“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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    Keith Brooks

    Communications Associate

    Keith Brooks 15_8015-resizedA native of Louisville, Kentucky, Keith brings a deep personal and professional commitment to transformational change and communications. Keith previously worked as a co-coordinator for the Fairness Campaign, a Louisville-based human rights organization with a dual focus on LGBT equality and racial justice, where he gained experience in grassroots advocacy and strategic communications. Keith also spent two years as a Communications Specialist with the Louisville Downtown Partnership, where he oversaw the organization’s website and social media presence, and managed all of its print and digital communications pieces. In September 2014, he moved to New York City and became Communications Associate at ALIGN: The Alliance for a Greater New York, a local affiliate of Jobs with Justice, where oversaw a website redesign, managed content and digital strategy, and led communications campaigns on economic and environmental justice.

    Keith graduated summa cum laude from the University of Kentucky in 2007 with a B.A. in print journalism, focusing on art studio and holds a certificate in Data Visualization from New York University’s Stern School of Business. In his spare time, Keith is a karate student at Traditional Okinawan Karate of Brooklyn and enjoys undertaking extreme travel adventures, studying various languages and any excuse to sing karaoke.

    “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” –Desmond Tutu

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    Sangeeta Budhiraja

    Director, Local Communities Initiative

    Sangeeta serves as Director for the Supporting Thriving Local Communities initiative, based in Kingston.

    Sangeeta has been a passionate advocate for racial, gender, and economic justice for the past 20 years as a community activist, and specifically in feminist philanthropy for the past decade.  Prior to NoVo, Sangeeta was both the the Director of Programs and Director of Institutional Partnerships at the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, where she led efforts to increase resources and forge partnerships to strengthen movements for LGBTQI justice globally. She was also the first Program Officer for Movement Building and Economic Justice at the Ms. Foundation for Women, where she built a portfolio of grantees working at the intersections of women’s and worker’s rights locally, nationally and particularly in the US South. She most enjoys creating and implementing strategies dedicated to centering the voices of communities directly impacted by systems of oppression, and to engaging a holistic vision of how change happens over time. 

    Sangeeta earned her JD from CUNY School of Law, and has spoken on various panels and been a guest lecturer on human rights law and its practical application to gender and sexual rights, and has served on several boards, including the New World Foundation. She is most grateful for her first Women’s Studies class at Hamilton College for setting her on her path. In her spare time you can find her in her garden or kitchen, or in the midst of a DIY home project. She is a country girl at heart, and lives in Woodstock with her partner, their daughter, dog, cat and fish.

    “We must use what we have to invent what we desire.” — Adrienne Rich

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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.

    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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    Trude Chandler

    Associate, Local Communities Initiative


    Trude currently serves as Associate for the Supporting Thriving Local Communities initiative.

    Prior to joining NoVo, Trude ran her own personal organizing business, helping her New York City-based clients make the most of their tiny residential and/or commercial spaces. Her desire to spur socially conscious relations to the things we own and the assemblages we participate in inspired her to complete a B.A. in Sustainability Studies at CUNY Hunter College.  Garnering internships at The Department of Environmental Conservation and the NYC Parks Department as a Public Service Scholar, Trude also participated in numerous on-campus environmental campaigns and events. Namely, for her work as President of Hunter’s Sustainability Project, which empowered fellow students and faculty to reduce their environmental impacts, she received the CUNY Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Leadership.

    In her free time Trude enjoys traveling, baking, dancing, thrifting, as well as singing songs of empowerment and love with her local LGBTQ and allied a cappella group.

    “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

    –Richard Buckminster Fuller

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    Kyndall Clark

    Associate, Initiative to End Violence Against Girls and Women

    Kyndall sitting with the NoVo bookcase in the background, smiling and wearing a read necklace and black outfit.With roots in the South by way of Chicago, Kyndall serves as an Associate with the Ending Violence Against Girls and Women Initiative at NoVo Foundation. Her work is grounded in her faith, justice, and Womanism/Black Feminism. She is anchored by her core belief that the wellbeing, safety, and leadership of all Black women and girls is critical to social change.

