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Introducing the 2021 Classy Awards Leadership Council


By Hannah Durbin

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Reading Time: 12 minutes

The collective knowledge of our Leadership Council makes the Classy Awards a distinction unlike any other. This honorary board of industry experts, which represents the larger spectrum of the social sector, collectively determines the annual Classy Awards Winners, and today we’re proud to announce the 2021 Leadership Council that will be hand-selecting this year’s award recipients.

Our Leadership Council incorporates a diverse array of expertise and cause affiliations with representation from nonprofit organizations, corporations, foundations, academic institutions, and many more. These individuals were selected to apply their unique perspectives into the judging process and help determine this year’s Social Innovation Winners.

Learn more about these thought leaders and their respective areas of expertise in the following breakdown of our 2021 Leadership Council.

Academic Institutions

Alnoor Ebrahim
Professor of Management
The Fletcher School & Tisch College of Civic Life, Tufts University
  • His work examines the challenges of performance measurement, accountability, and governance facing organizations with a social purpose 
  • Author of Measuring Social Change: Performance and Accountability in a Complex World, which received The Alliance for Nonprofit Management’s Best Book Award for 2020


Kimberly Mitchell
Senior Vice President for Military, Veteran and Government Affairs
National University
  • Leads the innovative efforts at National University for military, veteran, and military family educational degree programs 
  • First woman selected to be President & CEO of Veterans Village of San Diego, and is a 2019 George W. Bush Presidential Center Stand-To Veterans Leadership Program Scholar 


Nonprofit Leaders

Abby Maxman
President and CEO
Oxfam America
  • Has more than 30 years of experience in humanitarian relief and development
  • Brings a strategic focus on addressing the policies and systems that perpetuate global poverty


Ami McReynolds
Chief Equity and Programs Officer
Feeding America
  • Designs and launches new initiatives, drives organizational strategy, and helps chart the future of Feeding America
  • Prior to her current role, she spent 15 years in for-profit and higher education institutions with a focus in organizational development and leadership effectiveness


Anna Rathmann
Executive Director
Jane Gooddall Institute USA
  • Leads a team of over 200 to advance Dr. Jane Goodall’s vision and the mission of JGI
  • Has direct experience establishing charitable entities in the U.S., UK, and Canada


Arlene Fortunato
Senior Vice President for Advancement
The Greater Boston Food Bank
  • 43 years of experience as a development professional, nonprofit leader, and LGBTQ+ community activist 
  • Received the 2021 Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce Pinnacle Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management


Aysha Akhtar, M.D., M.P.H
President and CEO
Center for Contemporary Sciences
  • Double-certified neurologist and preventive medicine specialist with a background in public health, working toward the transition to replace the use of animal experimentation with superior human-based testing methods
  • Previously served as deputy director of the U.S. Army Traumatic Brain Injury Program, developing the Army’s brain injury prevention and treatment strategies for soldiers


Bernard Mauricia
Oncology and Kids
  • Helped co-found Oncology and Kids, Inc. with his colleagues in 2020 who now also collectively oversee Camp Reach for the Sky, a free camp program for kids affected by cancer that is one of only three Gold-Ribbon children’s oncology camps in California 
  • Previously served as CEO of The Seany Foundation, a pediatric cancer foundation


Caryn York
Job Opportunities Task Force
  • Job Opportunities Task Force’s youngest CEO
  • First African American female to lead the 24-year organization


Christina Lewis
All Star Code, Give Blck
  • Founder of All Star Code, co-founder of Give Blck, and Treasurer of her family grantmaking entity, The Reginald F. Lewis Foundation
  • Award-winning journalist of “Lonely at the Top,” a memoir of her father, Reginald Lewis, the first African-American to build a billion-dollar business


Dale Bannon
National Community Relations and Development Director & National Spokesperson
The Salvation Army USA
  • Has 20 years of nonprofit executive leadership experience
  • Prior to his current role, he served as executive director and chief operating officer for The Salvation Army National Capital region in Washington, D.C.


Eleanor Meyers
Interim Chief Operating Officer
  • Her work enables NetHope members to be more effective and efficient through the use of technology
  • Previously served as CIO at Medair, CIO of World Vision Canada, and Deputy CIO of World Vision International


Gabriella Morris
Chief Philanthropy Officer
World Food Program USA
  • Leads all aspects of philanthropic fundraising and partnership development on behalf of the United Nations World Food Programme
  • The work of the organization was recently recognized with the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to combat hunger and bettering conditions for peace by preventing the use of hunger as a weapon of war 


Jeff Kula
Vice Chairman, Philanthropy
Cleveland Clinic
  • 13 years of experience at Cleveland Clinic
  • Responsible for day-to-day operations of the Philanthropy Institute, including budgeting and financial analysis, strategic planning, and talent management


