The DC Fund was initiated in 2010 by a number of volunteer community activists and donors to support projects in communities of color in the District of Columbia. We are led and operated by an all-volunteer Board of Instigators. Our founding Board of Instigators was inaugurated in July 2011.
Instigator since 2011
Brigette brings over 25 years’ experience building nonprofit effectiveness toward a just society. Her practice advances systems change through facilitation/training, leadership development, action research and speaking. She serves the public interest sector (nonprofits and government) working independently and with RoadMap (www.roadmapconsulting.org), the premier network of social justice consultants – serving on its core team and racial justice action team. Using an intersectional lens to support power-sharing, she directed a $4 million collaborative at Ms. Foundation for Women, co-authored Embracing Cultural Competency and created the Cultural Competency Institute to promote equity. She played a key role in forming Diverse City Fund, and Train the Movement (offering training/facilitation to strengthen racial justice activism). Brigette has taught at universities in Philadelphia and DC, worked as a journalist covering Capitol Hill, and done public policy advocacy as an attorney for a national association. Brigette is a graduate of Howard University (B.A.), Georgetown University (J.D.), and University of Pennsylvania (Ph.D. studies). She continually cultivates skill and enriches perspective through communities of practice such as Art of Transformational Consulting, Gestalt Center for Organization Systems Development, and Shannon Leadership Institute.
Caitlin works to advance social justice and community voice in philanthropy. A native of New Jersey, she has six years of experience in the nonprofit sector, including direct service, education, research, and advocacy. As senior associate for learning and engagement with the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) based in downtown DC, she supports the organization’s sector presence and serves as staff liaison to community leaders and funders working for environmental and climate justice. Caitlin holds a M.A. in Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs from American University’s School of International Service, and a B.A. in Spanish from The College of New Jersey. In addition to her work with the Diverse City Fund, Caitlin serves on the Steering Committee for the DC chapter of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP).
Cathy Meals has been a donor to the Diverse City Fund and a member of its Board of Instigators since the Fund’s inception in 2011. She got her start in social justice organizing by working on the living wage campaign at Swarthmore College, from which she graduated in 2004. For nearly ten years, she was a researcher in the labor movement, supporting strategic organizing campaigns in the healthcare and retail industries. She works at the District of Columbia Public Library and is a Master of Library & Information Science candidate at the University of Maryland. At UMD, she is a Research & Teaching Fellow at McKeldin Library. Cathy grew up in Fairfax County, Virginia and has lived in DC since 2006.
David Mariner is an advocate and an activist who strives to provide people with the tools, the training, and the support they need in order to make meaningful changes in their local community. He has more than fifteen years of experience working and volunteering at national and local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and HIV/AIDS service organizations in a number of different capacities. As Executive Director of the DC Center for the LGBT Community, David is responsible for all aspects of the organization including development, communications, finance, and program implementation. David shares his personal writing on LGBTQ Activism at www.davidmariner.com and with over 50,000 individuals on his public Facebook page (/DavidMarinerNetwork).
Since moving to the District in 2000, Farah Fosse has focused on supporting community efforts to ensure that DC can be a diverse, inclusive, and just place to live. For 10 years, Farah directed the tenant organizing program at the Latino Economic Development Center, where she led affordable housing campaigns, supported tenant associations to preserve their housing, and became a local tenant rights and affordable housing nerd and champion. Farah is a Licensed Graduate Social Worker, with a focus on trauma-informed community building. She is currently working as a consultant supporting local social justice organizations and can regularly be found at playgrounds and story times (with her toddler), writing on big pieces of paper, and teaching empowerment self-defense.
Jane E. Thompson helps nonprofit organizations achieve their goals by working with management during times of change to implement practical solutions. Jane’s 30+ years of experience includes leadership positions in the nonprofit and for-profit private sectors and the government public sector. As an independent consultant, she helps organizations make sense of their financial information, guiding them to use the information to drive strategic decisions. Since 2009, she has consulting on a wide variety of projects, including strategic business plans, interim CFO and CEO, review of financial management systems and implementation of changes, endowment tracking and planning, and sustainability and alternative revenue proposals. Before starting her own consulting business, Jane served as the Chief Operating Officer for the District of Columbia Primary Care Association (DCPCA). In the private sector, she served as CEO of a DC and Maryland based health insurance organization focused exclusively on enrolling low income Medicaid recipients. In the government sector, she started the managed care program for DC Government’s Medicaid program in the mid-90s. She is a former adjunct faculty at Georgetown University teaching Strategic Planning and Health Promotion to Health Management and Administration undergraduates.
Mark Robinson has over 35 years of experience in community organizing, community development, conflict transformation, nonprofit leadership and coaching. Included in his diverse work history have been stints as Director of the DC Mediation Service, Senior Manager for Curriculum and Training at NeighborWorks America, Head Track and Field Coach at Catholic University, Lead Community Organizer for PACT US, and a founding member of the Spiritual Warrior Society. As a lifelong resident of the Last Colony (Washington, DC), he is extremely interested in and committed to helping grassroots organizations fulfill their mission and goals for the betterment of the city. In addition to his professional experience, he also had the opportunity to travel internationally in his youth as a track and field athlete, which opened up his desire to experience and learn from other cultures. Continuing to both be a lifelong learner and teacher is his major life goal.