    Prior to NoVo, Kyndall worked at African American Policy Forum and Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies at Columbia University, coordinating research and community projects at the intersections of police violence and family survivorship and leading trainings as part of the Breaking Silence campaign. Prior to AAPF, she partnered with Girls Justice League to organize a town hall and campaign on the impact of the school-to-prison pipeline on Black girls. She also served as a high school teacher. She remains on the Advisory Board of Evoluer House and is a 2019-2020 Cohort Member of the Association for Black Foundation Executives’ Connecting Leaders Fellowship Program.

    Kyndall completed her undergraduate studies in Human and Organizational Development and African American and Diaspora Studies from Vanderbilt University. She considers herself a lifelong learner having studied the philosophy of education and Black feminism at the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently exploring the complexities of adult education and leadership. Outside of work and learning, Kyndall enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, and practicing meditation.

    “I did what my conscience told me to do, and you can’t fail if you do that.” –Anita Hill

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    Wendy Cheung

    Grants Manager

    Wendy Cheung, smiling, at NoVos headquarters.Wendy, a native New Yorker, hails from Chinatown and the Lower East Side. She serves in the role of Grants Manager at the NoVo Foundation. Wendy supports the management of the foundation’s grant processes, database, and budgets to ensure accurate and efficient administration of NoVo’s grantmaking. 

    Wendy brings a rich background in non-profit and organizing work across immigrant, people of color, and queer youth communities. For many years, she was a staff organizer at Chinese Staff and Workers Association, a leading workers’ rights organization fighting for improvement of workers living and working conditions. Her work concentrated on the People First Campaign which created a community-led rezoning plan for Chinatown and the Lower East Side, an unprecedented effort which gained significant grassroots support. Prior to joining Novo Wendy was a Client Specialist at Tides, where she honed her skills in grant reporting, payment processing, and compliance and gained further experience in philanthropy. She also provided administrative support to NoVo’s Donor Advised Fund’s at Tides. 

    Wendy holds a B.A. in Education and Sociology/Anthropology from Swarthmore College. 

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    Jennifer Dhanraj

    Systems Administrator

    A woman with tanned skin and black long hair in a black shirt smiling, standing in front of a green background.Jennifer currently serves as the Systems Administrator at the NoVo Foundation. Prior to joining NoVo, Jennifer worked at the United Federation of Teachers where she was responsible for the development and maintenance of UFT’s Salesforce instance, focusing on analyzing their organizational processes to develop workflows and adapting applications for operational improvements. Jennifer also spent over 2.5 years working at Crisis Action, a small international organization, that works with individuals and organizations from global civil society to protect civilians from armed conflict.  She was instrumental in the implementation of their organization’s Salesforce instance, which provided data transparency and accuracy that transformed the way the organization worked on campaigns.

    Jennifer has found that she is capable of her best work when surrounded by inspiring and thoughtful people working together, hopelessly optimistic of the power we possess to advocate for fundamental social change. She has followed a career path to reflect this quest to do her small and humble part to effect change. Her previous and current roles have allowed Jennifer to develop an understanding of the interdependencies between business processes, programs, and systems in order to plan, develop, and implement customized solutions and change to deliver strategically for the organizations she works for.

    Jennifer holds a B.A. in Sociology and History from CUNY Hunter college. In her spare time, Jennifer enjoys traveling around the world to complete her ever-growing bucket list, hiking, reading, and seeking out the best bagels her beloved New York has to offer.

    When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” — Audre Lorde

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    Puja Dhawan

    Director, Initiative 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 as four of the initiative’s grantmaking priority areas: achieving economic justice for girls and women, addressing commercial sexual exploitation, movement building in the Global South, 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 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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    Hester Dillon

    Program Officer, Indigenous Communities


    Hester Dillon serves as program officer for Indigenous Communities.

    A citizen of the Cherokee Nation and originally from Oklahoma, Hester studied Native American Studies and English at the University of Montana and Law at the University of Arizona. She worked for nearly four years as a grant writer at the Karuk Tribe, securing funds to support Tribal programs and services.  Hester also tutored GED students at the Hoopa Valley Tribe’s Even Start Program. She later worked independently as a grant writer and for a Native non-profit to secure funds to support legal advocacy for Tribal sovereignty and Indigenous human rights issues.

    Hester was a regional supervising attorney for the Keepseagle v. Vilsack Settlement, managing claims on fifteen Indian reservations in Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington State. She lives in southwest Montana.