Kelly Ernst
Senior Vice President
March of Dimes, Inc.
  • Responsible for a team of over 300 focused on building out diverse revenue portfolios and driving improved health outcomes for mothers and babies 
  • Prior to her work with March of Dimes, she focused internationally on the impacts of social and environmental factors on the health of women and their families 


Kelly Tweeddale
Executive Director
San Francisco Ballet
  • Her career has been dedicated to connecting people and places through performing arts 
  • Selected in 2009 as one of Puget Sound Business Journal’s Women of Influence and nominated in 2015 as one of Metro Vancouver’s YWCA Women of Distinction in the category of arts, culture, and design 


Kristin Bertell, m.a., cfre
Chief Philanthropy Officer
City of Hope
  • Oversees a team of nearly 160 staff in executing a diverse portfolio of fundraising programs and activities
  • She leads City of Hope’s evolving 100-plus year fundraising platform, all the while maintaining its status as a Charity Navigator 4-star rated organization


Nate Mook
World Central Kitchen
  • Leads World Central Kitchen’s emergency and disaster relief efforts and long-term impact projects 
  • Personally helped create and lead #ChefsForPuertoRico after Hurricane Maria that served nearly 4 millions meals to people in need


Raj Kamachee
Team Rubicon Inc
  • Has extensive tech expertise from his years of startup experience in commerce, healthcare, and defense 
  • Prior to his current role, he founded a software consulting company and led software development for projects for the Department of Defense


Sam Dorison
Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer
The Trevor Project
  • Personally focused on positioning The Trevor Project to serve more young people than the 20,000 youth served today
  • Previously oversaw The Trevor Project’s crisis services program, when chat and text services expanded to 24/7 for the first time in the organization’s history, and oversaw the operations portfolio when Trevor launched an artificial intelligence partnership with Google


Sharon Russell
Vice President, Finance and Donor Development
Shriners Hospital for Children
  • 10 years in this role leading large teams in the four main areas of accounting, investments, donor development, and revenue cycle
  • Her leadership has increased development revenue by more than 400% to nearly $275 million


Susan Asiyabi
Chief Transformation Officer
Teach For America
  • Coaches executives on how to lead through change
  • Concurrently, she is also the founder and senior partner of a practice that helps executives and emerging leaders forge the capabilities and relationships to accelerate growth and expand impact 


Data and Knowledge Centers

Jacob Harold
Executive Vice President
  • Within his role, he crafts raw data into insights, practices, and a shared narrative for the field 
  • Previously served as president and CEO of GuideStar, leading its effort to unite with Foundation Center to form Candid in 2019


Michael Thatcher
President and CEO
Charity Navigator
  • The organization works to provide donors and the charities they love with tools, ratings, and information needed for informed decisions and investments 
  • Spent 15 years with Microsoft prior to Charity Navigator, the last 10 of which as their public-sector chief technology officer 



Erik Arnold
Global CTO, Tech for Social Impact
  • Leads the engineering product strategy for nonprofits and the United Nations 
  • In addition, he is in charge of the Microsoft Philanthropies programs for digital enablement and the company’s cloud software donation strategy                                                                                                                                                                                   


Jon Fee
  • Prior to Salesforce, he worked in financial services as managing director and global head of marketing in iShares and Index Investments at BlackRock
  • Founded Parks and Records in 2007, a purpose-driven independent record label


Leah Koontz
Vice President Controller
Southwest Airlines
  • 28-year career with the airline 
  • Oversees all Accounting and Financial Reporting, SOX, Tax, and Controller Operations



Security Software

Erin Baudo Felter
Vice President, Social Impact and Sustainability
  • Leads Okta for Good, the company’s corporate social impact initiative
  • Prior to her role, she held various corporate social impact roles at Zynga, Yahoo, and Warner Bros.


Software & Data Quality Engineering

Rajesh Anandan
Vice President, Social Impact and Sustainability
  • Co-founder of Ultranauts, an award-winning quality engineering firm with employees in 29 states across the U.S., 75% of whom are on the autism spectrum 
  • Ultranauts has been named a FastCompany World Changing Idea, MIT SOLVE Challenge Winner, and Interbrand Breakthrough Brand 


Global Movement

Jan D’Alessandro
Head of Equity Initiative
Pledge 1%
  • Co-founder of Ultranauts, an award-winning quality engineering firm with employees in 29 states across the U.S., 75% of whom are on the autism spectrum
  • Ultranauts has been named a FastCompany World Changing Idea, MIT SOLVE Challenge Winner, and Interbrand Breakthrough Brand


Woodrow Rosenbaum
Chief Data Officer
Giving Tuesday
  • Instrumental in shaping the global Giving Tuesday movement 
  • Additionally, he is the founder and CEO of With Intent, an international consumer marketing agency 



