Meet The President

Robin Heller

Robin Heller has devoted her career to the nonprofit and voluntary sector, beginning as a social worker at the University of Pennsylvania (US) Health Care System. Since 2000, she has been chief or senior fundraising officer at large nonprofit organizations that work in the US, Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Some of the organizations are the advocacy organization Children’s Defense Fund, the Pulitzer-Prize winning journalism organization Center for Public Integrity and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the youth mentoring organization Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, and the global conservation organization Rare. While fundraising is always a team effort, she has directly helped organizations raise more than $100 million. Robin received her bachelor’s degree with honors from Northwestern University (US) and a master’s in Social Service Administration from Columbia University (US). She is particularly interested in cross-border fundraising, enabling global organizations to engage donors in ways that are culturally competent and lead to long-term, generous relationships.

Her areas of expertise include major giving, foundations/institutional fundraising, board development and governance, senior management team collaboration, fundraising ethics, and crisis management. The content areas in which she has deep knowledge are health, journalism and media, humanitarian issues, children and youth, education, and environmental justice. She is a member of the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), London. She is a member of The Conduit (London). She is on the advisory board of the Human Trafficking Pro Bono Legal Services organization (Washington, D.C.) and the Board of Trustees of Tzedek, the U.K.’s Jewish community response to global extreme poverty.

Client Team and Administration

Laetitia is a sustainability consultant and project manager with experience in developing environmental and fundraising strategies. She has expertise in prospect research, climate justice, carbon neutrality, the circular economy as well as upskilling, policy development and governance.

Laetitia was a Senior Associate at Moore Kingston Smith (UK) where she oversaw the fundraising and management strategies of various organisations. She now works at Useful Projects, a social business and employee benefit trust, as a Senior Sustainability Consultant. Her work focuses on helping public and private sector clients develop holistic and tangible climate action strategies.

Laetitia holds an MSc in Sustainable Urbanism from University College London and an MSc in Development Management from London School of Economics. She has a Fundraising Certificate from the Institute of Fundraising, and she is a certified Prince2 practitioner as well as a certified GDPR practitioner. She recently become a Chartered Environmentalist with the Society of Environment and is a member of the The Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment.

Lucy Hart is responsible for ensuring excellence in the research services of The Athena Advisors and coordinating the capacity-building programming that supports a healthy non-profit sector. You will find her working out of The Conduit in Covent Garden, a collaborative community of people committed to creating a just, prosperous and sustainable future. 

Lucy holds an MSc in Women, Peace and Security from the London School of Economics and a BA in Human Geography from University College London.   

Lucy is a proud volunteer Educational Mentor with Refugee Education UK, an organisation equipping young refugees to build positive futures by thriving in education.  

Lucy has written for both The Beacon Collaborative: “Where Are the Women in Philanthropy?” and Alliance Magazine: “Meet the Philennials“, where she featured in their 25th anniversary issue on her hopes for the next 25 years of philanthropy, among other practitioners born in 1996. 

Lucy is a qualified ashtanga-vinyasa yoga teacher and maintains a strong practice. 

Diana Angeret is a lawyer with over ten years of experience. She is currently working at Angeret Advocates and coordinating the Access to Justice through its pro bono legal aid program. Her areas of expertise are commercial law, employment law, gender, research human rights and advocacy.  Diana lives in Kampala, Uganda. She began her career as a legal researcher for the Uganda Tobacco Control Act. Throughout her legal career, she has carried out pro bono legal services for non-profits that include: Willow International, an organisation that supports victims of human trafficking; and Uganda Amputee football association that assists vulnerable amputees with prosthetic limbs, emergency surgery, and mental health and psychosocial support. Diana is associated with AfronomicsLaw, where she is a researcher at the African Sovereign Debt Justice Network. She is currently writing a paper on sovereign debt and East African women. The paper discusses how having a gendered lens to sovereign debt could improve women’s lives. She is the East African Regional Representative at the Afronomics Law Academic Forum 2022-2023. 