    Hester likes to spend time outside and write poetry.

    “Take care how you place your moccasins upon the Earth, step with care, for the faces of the future generations are looking up from the Earth waiting their turn for life.” —Wilma Mankiller

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    Leia Fish

    Program Associate, Indigenous Communities

    Leia currently serves as the Program Associate for the Indigenous Communities Initiative.

    Leia is a member of the Amskapipikuni (Blackfeet) Nation and was born and raised in Browning, Montana, on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. She is a tribal college graduate of Blackfeet Community College in Browning, Montana, and also attended the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana; wherein she received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. She recently joins the NoVo Foundation from the American Indian College Fund where she served as a Tribal College Transfer Program Coordinator. Leia brings years of experience working in Indian Country and is dedicated to advocating on behalf of Native people and assisting communities to develop capacity and become self-sufficient.

    She resides in Denver, Colorado, with her family. In her spare time, she can be found with her family exploring the Colorado outdoors, attending music concerts and sporting events, and beading gifts for friends and family. Her education and experiences have taught her the importance of staying true to personal values.  Leia states, “I am honored for the opportunities I’ve been given; namely advocating for Native people and working collaboratively to help our Native communities become self-sufficient.”

    “Everything on the earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission.”  –Mourning Dove

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    Brian Graham

    Manager of Finance and Accounting

    Brian serves as the Manager of Finance and Accounting for the NoVo Foundation. In this role, he works across the organization to develop and administer NoVo’s finance, payroll, and employee benefit systems.

    Brian brings a diverse background in nonprofit accounting and operations to the team. After receiving a B.A. in Communications and Music Management in 2004, Brian began his career with PBS affiliate WNET in New York. During his time with WNET, Brian transitioned his focus to nonprofit accounting. Over a twelve-year period, he managed the fiscal and operational business functions for public media and veteran service organizations.

    A native of New Jersey, Brian enjoys writing music, traveling, biking, and experimenting with new grilled cheese recipes.

    “All you need is love.” – John Lennon

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    Antoinette Harris

    Grants Manager

    Antoinette_6_4638Antoinette serves as the NoVo Foundation’s grants manager. In this role, she helps to manage the foundation’s grants processes, database and budgets, working to ensure that the administration of NoVo’s grantmaking is marked by efficiency and integrity from the start of a project to its completion.

    Antoinette brings extensive experience in philanthropy and grant management. After earning her B.A. in French from SUNY-Geneseo, Antoinette joined Trinity Wall Street’s grant program, where she helped manage the domestic portfolio and provided coordination and translation services for the foundation’s Francophone consultation in Burundi.

    She further honed her grantmaking skills at the Michael J. Fox Foundation as Grants Administrator and at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center as Grants Management Specialist.

    “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
    –Mother Teresa

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    Stephanie Hartka

    Program Officer, Initiatives

    Stephanie Hartka, smiling, standing in front of a wooden bookcase and a egg blue colored wall.Stephanie Hartka serves as program officer for Initiatives. She holds a range of grantmaking and emergent projects, primarily supporting the Senior Director and Co-Presidents. Since joining NoVo in 2014, Stephanie has co-created grantmaking programs and gatherings across the Foundation’s work, most closely collaborating and weaving between the Indigenous Communities, Local Communities, and SEL/education Initiatives.

    Prior to NoVo, Stephanie served at the Tides Foundation as a philanthropic advisor supporting the Indigenous People’s Fund grantmaking, along with an array of fiscal sponsorship administration for social justice organizations. Additionally, Stephanie served as the program manager for the Colin Higgins Foundation’s annual Youth Courage Awards program, which awards LGBTQ+ teens for their activism and courage.

    Stephanie graduated from Goddard College with a BA in Individualized Studies, focusing on nonfiction creative writing, cultural anthropology, and visual art. Ever an experiential learner and artist, she spent her college years learning through service opportunities, art projects, and place-based social justice studies in Latin America. In 2010, she supported a community-led education and ecology initiative in an off-grid Achuar community in Amazonian Ecuador, where she lived as a volunteer educator for six months.

