“Don’t settle for anything other than your passion – if you’re lucky enough to find it.”~ Warren Buffett

We are thankful to the people who shepherd NoVo’s work and inspired daily by their dedication, passion and spirit.

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    Jennifer Buffett


    Photo of Jennifer Buffett

    Jennifer Buffett is co-president of NoVo Foundation with her husband, Peter. She is responsible for creation and oversight of the Foundation’s vision, strategy, and program development. In addition, Jennifer is co-chair of the Foundation’s Board of Directors.

    Jennifer works passionately advocating for girls and women worldwide and to end violence and exploitation against them, promoting “whole-child” education practices, and supporting balanced, sustainable communities.

    Jennifer currently serves on the Board of V-Day. She began her work in philanthropy in 1997 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, primarily as a funder of social service organizations, with a focus on early childhood education for at-risk children and families.

    In September 2008, Jennifer and Peter received the Clinton Global Citizen Award for their “visionary leadership and sustainable, scalable work in solving pressing global challenges.” Presenting the award to the Buffetts, former President Bill Clinton said, “The Buffetts are leading an inspirational campaign to improve the status of women and girls across the globe. Their innovative approach to philanthropy has leveraged the capacity of existing organizations to affect real, positive change.”

    Jennifer and Peter were named in Barron’s list of top 25 most effective philanthropists in 2009 and 2010.

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    Peter Buffett


    photo: Peter Buffett

    Peter Buffett is the co-president of NoVo Foundation and co-chair of its Board of Directors.

    In partnership with his wife, Jennifer, he helps to guide NoVo’s vision, strategic mission, and program development. Peter is a well-established musician, composer, and producer.

    Born in Omaha, Nebraska, Buffett began his career in San Francisco writing music for commercials. After recording four albums for Narada Records, Peter signed with Epic and then Hollywood Records resulting in four additional releases. His Emmy-winning album, titled Ojibwe, was released on his own label, BisonHead.

    Highlights of his film and television work include the fire dance scene in the Oscar-winning film Dances With Wolves and the entire score for 500 Nations, the 8-hour miniseries produced by Kevin Costner for CBS. Peter is the author of Life Is What You Make It, which debuted at No. 4 on the New York Times Best Seller Hardcover Advice list and is a companion to his live “Concert & Conversation” performances.

    Buffett’s theatrical production, Spirit—The Seventh Fire, was performed on the National Mall for the Smithsonian’s opening of the National Museum of the American Indian. Spirit—The Seventh Fire combined Imax scale film and imagery, native dancers and a live band to tell the story of one man’s journey toward reconnection through his heritage and the land we live on.

    Peter and Jennifer were named in Barron’s list of top 25 most effective philanthropists in 2009 and 2010.

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    Puja Dhawan

    Director, Initiatives to End Violence Against Girls and Women


    Puja directs NoVo’s Initiative to End Violence Against Girls and Women.  In that role, Puja oversees NoVo’s largest operational program, Move to End Violence, as well the initiative’s four grantmaking priority areas: achieving economic justice for girls and women, ending violence in conflict affected countries, addressing commercial sexual exploitation, and building a movement to end violence against girls and women in the United States.

    Before joining NoVo, Puja was the Senior Program Officer for the U.S. Human Rights Fund at Public Interest Projects—a donor collaborative that provides strategic field-building support to social justice organizations engaged in human rights work within the United States. Puja joined the U.S. Human Rights Fund when it first launched in 2005, and over the next four years helped build the Fund’s grantmaking, program and fundraising work.

    Puja has also done consulting work on developing domestic human rights funding and advocacy strategies. She authored a 2010 report for the Asian Law Caucus on integrating domestic human rights into the Asian American advocacy community, and consulted with the International Human Rights Funders Group. After law school, Puja worked as a Staff Attorney at Bay Area Legal Aid, where she represented battered women in their family law proceedings, and worked on gender and caste discrimination in South Asia at Human Rights Watch. Puja earned her J.D. from NYU School of Law and a B.A. with honors from the University of Michigan.  After violence against girls and women has finally ended, Puja plans on becoming a professional organizer (closets, not people).

