Program Leadership & Faculty

Program Leadership

Luisa Boyarski, Ph.D., Program Director

Luisa Boyarski, Ph.D. is the Associate Director Georgetown University’s Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership and Associate Research Professor at the McCourt School of Public Policy. She is involved in developing and executing the Center’s many executive education and customized programs, and representing the Center at Georgetown University and in the broader community. She recently researched and wrote How to Lead Systems Change Work and Advancing Racial Equity Within Nonprofit Organizations. Luisa frequently conducts workshops and gives keynote addresses on NGO Management and High Impact NGOs to international delegations, including trainings in China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Mongolia, Panama, Romania, and St. Vincent. She has also co-taught an undergraduate course on Philanthropy and Social Change. Prior to working at CPNL, she was the Executive Director of a D.C.-based nonprofit, working on global warming prevention with Arctic indigenous people. She currently leads a coalition of grassroots groups in Virginia, representing over 15,000 residents. Luisa received her Ph.D. in Comparative Government from Georgetown University, with a research focus on the role of nonprofit coalitions in public policy advocacy.

Kathy Postel Kretman, Ph.D. , Senior Advisor

Kathy Postel Kretman, Ph.D., is the Director of Georgetown University’s Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership; Waldemar A. Nielsen Chair in Philanthropy; and Research Professor at the McCourt School of Public Policy. She has devoted most of her career to the development of leaders in the public, nonprofit and philanthropic sectors. One of the highlights of her career has been directing Georgetown’s internationally recognized Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate Program, which has 1,700 alumni across the globe. Prior to coming to Georgetown, she served on the faculties of the George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management, and the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Executive Leadership Institute. Earlier in her career, Kathy advised CEOs on corporate social responsibility; led a NYC citizens’ initiative to advocate for the first urban National Park; and investigated discriminatory employment and voting practices for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. Kathy is currently serving on the President’s Council of Woodwell Climate Research Center, and on the Board of Live It, Learn It in D.C.  Kathy holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Maryland, a M.A. in Public Administration from George Washington University, and a B.S. from the University of Texas at Austin.

Program Faculty

Susan Taylor Batten

Susan Taylor Batten is President and Chief Executive Officer of ABFE: A Philanthropic Partnership for Black Communities. ABFE, established in 1971 as the Association of Black Foundation Executives, is a membership-based philanthropic organization that advocates for responsive and transformative investments in Black communities. Since joining ABFE in 2009, Susan has led the organization’s philanthropic advising and programming on responsive philanthropy in Black communities for foundation leaders, donors and aligned partners. Prior to joining ABFE, Susan served as senior associate with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a grantmaking institution focused on improving outcomes for vulnerable children.  In this role, she served as staff in the Community Change Initiatives Unit and managed a portfolio on equity, diversity and inclusion which included responsibilities for internal development and external grantmaking in these areas. In the public sector, Susan worked as a senior analyst for the U.S. Department of Agriculture where she directed research and evaluation on food assistance programs; she also served in the Government of the District of Columbia as an analyst on initiatives supporting children, youth and families. Susan serves on the boards of the Caribbean Philanthropic Alliance, Giving Gap, and the Schott Foundation for Public Education and is an adjunct lecturer at the Valdry Center for Philanthropy at Southern University. She received her master’s degree in social work from Howard University and her bachelor’s degree in English and political science from Fisk University.