Diana is a mentor with The 40 days over 40 Smiles Foundation, a youth-lead non-profit that raises funds to support education (literacy and expression) and life skills for underprivileged children. 

Diana has a bachelor’s degree from Uganda Christian University and a Diploma in Legal practice from the Law Development Centre in Uganda. She is a member of Uganda Law Society, East African Law Society and Federation for Women Lawyers in Uganda. 

 Diana is hoping to leverage her legal skills to learn about fundraising and non-profit management and transition to non-profit work to help raise funds for causes that she is passionate about and in the organisations that she serves. 

Adriana studied Economics and Political Science, and has a Masters in Development Studies from McGill University in Canada. Though born in the United States, Adriana grew up in Venezuela. She is bilingual in English and Spanish, and also speaks some Italian, French, and a little bit of Arabic. Her multicultural understanding comes from her exposure to contrasting living conditions, having lived and studied in Venezuela, Egypt and Italy before moving to Canada. Her international background has given her professional experience a greater sense of purpose. With experience in consulting, market research, and strategic planning for government and nonprofit organizations in North America and Europe, Adriana has the ability to identify alignment opportunities and develop fundraising strategies. She currently works at Operation Smile.

Jackie is a Development Officer at the University of Baltimore where she is pursuing a master’s degree in Nonprofit Management. She is passionate about philanthropy and public service. Most recently she helped raise funds for St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the Center for Public Integrity, and Jewish Recovery Houses. She is an active member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Maryland Chapter.

Hana has been working with nonprofit organisations for 15 years, first in programmes and moving to development and philanthropy more than a decade ago. She is a passionate relationship builder always exploring ways to make the hard work of soliciting funds more fulfilling and satisfying. She worked with grass-root, start-up and international charities and NGOs on both sides of the Atlantic. Her expertise is primarily in fundraising strategies, international fundraising and mentoring and coaching. Hana has founded MonkeyMind Solutions earlier this year with the aim to explore a different, more mindful, way of soliciting funds for worthy causes. Hana is currently based in London and her educational background is in Political Science. As a long-term practitioner of meditation and mindful way of living, she continually strives to bring these principles to her interactions in both personal and professional lives. Hana is very proud and honoured to be the Inaugural Fellow of IncuBetter Fellowship and hopes to use it to start a meaningful conversation and explore the concept of ‘mindful fundraising’.

Emma Orefuwa brings with her more than 17 years of Public Health program management experience and has worked extensively in Africa, Asia and Europe. Her first degree was in Biochemical Sciences at the University of Salford in 2001. She then went on to obtain a Master of Science in the Biology and Control of Disease Vectors at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (2002) and subsequently a Masters in Public Health from Kings College (University of London) in 2009. She is currently serving as Interim Director of Programmes for the Pan-African Mosquito Control Association (PAMCA), and is based in London. She has held a number of high-profile project and programme management roles within the UK National health service, International Development, and Global Health sectors. Her most recent appointment was as Africa Programmes Director for UK/Swiss based NGO Global Action Fund for Fungal Infections (GAFFI), a foundation dedicated to reducing illness and death from fungal disease.

Emma has extensive experience managing multi-country Maternal, Newborn and Child Health programmes for the African Medical Research Foundation (AMREF Health Africa, UK) and has led the implementation of Diaspora development programmes at the African Foundation for Development (AFFORD).

As a second generation African diasporan of Nigerian and Seychellois descent, Emma has a passion for supporting Africans to act as agents of change, and for facilitating African solutions to African problems. It was during her time working as a co-organiser for the European Mosquito Research Association annual conference in 2009, that she decided with fellow African entomologists to co-found the Pan-African Mosquito Association (PAMCA), an African-led network of scientists, Public Health professionals and civil society, dedicated to identifying unified approaches to fighting vector-borne disease across the African continent.