International Agency

Fatema Sumar
Vice President of Compact Operations
Millennium Challenge Corporation
  • Has expertise in international development, foreign policy, diplomacy, and advocacy 
  • Oversees Millennium Challenge Corporation’s signature grant investment vehicle to reduce poverty through economic growth


U.S. Foreign Assistance Agency

Robert Opp
Chief Digital Officer
United Nations Development Programme
  • Leads the agency’s digital transformation, an organizational-wide effort to harness the power of new technology to improve the lives of those furthest behind 
  • Prior to this, he established an in-house “Zero Hunger” innovation accelerator and created an award winning crowdfunding smartphone app, ShareTheMeal



Eric Nee
Editor in Chief
Stanford Social Innovation Review
  • Has more than 35 years of experience in the publishing industry 
  • Named one of the most influential technology journalists by Technology Marketing from 1997 to 2001                                                                                                                                                                                


Monique Aiken
Managing Director
The Investment Integration Project, Impact Alpha
  • Has 15 years of experience in investment banking
  • In addition to her role, she hosts “The Reconstruction,” a podcast about moving capital towards justice 


Foundations, Public Charities, Grantmaking

Dr. Akua Woolbright
National Nutrition Program Director
Whole Cities Foundation
  • Helped create and implement the Whole Foods Market healthy eating program 
  • Runs the Whole Foods Market Let’s Talk About Food Nutrition and Culinary Education Center in Detroit                                                                                                                                                                                 


Brittany Boettcher
Skoll Foundation
  • Responsible for supporting the sourcing and selecting of strategically aligned investments in the Skoll Foundation’s portfolio
  • Led the Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship that has invested in over 120 global organizations, and co-led Skoll’s Portfolio Intelligence practice aimed at developing insights on portfolio impact 


Chris Helfrich
Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation
  • Played a major role in Eat. Learn. Play. Foundation’s ability to provide 16 million meals to children and families in the Oakland area in 2020 
  • Previously served as CEO of the Starlight Children’s Foundation, the nation’s leading organization working to transform the hospital experience for millions of seriously and terminally-ill children across the U.S.


Iara Peng
Founder and CEO
Just Fund
  • Has worked in nonprofits for over 20 years building new programs and organizations within the sector and supporting emerging leaders
  • Founder of JustFund.us, an innovative online portal that streamlines the grantmaking process for funders, founder of Prism, a national nonprofit news outlet, and Founder of Young People For, a national leadership development organization helping young professionals create change 


Michael Smith
Executive Director
Obama Foundation, My Brother’s Keeper
  • Part of the team that designed and launched the My Brother’s Keeper initiative
  • Appointed special assistant to the president and senior director of cabinet affairs for My Brother’s Keeper, managing the initiative and interagency Task Force at the White House 


Rebecca Anderson
Vice President, Donor Effectiveness
Fidelity Charitable
  • Has over 20 years of experience that spans the nonprofit sector, consulting, and financial services 
  • Most recently led work related to the digital transformation, service excellence, and supporting individuals in effective giving at Fidelity Charitable


Veronica Olazabal
Senior Advisor and Director, Measurement, Evaluation and Organizational Performance
The Rockefeller Foundation
  • Has 20 years of experience designing, implementing, and leading global programs, research, and evaluation across four continents
  • Currently serves on various funding and advisory boards, including World Benchmarking Alliance, and has recently been elected president of the American Evaluation Association for 2022  


Victoria Vrana
Deputy Director, Philanthropic Partnerships
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Has been with the foundation for 10 years 
  • Previously served as the vice president of communications and assessment at Venture Philanthropy Partners 

Impact Investor, Venture Philanthropy

Amrita Bhandari
Chief of Business Development
  • Served as Acumen’s CFO for three years 
  • Developed her own independent consulting practice with a focus on inspiring organizations in the social sector


Robyn Swift
Venture Partner
Transform Capital
  • This firm donates half of its profit to charities via Transform Capital Foundation
  • In addition to her role, she is also the director of strategic initiatives for the Batten Institute of UVA’s Darden School of Business

Since 2009, the Classy Awards have brought together social sector leaders and influencers to recognize the achievements of thousands of nonprofits and social enterprises addressing our world’s greatest challenges. This year, our esteemed Leadership Council will work together to honor the organizations that continue to move our society forward and combat today’s social and environmental challenges.

If you haven’t already, submit your nomination application by May 11 for the opportunity to share how your team embraced new ideas, creative models, and the latest technologies to better serve the world at large.

Classy Awards Finalists will be announced at the Collaborative: Virtual Sessions on June 9, and Winners will be announced September 28.

Save the Date for the 2021 Collaborative

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