Our board members feel a deep, personal commitment to the region. They lead Fairfield County’s Community Foundation through their expertise, community knowledge, and conviction that philanthropy and the power of many change lives.
Briggs Tobin, Chair
Briggs Tobin joined the board in 2015 and serves as Board Chair of the Community Foundation. He has also served on the Community Foundation’s Executive, Audit, CNE, Governance, and Community Impact committees. Briggs has 25 years of global M&A legal practice experience, including 15 years in a large, multi-national corporation.
Briggs is the Chief Financial Officer for Ridgefield Academy. His prior positions include Senior Counsel at GE Company and Partner at McKenna, Long & Aldridge. Briggs’s charitable activities include serving on the Yale Alumni Schools Committee, Emory School of Law Public Interest Committee and he is a guest lecturer at UPenn and Emory Law Schools.
He also serves on the Ridgefield Historic District Commission, works with Pro Bono Partnership, Habitat for Humanity and is a former Board member of the City of Atlanta Board of Zoning. Briggs holds a JD with distinction from Emory Law School and a BA from Yale University.
Clayton Fowler, Vice Chair
Clayton Fowler joined the board in 2015 and serves as Vice Chair of the Executive Committee, and as a member on the Finance Committee. He is a Founding partner of Spinnaker Real Estate Partners.
Mr. Fowler has over 30 years of experience in acquisition, development, construction, and management of commercial and residential projects. He is also the managing development partner of several projects in Portland, OR, among them Hoyt Street Properties, a 3,000-unit urban development with 2,300 units completed, and Spinnaker St. Louis.
Mr. Fowler is a leading advocate of affordable housing and has served on affordable housing committees and study groups throughout Fairfield County. He has been the Chairman of the Planning Board for the Town of Pound Ridge, NY for almost 20 years. He currently serves on the Boards of the Housing Development Fund of Lower Fairfield County, the Norwalk Chamber of Commerce, and the Maritime Aquarium. Mr. Fowler is a Founding Board Member of the Fairfield/Westchester Real Estate Finance Association and is a Member of the Urban Land Institute.
Johnna Torsone, Vice Chair
Johnna Torsone, joined the Board in 2017 and serves as Vice Chair of Community Impact Committee, and as a member of the Development Committee. She is the Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer at Pitney Bowes Inc. As a member of the senior management leadership team and staff liaison for several committees of the Board of Directors, she provides important strategic and operational guidance in the human resources area. The scope of her responsibilities include the development of HR business strategies, strategic talent management and succession planning, diversity, total rewards and analytics, employee relations and shared professional and transactional services. Over the course of her tenure, the company has received recognition for its cutting-edge work on HR transformation, talent development, diversity and employee health. Johnna originally joined the company in 1990 as the Senior Employment Relations Counsel. In addition to serving in her current role since 1993, she oversaw the HR Legal function until 2006. She has also served as interim General Counsel during periods of general counsel transition and currently serves as Chair of the Pitney Bowes Foundation.
Prior to joining Pitney Bowes, Johnna was a law partner in New York City where she practiced employment and labor law for 14 years. Johnna is a member of the National Academy of Human Resources and serves or has served in leadership positions on several non-profit boards including the Human Resources Policy Association, the Albany Law School, Westport Country Playhouse, INROADS, and Stamford Hospital. She also serves on the board of the Connecticut Business & Industry Association and is a member of the Business Council of Fairfield County’s Health Care Policy Committee. She served as Co-Chair of Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy’s Personnel Transition Team in 2010 and is a member of the Connecticut Commission on Judicial Compensation. Johnna graduated from both Vassar College and Albany Law School with honors, finishing in the top 5% of her class at Albany and serving as Managing Director of the Law Review in her last year.
Edwin L. Ford, Treasurer, Chair of Finance Committee
Mr. Ford joined the board in 2016 and serves as Chair of the Finance Committee, and as a member of the Audit Committee. He is a retired senior financial services professional with over thirty years of capital markets, derivative products, structured investments, risk management and regulatory experience. He served with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission monitoring large banks and broker dealers. Previously, Mr. Ford co-founded Harvest Global Partners (HGP), an advisory firm that provided risk management, portfolio and capital markets valuations to financial services and institutional clients.
