Youth Officer for BC to engage young people in decision making and provide education about child rights. From there moved in a management role with an Aboriginal child welfare organization seeking to increase jurisdiction over their children on Vancouver Island. She then consulted for several years and worked with clients focused on increasing voice in program, policy and organizational decision making. Those lived and systems based experiences led her to her work with the Vancouver Foundation to better enable young peoples transition from foster care to adulthood.  Kris is passionate about the importance of shifting the systems, and moving conversations and awareness building efforts from being focused on the individual to focusing on the system and identifying solutions. She has a soon to be 16 year old son, reads daily to ensure her sanity and enjoys spending time with her family, at home in the Cariboo or here in the city.

William Cordery

 Program Officer for Strong Local Economies

Surdna Foundation


William Cordery currently serves as Program Officer for Strong Local Economies at Surdna Foundation where he manages the foundation’s national grantmaking strategy aimed at creating robust and sustainable economies that improve access to quality jobs for low to moderate income individuals, people of color, women and immigrant populations. Prior to joining Surdna last month, William served as the Program Officer the South at Marguerite Casey Foundation in Seattle, WA for three years where he managed grantmaking programs and its approximately $14 million in annual investment across eight Southern states—Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Through grants, network development and capacity building, the foundation supports community-based efforts to move low-income families out of poverty.

Additional philanthropic leadership includes appointments as co-chair for the program committee for Grantmakers for Southern Progress—a national working group of the Neighborhood Funders Group, steering committee for the Seattle chapter of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy, steering committee for Funders for LGBTQ Issues’ LGBT Southern Funding Project, editorial board for the Grassroots Fundraising Journal, and board of directors for the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice.  Additionally, William was selected for the 2014-2015 class of the Association of Black Foundation Executives’ Connecting Leaders Fellowship—a year-long experience designed to sharpen the skills and strengthen the leadership capacity of foundation staff, donors, and trustees who are committed to assisting Black communities through philanthropy.

Punia Dani Thurman

Senior Program Officer

Skillman Foundation 

twitter: @punitadani

Punita Dani Thurman is a Senior Program Officer at the Skillman Foundation. In her work at the Foundation, she leads the education portfolio at an embedded foundation improving outcomes for children in Detroit. Punita has worked in urban education reform for the past nine years with a strategic focus on human capital as a transformation lever. She has led Human Capital Development for an urban district in Fort Worth, Texas, supported the launch of TeachingWorks, an initiative housed at the University of Michigan School of Education focused on transforming teacher training nationally, and has served as an an advisor to the Michigan Future Schools portfolio of high schools in Detroit. Thurman was selected to join the Broad Residency in 2006 and had worked in the private sector for nearly 11 years prior as a management consultant. She has consulted for a number of Fortune 500 firms and federal governmental agencies on human capital strategy, change management, and organizational effectiveness. She holds a BBA in finance and management from the University of Michigan and an MBA focused on organizations and strategy from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.

Jill Fuglister

Healthy Environment Program Director

Meyer Memorial Trust


Jill Fuglister, Healthy Environment Program Director at Meyer Memorial Trust, has worked in the non-profit sector for more than three decades. Meyer’s Healthy Environment Program envisions an Oregon where a resilient natural environment and all diverse cultures and communities are nurtured together. Ms. Fuglister has experience in urban planning, coalition building, policy advocacy, and executive management. Prior to joining the Trust in 2011, she co-directed Coalition for a Livable Future (CLF), a diverse coalition of over 100 organizations working together to create sustainable and equitable communities in greater Portland. During her 12 year tenure there, she spearheaded the publication of CLF’s ground-breaking Regional Equity Atlas (2007), a comprehensive portrait of equity conditions and trends in the greater Portland-Vancouver area that has helped establish the importance of addressing equity issues in urban and region planning locally and nationally.  Jill holds a Master’s in Environmental Studies University of Oregon and a Bachelor’s of Arts from the University of Notre Dame.

Davian Gagne

Grants and Operations Manager

Mile High Connects


Davian Gagne is the Grants and Operations Manager at Mile High Connects . Davian is instrumental in operationalizing the work of MHC, administering the grant fund, and co-leading the local and national fundraising efforts. Prior to joining Mile High Connects, Davian spent over ten years working in both the nonprofit and government sectors managing violence prevention education programming and leading development activities. Throughout her career, she has worked with low-income communities of color and other undserresourced communities. Davian is deeply committed to social justice issues and served on the Inclusiveness Committee for Boulder County AIDS Project and on the Board of Directors and Grantmaking Committee of the Chinook Fund. She is currently a commissioner for the Health Equity Commission for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Davian holds a masters degree in social work and an undergraduate degree in psychology, both from the University of Denver. 

Janel Hines

Driector of Grant Programs and Strategic Initatives

Greater Milwaukee Foundation


Janel Hines is the Driector of Grant Programs for the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. She joined the organization in January 2011 and has helped to improve its strategic grantmaking process which supports investments in education, neighborhoods, workforce development, racial equity and inclusion, arts and health and human services. Mrs. Hines previously worked for the Wisconsin Departments of Children and Families, Health and Family Services, and Workforce Development with a focus on child welfare and Wisconsin Works policy. Additionally, she worked in nonprofit management and administration and developed and managed domestic violence, substance abuse and mental health programs for men, women and children. Ms. Hines has extensive experience working with various populations and collaborating with multiple systems including workforce development, child welfare, corrections, early care and education and behavioral health. She attended the University of Wisconsin – Madison where she received her Bachelor of Art and law degrees.