    Stephanie spends her spare time pursuing her ongoing study and practice of various holistic healing modalities including herbal and folk medicine and reiki. She can otherwise be found in women’s circles, exploring creeks and woodlands in the Hudson Valley, cooking meals with her large extended family, and traveling with her husband.

    “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one, I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one”. –John Lennon

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    Maheen Kaleem

    Program Officer, Initiative to End Violence Against Girls and Women

    Maheen, wearing a black jacket and large embroidered Indigenous-styled earrings, smiling in front of a red and black painting on a red wall.Maheen serves as a Program Officer for the Initiative to End Violence Against Girls and Women, and manages NoVo’s portfolio on commercial sexual exploitation.

    Maheen has been engaged in advocacy on behalf of women and girls experiencing interpersonal and institutional violence for the past fifteen years. Prior to joining NoVo, she was a staff attorney at Rights4Girls, where she engaged in federal, state, and local policy, training and technical assistance, and research with a specific focus on the intersection of child sex trafficking and juvenile justice. She was a first responder for one of the nation’s first multi-agency pilots to address commercial sexual exploitation of children. Maheen is deeply honored to have collaborated with hundreds system-involved youth and families as an organizer, teacher, advocate, friend, and sister. She is committed to providing those most impacted by systems of oppression with the respect and resources to enact change.

    Maheen is an alumna of the Equal Justice Works Fellowship, the Stoneleigh Emerging Leader Fellowship, and the National Juvenile Justice Network Youth Justice Leadership Institute. She holds a B.S.F.S. in International Politics from Georgetown University and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, and is member of the New York State Bar. She serves on a number of advisory boards for organizations working to re-envision safety and justice for vulnerable communities. In her free time, Maheen enjoys her loved ones, hip hop, poetry, and her beloved Golden State Warriors. She is based in what was once Chocolate City, also known as Washington, D.C.

    “Let the optimists rule the world.” – Lauryn Hill

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    Kerri Kleven

    Director, Grants Administration


    Kerri has been with the NoVo Foundation for over ten years. She directs all aspects of the foundation’s grants administration and oversees NoVo’s grants administration team.  

    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. She 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.

    In other previous roles, she served as an Americorps VISTA Volunteer with the Human Rights Documentation Exchange in Austin, Texas, and later went on to serve as an employee. She also served 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 lives with her family in the Hudson Valley where they are pursuing a quieter life more deeply connected to the land.

    “Raise your words, not your voice, it is rain that grows flowers, not the thunder.” – Rumi


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    Ebony Lawson

    Office Manager

    Ebony serves as Office Manager at NoVo, where she is responsible for the daily hands-on management of the New York City office, including the oversight and supervision of front desk receptionists and providing supervision and guidance to the Administrative Coordinators across the foundation.

    From 2010-2017, she was operations manager for the Working Women Re-Entry program at Hour Children, an innovative nonprofit organization that provides comprehensive services to incarcerated and formerly-incarcerated women and their families. From planning job training programs, to managing evaluation efforts, to developing operational protocols and information management systems, Ebony played a central role in all aspects of the program’s operations and growth.

    Ebony also brings years of experience from the private sector, where she worked in various capacities as a client services professional.

    Her passion for the rights of girls and women is coupled with a passion for technology, and Ebony can often be found testing out the latest tech tools, applications and programs. Through it all, she loves spending time with her daughter and exploring the city together.

    “… it is the most militant, most radical intervention anyone can make to not only speak of love, but to engage in the practice of love. Anytime we do the work of love we are doing the work of ending domination.” — bell hooks

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    Sam Lee

    Director of Technology

    Sam LeeA relative newcomer to New York City, Sam hails from Malaysia by way of London. In London, Sam worked in the UK Charity sector offering her services to charities including the British Heart Foundation, NSPCC and ChildLine. In addition to her professional endeavors, Sam volunteered her skills at a Women’s Project in East London.

    After graduating from Warwick Business School at Warwick University with a BSc in Management Sciences, Sam redirected her focus to computer science, where she earned a Masters in Computing Science at Imperial College in London. Sam is passionate about advocating for the rights of women young and old, and feels fortunate that she has found a role at NoVo that allows her to put her technical, analytical and project management skills to use in a way that promotes the causes she holds dear.

    In her spare time, Sam enjoys flamenco dancing, cooking and exploring all the diverse delights that NYC has to offer with her family in tow.