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    Stephanie Hartka

    Initiative Associate

    Stephanie supports NoVo in the areas of Social & Emotional Learning (SEL) and Local Living Economies (LLE). She will be supporting the NoVo staff and Board in their efforts to create additional program priorities for 2015.

    Stephanie grew up in a rural farm and Waldorf school community in New York where her initial sense of social responsibility and love for the natural world was fostered. Spending her college years in service learning and field research projects in Latin America, Asia, and Europe, Stephanie graduated from Goddard College with a BA in Individualized Studies, focusing on nonfiction creative writing and cultural identity. Stephanie went on to work as a writer and photographer for various culturally focused publications. In 2010 she co-created a volunteer program with a remote indigenous community in the Ecuadorian Amazon, where she lived as a permaculture and education volunteer.

    In 2012, Stephanie joined the Tides Foundation to support the Indigenous People’s Fund, a Donor Advised Fund focusing on women and education. In addition to numerous non-profit and program support roles, Stephanie managed the Youth Courage Awards of the Colin Higgins Foundation, which annually awards LGBTQ youth for their advocacy. In her free time Stephanie seeks balance in the natural world, in creating delicious meals with friends and family, and by appreciating the many textures, colors, and sounds of artistic expression.

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    Hannah Giorgis

    Assistant, Initiatives for Girls and Women

    Hannah_wHannah Giorgis supports NoVo’s work to end sex trafficking and other forms of violence against girls and women. She recently graduated from Dartmouth College with a B.A. in English modified with African and African American Studies. Hannah headed the campus Women of Color Collective, where students of color and allies worked to foster communal appreciation of individuals’ intersecting identities. As an intern at the Center for Gender and Student Engagement, she collaborated with student groups and administrators to execute gender-based programming and advocacy. Hannah spent time conducting ethnographic research about systems of discrimination at educational institutions, and enjoys reading as much Toni Morrison as she can find in her spare time. When not blogging or attempting to scout New York’s best Ethiopian restaurants, she can be found in your friendly neighborhood poetry lounge.

    “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”      – Audre Lorde

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    Caitlin Ho

    Associate, Initiatives for Girls and Women

    Caitlin_wCaitlin supports NoVo’s initiatives to end violence against girls and women and empower adolescent girls. She graduated from Brown University, where she earned a B.A. in Ethnic Studies and Political Science. While on campus, Caitlin was involved with Brown’s Third World Center, where she supported students of color and community building efforts on campus. As an intern for the University of Chicago Medical Center’s Office of Community Affairs, she assisted community outreach initiatives in Chicago’s South Side. Caitlin also spent time in Cambodia researching programs to aid victims of human trafficking and worked with Tiny Toones, a grassroots organization that empowers youth through hip-hop.

    When taking a break from working to end violence against girls and women, Caitlin listens to hip hop beats and incites dance parties.

    “We are the leaders we’ve been waiting for.” —Grace Lee Boggs

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    Kerri Kleven

    Director, Grants Administration

    K_wKerri directs all aspects of NoVo’s grants administration, in addition to managing the grants portfolio of the Initiative for Local Living Economies. Prior to joining NoVo, Kerri was Manager of Philanthropic Services at RSF Social Finance, where she oversaw domestic and international grantmaking in areas focused on food and agriculture, education and the arts, and ecological stewardship. Kerri has also worked on a variety of socio-economic rights-related projects, including with the Global Development Initiative in Cacha, Ecuador, where she focused on a micro-credit project to revitalize investment within local indigenous communities. She was  also a research assistant at the Center for Urban & Regional Affairs, where she concentrated on the “Adolescent Girls to Aging Women Project”, a needs-based assessment of community-based programs assisting girls and women in under-served communities. In other previous roles, Kerri served as an Americorps VISTA Volunteer with the Human Rights Documentation Exchange in Austin, Texas, as well as an Upper Midwest International Human Rights Fellow with the MN Advocates for Human Rights Child Survival Project in Mexico and the U.S.

