By Tere Figueras Negrete, Director of Communications

TFN is proud to announce our 2018 PLACES Fellows — 16 exemplary leaders in philanthropy who will embark on a year-long curriculum focusing on equity and inclusion.

A key element of TFN’s mission is to ensure these important values are reflected in the work we do — and ensuring that we support those working in philanthropy with the tools they need to turn ideals into outcomes.

For the second year in a row, our fellowship has drawn a record number of applicants from across the U.S. and Canada, and reflect a deep diversity in experience, expertise and backgrounds.

As we grapple with the real-life consequences of structural racism and other inequities, it’s hard to understate the important role philanthropy can play in these contentious times.

PLACES, whose alumni now number more than 100 individuals, is designed to help professionals in philanthropy embed an equity lens into the work they do. Recent cohorts have addressed issues impacting disenfranchised communities, including structural racism, gender justice, health equity, environmental sustainability, economic development and community engagement — asking difficult questions, exploring uncomfortable truths and confronting their own biases along the way.

Many of our PLACES fellows and alumni will be at our TFN 2018 Annual Conference in Houston March 19-21. Feel free to ask them about their PLACES experience, and don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly if you’d like to know more about this extraordinary fellowship.

Join us in congratulating the 2018 PLACES Cohort, and look forward to seeing you in Houston! To learn more about PLACES and to learn more about our 2018 Fellows, visit our PLACES Fellowship page.



2018 PLACES Fellows

Jaime Arteaga, community engagement manager, United Way of Metro Chicago


Ajeev Bhatia, program liaison, Laidlaw Foundation

Marvin D. Carr, program officer and the senior advisor for STEM and community engagement, Institute of Museum and Library Services


Rebecca Chan, program officer for national creative placemaking, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)

Ciara Coleman, program manager, W.K. Kellogg Foundation


Cara Ferrentino, program officer, William Penn Foundation

Maha Freij, deputy executive director and chief financial officer, ACCESS


Thomasina Hiers, director of Baltimore civic site, The Annie E. Casey Foundation

Nina Holzer, manager of CDC advancement, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress


Andrea Hulighan, coordinator for Youth Grantmakers in Action, The Winston-Salem Foundation

Maarten Jacobs, director of community prosperity, Allyn Family Foundation


Randy Lopez, program officer, Wyandotte Health Foundation

Kumar Raj, program officer, Skillman Foundation


Suganthi Simon, westside program officer, The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation

Joanna E.V. Trotter, senior program officer, The Chicago Community Trust


Natalia Valenzuela Swanson, program specialist for healthy eating and active living, Mary Black Foundation



In 2008, the Funders’ Network launched PLACES (Professionals Learning About Community, Equity and Smart Growth), its first philanthropic leadership development initiative. PLACES is designed as a year-long fellowship program that offers tools, knowledge and best practices to enhance funder grantmaking decisions in ways that are responsive to the needs and assets of low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. We are currently at 95 fellows and look forward to going over the 100 mark in 2017.

As a result of participating in the PLACES program, fellows develop:

An in-depth knowledge of how decisions about growth and development relate to issues of race/ethnicity/class;
Tools and resources to help them increase their effectiveness as grantmakers;
Exposure to best practices of grantmakers working in this field;
Leadership development and skill building opportunities;
Expanded networking opportunities; and
Access to PLACES and TFN networks.

Check out our most recent newsletter. For more information about the PLACES Fellowship, contact Dion Cartwright at