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    Frances Mbaidedji

    Administrative Coordinator

    A portrait of a woman in a grey suit and a red blouse, standing in front of a red flowery painting in the background.Frances serves as an Administrative Coordinator at NoVo, where she works closely with the Director of the Initiative to Advance Adolescent Girls’ Rights and the Director of the Initiative to End Violence Against Girls and Women to provide essential logistical, operational and administrative support.

    She graduated from the University of Ngaoundere in Cameroon, Central Africa in 2004 with a Master’s degree in Sociology (Population and Development Option).

    After graduation, Frances spent time working respectively with Care International and the United Nations in Africa where she worked as a Social Worker providing community services. Her focus was mainly on girls and women, victims of domestic violence and all other kinds of abuses. She helped put the victims on a path to education and reintegration.

    Frances then moved to the United States and helped as an intern with the African Services Committee in New York City while pursuing her Project Management Certificate at Baruch College. There, she helped non-English-speaking clients with translation in French as she is fully bilingual in English and French.

    She also brings years of experience from Cleary Gottlieb, an international law firm based in New York City, where she was providing general administrative support to numerous lawyers.

    Her passion for the rights of girls and women is connected with a desire for everyone to be treated equally and have access to tools such as technology and research. She constantly keeps a smile on her face to encourage others. On the side, she loves reading, styling hair, teaching kids in various ways, exercising, and knitting.

    “Girls’ education is an effective tool for social development. A long-term investment whose performance is exceptionally effective.” — Koffi Annan

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    Tynesha McHarris

    Program Officer, Initiative to Advance Adolescent Girls' Rights

    TyneshaIMG_1122webTynesha McHarris is a Program Officer for the foundation’s Advancing Adolescent Girls’ Rights initiative.

    Tynesha engages her work fueled by the desire to see the ideals of truth and justice actualized in the lives and conditions of every young person that she encounters. She brings over a decade of experience advocating for racial and gender justice in movements and organizations across the country. Tynesha has worked extensively with foundations, community organizations and young people that seek to challenge the systems and institutions that perpetuate inequity.

    Before joining NoVo, Tynesha served as Director of Programs at the Brooklyn Community Foundation, where she led community engagement efforts and helped the foundation design and implement its new core program strategy. Previously, she was Director of Programs and Community Engagement at Newark Trust for Education, Director of Community Programming for PENewark, and Newark Program Director for the Sadie Nash Leadership Project.

    A graduate of Rutgers University, Tynesha has completed post-graduate training in Columbia Business School’s Social Enterprise Executive Education Program as well as Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Center for Creative Leadership’s Executive Education Program. She is on the board of Sadie Nash Leadership Project and Art & Abolition.

    In her free time, Tynesha enjoys thrift store shopping and eating chocolate and hazelnut everythings.

    “I am a Black Feminist. I mean I recognize that my power as well as my primary oppressions come as a result of my blackness as well as my womaness, and therefore my struggles on both of these fronts are inseparable.” –Audre Lorde

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    Kimberly McLain

    interim CFO

    Kimberly McLain is the Interim CFO with the NoVo Foundation. Kimberly, who brings a wealth of both nonprofit and private sector experience, currently oversees grants management, finance, IT, facilities, and administration, and supports programs and strategic planning at NoVo.

    Kimberly has spent well over a decade pursuing educational, racial and socioeconomic equity and inclusion for marginalized populations, championing families and communities by securing workplace access, facilitating equitable economic development and reducing educational disparities. Kimberly was previously President and CEO of Newark Alliance, a cross-sector business roundtable that represents major corporations, anchor institutions and community stakeholders in the Newark region committed to workforce development and economic growth for residents and businesses alike.  Prior to the Alliance, Kimberly was President and CEO of Foundation for Newark’s Future, a $200 million philanthropic initiative to improve educational access and outcomes for Newark students.

    Previously, Kimberly served as Vice President of Finance and Operations with Newark Charter School Fund and Managing Director of Planning with Teach For America. Prior to transitioning to the nonprofit space, Kimberly had a successful career in the corporate sector as an Investment Banker with Credit Suisse and a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with KPMG LLP.

