An All-Women Slate of Board Officers Ushers in a New Decade

January 3, 2020

For 2020, Philanthropy Northwest’s board of directors elected an entirely new slate of board officers. In line with our journey to weave equitable and inclusive practices into everything we do, the majority of our 2020 officers are women of color. We are honored to have them lend their expertise to lead our organization.

In November 2019, we proudly welcomed three new board members to join our governing body for the 2019-2021 term and one new board member for the 2020-2022 term. We are fortunate to have these philanthropic leaders on our board, all of them representing organizations committed to vibrant, healthy communities in our region. Read the new members' bios below.

We’re also saying farewell to three members who termed off our board: Luz Vega-Marquis, Marguerite Casey Foundation; Steve Moore, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust; and Antony Chiang, Empire Health Foundation. We’re grateful for their service to our work, the philanthropic sector and to the communities they continue to serve in the region.


BOARD CHAIR: Aleesha Towns-Bain
Executive Director, Bristol Bay Native Corporation Education Foundation (AK)

Aleesha is the executive director of the Bristol Bay Native Corporation EducationAleesha Towns-Bain Headshot Foundation where she strives to preserve cultural heritage and strength by encouraging educational opportunities among its 10,000 shareholders across the globe. Prior to this, Aleesha most recently served as vice president and chief operating officer at the Rasmuson Foundation and as interim executive director of the Alaska Children’s Trust. Aleesha is a Marshall Memorial Fellow, a graduate of Bristol Bay Native Corporation’s Training Without Walls Program and a graduate of the Council on Foundation’s Career Pathways Program. She was also selected as one of Alaska’s Top 40 Under 40. She currently serves on the board of the University of Alaska Foundation and on the operations board for the Foraker Group. She holds degrees from The Evergreen State College and the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Chief Executive Officer, Mat-Su Health Foundation (AK)

Elizabeth is the CEO of the Mat-Su Health Foundation in Wasilla, Alaska. Guided byElizabeth Ripley Headshot community input, the foundation is strategically combining hospital governance with philanthropy and advocacy to create lasting, systemic change. Prior to working for the Mat-Su Health Foundation, Elizabeth held numerous positions in the healthcare industry. She serves on the board of directors of The Foraker Group and Grantmakers in Health. Elizabeth is a graduate of Western Maryland College and Yale Divinity School

VICE CHAIR OF PROGRAMS: C’Ardiss (CC) Gardner Gleser 
Director of Programs and Strategic Initiatives, Satterberg Foundation
Board Member,
Charlotte Martin Foundation (WA)

CC is the first director of programs and strategic initiatives at the SatterbergCArdiss Gardner Headshot Foundation where she provides leadership and oversees the implementation of the foundation’s overall grantmaking strategy. CC has deep experience working with nonprofits focused on equity and changing educational outcomes for underserved children and spent many years working as a software engineer and project manager in the for-profit sector. She currently serves on the board of directors for the Andrus Family Fund, Charlotte Martin Foundation and The Bush School. She previously served as the National President of the Yale Black Alumni Association and on Yale’s Board of Governors. CC is a graduate of Yale University and Seattle University.

TREASURER: Nichole Maher
President and Chief Executive Officer, Group Health Foundation (WA)

Nichole June Maher is the first president and CEO of the Group Health Foundation.Nicole Maher Headshot An expert in the field of health equity, she is advancing the organization’s aspirations for a vibrant, healthy future in communities across Washington State. Prior to that, she was the CEO of Northwest Health Foundation in Portland. Nichole has served on several governing boards, including Grantmakers in Health, National Urban Indian Family Coalition and Northwest Indian College Foundation. She is a graduate of the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University and completed fellowships at Harvard Medical School and Yale Medical School. Nichole is proud of her Alaskan heritage and is the mother of three young children.

SECRETARY: Brenda Solorzano
Chief Executive Officer, Headwaters Health Foundation (MT)

Brenda is the first chief executive officer at Headwaters Foundation based inBrenda Solarzano Headshot Missoula, MT where their mission is to work side-by-side Western Montanans to improve the health of their communities. Prior to that, Brenda spent her career at Blue Shield of California Foundation and The California Endowment working on issues related to health policy, the health care safety net and community health issues affecting vulnerable populations. She holds degrees in history and political science, a juris doctorate and is a Terrance Keenan Emerging Leader in philanthropy fellow. She resides in Montana, along with her husband and two children.