Nicole Newman is a proud graduate of Trinity University (Washington, DC) with a degree in Political Science. She is an AmeriCorps Vista Alum and took a year to volunteer after college at a nonprofit in Silver Spring. Since graduation, Nicole has spent time working at local nonprofits getting hands on experience in providing services, building coalitions, coordinating volunteers, working in development and community organizing. She enjoys sunflowers, books, and chocolate. She is committed to seeing the divine in all people and things and creating spaces where both she and others can take up more space than commonly allowed. She is a member of Luther Place Memorial Church and on the shared leadership team of ONE DC.
Rebecca Ennen is a veteran grassroots fundraiser, political communicator, and expert trainer and facilitator. She works primarily in the local and domestic Jewish social justice movement, organizing a proudly progressive community to fight for a world where resources and power are distributed fairly and where historical and systematic oppression is ended. She has been with Jews United for Justice since 2010. Before then, she worked in dialogue and education on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict both in the US and Israel/Palestine, studied in yeshiva in New York, and worked as a professional theater artist, teacher, and community organizer in Hong Kong and Philadelphia. She studied theater and education at Swarthmore College and was a Fulbright Fellow in Sri Lanka. Rebecca lives in Petworth with her partner and child, and spends a lot of time building radical religious community.
Over a decade ago, Rebecca was asked if she would like to do a small gardening project with a group of kids in Columbia Heights. From that point on, the DC native grew to see urban gardening and the development of safe green spaces as a way to combine her interests in art, community development, youth stewardship and everything green. In 2009 City Blossoms was incorporated with a focus on fostering healthy communities by developing creative, kid-driven green spaces. Since then, City Blossoms has become a leader in the area, supporting over 100 green spaces, designing teaching tools and training for local and national organizations, and compiling a bilingual early childhood curriculum, Our First Harvest/Nuestra Primera Cosecha, and a cookbook, Garden Gastronomy/Gastronomía del Jardín. Rebecca has a BA from Fordham University, an MFA from Maryland Institute College of Art, and was recently included in the 50 under 50 list of food heroes by Elevation DC.
Rubie Coles is Deputy Director of the Moriah Fund in Washington, DC. She is responsible for directing and managing the foundation’s economic justice and reproductive justice grantmaking nationally and in the DC region. Prior to joining Moriah in 1999, Rubie served as Co-Director of Women Work!, a national women’s workforce development organization. Rubie received a Master in Public Administration degree from American University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oberlin College. She is a founding member of both the Black Philanthropic Alliance and Black Benefactors.
Sheri Brady is the Associate Director for Strategic Partnerships at Aspen Forum for Community Solutions, whose mission is to support community collaboration that enables communities to effectively address their most pressing challenges. She leads work on field building around collective impact, place based investment, community engagement and equity. Her strong commitment to social and economic justice that is reflected in her work. The major theme of her career has been advocating for policies that increase opportunities for communities, children, and families to thrive while securing the existing safety net. This has taken many forms including managing campaigns with child advocates to increase investments in vital programs; helping state legislators develop effective anti-poverty policies; and building the capacity of the nonprofits to engage in advocacy.
She also serves on the boards of the Paul J. Aicher Foundation/Everyday Democracy, which works to advance deliberative democracy and improve the quality of public life in the United States; and Women’s Equity Center and Action Network with the mission to provide women of color with tools and resources to facilitate their engagement in the policymaking that affects their daily lives.
Sujata Bhat is the Senior Manager for Public Engagement grantmaking at Education Forward DC. Prior to joining Ed Forward, she was the founding Executive Director of My School DC, the common application and lottery system for district and public charter schools in Washington, DC. She grew up in Ohio and has lived in Chicago and Bangalore, but has been proud to call DC home since 2009. Sujata holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Development from the University of Chicago and a Master’s degree in Public Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.
Tiffany FitzGerald was born at DC’s Columbia Hospital for Women, an historic health care facility that is now a luxury condominium. As an area native, transformations like this one formed the backdrop of Tiffany’s childhood and were the basis of a deeply rooted love of community and dedication to community empowerment. After earning a Bachelor’s degree in English and Communications from the College of William & Mary, Tiffany returned to her hometown to begin a career in fundraising for arts and culture organizations. She has held previous positions at the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Folger Shakespeare Library. Currently, Tiffany is Senior Development Strategist at the Center for Community Change, a national organization that works to empower low-income people — particularly in communities of color — to shape the policies and institutions that affect their lives. Tiffany is a proud resident of DC’s Ward 5, where she lives with her husband and son.
Instigators Emeritus: Alicia Sanchez Gill, Andrew Willis Garcés, Ayize Sabater, Burke Stansbury, David Krakow, Dominic Moulden, Elizabeth Falcon, Jess Champagne, Jessica Solomon, Jordana Fraider, Julia Howell Barros, Kristi Matthews, Kristina Gray-Akpa, and Sylvia Robinson
Please see our list of grantees to see members of our Grantmaking Teams for each grant round.