    Kimberly’s civic engagement includes board service as Finance Committee Chair of BRICK Education Network, Chair of the Audit Committee to the board of Dwight-Englewood Independent Day School and Treasurer of Metropolitan Baptist Church. Kimberly, a former NJBiz Top Forty Under 40 honoree, served as a Co-Chair of the Urban and Regional Growth Committee of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s transition team.

    Kimberly, a native of Salley, South Carolina, holds a CPA license, a BS in Accounting from the University of South Carolina and an MBA from Columbia University. She and her husband have two daughters, and reside in Bergen County, New Jersey.  Kimberly enjoys church, the gym, reading, Broadway theater and spending time with family and friends.

    “When people show you who they are, believe them.”  ⁠—Dr. Maya Angelou

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    Kelly Merryman

    Chief Operating Officer


    Kelly directs the financial strategy and fiscal functions of the Foundation, and oversees its information technology, human resource management, facilities, and administrative operations. She 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 holds a B.A. in International Business Administration and Spanish from the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University and an M.B.A. from the Stern School of Business at New York University. She has volunteered since 1999 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

    Director, Initiative to Advance Adolescent Girls' Rights

    Jody_4837 copy

    Jody Myrum is the Director of the NoVo Foundation’s Initiative to Advance Adolescent Girls’ Rights, which includes NoVo’s commitment to support movements with and for girls of color in the U.S. and across four regions in the Global South.  She also manages the foundation’s portfolio to End Violence Against Girls and Women in Conflict and Post-conflict Affected Settings.

    Jody has devoted her career to ensuring that all adolescent girls have the opportunity to live in their full power. Through work across ten countries, she has led and championed programs that put girls and their lived experiences at the center of social change. Given the pervasive violence girls and women face, much of Jody’s work has been focused on ending violence against girls and expanding access to healing, including in humanitarian contexts. Whether through organizing, direct services, program design, participatory action research, or philanthropy, Jody has supported programs that show the promise of change efforts that are girl-led, girl-driven and girl-designed.

    Prior to her current role at NoVo, Jody served as a NoVo Fellow to the Nike Foundation, where she led efforts to center girls in program design. Before joining NoVo, Jody managed efforts to end violence against girls and women in Ethiopia and in refugee camps on the border of Somalia with the International Rescue Committee.

    Jody has also served as a Fellow with the International Center for HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care in Kenya; Project Director at Girls International Forum; a volunteer in US Peace Corps in Togo and in several direct service roles focused on adolescent girls. Jody serves on the boards of Purposeful Productions and Beyond Borders, co-founded the Friends of Sierra Leone Adolescent Girls Network, and volunteers as a domestic violence/sexual advocate at a local hospital.

    Jody holds a B.S. from Colorado State University in Human Development and Family Studies with a focus on adolescence and a Masters in Social Work from Columbia University.

    “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” – Arundhati Roy

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    Oanh-Nhi Nguyen

    Initiative Associate, Initiative to Advance Adolescent Girls' Rights

    Oanh-Nhi serves as the Initiative Associate to the Advancing Adolescent’s Girls Rights Initiative. 

    Prior to joining NoVo, Oanh-Nhi was the Campaign Manager and Kairos Fellow at where she led online campaigns on social justice, civic engagement and interracial solidarity for Asian Americans and Pacific Islander communities. She has also consulted with Kairos Fellowship, ReFrame Mentorship, and Move to End Violence on program design and curriculum development. In 2014, Oanh-Nhi was the Program Associate at Move to End Violence and managed the program’s first social change campaign. Oanh-Nhi has a certificate from the University of Pennsylvania’s Executive Program in Social Impact Strategy and graduated from Dickinson College with B.A. in International Studies and Policy Management.

    In her spare time, Oanh-Nhi loves to spend time with her family and friends, lift, run, and hike. She is embarking on a journey to hike all of the 50 highest peaks in the U.S. Oanh-Nhi also co-founded One Old Farm with her siblings, a small business selling hardwood, handmade, and locally sourced products.

    “You cannot change any society unless you take responsibility for it, unless you see yourself as belonging to it and responsible for changing it.” – Grace Lee Boggs


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    Aviva Ostrovsky

    Executive Assistant to the Co-presidents & Director, Tour and Operations

    A brunette woman in a black jacket and a red scarf, smiling.Aviva brings extensive professional experience in business and marketing communications from a variety of industries to provide high-level support to the Co-President’s as well as, manage all tour logistics for A Concert & Conversation with Peter Buffett.

