Meet our EL Advanced Practitioners

Nora Bateman, Minneapolis, MN


After 10 years in philanthropy, I recently joined Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota as Senior Program Manager for Design and Development. My team is tasked with improving health outcomes for Medicare & Medicaid members by driving innovation through an iterative process of pilot testing, evaluation, and strategy improvement. Prior to joining Blue Cross, I helped foundations and nonprofits build robust strategy development, evaluation, and knowledge management systems. I hold an M.P.P. from Sanford School of Public Policy and an M.E.M. in Global Systems Change from Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University and a B.A. from Williams College.

Omar Carrillo Tinajero, Washington, DC


Omar Carrillo Tinajero is the Assistant Director of Programs—Connect Capital at the Center for Community Investment. He manages Connect Capital, an initiative of six cross-sector teams from communities across the country working to attract and deploy capital at a scale necessary to improve the lives of their residents and increase access to opportunity. In this work, he leverages his expertise in systems change to achieve results at scale. He previously worked in housing, health, and community development policy in Oregon. As the Housing Policy Manager at Neighborhood Partnerships, he collaborated with leaders in the private and public sectors to change state housing policies and elevate affordable housing as a state budget priority. Omar has a Master in Urban Planning from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and an AB from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

Yen Chau, Denver, CO


Having been in the field for about 15 years, Yen admits to knowing a little about a lot of learning and evaluation theories, frameworks, and practices. Responding to her and her husband’s shared love of travel, they both left their jobs, packed up the house, dropped the dog off to the laws and bought a one-way ticket to Kathmandu. Six months and 7 countries later, they returned to the U.S. with a lifetime of gratitude, memories and experiences. They hope to instill that sense of curiosity and appreciation of others to our daughter.

Tracy Costigan, Princeton, NJ


As Senior Learning Officer in the Foundation’s Research-Evaluation-Learning (REL) unit, Costigan is responsible for leading organizational learning and coordinating institutional knowledge in support of effective and responsive strategies and programs. Through this work, Costigan aims to advance a learning orientation that is central to the Foundation’s culture, one in which leadership and staff fully value and recognize learning as a priority, share a common language, and are able to create an atmosphere of trust, curiosity, and exploration. Previously, Costigan has served as a principal research scientist with the American Institutes for Research (AIR) in Washington, D.C. and as a clinical research associate at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). She holds a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Medical College of Pennsylvania/Hahnemann University and BA in Biology-Psychology from Tufts University.

Colleen Dawicki, Boston, MA


Working Cities Manager Colleen leads the second round of the Working Cities Challenge in Massachusetts and manages learning and communications across all rounds of the WCC. In addition to supporting smaller cities through the Challenge, she is pursuing research to better understand the ways in which civic infrastructure can be strengthened to improve outcomes for these cities' low income

residents. Before joining the Boston Fed in late 2014, Colleen worked with smaller cities to provide urban policy research and technical assistance as the director of the UMass Dartmouth Urban Initiative. A former Rappaport Public Policy Fellow and a current fellow with MassINC's Gateway Cities Innovation Institute, she holds a Master of Public Policy degree from UMass Dartmouth and a B.A. in public and private sector organizations from Brown University.

Katie Grace Deane, Boston, MA


Katie Grace Deane is associate director of research and field development at CCI. Prior to joining the Center, she spent 7 years at the Initiative for Responsible Investment at the Harvard Kennedy School where she led research on public policy and impact investment, sustainable investment trends, and place-based frameworks for community development. Katie Grace began her career as a research analyst at the Tellus Institute, where she researched corporate sustainability performance indicators and the effects of university endowments on employment and the community.

Viola Dessanti, Toronto, ON


Viola is the Director of Measurement, Evaluation and Learning at the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Canada’s largest grant-maker. She leads the learning agenda, helping to identify and answer questions that, if answered, will most improve the Foundation’s impact. Her team is a unique composition of strategic learning, business intelligence, evaluation, and knowledge management. Prior to joining the Ontario public service, Viola worked at the UN in Ecuador and Croatia, with a stint at the University of Toronto to complete her Masters in public policy.

Jesse Eaves, Washington, DC


Jesse currently serves as the Policy Director at Humanity United in Washington D.C.  Jesse spent parts of his childhood in the Philippines and Uganda watching his parents take part in community building projects.  After receiving his masters from Northwestern University, Jesse moved to Uganda where he worked with war-affected communities and oversaw a community-development program that included counseling and education for war-affected youth.  Jesse has spent the past decade working on strengthening child protection systems around the world.  During that time he has worked extensively to combat and prevent labor and sexual exploitation of children in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe.  One of Jesse’s main focus areas is the impact of conflict on children and their communities and working to foster long-term stability and resilience for children in volatile contexts.