Mira has worked in research, development, and non-profit organisations. She is passionate about using her expertise to further social justice initiatives, particularly those which advance the rights of minorities. In 2014, she was a Lanka Corps Fellow with the Asia Foundation, a program designed for heritage Sri Lankans to live and work in Sri Lanka. There, she worked for the Centre for Poverty Analysis, where she contributed to research on post-war tourism, state legitimacy, and gender and post-war economies. In 2016, she and two other Lanka Corps alumni created Sunayra Lanka, an arts-education non-profit that developed the leadership and “soft skills” of Sri Lankan rural youth. Mira has also served as a consultant on gender sensitive policymaking initiatives in Sri Lanka and supported local activists advocating for transparency and accountability in relation to wartime disappearances. In Canada, she worked as a Senior Project Manager with Broad Reach Canada, where she managed a government-funded, nationwide initiative which connected 2,300+ youth with the country’s marine sector. Mira holds a BA in Political Science from the University of Toronto, an MSc in Social Policy from the London School of Economics, and she is pursuing a PhD in Social Welfare at the University of Pennsylvania.  

Jarlene Choy brings over a decade of experience working in the public and non-profit sector in external-facing, partnership building and problem-solving roles. She is the Foundations Manager at Giffords, a U.S.-based national gun violence prevention advocacy organization. Prior to that, she worked at a national gender-based violence prevention organization and as a political staffer for the City and County of San Francisco. Bilingual in Mandarin and English, and conversational in Japanese, she has spent time studying or working in India, Japan and China, including two years teaching youth in rural China alongside local educators. She is a firm believer in the power of cross-cultural exchange to build peace, understanding and collaboration to address our shared global challenges. Active in Gifford’s racial equity committee, Jarlene seeks ways to use her privilege to create more equitable and inclusive communities wherever she goes. She studied International Politics and Geography at Schreyer Honors College, Pennsylvania State University. 

Michelle Bergsma, Design and Digital Marketing: Michelle is a Canadian expat living in the Netherlands who supports nonprofits in sharing their story. She specializes in the design and development of brand materials and digital content, and digital marketing strategies which align with the organizations fundraising strategy. Michelle managed the exciting marketing campaign for Global Philanthropic (UK) as they embarked on the moonshot of hosting the largest virtual philanthropy forum, Talking Philanthropy 2021. Prior to this, Michelle led the development and implementation of ViTreo Group Inc’s marketing and social media strategy (from 2017 to 2020), designed The Provocateur’s blog and managed the launch of the Fundraising Ask Anything events in response to the Pandemic. Further, she has supported project teams on multiple client projects with fundraising goals from $1 million to $20 million in her role as Creative Services Associate. Michelle started working with nonprofit organizations 11 years ago when she assisted the Business Development and Communications team at Katimavik. Later, she managed their Yellowknife (NT) program where she worked alongside community leaders, nonprofit organizations, and volunteers. Through her efforts, Katimavik built strong ties with the North and Dene communities. Michelle is passionate about connecting with the deaf and hard of hearing communities and when she lived in Calgary, she was active as a volunteer for the nonprofit Deaf and Hear AB. 

KD is a Web Developer and Visual Branding Strategist who is also the Founder and CEO of 75Eighty Digital Agency, LLC, headquartered in Richmond, VA. She collaborates with owners of new and existing businesses across multiple sectors, to visually grow their brands while mastering the art of human-to-human communication from idea to implementation. KD holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Technology from Colorado Technical University and has worked with Robin Heller since its founding in 2016.

Noemy has an extensive background in accounting and administrative services. For almost 10 years she has worked within the non-profit sector. Her expertise is within QuickBooks systems, a variety of payroll programs, budget management, and much more. Early in Noemy’s career she developed a passion working with nonprofit organizations and has seen firsthand the positive effects they have on communities. She currently holds a certificate in accounting and is a certified QuickBooks pro advisor. In addition, she is an active member of the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers (AIPB) and is fluent in Spanish. Noemy is a multifaceted person not only in her professional life but also her personal. She has an array of abilities; she is an artist, loves the outdoors, and is an advocate for social change.