    Aviva began her career in venture capital, serving as Receptionist and quickly being promoted to Marketing Associate working with the Marketing Partner at Polaris Venture Partners. Aviva’s professional experience extends into education as a Liaison for Ed-Venture Partners, facilitating real-world experiences between college seniors and companies like the FBI, and Toyota. Aviva also worked in publishing as an Account Manager and helped launch Pasadena Magazine, a new city-magazine for Pasadena. Aviva has worked as a consultant overseas in Nepal for Lapchi, LLC, a hand-made carpet company, fine-tuning the online-production systems. Aviva later worked as an Email Marketing Manager for Warner Music Group, building relationships and supporting their music labels, Atlantic Records and Warner Brother Records, with their direct-to-fan email marketing and digital systems.

    Aviva enjoys learning, educating and staying curious about all things, and she is continually inspired by NoVo Foundation’s long-term commitment to support marginalized communities and aspires to be a part of creating meaningful, positive, and lasting social change.

    Aviva holds a B.A. in Integrated Marketing Communications from Simmons College in Boston. Aviva has traveled in China, lived in Thailand as well as both U.S. coasts in Portland, San Francisco, L.A., and now lives in upstate New York with her son.

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    Jesenia A. Santana


    Jesenia_4_4762Jesenia serves as program officer for the NoVo Foundation’s Initiative to End Violence Against Girls and Women.

    Prior to joining NoVo, Jesenia spent a decade at STEPS to End Family Violence, where she worked with survivors of domestic violence and trauma. As the legal services coordinator for the STEPS’ Alternatives to Incarceration (ATI) program—the only ATI program in the country designed specifically for survivors of partner violence—she helped lead defense-based advocacy efforts and provided trainings throughout the country on the unique barriers survivor-defendants face.

    Jesenia went on to serve as STEPS’ manager of advocacy services and senior policy advisor, overseeing a team of counselors and advocates. In that position, she helped develop and manage three projects: community-based services, a re-entry program for formerly incarcerated survivors returning home, and innovative court-diversion programs for survivors charged with prostitution. She also worked closely with an array of community partners to develop policy briefs and reports that sought to impact institutional responses to survivors of abuse and trauma.

    Jesenia is a committed advocate for systems changes that eliminate the criminalization of survivors of violence, and is currently the co-chair of the Violence Against Women Committee of the Coalition for Women Prisoners. She holds a B.A. from Wesleyan University and a Masters of International Affairs, with a concentration in Human Rights, from Columbia University. In her free time, Jesenia enjoys traveling, spending time with her family, and having friends over to listen to old record albums.

    “If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
    -Lilla Watson

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    Gary D. Schwartz

    Senior Director


    Gary 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 oversees a NoVo office in Kingston, NY and the foundation’s work in the areas of Indigenous Communities, Social & Emotional Learning (SEL) and Local Living Economies (LLE).

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    Victoria Sweet

    Program Officer, Indigenous Communities

    A woman with long, rectangular silver earrings smiling, in front an area with rainbow flags.Victoria Sweet serves as a program officer for Indigenous Communities.

    Victoria has been actively engaged in advocacy on behalf of Indigenous communities for the past fifteen years. Originally from Minnesota, Victoria is a descendant of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe. Her community efforts to address violence against Native women and girls led her to attend law school at Michigan State University College of Law where she earned a certificate in Indigenous Law and Policy. Victoria researched the links between climate change, extractive industry development, and human security risks for Indigenous women and girls in the circumpolar Arctic and has been invited to speak on these topics in Finland, Iceland, Canada and around the U.S. She has published articles raising awareness about these connections in both domestic and international journals.

    Prior to joining NoVo she worked with The Whitener Group, traveling to rural Alaska Native villages providing tribal court assessments and assisting with justice system development. She also served for four years as a Senior Program Attorney at the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges where she created technical assistance materials and trained both state and tribal court judges on a variety of issues including domestic child sex trafficking, violence against Native women and girls, and Indian Child Welfare Act compliance. Victoria is a member of the Minnesota State Bar and serves on a number of advisory boards and initiatives for organizations working to create systemic changes to improve the lives of Native children, families, and survivors of violence and exploitation. In her free time, she loves to hike, kayak, rock climb, listen to live music, travel, and have adventures.