Currently based in Washington D.C., Jesse manages Humanity United’s South Sudan portfolio as they seek engage citizens at a local level to explore ways in which individuals and communities can mobilize against violence.

Tina Eshaghpour, Oakland, CA


As Director of Organizational Learning and Evaluation, Tina leads a number of projects to support foundation-wide learning and reflection, including their Advancing Wellness evaluation framework and an internal Equity Initiative. Previously, Tina consulted with foundations and nonprofit organizations on a range of public health and social justice issues, including environmental health and justice, gender equity, reproductive rights, and immigrant and refugee health. From 2002-2010, Tina led the Women’s Foundation of California’s environmental health and justice program and spearheaded its grantmaking and capacity building work, with a particular focus on low-income families and immigrant workers in California’s Central Valley. Tina is a graduate of the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs and received a Master of Public Health from the University of California, Los Angeles.


Leslie Foster, Oakland, CA


Leslie directs a growing team of health researchers and analysts in the Oakland, CA, office; leads the company's practice area for foundations and philanthropy; and directs research, evaluation, and technical assistance projects for foundations and government agencies. Her current projects focus on children's health care quality and access to health coverage, health care innovations, and implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Cheryl Francisconi, Budapest, Hungary


Cheryl Francisconi leads the Europe regional office for the Institute of International Education (IIE) based in Budapest, Hungary. The IIE Europe office advances IIE’s overall mission throughout the Europe region to implement scholarship programs, design and deliver training programs for young professionals and the next generation of leaders, and to help advance access to higher education for all.  Prior to her work in Europe, Cheryl served for seven years as the Regional Director of the Institute of International Education’s office in sub-Saharan Africa based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  In that capacity she developed and led the LDM program, which was selected as an Emergent Learning case study in the recent publication “A Whole Greater than its Parts”.  The program built and activated a network of reproductive health professionals in Ethiopia, Nigeria, India, Pakistan and the Philippines to advocate for better reproductive health policies and services for women.  She has also developed leadership programs for women and girls in Africa.  She has interest and experience in organizational effectiveness and has served as a consultant managing a Foundation’s investment in organizational development in Africa.  Prior to joining IIE, Cheryl served as the Global Program Operations Manager for the David and Lucile Packard Foundation from 1999-2006.  In the summer of 2018, she just completed walking the 800km of the Camino de Santiago which was a life-changing experience.

Lori Fuller, Winston-Salem, NC


Lori is the Director of Evaluation and Learning (and the entire Evaluation and Learning Department) at the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  The Trust works in health care across the state of North Carolina as well as education and human services in Forsyth County.  Since joining the staff in 1999, Lori has played a key role in improving grantmaking strategy and has participated in the Trust’s transformative shift from charitable banker to an increasingly strategic changemaker.  In recent years, Lori has worked on the Trust’s place-based initiatives—Healthy Places NC, which is aimed at improving the health of people in rural areas, and Great Expectations, which is working to ensure children in Forsyth County leave kindergarten set for success in life and school. Lori, who is a Truman Scholar for public service leadership, has the heart of a social worker and the head of an engineer.  They match well with her master’s degrees in social work from UNC-Chapel Hill and business administration from Wake Forest University.

Rex Fyles, Gatineau, Québec


Rex has engaged in international change processes for over thirty years, working mainly with Canadian international development NGOs and, until recently, teaching at the University of Ottawa. He grew up in Victoria, British Columbia but spent most of his adult life in Quebec, with some extended periods in Brazil,

France, Mozambique and South Africa. He studied political science (developing areas) and management (organizational learning) at McGill University and l’Institut d’études politiques de Paris. Rex was exposed to Emergent Learning practices thanks to Tanya Beer and Ray Gordezky and his association with Gender at Work (a small international NGO) and has helped design, assess, and co-facilitate organizational learning processes with such organizations as Oxfam, Global Fund for Women, UN Girls Education Initiative, Education International, International Development Research Centre.

Brittney Gaspari, Gatineau, Québec


Brittney serves as the Vice President, Community Investment at The Winston-Salem Foundation, a community foundation serving Forsyth County, NC. She has been with the Foundation for 16 years and has spent that entire time in the grants/community leadership areas. Born in Minnesota, she also lived in Iowa, Colorado, and West Virginia before settling in Winston-Salem, NC in 2003. Brittney received her BA in International Studies/Foreign Languages from West Virginia University (WVU) and was fortunate to have the opportunity to study abroad in Ecuador and Cuba. She also received a Master’s degree in Public Administration from WVU. She has a passion for organizational development and operations and frequently seek out projects that allow me to work in that space. She currently serves on the boards of the Forsyth County Asset Building Coalition and Forsyth Futures, both which allow her to explore big systemic challenges.