Prior to HGP, Mr. Ford was a Director in the U.S. Capital Markets group at the Citi Private Bank, responsible for developing structured investments and portfolio strategies for high net worth clients. Prior to Citi, he was a Managing Director with Swiss Re Financial Services, responsible for structure and execution of asset-backed, credit enhanced, residual value and derivative linked transactions. Mr. Ford has held senior positions with TMG Financial Products, Merrill Lynch & Co., Sakura Global Capital, Chemical Bank and Citicorp Investment Bank. In various roles with these firms, he headed several marketing units, ran the Treasury Group and was responsible for the structure and execution of a variety of fixed income, equity, commodity, municipal and foreign currency derivative linked transactions.
He was a past Trustee of the New Canaan Country School and served as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Stamford Hospital System. Mr. Ford earned a B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin and a M.B.A. in Finance from the University of Chicago. In addition, he held Series 7, 24, 53 and 63 licenses.
Steve Edwards, Secretary
Steve currently serves as Vice Chair of the Investment Committee. He is a senior investment strategist for Morgan Stanley Wealth Management at the firm’s home office in Manhattan. He supports Morgan Stanley’s 15,000 Financial Advisors throughout the United States by creating and managing investment portfolios and providing strategy insights on market outlook, asset allocation, manager selection, and portfolio construction. Prior to joining Morgan Stanley in 2015, Steve co-founded Frontera Management, a systematic global macro firm, where he served as a principal and portfolio manager. He started his career at Bridgewater Associates and later served as a portfolio manager and researcher at Spruce Private Investors, an Outsourced CIO firm, where he designed a systematic investment process and managed client portfolios and a global macro overlay.
Steve received an A.B. degree in history from Princeton University, earning magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa honors, and played on the school’s varsity golf team. From 2001-2002, Steve served as a Christian missionary in Maracaibo, Venezuela, where he became fluent in Spanish. Steve became a CFA charterholder in 2006 and is a member of both the CFA Institute and the Stamford (Connecticut) CFA Society. He actively supports the work of the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale Divinity School and was a contributor to the Jonathan Edwards Encyclopedia, published in 2017. He has served on the board of his local church and led several humanitarian relief trips to the Gulf Coast following major hurricanes. Steve and his family live in Stamford.
Justin joined the board in 2021 and serves on the Audit Committee. He is a Finance Operations Manager focusing on ERP system transformation and governance for Indeed.com based in Stamford, CT. Justin joined Indeed in 2016 where he worked in Accounting before becoming a founding member of Indeed’s Internal Audit department where he was responsible for implementing the Company’s first internal control testing program focused on accounting processes and internal controls over financial reporting.
Prior to joining Indeed.com, Justin held progressive positions in Accounting and Internal Audit for Terex Corporation based in Westport, CT. He holds bachelors degrees in Accounting and Finance from the University of Northern Iowa. Justin has lived in Stamford, CT since 2014 when he moved to Connecticut from Cedar Falls, Iowa working for Terex.
Terrence Cheng was appointed President of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU) system in July 2021. He received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Miami, FL, where he was a James Michener Fellow, and his BA in English from Binghamton University. Previous to joining CSCU, he served as Director of the UConn Stamford campus for five years. He has also served in various administrative leadership roles at Lehman College, and Brooklyn College, both part of the City University of New York. Cheng is the author of two novels: Sons of Heaven (2002), and Deep in the Mountains (2007). His short stories and essays have appeared in various literary journals and collections. In 2005 he received a Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Gerald M. Fox, III, Chair of Thrive by 25 Committee
Gerald M. Fox, III joined the board in 2015 and serves on the Governance and Thrive by 25 Committees. He has practiced law for over twenty years as a partner with the law firm Fox & Fox and is the newly elected Stamford Probate Judge.