Stronger/Together: Capacity-Building Programming for the Nonprofit Sector

Racing Upwards

Natalie joined the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation as the Director of Engineering Initiatives in 2018. In this role, she manages the Foundation’s signature academic program, the A. James Clark Scholars Program, which has now been established at 11 campuses nationwide. Through an investment of over $200 million the Clark Scholars Program supports first-generation and underrepresented students with financial need who exhibit strong academic and leadership potential at some of the nation’s top engineering schools. Natalie also manages the Foundation’s multi-year investment of nearly $220 million to the University of Maryland.

Natalie previously served as the Director of External Relations in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maryland College Park, where she focused on development, corporate and public relations, external outreach, and communications. Prior to that, Natalie worked in development at George Washington University, City Year Washington, DC, and New York University.

Natalie served as President of the Board of Directors for the Congressional Chorus from 2018 – 2020, where she is also a singer and dancer. Natalie holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Business and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from New York University. She currently lives in Washington, DC with her husband.

Michelle Kannan is the Regional Development Director, East Coast, at Giffords: Courage to Fight Gun Violence. In her role, she oversees the fundraising for the Eastern States, focusing primarily on high dollar contributions. Prior to joining the team at Giffords, Michelle was the Director of Development at Year Up National Capital Region. Michelle is passionate about work that centers around empowering communities of color through a variety of means including education, workforce development and voting. Michelle is a graduate of Furman University and received her Masters in Public Administration from the University of South Florida. In her spare time, Michelle enjoys vocal performance, theater and spending time with her dog, Otis.

Carmen Bitar graduated cum laude from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York, with a BA in Law and Society and a minor in Law. She is the Community Associate in a New York City Department of Education middle school. In this role, she strengthens and brings value to the school and students through networking with organizations offering sustainable and equitable opportunities for students. She is also a Youth Development Coach with Power Play non-profit organization founded by Ellen Markowitz in 1998 empowering girls with social and emotional learning through sports. She assisted in nominating a Middle School student to be featured in The Today Show with Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager in honor of Women’s History month in March 2022. Carmen is a published poet whose poem Language appeared in a women-creative rebellion organization that seeks to heighten women’s voices through their stories, art and other creative capacities. She has volunteered with the New York City Bar Association for a diversity and inclusion event. Carmen writes, “I wanted to be part of an organization that believes in expanding globally and empowers diversity. The Racing Upwards fellowship at The Athena Advisors allowed me to streamline and dedicate myself to assist with promoting equity. Being a part of this firm allows me to expand my professional goals”. She enjoys walking over the Brooklyn Bridge, taking her daughter to drum lessons and visits to museums such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, National Museum of the American Indian and the Museum of Jewish Heritage. She loves watching movies from the 80’s, listening to music and dancing to her own tune. She is fluent in Spanish.

Karla Brollier is of the Yidateni Na’ Tribe of the Ahtna Athabaskan peoples, she was born and raised in Alaska where she obtained her undergraduate degree as well as an MBA.

Karla is the Founder and Director for Saghani Consulting which is an emergent economy, climate and social impact consulting firm that works with clients to assess, develop, and implement strategies, initiatives, policies and to conduct research and evaluation of the world’s most urgent social and environmental challenges. Focusing on climate finance, ESG, CSR, investing, policy and creative ways to address climate change and economic inequality.

She is the Founder and Director of The Climate Justice Initiative, which focuses on Indigenous Peoples, Human Rights and Climate Change. The Climate Justice Initiative is the first and only Indigenous led and focused climate change organization in the United States that protects both environmental and human rights, and the only Indigenous women-led and focused climate change organization in the US.

Karla is a catalyst in the climate and human rights movement in both the public and private sectors; she has spent much of her career consulting and working in emergent issues such as policy, economic models, environmental justice and has worked with the Climate Reality Project, the UN & directly with several US administrations and a multitude of international and nationally based climate change related programs and groups such as for the former VP Al Gore and the World Economic Forum. Karla has given plenary presentations at the international level including the WEF, presented at the United Nations, lectured at multiple universities, as well as facilitates and teaches workshops and classes around the globe.