Ray Gordezky, North York, ON


Ray Gordezky has over 30 years of experience in design and facilitation of large scale organization and community based change, as well as leadership and team development. He has used and created a number of strategic change and learning initiatives, dialogic approaches to transforming conflict and complex challenges, and emergent learning approaches with public, not-for-profit, business and international organizations. During the past 10 years, Ray has designed and facilitated multi-stakeholder initiatives to address gender injustice and build collective impact in other areas of human rights. He regularly coaches senior executives and senior teams in emergent approaches to social change. Ray also teaches organization development at several Canadian Universities, and mentors new organization development practitioners. He has published chapters in The Change Handbook, 2nd Edition, The Handbook of Large Scale Change, and has authored a chapter in the 2015 book, Dialogic Organization Development: The Theory and Practice of Transformational Change.

Alison Grubbs, Princeton, NJ


Alison Grubbs joined the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as a Program Associate in 2017, where she coordinates and leads strategic relationships with businesses, philanthropies, and national nonprofits that have made well-being and health equity a priority. The Strategic Relationships program is a start-up within RWJF, and Alison spends much of her time thinking about program design, network activation, and organizational change management.


Previously, Alison was a product manager and engagement manager for Ashoka, the largest network of social entrepreneurs worldwide. At Ashoka, she worked closely with corporations and foundations on a range of initiatives that created opportunities for social innovators to network and collaborate. Her work included overseeing and expanding a global Emerging Innovators Bootcamp program with American Express, and leading the strategy and development of digital products that support social innovation online. In 2011, Alison was part of the founding team of The Future Project, a national education organization that unlocks the potential of young people to change their schools and their worlds. As Vice President of Volunteers, she worked with community leaders and public schools to launch the pilot program nationally. A native of Washington, D.C., Alison has section hiked large portions of the Appalachian Trail and one day dreams of hiking the entire 2,200 miles.

Allison Hagerman, Santa Fe, NM


As Associate Program Officer, Allison focuses on work related to arts, education, and stewardship of the natural environment and facilitates grantee engagement. She has a Ph.D. in philosophy and over a decade of experience teaching in post-secondary education. Allison is a life-long resident of New Mexico and an alumna of Santa Fe High School, Pacific University, St. John’s College in Santa Fe, the University of New Mexico and Santa Fe Institute’s Global Sustainability Summer School, but she’s been learning from New Mexico’s cultural landscapes for as long as she can remember.

Jessica Kiessel, Redwood City, CA


Jessica Kiessel is the Head of Learning and Impact at the Omidyar Network, overseeing the philanthropic investment firms' impact management and measurement processes and its learning culture.


Jessica brings significant international development experience to her role at Omidyar Network.  Prior to joining the firm, Jessica was the deputy director of strategy and learning at PATH, a global health nonprofit. In this role, she oversaw PATH’s strategy team and led the conceptualization and development of a five-year strategy to globalize and restructure the organization. Jessica previously worked at Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) as global chief program officer. In this role, she established and led a new global and regional division responsible for ensuring impact across 16 country programs in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, 230 active research projects, and 5 research initiatives. She also served as country director for IPA Ghana during a period of significant growth, overseeing over 20 impact evaluations and education and agriculture scale-up work in partnership with the Ghanaian government. Jessica began her career supporting USAID education projects in Egypt, Zambia, Namibia, and Pakistan for the American Institutes for Research and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Samoa.


Jessica holds an MPA from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and graduated cum laude from Kalamazoo College with a B.A in sociology and anthropology.

Barbara Hammond, Indian River County, FL


Barbara Hammond is one of the three original founders of The Learning Alliance.  She has a B.A. in Economics from Williams College and a Masters in Public and Private Management from Yale University.  Barbara was a former consultant with Bain and Company in Boston and The Director of Strategic Planning for Shawmut Corporation in Boston.  She now resides in Vero Beach, Florida and is the mother of two boys who have struggled with some learning challenges.  Prior to starting The Learning Alliance, Barbara was Chairman of the Board of the Mental Health Association in Vero Beach where she spent 10 years helping the organization develop their strategic planning and fundraising activities.  Barbara is the CEO and co-founder of The Learning Alliance, a nonprofit focused on transforming children's lives through literacy in Indian River County Florida. Their work on community transformation, summer and afterschool programs for struggling readers and teacher training has been recognized nationally by the campaign for Grade Level Reading and PBS.