Gerald served on the Connecticut General Assembly House of Representatives from 2005-2015, including four years as chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Formerly, Gerald was elected Chairman of the Stamford Board of Finance and served on Stamford’s Board of Representatives. He currently serves on the Boards for the Stamford Museum and Nature Center and St. Josephs Parenting Center.
Gerald is a 2012 recipient of the Stamford Hands for Life Outstanding Community Service Award and was recognized by the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence. He has been repeatedly honored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving for his work in passing legislation strengthening Connecticut’s drunk driving law. In 2010, he was recognized by the Connecticut Police Chiefs’ Association for his support of anti-crime measures.
Jon Fraade is a managing director at JPMorgan Chase and is the Chief Operating Officer of its Retirement Plan Investment Group. This Group has responsibility for the investment of over $60 billion of retirement and benefit assets that relate to JPMorgan’s US employees. Prior to joining JPMorgan, Jon has held a variety of positions at UBS, AIG and Bankers Trust.
Jon holds a BBA from George Washington University, an MBA from the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business Administration and is a CPA.
Jon has been a resident of Fairfield County for 30 years and has been honored by the Anti-Defamation League, the Connecticut Yankee Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and, along with his wife Rita, the Elayne & James Schoke Jewish Family Service of Fairfield County for his involvement in the community and in a variety of different non-profit organizations.
Michelle K. Garvey
Michelle K. Garvey joined the board in 2015 and currently serves on the Audit Committee.
Ms. Garvey is currently the EVP/CIO of J Crew and has held CIO positions with Ann Inc., Warnaco, Brooks Brothers, Memberworks, and Sportmart. She has previous experience at retailers such as Crate and Barrel, the Registry Stores, and Ames Department Stores, after starting her career in consulting with Arthur Andersen.
Ms. Garvey holds a BS in Civil Engineering and an MBA in Finance from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
Carolyn has devoted most of her career to community and economic development with a focus on her hometown, Bridgeport. She has directed community and economic development programs and projects at ASPIRA of CT, Bridgeport Economic Development Corporation, State of CT Department of Economic and Community Development, and Community Capital Fund, and consulted with the national Opportunity Finance Network. She is the Community Development Officer at Capital for Change, the largest full-service Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) in Connecticut.
Carolyn was a founding member of Groundwork Bridgeport and a former board member of Bridgeport Neighborhood Fund. She is part of the Bridgeport Innovation Places network and coordinates training activities with an ad hoc group of Bridgeport area Latino organizations (LLC). Carolyn is proudest of her involvement as a founding member and board member (since 2003) of the Greater Bridgeport Latino Network, where she served as president from 2015-2019. GBLN has engaged thousands of Latinos in Connecticut through a variety of communications platforms, service collaborations, networking activities and educational programs.
Carolyn attended the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, holds a Bachelor’s Degree (Political Science) from the University of Bridgeport and an Interior Design Certificate from Fairfield University. She lives in Bridgeport with her husband, Jeffrey.
Joel Z.Green, Chair of Governance Committee
Joel Green joined the board in 2016 and is the Chair of the Governance Committee.For more than thirty years Joel has practiced law in Bridgeport concentrating on civil litigation and land use matters successfully representing countless individuals, neighborhood and community groups in an effort to promote responsible development throughout Fairfield County and New Haven County.
He has been a member of the Board of Directors of Sullivan McKinney Elder Housing in Fairfield and a member and Chair of the Board of Operation Hope of Fairfield where he currently remains on the Advisory Board. Joel presently serves on the Board of Commissioners of the Bridgeport Downtown Special Services District and the Board of Directors of the Bridgeport Field of Dreams Foundation. Additionally, he served as a five-term member of the Fairfield Representative Town Meeting including six years during which he was elected and served as the Moderator.
Joel received his bachelor’s degree from Clark University and J.D. from Case Western Reserve University School of Law. He lives in Fairfield with his wife Erica and two daughters.
