Momentum Fellows 2015

Momentum Fellows 2015

The Momentum Fellowship prepares professionals from underrepresented communities, particularly communities of color, for successful careers in the philanthropic sector.

Our first cohort of Momentum Fellows brought a tremendous set of skills and experiences to the table since we launched this program in Fall 2015. Follow their journey on our blog as they hit the ground running at six foundations: Marguerite Casey Foundation, Meyer Memorial Trust, Northwest Health Foundation, The Oregon Community Foundation, Pride Foundation and Rasmuson Foundation.

Marcelo Bonta, Meyer Memorial Trust

"Philanthropy is... a powerful force for good."
Marcelo is a trailblazer on diversity, equity, and inclusion issues in the environmental movement. He is the founder of the Center for Diversity and the Environment (CDE) and the Environmental Professionals of Color. With CDE, Marcelo worked with over 350 diversity change agents through transformational leadership programs and over 60 organizations and foundations through high impact organizational change work. In 2008, he co-wrote with Charles Jordan a visionary article, entitled “Diversifying the American Environmental Movement.” His work has been featured in numerous publications, including The New York Times, High Country News, The Oregonian, Prism Magazine and Colors NW. Marcelo serves on the Green 2.0 Advisory Board, Diverse Environmental Leaders Speakers Bureau, Climate Access Advisory Council, and Columbia Land Trust Advisory Council.

As an enviromental program fellow, Marcelo joins a new team developing and implementing grant programs and other strategies that further the Trust’s vision of a flourishing and equitable Oregon. "I am helping develop a new environmental program strategy with equity at its foundation. I can’t believe I am getting paid for this!"

Janelle Choi, Marguerite Casey Foundation

"Philanthropy is... a giving fire."
Janelle has been supporting grassroots organizations in the philanthropic sector for the past seven years. She set up a foundation called the Slingshot Development Fund, which works in a post-conflict area of eastern Myanmar, after graduating with a master's degree in education from Seattle University. At the fund, she formed strategic partnerships, mentored civil society organizations and leaders, and built the mechanisms for a strong funding organization that supports local initiatives. She's excited to be back in the United States to help strengthen and support grassroots organizations and initiatives across America.

As a program fellow, Janelle manages a national portfolio of grantees, overseeing all aspects of grantmaking and grantee engagement for the Midwest region. "The Margeurite Casey Foundation supports a community-driven model for philanthropy.  They provide a platform that amplifies voices that are traditionally marginalized and are willing to take bold risks.  I am very excited to learn from their innovative model and be a part of their team."


Sharon Wade Ellis, Meyer Memorial Trust

"Philanthropy is... one's desire to give from the heart and mind in a humanitarian way."
Sharon has focused both her professional and personal life on understanding the best approach for creating equity in affordable housing development, and is currently researching how tiny homes could be the new paradigm for homeownership for low–income households. She loves visiting cities, exploring in search of nontraditional housing typologies which incorporate energy efficient strategies coupled with affordability. She believes that quality and energy efficient housing is a right, and that all people should have access to it. Working in the affordable housing arena, as well as learning new strategies and cultivating new ideas for substantive change is her lifelong goal. She holds a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from Michigan State University, and is completing her master’s degree in community and regional planning at University of Oregon. She is also a board member for Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation, and her secret passions are to become an architect, live in a tiny house and volunteer for a nonprofit, designing affordable homes for the "non-rich and famous." She dreams of attending the DOE Solar Decathlon in the near future, and apply her learned experiences to her work with affordable housing.

As a housing program fellow, Sharon collaborates with the portfolio team and stakeholders in grantmaking related to affordable housing. "Most exciting to me is the opportunity to interact with the vast amount of stakeholder and communities that are working on affordable housing issues, and helping to craft innovative solutions to address the housing crisis that exist throughout Oregon and the United States."

Eduardo Moreno, Northwest Health Foundation

"Philanthropy is... a very complex tool that could be used to allow power and resources to promote equity in our region."
Eduardo joined the Northwest Health Foundation in 2012 as the Executive Support & Board Relations Coordinator. His family is originally from Baja California, Mexico, but he grew up in El Centro, California as the youngest of three men. Before joining NWHF, Eduardo was a Community School Coordinator, where he managed more than 40 partnerships with culturally-specific and nonprofit community organizations at Portland Middle School. He is fluent in Spanish and a graduate of the University of Portland, Oregon. Through his experiences, he has learned that we can make philanthropy, public institutions and community-based organizations more effective when we create and support authentic long-term partnerships with the community leading the work.

As a health and education officer, Eduardo works with NWHF’s program and leadership teams to develop and implement the programmatic strategies for the foundation’s efforts to promote health through educational institutions. "I'm excited about meeting and building long-term relationships with school, community and funding partners across Oregon and southwest Washington."