Robin McKinney, Baltimore, MD


Robin is Co-Founder and CEO of the CASH Campaign of Maryland, a nonprofit that improves the financial security of low-to-moderate income Marylanders. The CASH Campaign of Maryland is the result of a recent merger between the Baltimore CASH Campaign and the Maryland CASH Campaign. CASH and its statewide network of partners annually prepares 22,000 free tax returns, bringing in $30 million in tax refunds to low-income taxpayers, provides free financial education and coaching to over 7,000 residents, and conducts advocacy on state and federal policies. For the past 16 years, Robin has worked in the field of asset building, engaging in fundraising, advocacy, and program and coalition management, including for the Annie E. Casey Foundation and East Harbor CDC.  She has a BSW from Elizabethtown College and a MSW from the University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Social Work, where she co-founded the Financial Social Work Initiative and is currently an Adjunct Professor. Robin is a board member of Prosperity Now (formerly CFED), and a member of Maryland’s Financial Education and Capability Commission.

Christopher Nelson, Washington, DC


Dr. Christopher Nelson is a Senior Evaluation Officer at the Independent Evaluation Group of the World Bank. An economist by training, he has worked in the evaluation of development aid projects for almost 20 years. He has previously worked as a Director of Evaluation at AusAID (the Australian Government aid program) and prior to that worked in Mozambique, South Africa and Paris with various NGO, academic and multilateral institutions. He has a PhD in evaluation with a focus on transdisciplinary approaches to evaluative method. Chris has worked extensively in the design and evaluation of agricultural, education, urban and social development projects in a range of countries. He has a particular interest in learning through the program cycle, complexity thinking and in iterative adaptive development. He is currently consumed with applying the principles of emergent learning to evaluation in various arenas within the World Bank.

Veena Pankaj, Washington, DC


Veena is the co-director of Innovation Network and has over 15 years of experience leading organizations through the evaluation design and implementation process. She works closely with funders and nonprofits to answer questions around program design, implementation, and impact. As a facilitator, Veena skillfully navigates organizations through all phases of the evaluation lifecycle: evaluation planning, data collection, analysis, reporting, and action and improvement. She is particularly adept at systematically applying a multitude of frameworks and approaches to assess levels of influence and progress towards advocacy and policy change efforts. Her experience ranges across topical areas such as health promotion, health equity, social justice, and immigration reform.


Veena has a passion for organization development and effectiveness, and has a Certificate in Organization Development from Georgetown University. She employs many of these skills in her day-to-day consulting work and enjoys applying her knowledge to navigate and build positive team dynamics and organizational culture change initiatives. She received a BA in Sociology from University of Virginia, and an MA in Social Sciences from University of Chicago. In her spare time, Veena enjoys activities with her family that involve physical challenges such as zip-lining and obstacle courses. She once repelled down the face of a waterfall!

Natalie Portman-Marsh, Boulder, CO


Natalie is the owner of NPM Consulting, LLC in Colorado (strategic planning, project management, complex facilitation and Emergent Learning), adjunct faculty at the University of Denver, Graduate School of Social Work and is the current President of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Social Work, Colorado Chapter. For the last eleven years. Natalie was the Director at Spark Policy Institute located in Denver. She holds a Master’s degree in Social Work from Columbia University and is committed to ongoing learning.

Kelci Price, Denver, CO


Kelci Price is the Director of Research and Evaluation for the Colorado Health Foundation where she designs, implements, and coordinates comprehensive evaluation and learning strategies for the Foundation.  She believes in using actionable and innovative evaluation to help improve outcomes for our communities. Previously Kelci served as an internal evaluator and Director of Data Program Management for the Chicago Public Schools, and as a senior evaluator with The Evaluation Center at the University of Colorado Denver.


Kelci earned her bachelor of arts in sociology and a bachelor of science in psychology from the Australian National University. After six years living in Australia, Kelci came back to the US for graduate school, earning a master’s degree and PhD in Applied Social Psychology from Loyola University.

