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Staff team

Emily R Kessler
Interim Executive Director

ERKessler_portrait_croppedEmily is EPIP’s Interim Executive Director, having had consulted with EPIP for two years on matters ranging from programming to communications. She is also a strategist and coach for nonprofit and grant making organizations, working to build their capacities, including leadership and talent development. Emily is the former Executive Director of the Joukowsky Family Foundation in New York City where for 15 years she managed a variety of grantmaking programs and was instrumental in securing funding for educational initiatives. Emily also Co-Directs the NYC Venture Philanthropy Fund, a giving circle focused on supporting emerging social initiatives.

Emily has a long history with EPIP, starting out as a member, then gradually volunteering on the 2011 conference planning committee and ultimately serving on the New York Chapter Steering Committee from 2011-2013.

Emily is a current student at Milano The New School for Management and Urban Policy, pursuing a M.S. in Organizational Change Management. She holds a certificate in Nonprofit Management from Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute and a B.A. in Modern European Studies from Connecticut College. She grew up in New York and New Jersey, and lived briefly overseas where she attended the University of Paris.

Michael Barham
Membership & Operations Manager

Michael is EPIP’s Membership and Operations Manager. He supports EPIP’s general operations and programming, manages EPIP’s data and finances, liaises with EPIP’s fiscal sponsor, and provides nationwide support to EPIP membership. Michael previously worked as Program Manager for the Champion Learning Center, a federally funded program that provided tutoring to low income students, and served as a Research Apprentice with the Board of Jewish Education. He has additional experience in human resources gained through an internship with The Atlantic Philanthropies.

He has worked extensively with underserved communities and brings an understanding of public sector dynamics, as well as experience in operations, management and human resources. Michael is passionate about equal opportunity, especially as it relates to education. New to philanthropy himself, Michael is uniquely positioned to appreciate the lasting impact the EPIP network can provide to members across the country.

Michael was born and raised in New York, attended Stuyvesant High School, received his Bachelor’s in Psychology from the University of Michigan, and is currently working towards his Masters in Public Administration from Baruch’s School of Public Affairs. When not busy with school and EPIP, Michael enjoys both playing golf and basketball, and sauntering through the city with his wife.

Christen Lee
Regional Coordinator

christen profile Christen has seven years of experience working with nonprofits, social enterprise, and funders. Currently, Christen is the Bay Area co chair for Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP) and a member of theBay Area EPIP chapter. With Kordant Philanthropy Advisors, Christen provides research and other support to funders and nonprofits.

As an attorney in private practice, Christen helped nonprofits, cooperatives, and social enterprises to
meet their startupand financing goals. She also served as Director of Legal Education for The Sustainable Economies Law Center, which conducts legal research, education, and advocacy in support of environmentally resilient and inclusive community economies.

At the National Community Development Institute, Christen managed capacity building programs, trainings, and peer exchanges for culturally diverse social and environmental justice groups throughout the country. Christen is on the board of Asian Immigrant Women Advocates, a 30-year old community organization that empowers limited-English speaking working-class women through community organizing and grassroots leadership development.

Through all these experiences, Christen gained a broad perspective on philanthropy’s power and potential, as well as its challenges and opportunities for change, especially when it comes to impactful and equitable investments that engage people from historically marginalized communities as leaders and change agents. Christen graduated from Yale University and U.C. Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall).

Tamir Novotny
Regional Coordinator for Northeast Chapters


For the past seven years, Tamir has been working his way up at Living Cities, a consortium of 22 major foundations and financial institutions focused on economic opportunity in cities — starting as an intern and now as a Senior Associate on their Public Sector Innovation team. He’s worked with Living Cities’ members, other foundations, and local governments and practitioners to seed and spread innovative policies and practices on issues including foreclosures and neighborhood stabilization, Sustainable Communities, and Big Data and civic technology. He’s also been a force for programming for EPIP both locally in his home chapter in NYC and nationally since joining earlier this year. (You may have seen the webinar he hosted with June Holley on “Open-Sourcing Social Change” in August 2013!)

Iliana Perea
Social Media Fellow


As one of EPIP’s Social Media Fellows, Iliana is the voice of EPIP National, reaching out to the EPIP community through Twitter and Facebook. She currently works for the Illinois Department of Human Services as a Social Services Career Trainee, and volunteers with Mujeres Latinas en Accion in Chicago. Iliana is also working toward a Masters degree in Non-Profit Management at the Spertus Institute in Chicago. She received her undergraduate degree in Applied Psychology and Sociology from the University of Chicago. Aside from @EPIPNational, you can find her on Twitter at @ilianap.

Sophia Guevara
Social Media Fellow 

Guevara Picture

Sophia Guevara is the former chair of the Consortium of Foundation Libraries affinity group and a member of the Council on Foundations Next Gen Task Force. An experienced writer, Sophia is a long time contributor to RE: Philanthropy. As our other Social Media Fellow, Sophia connects with the EPIP network through LinkedIn. Sophia is currently working towards her MPA at Wayne State University.

Melvin Johnson
Digital Media Fellow

melvinMelvin Johnson has over 10 years experience working in the non-profit sector focusing on media instruction and IT support. Melvin has worked with several community-based organizations, particularly in the Harlem Community where he resides with his family.  He is also a freelance cinematographer, photographer and editor in the greater New York tri-state area. Melvin is training for certifications with industry leaders AVID Technology and Adobe, while completing his undergrad studies in communications at The College of New Rochelle.

Acknowledgement of Past Staff
EPIP wishes to recognize the personnel, consultants, fellows, and interns who have contributed to the vitality of the organization since it was launched in September 2002. These include:

Christopher Anderson
Administrative Assistant

Sarah Ashcroft
Graduate Fellow

K. Emerson Beyer
Program Consultant

Sheena Brown
Development and Communications Manager

Omisade Burney-Scott
Program Consultant

Elizabeth Cuccaro
NYC Chapter Organizer

Milano Harden
Program Consultant

Jen Kramer-Wine
Program Consultant

Kristina Lucien

Bodi Luse
Graduate Fellow

Rebecca Schumer
Deputy Director

Kate Seely
Field Operations

Sophia Silao
Associate Director

Sam Stegeman
Program Consultant

Rusty M. Stahl
Founder and Executive Director Emeritus

Rahsaan K. Harris
Executive Director 2012-2014

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