Bryan Hogle

Program Officer

Kresge Foundation

124.864.3963 ext. 0

Bryan Hogle is a Program Officer with The Kresge Foundation's Detroit and Community Development programs. He joined Kresge in September 2013, serving as a fellow in the Executive Office and transitioned to the program staff in June 2014. Before that, he worked with the consulting firm McKinsey & Company in Detroit for two years. “I was looking for a way to have a greater impact on the day-to-day life of the city,” says Bryan, who moved to Detroit in 2012. Bryan earned master’s degree in business administration and master of science degrees in 2011 from the University of Michigan. As a graduate student at the Erb Institute, he did a consulting project for a socially focused division of the cement company Cemex in Mexico and worked at Turtlerock Greentech LLC, an Ann Arbor-based consulting firm focused on sustainable transportation and renewable energy. He is using his business background to advance the Detroit Program team’s efforts to strengthen city neighborhoods by fostering sustainability, expanding economic opportunity and stabilizing property values and tax base. Bryan holds an undergraduate degree from Michigan State University and served five years as an officer in the U.S. Navy, in communications on the USS Mahan and in the Reactor Electrical division on the USS Ronald Reagan.

Mac Howison

Senior Program Officer for Catalytic Funding

The Sprout Fund


Mac Howison joined  The Sprout Fund  in 2004 and today leads the organization’s grantmaking activities as the Senior Program Officer for Catalytic Funding, managing a funding portfolio that spans a history of more than 700 projects and $5 million invested. He works with the team at Sprout to inspire innovation through a blend of catalytic support, community building, and communications.

Sana Jafri

Program Officer

The Chicago Community Trust 

312.616.8000 ext. 280

Sana Jafri is a Program Officer with the Hive Chicago Fund for Connected Learning at The Chicago Community Trust.  She has diverse personal and professional experiences that are knitted together by an emphasis on improving lives and communities through social change. Her previous professional experiences include working in development and at a philanthropic consulting firm that conducted program development and evaluation for foundations and nonprofits internationally and nationally, completing an internship at the Clinton Foundation, as well as serving as a journalism and English teacher in Chicago and India. Interested in learning more about systems change, Sana completed her Master's in Public Policy and Administration with an emphasis on early childhood education from Northwestern University. During her free time, she serves on the board of directors at the YWCA Evanston/Northshore and is a member of Chicago chapter of the Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP).

Michelle Jaramillo

Director of Communications

Partners for Progress

844. 324. 3840

Michelle Jaramillo is the Communications Director at Partners for Progress in San Diego, California. Prior to working at Partners for Places, Michelle was the Community Impact Director at the San Diego Community Foundation. , Michelle developed and managed strategies that advanced the Foundation’s WELL (Work, Enjoy, Live, Learn) framework.  Through collaboration with nonprofits, community stakeholders, government, business, philanthropy, and academia, she helped drive systemic change to address the needs of the region.  Previously, as Communications Director of the San Diego Housing Federation, Michelle supported a coalition of leaders and organizations, working to ensure all San Diegans have access to a safe, stable and affordable place to call home. She also served as Director of Communications and Programs for the U.S. – Mexico Border Philanthropy Partnership, overseeing development and public outreach efforts to grow philanthropy, leadership and collaboration in the binational region. Michelle was a co-founder and chair of the San Diego Chapter of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy and a co-founder and current chair of the Latina Giving Circle of San Diego.  She has B.A. in Political Science and Latin American Studies from the University of Toronto and a Master of Arts in Nonprofit Leadership and Management at the University of San Diego.

Jaime Love

Program Officer

Interact for Health


Jaime Love is a Program Officer for the Healthy Eating and Active Living priorities at Interact for Health. Interact for Health is a local foundation which serves a 20 county region in Ohio, Northern Kentucky and Indiana. Prior to working at Interact for Health, Ms. Love was a Health Educator with Hamilton County Public Health for over 10 years. She focused on chronic disease prevention working on the WeTHRIVE! Initiative. The project utilized policy, systems and environmental change strategies in the community and school settings. Ms. Love previously served as the Coordinator of the Hamilton County Tobacco-Free Partnership, the Hamilton County Safe Communities Coalition and the Hamilton County Fall Prevention Task Force which included being responsible for the coordination and implementation of tobacco-control and injury prevention efforts in Hamilton County. Ms. Love is a Certified Health Education Specialist and a member of the Ohio Society for Public Health Education. She currently serves as an Adjunct Professor at Union Institute & University teaching a graduate-level course in Grant Writing. Ms. Love received her Master of Education degree in Health Promotion and Education at the University of Cincinnati in 2001 and her BS in Health Fitness at Central Michigan University in 1999.

Aaron Robertson

Community Programs Officer

Seattle Foundation


Aaron Robertson is a Community Programs Officer at  Seattle Foundation. Aaron staffs the Foundation’s Center for Community Partnerships, working to advance collaborative, systemic change to achieve greater economic and racial equity in King County. He also leads the Foundation’s Civic Leadership approach, guiding Seattle Foundation’s advocacy efforts. Prior to his role in the Center for Community Partnerships, Aaron led Seattle Foundation’s Youth Grantmaking Program, offering youth the chance to inform the Foundation’s approach to local issues and use philanthropy to create positive change in their community. Aaron serves on the Board of Directors for the Service Board – a Seattle nonprofit that empowers low-income teens through social justice curriculum and public service, and the Washington Bus – a statewide organization that engages and empowers young people through hands-on democracy. Aaron is a graduate of Seattle University, the University of Washington’s Nonprofit Executive Leadership Institute and the Leadership Tomorrow program.