    Kerri holds a B.A. from Northern Arizona University, and a MPA from the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, with a concentration in Women & Public Policy & International Relations. Kerri spends most of her free time exploring new and familiar places—both far and near—never without a camera in hand.

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    Kelly Merryman

    Director, Finance and Operations

    Kelly_wKelly directs the financial strategy and fiscal functions of the Foundation, and oversees its information technology, human resource management, and administrative operations. She also guides NoVo’s Mission Related Investment program. Kelly brings many years of diverse experience, in both the non-profit and private sector. Prior to joining NoVo in 2007, she managed various small offices in NYC, Hawaii, and Ohio.

    Kelly graduated from the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University, where she earned a B.A. in International Business Administration and Spanish. She has volunteered for the last 15 years as a camp counselor for children impacted by AIDS/HIV. When not wearing the many hats of operations management, you can usually find Kelly at the various thrift stores, stoop sales, and record shops sprinkled throughout the fabulous borough of Brooklyn.

    “One love, one heart.” —Bob Marley

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    Jody Myrum

    Senior Manager, Initiative to Empower Adolescent Girls

    Jody_wJody is the Senior Manager of NoVo’s Initiative to Empower Adolescent Girls. Prior to this position she was the Gender-Based Violence Coordinator with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Ethiopia, where she managed IRC’s efforts to end violence against girls and women. Jody previously managed IRC’s Somali region gender-based violence program focused on ending violence against girls and women in the Somali refugee camps and established host community programming. Before joining IRC, Jody was a consultant with NoVo working on our strategy to end violence against girls and women and was a Fellow with Columbia University’s International HIV/AIDS Care and Treatment Program in Kenya. There, she helped strengthen medical response to survivors of sexual violence while looking at the unique needs of children and adolescents. Jody has also worked with UNICEF’s Child Protection team to strengthen gender-based violence programming; Girls International Forum to bring girls around the world together to solve problems in their community; served in the US Peace Corps, and on a girl’s education and empowerment program where she focused on child trafficking prevention and rehabilitation, and making communities and schools safer for girls.

    Jody holds a B.S. from Colorado State University and a MSW from Columbia University. Jody spends most of her time flying around the world and hanging out with super star teenage girls.

    “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” —Archbishop Desmond Tutu

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    Anna Quinn

    Executive Assistant

    Anna_wAnna Quinn is NoVo’s executive assistant and supports the executive director in all areas. She graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in Community Health. While at Brown, Anna worked with the Female Sexuality Workshop, an organization dedicated offering inclusive and comprehensive sexuality education.

    As an intern at the Rhode Island-based worker center Fuerza Laboral she supported efforts to build cross-community coalitions around economic and immigrant justice.

    Anna later joined the team at Fuerza Laboral working to research and document the issue of nonpayment of wages in Rhode Island and its effect on low-wage workers.

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    Linda Rosenthal

    Assistant to the Presidents' Office

    Linda_wLinda provides administrative support to NoVo’s co-presidents, Jennifer and Peter Buffett, and works closely with the foundation’s staff and board. Before arriving at NoVo in April 2012, Linda spent over 20 years in the fashion industry where she enjoyed her work as a senior executive assistant within the communications, marketing and operations sectors. Linda held various positions throughout her 13-year tenure at Liz Claiborne Inc. (now Fifth & Pacific Companies, Inc.) including executive assistant to the senior vice president of corporate marketing and most recently as the company’s intranet content manager.

    In addition to her career in the corporate world, Linda ran her own business designing and producing millinery collections for women and children under the label Linda Rosenthal Millinery, which were carried by fine specialty stores throughout the New York metropolitan area.

    Linda brings a diverse set of organizational, creative and editorial skills to NoVo Foundation. She holds a bachelor of fine arts degree from Cornell University and continues to pursue her personal interests in fashion history, couture sewing, painting, drawing, and gardening, as well as spending time with her family, which now includes two grandchildren.