Katherine A. Porras, Meyer Memorial Trust

"Philanthopy is... a space for advancing social justice work and creating an equitable society."
Katherine is thrilled to be back at Meyer Memorial Trust and this time to contribute to the investment side of the foundation. Last summer, she worked at MMT as an Oregon Fellow conducting a state-level scan of community leadership development programs. She loves to learn and takes a holistic approach to problem solving. Katherine received her MBA in finance from Willamette University.

As an investment associate fellow, Katherine works toward increased alignment between the investment and program side of the foundation, working closely with the chief investment officer and focusing on data modeling, due diligence and analysis of various investment products. "I am most excited about the tons of things to learn and how to use that knowledge to inform closer alignments between the investment and program side of Meyer."

Liz Posey, Marguerite Casey Foundation

"Philanthropy is... an expression of generosity."
Liz is committed to empowering and strengthening communities by connecting people, organizations and resources. Originally from Alaska, she attended Lewis & Clark College for her undergraduate studies and received her Masters in Public Health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Liz brings a wealth of experience in public policy and community development having worked at the local, state and federal level in government. She has worked in community health both at the local and international level, which included supporting health technical programs for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Ministry of Health in Liberia. Liz also has developed mobile health solutions for urban centers in Baltimore, New York and Chicago. She also developed community engagement programs for underserved communities and served as the director of an award-winning statewide youth civic engagement initiative in Alaska during the 2008 election cycle. Liz is an alumna of the National Urban League Young Professionals and served as the organizing Anchorage Affiliate Chapter President.

As a program fellow, Liz manages a national portfolio of grantees, overseeing all aspects of grantmaking and grantee engagement within her assigned region. "I'm excited about the opportunity to dig in and learn more deeply about my new role and assigned community of grantees. The mission of the Marguerite Casey Foundation to empower low-income families and communities is so critical at this point in history. We are on the cusp of a generational transition which creates a unique opportunity to ensure greater participation of the voices of low-income families in our national conversation to create a more equitable society. "

Kelsey Potdevin, Rasmuson Foundation

"Philanthropy is... about caring for others and leveling the playing field of life chances."
Kelsey recently returned to her home state of Alaska after completing a master’s degree in public and Native American history at The University of Iowa, preceded by a bachelor’s degree in history from Colby College. In between, she coached swimming, was the Assistant Senate Sergeant at Arms in the Alaska State Senate, taught English in Corsica, interned at the Alaska State Museum and the Sealaska Heritage Institute, and was an Anne Ray Intern at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her interests include public history, oral history projects, museums, and Alaska Native and Native American art.

As a graduate fellow, Kelsey works directly with program staff at Rasmuson Foundation to review grant requests, administer grant awards, and provide support to program officers on various initiatives. "I’m excited to figure out how to meld my love of the arts with philanthropy, getting to know my fellow cohorts, and learning how to raise each other up."

Kim Sogge, Pride Foundation

"Philanthropy is... a strategic investment in our communities and vehicle for transformation on a societal level."
Kim was born and raised in the Northwest and is honored to participate in the inaugural Momentum Fellowship. She brings with her experience in higher education, donor relations, grant writing, field organizing for electoral campaigns and issue-based advocacy. She believes that social justice and mission-driven philanthropy are the key to sustaining and strengthening our collective movement towards a more equitable and just society. She earned a bachelor’s degree in rhetoric & media studies from Willamette University. Outside of work, Kim enjoys reading, paper crafts, and exploring the beautiful scenery of the northwest with her partner and their miniature English bulldog, Raisin.

As a regional philanthropy fellow, Kim leads and supports significant projects across all facets of Pride Foundation’s work, including programmatic support with the Foundation’s grants, scholarships, and initiatives. "I’m most excited about the learning opportunity — I feel like I learn something new about the field of philanthropy, how a regional community foundation operates and incredible impact stories each day."

Dalian Yates, Oregon Community Foundation

"Philanthropy is... both proactive and reactive."
A native Floridian, Dalian has lived in Eugene, Oregon since 2013. He earned a bachelor's degree in history from Ashford University and a graduate certificate in nonprofit management from the University of Oregon. Before moving to the philanthropic sector, Dalian worked in direct-care, mentoring and counseling at-risk youth, for more than 10 years. He believes the philanthropic sector can improve the conditions for children and families in Oregon's communities of color. Dalian has a personal connection to improving black achievement and revitalizing communities of color, through a holistic system of education, social-services, and community building. A devoted historian, Dalian serves on the board of directors for Oregon Black Pioneers and is the chair of the organization’s fund development committee. Additionally, he has developed a deep passion for the history of black philanthropy in the United States and its connection to various black nationalist movements. Dalian and his wife Kelli have four boys and one baby girl.

As an opportunity fellow, Dalian supports significant projects in each department at The Oregon Community Foundation, in addition to participating in cross-departmental teams including the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion working group and the ACE Team responsible for development of an exceptional workplace culture. "I'm excited about learning, networking, work around DEI and the special projects I will be assigned at OCF."

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