Chera Reid, Troy, MI


Chera D. Reid (formerly) served as director of strategic learning, research and evaluation for The Kresge Foundation. Before joining Kresge in 2013, Chera worked in program development at MDRC, a national nonpartisan education and social policy research organization that works to improve programs and policies affecting the poor. Chera previously held leadership positions at New York Needs You and the Phillips Academy Institute for Recruitment of Teachers; both are programs that expand educational and career opportunities for low-income and students of color. Chera earned a bachelor’s degree in English and African American Studies at the University of Virginia, as well as a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in higher education from the University of Michigan and New York University, respectively. In 2011, she received the K. Patricia Cross Award for Future Leaders in Higher Education from the Association of American Colleges and Universities. Chera serves on the Postsecondary Access and Attainment steering committee at Grantmakers for Education.

Linda Riefler, Locust Valley, NY


Linda Riefler retired from Morgan Stanley in 2013 after 25 years at the firm where she served on the management and executive committees in her roles as Global Head of Research and Chief Talent Officer. Since then, she has been advisor to a number of start-ups and leaders in the for-profit and not-for profit sectors. She also serves as a director on the board of MSCI, Inc. and board member of numerous not for profits including Stanford Business School and Pencils of Promise. Ms. Riefler earned an MBA from Stanford University in 1987 and a B.A. from Princeton in 1983 with honors in economics.


Parvathi "Parv" Santhosh-Kumar, Chicago, IL


Parvathi “Parv” Santhosh-Kumar is the Director, Network Learning for StriveTogether. In this role, she manages strategies to elevate learning to accelerate the progress of cradle to career partnerships to eliminate disparities and improve outcomes and influence the field. She also supports capability-building efforts to build the skills and competencies of cross-sector leaders and practitioners in results-based leadership.


Prior to joining StriveTogether, Parv served as Associate Director of Education Policy and Programs in the Office of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Parv holds a B.A. in American Studies from Northwestern University and a Master in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, with experience in urban education and youth policy, collective impact, and leadership development.

James Stake, Santa Fe, NM


James serves as Program Coordinator for the New Mexico Simon Scholars Program, a rigorous college guidance and completion program for high school students from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in higher education. James oversees the academic and mentorship aspects of the program and collaborates in setting the strategic vision, providing college guidance for all students, and event planning. Prior to his work with Simon Scholars, James lived and worked for a year at a zen center in Santa Fe. He has also been a medical student and research neuroscientist. He holds an MS in Biology from the University of Cambridge and a BA in Neuroscience from Pomona College.

Jim Stiles, Cambridge, MA


Jim focuses on how social-sector organizations understand and improve their results over time. An early career managing small businesses led to working in the social-sector and Harvard University where he held a series of leadership roles in finance, institutional research, and systems change and academic leadership, culminating in his leadership at the Harvard Graduate School of Education where he served as Associate Dean for Degree Programs. Before joining 4QP, he was an Associate Professor for eight years at Wits University in Johannesburg, South Africa. He has worked with foundations and nonprofits in the US, Madagascar and South Africa on strategy, measurement and creating vision driven results. He received his Ed.D. from Harvard in 2003 and has authored chapters on collaboration, measurement, quantitative methods, strategy and using technology in schools.

Nick Stuber, Denver, CO


Nick’s naturally inquisitive nature led him to the field of evaluation where he seeks to use data to help guide decision-making and tell the story of an initiative's impact. As Learning & Evaluation Officer, Nick develops and manages evaluations of the Foundation's work and leverages moments of learning to inform goalsetting and strategic thinking. Previously, he was an evaluation consultant with Wilder Research of the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation in St. Paul, Minnesota where he worked with funders and grantmakers to design evaluations in the areas of health equity, healthy eating, active living, community development, and social connectedness. He holds a BA in political science from Beloit College and a Master in Public Policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

Chris Tebben, Portland, OR


Chris Tebben is a strategist, advisor and facilitator with a deep commitment to educational equity and student-centered learning practices. Chris leads Sapient Solutions, LLC, a consultancy specializing in strategy, meeting design and facilitation, and partnership development for non-profits, school systems and foundations working in education. Her work is informed by two decades of experience with education policies, systems and programs across the preschool to postsecondary continuum. Prior to founding Sapient, Chris was Executive Director of Grantmakers for Education, a national network of 300 foundations. She is also board chair of PBLWorks, an organization that builds the capacity of teachers and school systems across the world to provide students with high-quality project-based learning.

Sandra Wegmann, Houston, TX


Sandra Wegmann is the Learning Officer at the Episcopal Health Foundation (EHF). Her professional background is in organization development and regional strategic planning. Prior to EHF she worked for six years with local leaders on education, health and workforce issues at the Center for Houston's Future, a think tank. Sandra speaks Spanish and Portuguese and has studied women's leadership initiatives in Brazil. She has a dual Master's degree from the LBJ School for Public Policy and the Institute for Latin American Studies at UT Austin.

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