She has won multiple awards including the Female Founders Alliance Champion Awards and the Women of Color Collective in Sustainability Award.

She is a former The Athena Advisors Fellow, a Women’s Earth Alliance Fellow with TNC and Earth Island Institute. She serves as a Board Director for The Alaska Native Professional Association, the Chambers of Commerce Young Professionals and serves on the Executive Committee of the Institute of the North, Committee member of the Future Earth Knowledge Action Network on Sustainability, and the Governor appointee for the Natural Resources Conservation and Development Board.

Diana Angeret is a lawyer with over ten years of experience. She is currently working at Angeret Advocates and coordinating the Access to Justice through its pro bono legal aid program. Her areas of expertise are commercial law, employment law, gender, research human rights and advocacy.  Diana lives in Kampala, Uganda. She began her career as a legal researcher for the Uganda Tobacco Control Act. Throughout her legal career, she has carried out pro bono legal services for non-profits that include: Willow International, an organisation that supports victims of human trafficking; and Uganda Amputee football association that assists vulnerable amputees with prosthetic limbs, emergency surgery, and mental health and psychosocial support. Diana is associated with AfronomicsLaw, where she is a researcher at the African Sovereign Debt Justice Network. She is currently writing a paper on sovereign debt and East African women. The paper discusses how having a gendered lens to sovereign debt could improve women’s lives. She is the East African Regional Representative at the Afronomics Law Academic Forum 2022-2023. 

Diana is a mentor with The 40 days over 40 Smiles Foundation, a youth-lead non-profit that raises funds to support education (literacy and expression) and life skills for underprivileged children. 

Diana has a bachelor’s degree from Uganda Christian University and a Diploma in Legal practice from the Law Development Centre in Uganda. She is a member of Uganda Law Society, East African Law Society and Federation for Women Lawyers in Uganda. 

 Diana is hoping to leverage her legal skills to learn about fundraising and non-profit management and transition to non-profit work to help raise funds for causes that she is passionate about and in the organisations that she serves. 

Emma Orefuwa brings with her more than 17 years of Public Health program management experience and has worked extensively in Africa, Asia and Europe. Her first degree was in Biochemical Sciences at the University of Salford in 2001. She then went on to obtain a Master of Science in the Biology and Control of Disease Vectors at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (2002) and subsequently a Masters in Public Health from Kings College (University of London) in 2009. She is currently serving as Interim Director of Programmes for the Pan-African Mosquito Control Association (PAMCA), and is based in London. She has held a number of high-profile project and programme management roles within the UK National health service, International Development, and Global Health sectors. Her most recent appointment was as Africa Programmes Director for UK/Swiss based NGO Global Action Fund for Fungal Infections (GAFFI), a foundation dedicated to reducing illness and death from fungal disease.

Emma has extensive experience managing multi-country Maternal, Newborn and Child Health programmes for the African Medical Research Foundation (AMREF Health Africa, UK) and has led the implementation of Diaspora development programmes at the African Foundation for Development (AFFORD).

As a second generation African diasporan of Nigerian and Seychellois descent, Emma has a passion for supporting Africans to act as agents of change, and for facilitating African solutions to African problems. It was during her time working as a co-organiser for the European Mosquito Research Association annual conference in 2009, that she decided with fellow African entomologists to co-found the Pan-African Mosquito Association (PAMCA), an African-led network of scientists, Public Health professionals and civil society, dedicated to identifying unified approaches to fighting vector-borne disease across the African continent.

IncuBetter

Hana has been working with nonprofit organisations for 15 years, first in programmes and moving to development and philanthropy more than a decade ago. She is a passionate relationship builder always exploring ways to make the hard work of soliciting funds more fulfilling and satisfying. She worked with grass-root, start-up and international charities and NGOs on both sides of the Atlantic. Her expertise is primarily in fundraising strategies, international fundraising and mentoring and coaching. Hana has founded MonkeyMind Solutions earlier this year with the aim to explore a different, more mindful, way of soliciting funds for worthy causes. Hana is currently based in London and her educational background is in Political Science. As a long-term practitioner of meditation and mindful way of living, she continually strives to bring these principles to her interactions in both personal and professional lives. Hana is very proud and honoured to be the Inaugural Fellow of IncuBetter Fellowship and hopes to use it to start a meaningful conversation and explore the concept of ‘mindful fundraising’.