Judy Belk

As a prolific thought leader, advisor, and executive coach on philanthropic giving, Judy Belk has held senior executive leadership positions in the government, corporate, and philanthropic sectors over the years. Most recently she served as the President & CEO of The California Wellness Foundation for nine years. Under her leadership, the foundation launched an investing strategy to leverage the foundation’s endowment for social impact; created a $13 million ground-breaking initiative targeting unmet health needs for women of color, and founded the Hope and Heal Fund, California’s first donor collaborative on gun violence prevention. Prior to joining Cal Wellness in 2014, Judy served for eleven years as senior vice president for Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and also served as vice president of global public affairs for Levi Strauss & Co. She currently serves on the board of Hedgebrook, a global women’s writing retreat promoting women’s voices and social change. She is a former board member of the Surdna Foundation and has also served on the boards of the ACLU of Northern California, the Ms. Foundation for Women, and the Berkeley Repertory Theater. Judy has received numerous awards including the “James A. Joseph Lecturer on Philanthropy” by the Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE), and the “Ann Reiss Lane Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Women Against Gun Violence. She has been inducted in her hometown of Alexandria, Virginia’s African American Hall of Fame and is a proud member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Judy received a BS in communications from Northwestern University and a MA in public administration from California State University, East Bay.

Cedric Brown

Cedric Brown is an award-winning leader for social justice, with 20+ years of deep and varied experience in philanthropy and nonprofits. He has a significant track record of working to ensure pathways to opportunities for people of color in the U.S. through tech sector inclusion, college readiness, arts/cultural representation, and voter education/civic engagement. Cedric has an extensive history as a funder, directing a California-based family foundation for over a decade. Over the length of his career, he brokered $75M to communities through grants and scholarships. During this time, he was an active and dedicated advisor and board member to numerous local and regional nonprofits, affinity groups, and projects. He has been quoted in MSNBC, CNET, Essence Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the New York Times, among other media. Most recently, Cedric managed global leadership programs for the Obama Foundation, where he designed and launched two initiatives in direct consultation with the former president. He currently serves on the boards of the Panta Rhea Foundation, TheGuardian.org, and Atlantic Fellows for Racial Equity. Cedric holds a Masters in Education Policy from Stanford University and earned an Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership. He recently launched Blue Skies Advising, a consultancy offering high quality program development for philanthropy and nonprofits.

Julia Coffman

Julia Coffman has been an evaluator working in philanthropy for close to 30 years. She is founder and Executive Director of the Center for Evaluation Innovation (CEI), a nonprofit organization that partners with philanthropy to provide changemakers the space and resources needed to advance racial justice and create an equitable future. CEI leads evaluation projects, consults with foundations on strategy and learning, and supports learning and evaluation field building through convening and research. As part of this field-building work, since 2012, Julia has been a co-lead of the Evaluation Roundtable, a network of learning and evaluation leaders in over 150 foundations across the US and in Canada. Julia has particular expertise in evaluating complex systems change, and is a recognized leader in the advocacy and policy change evaluation field. For 15 years prior to founding CEI in 2009, she led evaluation efforts at the Harvard Family Research Project, a research and evaluation organization at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Julia has a graduate degree in justice studies and an undergraduate degree in psychology.

Aaron Dorfman

Aaron Dorfman is president and CEO of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP), a research and advocacy organization that works to ensure America’s grantmakers and wealthy donors are responsive to the needs of those with the least wealth, opportunity and power. Aaron, a thoughtful critic, frequently speaks and writes about the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in philanthropy, the benefits of funding advocacy and community organizing, and the need for greater accountability and transparency in the philanthropic sector. Before joining NCRP in 2007, Aaron served for 15 years as a community organizer with two national organizing networks, spearheading grassroots campaigns on a variety of issues. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Carleton College, a master’s degree in philanthropic studies from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University and serves on the boards of Capital & Main, The Center for Popular Democracy and re:power.

Hannah Hahn

Hannah Hahn is the Executive Director of The England Family Foundation, a private family foundation that is dedicated to promoting equity, social justice, and democracy in the Washington, DC area and throughout the United States. She was previously a Program Officer for The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, a private foundation committed to building a stronger community for residents of the Washington DC area. Before joining Cafritz, she was at The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation and has a decade of experience establishing strategic funding priorities, strengthening giving policies and practices, and building the capacity of nonprofit organizations. Hannah came to philanthropy after a significant career in international development. She was a technical director advising economic development, women’s empowerment, and education programming in 23 countries in Africa, Asia, Eurasia and South America. She has presented reports to the World Bank and at the OEDC and was recognized by The Society for International Development with the Andrew W. Rice Award for passion, commitment, creativity, and impact in the international development field. She was also the founding COO of Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE), a social enterprise that reduces school absenteeism for Rwandan girls by manufacturing low-cost, sanitary pads. Hannah holds a Master of Education degree from Harvard Graduate School of Education, a Bachelor of Arts from McGill University, and a certificate in Nonprofit Management from The Georgetown University Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership.