Mindy has given her time as a community volunteer and leader since moving to Connecticut in 1996. She has volunteered her time and resources for organizations in Norwalk including Family Children’s Agency, The Carver Center, Person to Person and the Domestic Violence Crisis Center. She is an active member at Noroton Presbyterian Church where she has held several positions of leadership including Chair of the Nursery School Board, member of the Board of Deacons and is a commissioned Stephen Ministry Leader. In association with Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS), Mindy was a team leader in a community co-sponsorship that assisted a Syrian refugee family’s resettlement in Norwalk.
Mindy graduated with a BA in Psychology from Wittenberg University. She worked in the travel industry in Alexandria, VA until moving her family to Rowayton, CT in 1996.
As the leader of Financial Services (FS), Christopher has accountability for all aspects of the business, including strategy, growth and operations. This includes strategic analysis in global markets, assessing current capabilities against future opportunities, determining priorities for investment, organizational development and business culture. In this role, he is also responsible for payments and shipping finance for the enterprise.
Christopher has held multiple business leadership and C-level roles at leading companies and has a proven track record of developing effective business strategies to accelerate growth. Prior to joining Pitney Bowes in April of 2016, he was President, Terex Financial Services, a global captive financial services company with multi-billion-dollar assets under management in over 30 countries. Before that, Christopher spent 15 years with GE in both the industrial and financial segments of their business. For 11 years of his tenure, he was with GE Capital, holding a number of executive leadership positions in their international commercial and consumer banking organizations. Most notably, he was Managing Director, GE Capital and Head of Trade and Supply Chain Finance. Prior to GE, he also held M&A, corporate and business development roles of increasing responsibility at Lincoln Financial Group and Markowitz & McNaughton.
Christopher has a BA from Georgetown University. He also completed the executive professional development series at GE’s Jack Welch Executive Leadership Institute.
Joette Katz is a partner in Shipman & Goodwin’s Business Litigation Practice Group. Her distinguished legal career and service to the State of Connecticut provide her with considerable knowledge and experience that make her a valuable resource to clients and attorneys throughout the state.
Joette focuses her practice on appellate work, mediation and investigations. She advises clients on the appellate process, positioning, and strategy at both the trial and appellate stages of a matter. Joette serves as a mediator to resolve a wide range of conflicts for clients that do not require litigation. Her critical thinking on the value of post-judgment mediation was published in the Connecticut Law Tribune in February 2019. In addition, using skills from her government experience, Joette advises clients across a variety of industries on handling government, internal and other investigations.
During her 18+ years as an Associate Justice on the Connecticut Supreme Court, Joette heard approximately 2,500 cases and authored nearly 500 opinions. In addition, she served as an Administrative Judge for the State of Connecticut Appellate System and as a Judge for the Connecticut Superior Court. While serving as the Chief of Legal Services for the State of Connecticut Division of Public Defender Services, she co-authored Connecticut Criminal Caselaw Handbook: A Practitioner’s Guide (published by The Connecticut Law Tribune).
Prior to joining the firm, Joette served as Commissioner of the Connecticut State Department of Children and Families for eight years, where she was responsible for children in the Department’s custody and under its guardianship, as well as overseeing the Department’s services for children and families throughout the state in need of assistance. In addition, she was involved in all appellate matters related to the Department, including regularly advising on legal strategy. Joette also demonstrates her longstanding commitment to supporting at-risk populations as a significant contributor to the firm’s award-winning pro bono efforts, providing legal services on behalf of the underserved and underprivileged members of the community.
Throughout her career, Joette has been a frequent speaker, both nationally and in Connecticut, at many events sponsored by legal and professional associations as well as symposia hosted by colleges and universities. She has lectured on a wide range of topics, including appellate advocacy and professional responsibility, and has been a presenter at national convenings on child welfare. Joette has also taught at all three of the state’s law schools and is an Associate Fellow of Trumbull College at Yale University.