    “When you know who you are; when your mission is clear, and you burn with the inner fire of unbreakable will; no cold can touch your heart; no deluge can dampen your purpose. You know that you are alive.” — Chief Seattle

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    Matthew H. Tye

    Director, Organizational Development and Leadership

    Matthew is the Director of Organizational Development and Leadership. In this role, he oversees efforts to optimize NoVo’s organizational health and ensure that our culture, people, and practices are deeply grounded in our values of racial equity, feminism, inclusion, risk-taking, innovation and learning.

    As a psychologist and organizational change practitioner, Matthew has spent his career addressing the complex and dynamic systems that can interfere with individual, group, and organizational effectiveness.  Blending social science research and theory with real world solutions, he has helped hundreds of leaders more fully understand their organization, their role, and solutions for greater social impact.

    Prior to joining NoVo, Matthew spent over 15 years as a social sector consultant, which included the design, delivery and oversight of large scale OD engagements, customized leadership programs, team development interventions, and executive coaching.  During this time, Matthew also served as a faculty member in the Department of Organization and Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University, and as a Visiting Professor of Leadership at IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland.

    Prior to becoming a consultant and academic, Matthew was the Managing Director of Programs at Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), where he oversaw all HIV prevention, Mental Health, and Research activities, and served as a member of GMHC’s executive team.

    A native of Nebraska and true Midwesterner at heart, Matthew holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Nebraska and a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University.

    Matthew lives in Brooklyn with his husband, their daughter, and two very active dogs.  In his free time, he enjoys cooking comfort food (and then hiking with his two active dogs to work off the comfort food).

    “Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.” – James Baldwin

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    Mona Williams

    Director of Finance and Accounting

    Mona Williams, in a striped black, white and turquoise blouse, wearing glasses and smiling in front of shelves with artifacts.Mona Williams serves as NoVo Foundation’s Director of Finance and Accounting. She joined NoVo foundation in August 2017. She brings to NoVo over 25 years of experience working in the nonprofit field. She has worked for both national and international organizations.

    Mona grew up in Queens, New York where she still resides. She received her Bachelors of Arts in Accounting in 1981 from Queens College, City University of New York.  In April 2014, she obtained her graduate degree in Public Health from Argosy University.

    Mona began her accounting career working for Brooklyn & Queens’ Catholic Charities as a grant accountant. In 1984, Mona accepted a staff accounting position at Covenant House (corporate office). She worked at Covenant House for 20 years and during the last 15 years at this organization she served as the Vice President of Finance. She also held finance management roles at the Catholic Medical Mission Board, EngenderHealth, Brooklyn Public library and Episcopal Health Services.

    Mona is passionate about by helping others, whether it is working with her church’s outreach programs or helping a person in need. She believes strongly that everyone deserves to be treated with love, respect and kindness. The greatest part about living, she believes, is being able to give of yourself freely.

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    Allan Zuniga

    Technology Associate

    Allan, standing before the NoVo photo gallery in a hallway.Allan serves as the Technology Associate for the NoVo Foundation’s Information Technology team and brings a lifelong passion in using technology to develop and engineer innovative, creative solutions for social change. In his role, he works with the Director of Technology in the day-to-day management of all aspects of IT, including network administration, audio/visual management, end-user support, user-training, and systems design.

    Allan’s extensive background in project management and support is guided by a core value of sharing information with others and its reciprocity, a principle he learned in his early youth that continues to guide him in his work. Prior to NoVo, Allan served as Systems Engineer for an IT consulting group based out of New York City, where he successfully oversaw network migrations, deployed disaster recovery sites and collaborated with teams to manage and troubleshoot various systems. While working directly with International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) as one of his primary clients, Allan’s technical expertise aligned with his inner passion for helping youth, women and other marginalized groups, expanding his desire to become more connected with movement work and organizations focused on social justice.

    A native and resident of Hoboken, NJ, Allan is also active in his community through a web platform he developed, which connects those in the area with local journalists and writers on various neighborhood issues.

    “When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.” – Elon Musk