Valeria Lassiter

Endorsed by clients as a top strategist, Valeria Lassiter brings expert analysis and unmatched energy to guide executives and leadership boards. In 2003, she formed her management consulting firm, Lassiter & Associates, LLC, to provide mission-driven organizations with smart strategic planning, fundraising, tailored coaching, and creative training solutions. Valeria has forged a career in government public affairs, community-based organizations, and corporate philanthropy. Since 2003, she has served as the lead adjunct faculty member with the Georgetown University Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership Certificate Program. Valeria has coached and trained more than 2,000 nonprofit executives for various organizations including The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, The Charles Schusterman Family Foundation, The Case Foundation, JP Morgan Chase Foundation, and Wells Fargo Regional Foundation. Valeria holds a Bachelor of Communications from East Carolina University, a Master of Divinity from Colgate Rochester Divinity School, and an MBA from Babson College. She is currently Immediate Past Chair of the NEA Foundation and has served as a member of the East Carolina University Foundation Board of Directors and as the chair of the Women’s Philanthropy Roundtable at East Carolina University. Valeria is a graduate of Leadership Montgomery County, Maryland, and a judge for the 2020 AND 2021 .ORG Impact Awards. She is the author of “Exploring the Experiences of Leaders of Color and Philanthropy” (March 2020) and “5 Things Nonprofits Can Control During Hyper Change” (April 2020).

Hanh Le

Hanh Le is Co-CEO of iF, A Foundation for Radical Possibility, which envisions a world in which Black people and people of the global majority live powerfully, abundantly and beautifully in healthy, self-determined communities free of social, economic and ideological violence. Hanh joined iF in February 2021 as VP of Strategic Partnerships. In November 2022, she and her colleague Temi F. Bennett were appointed as Co-CEOs of the foundation. Hanh was previously Executive Director of the Weissberg Foundation, in Arlington, VA, where she led strategy development and implementation; oversaw programmatic and operational activities; and collaborated with other philanthropic and nonprofit leaders to advance racial equity through field-building, pooled funding, and collective action. She has served as chief program officer at Exponent Philanthropy, leading educational programming and content development catered to small foundation staff and trustees; and she has directed training, grant, and technical assistance programs for KaBOOM!, Community Technology Centers’ Network, and Peace Corps Eastern Caribbean. Inspired by the power of community-centered and collaborative impact, Hanh co-founded DC’s Cherry Blossom Giving Circle and co-chairs the Metro DC chapter of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy. She serves on the boards of Philanthropy DMV, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, and Asian American LEAD. Hanh holds degrees in environmental geology from the College of William & Mary and in urban and environmental planning from the University of Virginia.

Tariana Navas-Nieves

Tariana Navas-Nieves is Deputy Director for Denver Arts & Venues (City & County of Denver) and has 30 years of experience in the arts and cultural sector, equity and social justice work; philanthropy; venue management; museum and curatorial practice; translation and interpretation; television and communications. As Deputy Director, she oversees the Cultural Affairs Division, which includes the agency departments of Grants & Cultural Investments, Public Art, Cultural Programs & Events, and Sector Leadership, Education & Training. She also leads the development of the historic May-Bonfils Stanton Theatre as a new cultural hub in Denver, and the first new venue for Denver Arts & Venues in over a decade. Tariana was appointed by former mayor Michael B. Hancock to serve on the City’s Equity Leadership Team (ELT), responsible for establishing the first Office of Social Equity & Innovation for the city and the oversight and implementation of the City’s equity goals working with all City agencies. Denver Arts & Venues was the first agency in the City with an Equity Platform, which she developed. She serves on the boards of Grantmakers in the Arts (Board Chair), Philanthropy Colorado (Board Chair), and Colorado Business Committee for the Arts. She is co-author of the nationally recognized grant making toolkit Re-Tool: Racial Equity in the Panel Process (new window), and created the web series “How to be an Anti-Racist Organization: A Conversation with Dwinita & Tariana”. She was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Margaret O’Bryon