Philanthropy Northwest’s board consists of 25 leaders and represents our network of family funds, foundations and corporate giving programs in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming. You can find the full list of our board members below.

2019-2021 TERM

Lilliane Ballesteros
Executive Director, Latino Community Fund (WA)

Lilliane is the executive director of the Latino Community Fund, which works toLilliane Ballesteros Headshot support cultural and community-based nonprofits in Washington. Before becoming a member at the Latino Community Fund, Lilliane worked as a fundraising coordinator for Entre Hermanos in King County, an organization that supports the LGBTQ+ Latino community and was a community program ambassador for the United Way of King County, helping low-income citizens graduate and live a sustainable life. Lilliane works alongside Mary’s Place as a board member of their Young Nonprofit Professionals Network and is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Lillian was also a next-generation leadership fellow for Hispanics in Philanthropy.

Karen Bilowith
President & CEO, Idaho Community Foundation (ID) 

Karen currently works as the president and CEO of the Idaho Community Foundation, Karen Bilowith Headshotproviding opportunities for all income levels and classes. Prior to her work at the Idaho Community Foundation, Karen worked as president and CEO of the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital in Albany, Rensselaer and Saratoga, focusing on promoting and facilitating philanthropy region-wide. She also had notable work as president of United Way of the Capital Region and president of United Way of Schenectady County. Karen graduated from the University of Colorado with a master’s degree in public administration and earned a bachelor’s degree in economics at Boston College.

Kris Hermanns
Chief Impact Officer, Seattle Foundation (WA)

Kris has worked for more than 25 years as a nonprofit executive and grantmaker, Kris Hermanns Headshotstriving for equity and strategic philanthropy. Prior to her work with the Seattle Foundation, Kris worked at the Pride Foundation as chief executive officer, leading efforts to make real change to communities facing injustices. Kris has also held titles for policy advocacy at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, The Rhode Island Foundation and Brown University’s Center for Public Service. Kris’s work is all centered on her passions for racial equity, injustices and organizational and leadership development. Kris graduated from Harvard University with a master’s degree in administration, social policy and planning and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

2020-2022 TERM

Diana Birkett Rakow
Vice President of External Relations, Alaska Airlines (WA)

Diana currently serves as vice president of external affairs at Alaska Airlines inDiana Birkett Rakow Headshot Seattle, strategizing communications within the government, community and the public. Prior to her work with Alaska Airlines, Diana has worked with Group Health Cooperative, and led a team that held the responsibility for public affairs, social media, philanthropic engagement and marketing. In the past, Diana spent three years as a health policy advisor on the U.S. Senate Finance Committee in Washington, D.C. Diana earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Washington and studied at Northwestern University before graduating from Harvard University with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry.


Susan Anderson, The CIRI Foundation
Lilliane Ballesteros, Latino Community Fund
Karen Bilowith, Idaho Community Foundation
Brian Boyd, Forest and Sequoia Foundations
Jane Broom, Microsoft Philanthropies
Kelly Bruggeman, First Interstate BancSystem Foundation
Mark Dederer, The Sheri and Les Biller Family Foundation 
CC Gardner Gleser, Satterberg Foundation and Charlotte Martin Foundation
Mike Halligan, Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation
Kris Hermanns, Seattle Foundation
Erin Kahn, Community Leader
Nichole Maher, Group Health Foundation
Antoinette Malveaux, Casey Family Programs
Cat Martin, JPMorgan Chase 
Alex McKay, Rasmuson Foundation
Liz Medicine Crow, First Alaskans Institute
Jill Nishi, Community Leader
Elizabeth Ripley, Mat-Su Health Foundation
Mary Rutherford, Montana Community Foundation
Brenda Solorzano, Headwaters Health Foundation
Doug Stamm, Community Leader
Bill Thorndike, Northwest Health Foundation
Aleesha Towns-Bain, Bristol Bay Native Corporation Education Foundation
Huong Vu, Community Leader
Kevin Walker, Northwest Area Foundation