Charles MacCormack joined the Board in 2019. He served as a Senior Fellow at The Jackson Institute for Global Affairs from 2017 – 2018. MacCormack is currently the Senior Fellow for NGO Futures at Interaction, the national association of over 200 U.S. Humanitarian and Development organizations. Throughout 2016 he served as an Advanced Leadership Fellow at Harvard University. He served as Executive-in-Residence at Middlebury College from 2012 to 2016, and works with a number of international think tanks. Each of these activities advances knowledge, teaching and practice of the role of corporations, foundations, NGOs, universities, philanthropists and media in global health and development. From 1993 through 2011, Professor MacCormack was president of Save the Children, the world’s leading independent nonprofit organization serving children in need. MacCormack received his doctorate in Political Science/Comparative Politics and master’s degree in International Affairs from Columbia University and his undergraduate degree from Middlebury College.
Neil R. Marcus
Neil R. Marcus joined the Board in 2019. He is a principal in Cohen and Wolfs Real Estate, Land Use & Zoning, Municipal and Family Law Groups. Resident in the firm’s Danbury office, Mr. Marcus practices in the areas of commercial real estate, planning & zoning, and family law. He is admitted to practice law in Connecticut; the U.S. District Court, District of Connecticut; and the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit.
Mr. Marcus is a member of the American, Connecticut and Danbury Bar Associations. He served on and chaired the Land Use Committee of the Danbury Bar Association, and served on the Judiciary Committee of the Connecticut Bar Association. He also served on the Danbury Regional Advisory Board of the former Bank of New England and on the Danbury Regional Advisory Board of First Fidelity Bank.
Mr. Marcus is a former member of the Danbury Hospital and Danbury Health Systems Board of Directors and served as Chairman from 1987 to 1991 and from 1999 to 2003. He is a member of the State of Connecticut Milk Regulation Board and a member of the Wooster School Board of Trustees since 1984. He serves on the Board of the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (prior Chair) and Chairman of Leadership Giving for the Western Connecticut Health Network Foundation. Mr. Marcus has been active in many community-based social service organizations including Interlude, Inc., Association of Religious Communities (ARC) the United Way of Northern Fairfield County.
Jennifer M. Pagnillo, Esq, Chair of Professional Advisory Council
Jennifer Pagnillo joined the board in 2016 and serves as Chair of the Professional Advisory Council. She is a partner at Day Pitney LLP in Greenwich and is the co-chair of the firm’s Tax-Exempt Organizations and Charitable Giving practice group. Jennifer helps families and individuals in Connecticut and New York with tax and estate planning and estate and trust administration with an emphasis on charitable giving and the creation and operation of nonprofit organizations, including family foundations. She advises clients on: income, estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer tax planning, estate planning, including the preparation of wills and trusts, closely-held business planning and related issues to preserve and transmit wealth within families, and administration of trusts and estates, including probate proceedings, accounting and tax-related disputes.
Jennifer has represented nonprofit organizations from inception through attainment of tax-exempt status and has facilitated the development of charitable fund-raising programs. She was one of the New York City attorneys who volunteered in the citywide pro bono effort to aid families of the victims of the World Trade center attack.
Dr. Reddi’s core competencies are her ability to bring in a blend of corporate, academic, consulting experiences. Widely traveled and having worked in several countries, she is a professional who is multicultural as well as global. Her academic background includes two graduate degrees and a Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University. She has been working, full time, at Berkeley College New York since 2001 and is one of the founding faculty members of its School of Graduate Studies.
She is passionate about her work with nonprofits and served on the board of the Connecticut chapter of Girls Scouts and the Red Cross. She currently serves on the Steering Committee of Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, whose main focus is Women and Girls. Her adventurous spirit has taken her trekking in the Amazon jungles, through the wild life of East Africa, to the ancient temples in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, India and to the serene surroundings of the monasteries of Ladakh.
Her love of music and dance makes for an interesting balance between the logical and the artistic.
Mark Riser, Chair of Development & Marketing Committee
Mark joined the board in 2018 and serves as the Chair of the Development Committee. He is also involved in all platform and add-on investments at Morningside, and serves on the boards of all portfolio companies. Mark previously served as director of multiple portfolio company boards during his time with the private equity firm Hamilton Robinson Capital Partners.
His prior experience also includes Trigen Energy Corporation, International Paper, PRC Engineering and the U.S. Navy where he was an officer aboard the nuclear powered fast attack submarine USS San Francisco (SSN 711). Mark has a B.S. in petroleum engineering from Louisiana Tech University and an M.B.A. from the University of Virginia’s Darden School.