Margaret O’Bryon has over two decades of experience creating and leading start-up social change institutions and initiatives. She served as an Assistant Research Professor, founder and Executive Director of the Policy Innovation Lab, an initiative of the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University. The Lab offers students educational and hands-on experiences that develop the skills and understanding necessary to create policy that serves and responds to the needs of communities. Margaret previously served as the Waldemar A. Nielsen Chair in Philanthropy from 2013-2015. Prior to becoming the Nielsen Chair, Margaret worked in the field of philanthropy for several decades, including 15 years as founding president and CEO of the Consumer Health Foundation (CHF).* CHF is the principal non-profit health foundation serving the Washington, DC metropolitan region. Under her leadership, CHF spearheaded the creation of cross-sector collaborations aimed at addressing the multiple factors affecting the health of local communities, particularly communities of color.  She has held regional and national leadership positions, including chair of the board of Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers and Grantmakers in Health, representing health philanthropy in the United States. Margaret is a recipient of the Terrance Keenan Leadership Award.  The award honors outstanding individuals in health philanthropy whose work is distinguished by leadership, innovation, and achievement. Margaret is the founder of Accelerating Change Group (ACG), an enterprise aimed at helping nonprofits, foundations, and their leadership develop and implement innovative strategies to address complex problems. She received her bachelor’s degree from Hamilton College and her master’s degree in urban and regional planning from the George Washington University. *CHF has been rebranded and is now if, a Foundation for Radical Possibility.

Brenda Solorzano

Change maker, believer in the power of community, driver of innovation and learning and always makes time for play. Brenda has spent her career working for good in the philanthropic world on issues related to health policy, the health care safety net and community health issues affecting vulnerable populations. She is a strategy, evaluation, program and grant making guru with an eye toward local collaboration and a keen sense that change happens when communities come together to engage in good work. She is invested in the work of the Headwaters Foundation because she believes every child deserves a healthy start to life. She left her beloved San Francisco to move to Montana to re-invent philanthropic practices at Headwaters and live in Big Sky Country with its slower pace of life and stunning beauty. Brenda holds a bachelor’s degree in history and political science, a juris doctorate, is a member of the California state bar association and is a Terrance Keenan Emerging Leader in Philanthropy Fellow. Living in Montana, Brenda is learning to be an avid lover of nature and the great outdoors, along with her husband and two children.

Nikki Highsmith Vernick

Nikki Highsmith Vernick is president and CEO of the Horizon Foundation where she leads the Horizon Foundation in pursuing its mission to improve the health and wellness of people who live or work in Howard County and around Maryland. As the largest independent health foundation in Maryland, Nikki works alongside community partners to advance health equity so that everyone in Howard County can live longer, better and happier lives. She has evolved the Horizon Foundation into a strategic, equity-centered and impact-driven foundation with a local, regional and national presence. Nikki previously served as senior vice president for program at the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) where she led national programs to improve health care for low-income Americans. Prior to that, she was deputy director of the Massachusetts Medicaid Managed Care Program, worked as a senior Medicaid analyst at the White House Office of Management and Budget, and was a professional staff member for a U.S. Congressman and Texas State Representative. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Texas and a master’s degree in public administration from American University. She currently serves as chair of the board of the National Academy of State Health Policy. She also serves as a board member for Grantmakers in Health, a national philanthropy serving organization. She has received numerous awards, including the recent 2021 Daily Record’s Most Admired CEO Award, the 2020 Daily Record Health Care Heroes Award for COVID-19, and the 2020 United Way Frank Miller Spirit of Partnership Award.