CFLeads: Community Foundations Leading Change


About CFLeads


Deborah A. Ellwood, President and CEO

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Deborah A. Ellwood, President and CEO Deborah believes that community foundations are uniquely positioned to be vital partners in building strong communities and is passionate about helping the field be all it can be. As President and CEO of CFLeads, she guides the strategic direction of the organization and builds alliances that help community foundations deepen their impact.

Since Deborah joined the organization in December of 2009, she and the CFLeads team have developed and refined highly successful and popular learning opportunities, uncovered and promoted important community leadership practices, and substantially increased the number of organizations that engage with and invest in CFLeads.

Deborah has a broad background as an advocate, policy analyst, grantmaker, fundraiser and community builder. She served as both a board and staff leader during 10 years with Rochester Area Community Foundation (Rochester, NY), setting strategies that led to greater partnerships, more focused grantmaking and deeper community impact. While at the foundation, she founded a children's advocacy organization, launched a successful community-wide after-school alliance and led many other community initiatives. Deborah was also co-chair of the public policy subcommittee of the Council on Foundations' ProNet affinity group.

An award-winning graduate of Bowdoin College and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, Deborah has been an advocate for low-income children and families at Children Now in California, the Fiscal Policy Institute in New York and Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. She also developed and taught a popular course on children and public policy at the University of Rochester and served as director of development at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, which is leading community development efforts in Pittsburgh's Northside neighborhood.

Caroline Jonah Merenda, Director of Operations and Program Services
800-292-6149 ext. 610

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Caroline Jonah Merenda, Program DirectorCaroline cares deeply about the issues facing our communities and has seen first-hand how community foundations can make a difference. As the Director of Operations and Program Services at CFLeads, Caroline manages the program logistics and internal operations of the organization and supports a high level of engagement in our learning opportunities.

Caroline has a reputation as a trusted and persistent community builder and collaborator, creating long-lasting partnerships leading to systemic change in a number of areas affecting children and families. In her 10 years at Rochester Area Community Foundation (Rochester, NY), she assembled a taskforce headed by the mayor and school superintendent to create a comprehensive after-school strategy for the City of Rochester; leveraged Community Foundation funding by working with City, County, and State agencies on child care subsidies, youth programming, and school violence; and conducted research and advocacy on the issues of early childhood education, out-of-school time, and childhood obesity.

As part of this work she helped create and staff the Greater Rochester After-School Alliance (GRASA), served on the New York State Afterschool Network (NYSAN) Statewide Steering Committee, and was named an "Afterschool Ambassador" by the Afterschool Alliance, an alliance of public, private, and nonprofit groups committed to raising awareness and expanding resources for after-school programs.

Angela Brown, Vice President for Policy and Program

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Angela BrownAngela Brown became Vice President for Policy and Program for CFLeads in November 2017. She conceptualizes, develops and delivers learning opportunities that help community foundations advance effective practice and address critical issues. She currently directs the Community Foundation Equity Network and Family Economic Security Action Alliance.

Angela previously served as Director of Programs at the Hyams Foundation, a locally focused foundation serving Boston and Chelsea, Massachusetts. With a strong belief that low-income people and people of color can and must play crucial roles in guiding the future of their communities, Angela assisted the Foundation to develop a new strategic framework, launched in 2015, to advance equity and justice in the region. In her 13-year tenure at Hyams, Angela oversaw grant distributions of $5.5 million annually, established its workforce development funding strategies, and structured two high-impact program-related investments (PRIs). A $1 million program-related investment (PRI) leveraged $16 million for non-profits acquiring and renovating foreclosed properties. A second, $1.5 million PRI leveraged a $5 million loan pool for affordable housing site acquisitions near rail transit points in Boston low-income neighborhoods such as Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan.

A graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, Angela’s approach to strategy development includes working closely with on-the-ground community partners. She is a board member of TSNE Mission Works (formerly, Third Sector New England), was a member of the City of Boston’s 2014 Mayor’s Housing Task Force and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston’s Racial Wealth Gap Working Group, and was past board chair of the Neighborhood Funders Group. Previously she was a manager with the Women’s Institute for Housing and Economic Development and with the Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC).

Len Bartel, Senior Director of Strategy and Learning
800-292-6149 ext. 645

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Len BartelLen Bartel joins the CFLeads team as Senior Director of Strategy and Learning in January 2018. In this role, he will develop approaches and frameworks that advance community foundation learning, assess and refine current learning opportunities, and promote a culture of reflection, learning, and continuous improvement. Len believes that community foundations are critical to reimagining the commonweal and advancing equity. He is also committed to the notion that, as in politics, all change is local and community foundations play a vital leadership role in building and supporting communities of solution.

Len comes to CFLeads with over 20 years of experience in the social sector – 13 years spent working within community-based organizations whose services ranged from community and economic development to rural health care, and the last 9 years working in philanthropy. Len served nearly 8 years as a program officer at the Maine Health Access Foundation where he designed their healthy communities strategy, lead evaluation of their place-based work, managed the foundation's first program-related investment, and served a multi-funder effort to support nonprofit organizational assessment, development, and sustainability.

In recognition of his philanthropic leadership, Len has served as an outside reviewer for HUD's Sustainable Community Regional Planning Grant Program; he was also selected to two national fellowship programs - The Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities PLACES (Professionals Learning About Community, Equity, and Smart Growth) fellowship, and the Terrance Keenan Institute for Emerging Leaders in Health Philanthropy, sponsored by Grantmakers in Health. Len is a graduate of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, where he now lives with his wife and two sons. He's an avid photographer and enjoys hiking the many gorges in Upstate NY with his family.

Melody MacLean, Director of Communications