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    Gary D. Schwartz

    Senior Director

    GSchwartzGary D. Schwartz joins NoVo after fifteen years of service at Tides.  He was the founder of the Tides’ New York office and served in many different capacities during his tenure there including Interim CEO before departing in 2014.

    Previous to Tides, Gary was the Co-Director of the Fund of the Four Directions based in NYC.  The donor-advised Fund granted in the areas of Environmental & Economic Justice, Native American Communities, and the Leadership of Women and Girls.  He was also previously employed at the Houston Area Women’s Center Rape Crisis Program in Texas and Gay Men’s Health Crisis in New York.  Gary has spent his entire work life in the progressive non-profit arena.

    Gary is a Midwesterner whose roots go back to many generations of farming in northeastern Nebraska.  He graduated from Southern Illinois University and attended the New School of Social Research in NYC majoring in Non-Profit Management.

    Gary has served on numerous boards of directors including the Texas Abortion Rights Action League, Children of War, Artists for a New South Africa, the Highlander Center and the North Star Fund.  He continues to serve on the Board of the New Field Foundation, based in San Francisco.

    Gary will be establishing a new NoVo office in Kingston, NY and will oversee NoVo’s work in the areas of Social & Emotional Learning (SEL) and Local Living Economies (LLE).  He will be working with the NoVo staff and Board in co-creating additional program priorities for 2015.

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    Pamela Shifman

    Executive Director

    Pamela ShifmanPamela is the Executive Director of the NoVo Foundation. From 2008-2014, Pamela served as NoVo Foundation’s Director of Initiatives for Girls and Women. She came to NoVo Foundation from UNICEF headquarters where she led the organization’s efforts to end gender-based violence in conflict-affected settings including in Darfur, Eastern Congo, Uganda, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Prior to joining the UN, Pamela served as the Co-Executive Director of Equality Now, where she focused extensively on trafficking of girls and women and convened a coalition of organizations for passage of the first US legislation on trafficking in persons and the UN Transnational Crime Protocol on Trafficking in Persons. From 1996-1998, Pamela served as legal advisor for the ANC Parliamentary Women’s Caucus in South Africa where she supported development of South Africa’s first post-apartheid legislation addressing domestic violence, and led a National Campaign on Ending Violence against Girls and Women.

    Pamela is the author of several articles on women’s and girls’ rights, including, “Trafficking and Human Rights in a Globalized World,” Oxfam Journal of Gender and Development, and “Sexual Violence in Conflict and Post-Conflict: A Need for More Focused Action,” Refugee Survey Quarterly. Pamela is the recipient of the 2011 Lucretia Mott Award from Women’s Way and was named as one of the 21 Leaders for the 21st Century by Women’s e-News.

    Pamela has taught Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan and at Hunter College, and she holds a B.A. from the University of Michigan and a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School.

    When not rabble rousing for human rights and an end to injustice, Pamela likes to run around Brooklyn’s Prospect Park with her dog Marzipan and drink copious amounts of coffee with friends.

    “Nobody’s free until everybody’s free.” —Fannie Lou Hamer

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    Joe Voeller

    Director of Communications

    Joe Voeller is the foundation’s director of communications. In this new role at NoVo, Joe works across the organization to harness the power of strategic communications to advance NoVo’s mission.

    Prior to joining NoVo, Joe spent over ten years at the Ford Foundation, where he led communications efforts in such areas as economic justice, the rights of Indigenous peoples, climate change and HIV/AIDS. He also managed an array of media partnerships, authored articles and opinion pieces about the foundation’s work, and developed communications trainings for the foundation’s grantees and partners in the United States and around the world.

    A native of Minnesota, Joe began his career in Washington, DC, working as a special assistant for the White House Millennium Council in the Clinton Administration. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from The George Washington University and an M.S. in Strategic Communications from Columbia University.

    Joe enjoys traveling and loves recommendations for off-the-beaten-path destinations. He can often be found jogging around Central Park, or making a creative excuse about how he’ll get to that tomorrow.

    “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
    -Martin Luther King, Jr.