Preston Tisdale, Chair of Community Impact Committee
Preston Tisdale joined the Foundation in 2017 and serves as Chair of the Community Impact Committee. He is an attorney at the law firm of Koskoff, Koskoff & Beider in Bridgeport. Previously, he spent 28 years practicing criminal defense law, directing the Fairfield Judicial District Public Defender’s Office and serving as the first director of special public defenders for the State of Connecticut. A 1973 Brown graduate and Brown parent, Tisdale concentrated in public policy and was a member of the Afro-American Society, Rites & Reasons Theatre, and the Pre-Law Society. He holds a J.D. from New York University School of Law. Tisdale is the immediate past resident of the Brown Alumni Association, and a Trustee of the Brown University Corporation. He is past president of Brown’s Inman Page Black Alumni Council. He served on the University’s advisory councils on admission and diversity, the President’s Leadership Council as well as on the Brown Club of Fairfield County and the Association of Class Leaders.
Tisdale received the first Joseph M. Fernandez ‘85 Award for bringing diverse alumni together to make a positive contribution to the University community. Beyond Brown, Tisdale is a member of the Public Justice Foundation board of directors. He serves on the Connecticut Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparity in the Criminal Justice System, and as chair of the Regional Youth/Adult Social Action Partnership. He has also served as Corporate Secretary of the Greater Bridgeport Symphony Board, and he is the recipient of the NAACP Distinguished Service Award.
Maya Tichio joined the board in 2015. She served as the former Chair of the Fund for Women & Girls Steering Committee and is now currently serving on the Finance Committee.
Maya has extensive banking industry experience and was previously a Vice President of Global Principal Investments at Deutsche Bank Asset Management. She also held positions at AEW Capital Management and JPMorgan Chase.
Maya holds a Masters in International Relations from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a BA from Bowdoin College.
Chris Whitney is the Chief Financial Officer of Liberation Programs, one of Fairfield County’s leading behavioral health organizations specializing in treatment for all types of substance use disorders including alcohol, opiates, depressants, and stimulants.
Before joining Liberation Programs, Chris founded and managed Lake Point Capital, a commodity trading hedge fund based in Darien, CT. Prior to launching Lake Point in 2016, Chris was the co-founder and co-portfolio manager of Perennial Capital, a $500+ million discretionary commodity trading hedge fund located in New York City.
Before entering the hedge fund industry, Chris worked for six years at Cargill, Inc., headquartered in Minneapolis, MN, in the strategic planning and business development division. There he performed a number of business unit strategic reviews including reviews of Cargill’s global energy, sugar, and coffee trading businesses.
Chris graduated from Cornell University in 1987 with a B.S. (with distinction) in Applied and Engineering Physics and received his MBA from Stanford University in 1994 where he graduated in the top 10% of his class. Chris also served as an officer in the U.S. Navy’s Nuclear Propulsion Program from 1987 to 1992, retiring with the rank of Lieutenant.
Previously, Chris served on the Board of Directors of Person to Person for six years, the last five of which were as Treasurer and Chairman of the Finance Committee. He lives in Darien, CT, with his wife and three children.
Mary joined the board in 2018. She is currently Chair of the Fund for Women & Girls Steering Committee, with which she has been actively involved since 2013.
Mary has been working with non-profit organizations in Fairfield County since retiring in 2012 from a 32-year career in corporate and investment banking. She held senior management positions with Citibank, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Royal Bank of Scotland. In addition to her work in corporate finance, her expertise includes risk management, strategic planning and execution, governance and policy setting, business development, relationship management, project management, performance metrics and reporting, team development, and regulatory compliance.
Mary earned a BA from Wellesley College and an MBA from Dartmouth’s Tuck School. She lives in Rowayton, CT.
Edwin A. Bescherer Jr.
Wilmot L. Harris Jr., Esq.
W. Michael Funck
Ann S. Mandel
Sheila A. Perrin