Sharon Toomer is the RHI 2021 IncuBetter Award recipient. One of her priorities is advising about equity, inclusion, belonging and diversity – with laser focus on the “E.” Sharon’s leadership, experience and insight have been influenced and shaped in settings and systems including philanthropy and the nonprofit sector, journalism, media, government and politics.  Throughout her professional life, she has served in key functions and supporting roles for organizations such as the National Association of Black Journalists, the Association of Black Foundation Executives, private sector firms, elected representatives and political candidates.  She is also the founder of BlackandBrownNews.com, an award-winning digital news platform that focuses on perspectives of underrepresented, overlooked and vulnerable communities. And in 2018, Sharon joined the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation board of directors whose strategic vision is “Equity in Arkansas.”

In addition to her extensive professional journey, Sharon’s personal and academic life has shaped her worldview. She was born in the Bronx, NY to a Dominican mother and African American father, raised in a D.C. suburb and graduated from Spelman College in Atlanta, GA.  She returned to NYC in the late 1990’s, where she worked with several high profile municipal agencies and organizations. In recent years, she returned to the Washington, D.C. area, where she now lives. Sharon is an alumna of the Rockwood Leadership Institute’s Art of Leadership program, which centers leadership in the social justice and nonprofit environment.

The Arts and Social Justice

Eleni Zatz Litt (EZL Studio) is a teaching artist, anthropologist and lifelong learner. A graduate of the London School of Economics (PhD, Social Anthropology) and Reed College (BA, Art History), she has spent the majority of her professional life in higher education (currently serving as Associate Provost at The New School in NYC) even as she has cultivated a lifelong creative arts practice. Along the way she has obtained Certificates in Fine Arts (Parsons School of Design) and Creative Arts Therapies (The New School). Eleni loves to make art in community, sharing her unique approach to art expression and meaning-making that incorporates poetry as well as a variety of art techniques to explore values, thoughts and feelings. She is particularly interested in the creative process as a mechanism of self-care and healing that can foster feelings of wholeness, connection and well being. Along the way she supports and encourages workshop participants to meet the inevitable obstacles that can emerge as a natural part of the creative process.  Eleni has shown her work in numerous group shows as well as a solo show in Princeton, NJ. Eleni is our inaugural Artist in Residence, facilitating professional development workshops based on artmaking and conversation that support and honor commitments to equity and social justice.

Carmen Bitar graduated cum laude from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York, with a BA in Law and Society and a minor in Law. She is the Community Associate in a New York City Department of Education middle school. In this role, she strengthens and brings value to the school and students through networking with organizations offering sustainable and equitable opportunities for students. She is also a Youth Development Coach with Power Play non-profit organization founded by Ellen Markowitz in 1998 empowering girls with social and emotional learning through sports. She assisted in nominating a Middle School student to be featured in The Today Show with Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager in honor of Women’s History month in March 2022. Carmen is a published poet whose poem Language appeared in a women-creative rebellion organization that seeks to heighten women’s voices through their stories, art and other creative capacities. She has volunteered with the New York City Bar Association for a diversity and inclusion event. Carmen writes, “I wanted to be part of an organization that believes in expanding globally and empowers diversity. The Racing Upwards fellowship at The Athena Advisors allowed me to streamline and dedicate myself to assist with promoting equity. Being a part of this firm allows me to expand my professional goals”. She enjoys walking over the Brooklyn Bridge, taking her daughter to drum lessons and visits to museums such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, National Museum of the American Indian and the Museum of Jewish Heritage. She loves watching movies from the 80’s, listening to music and dancing to her own tune. She is fluent in Spanish.