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.
Martha Olson, Chair
Martha Olson joined the Community Foundation’s rebranding efforts in 2013 and joined the board in 2014. Martha serves as Chair of the Board and Chair of the Executive Committee.
Martha has a 30+ year career spanning the consumer packaged goods and apparel industries. She is known as a consumer-focused strategist and has a track record of growing global, iconic brands and delivering top-line sales growth and superior shareholder returns. Following a transition role in the merger of Warnaco, Inc. into the VH, Inc. organization, Martha is now focused on board and advisory work. In addition to FCCF, Martha serves as a member of the Lawrence University Board of Trustees, Chair of the Marketing Advisory Council, Chair of Recruitment & Retention, Chair of Annual Giving, and member of Finance and Development Committees and the Underfashion Club board, Chair of both Strategic Planning and By-laws. Martha is also a Visiting Professor in Fashion and Fashion Business at the NYU Gallatin School.
Martha holds a BA from Lawrence University and an MBA in marketing and finance from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. She lives in Darien.
Briggs Tobin, Vice Chair, Chair of Center for Nonprofit Excellence
Briggs Tobin joined the board in 2015 and serves as Chair of the CNE Advisory Council, and also serves as Vice Chair of the Executive Committee and a member of the Governance Committee. 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.
Edwin L. Ford, Treasurer
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.
Johnna Torsone, Secretary, Vice Chair of Community Impact Committee
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.
Annie Burleigh joined the board in 2014 and serves on the Governance Committee and previously served as Co-Chair of the Fund for Women and Girls Steering Committee. Annie graduated from St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire, Middlebury College, received a Masters in Teaching from Columbia University and taught in New York City and Cambridge, MA.
She is on the boards of At Home in Darien, Horizons Student Enrichment Program, and is a Founding member of a new initiative, Culture of Respect, that creates solutions and brings awareness to issues surrounding sexual assaults on college campuses. She was the co-founder of the St. Thomas Moore Parish Women’s Circle and the Children’s Tag Sale. She is a former board member of Nativity Schools in New York City, The New Canaan Winter Club and was involved on many levels at the New Canaan Country School, St. Paul’s School, Williams College and Middlebury College.
Annie is the Executive Director of her family’s small private foundation. She and her family live in Darien.
Brandon L. Cardwell, Co-Chair of Marketing Council
Brandon Cardwell joined the board in 2014 and serves as a Co-Chair of the Marketing Council and a member of the Thrive by 25 initiative. He is currently a Business Consultant for the Stamford-based company, Indeed.com, a comprehensive internet search engine for jobs.
Prior to working at indeed.com, he was a Search Engine Marketing Analyst at the digital advertising agency, Publicis Modem. Brandon attended both the University of Connecticut’s Stamford branch and the main campus located in Storrs, CT. While at UCONN, Brandon served in various leadership roles for student organizations. He was both a Founding Member and President/CEO of a student-run record label (Husky Entertainment), Assistant Production Manager at the University’s radio station (WHUS), and Director of the University’s student-run television station’s (UCTV) Advertising Department.
Brandon’s true passion in life is coaching both youth basketball and little league baseball in his free time and he hopes to pursue coaching as a full-time career in the future.
Bob Eydt, Chair of Audit Committee
Bob Eydt joined the board in 2014 and currently serves as Chair of the Audit Committee and as member of the Finance Committee.
He is a seasoned partner from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) with over 30 years of experience serving and advising large Global Fortune 500 multinational companies, mutual funds and Private Equity Firms on complex business transactions and accounting matters.
Bob currently advises Fortune 500 and private companies upon retiring from PwC in July 2012. Bob has been a resident of Norwalk since 1980 and an active leader in local community organizations for the past 30 years.
Gerald M. Fox, III
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.
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.
Steven Goldstein, Co-Chair of Marketing Council
Steven Goldstein joined the board in 2014 and serves as Co- chair of the Marketing Council and as member of CNE Advisory Council. He previously chaired the Foundation’s Center for Non-profit Excellence (CNE). He is CEO of Amplifi Media, a company focused on digital audio strategies for corporations and podcasters which he founded in 2015. Steven previously was a co-founder and Executive VP of Saga communications, a public broadcasting company. He is also the co-founder of Sonic Ai, a company which develops “skills” and content for smart speaker devices including Amazon’s Echo.
Steven serves as a committee member for Autism Speaks of Westchester/Fairfield. He has also served as chairman of the Arbitron Advisory Council, and in various positions for the National Association of Broadcasters.
Steven earned his bachelor’s degree in television and radio from The Ithaca College School of Communications. He lives in Westport with his wife, Jennifer, and three children.
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.
Jennifer M. Hill
Jennifer M. Hill joined the board in 2018 and serves as a member of the Finance Committee. She is the Chief Financial Officer for Global Banking and Global Markets, supporting Bank of America’s trading, corporate and institutional banking businesses. She and her team operate a series of key control processes to ensure the integrity of the financial results for the businesses, and then build on these activities to offer performance insight to business leaders.
Jennifer joined Bank of America in 2011 from Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), where she was Group Director of Strategy and Corporate Finance and a member of the management committee. Prior to joining RBS, she was Chief Financial Officer for Tisbury Capital Management in London. Before Tisbury, she held various roles as a Managing Director at Goldman Sachs, including roles in risk, investment banking, leveraged finance and principal investing. In her early career, Jennifer was a FIG banker at both Citibank and Credit Lyonnais.
She holds an M.B.A. from Columbia University and a B.A. from Hamilton College, where she is on the Board of Trustees. She also sits on the Board of Advisors of buildOn, a non-profit organization that builds schools in developing countries and runs afterschool service programs in America’s toughest inner-cities
Don Kendall, Jr., Chair of SVP Partners
Don Kendall joined the board in 2015 and serves as Chair of the SVP Partners Committee. He is also a member of the Finance Committee. For most of his adult professional life, Don has been a serial entrepreneur with a passion for creating startups as well as turnaround companies operating in new, or rapidly evolving market spaces. Following his tenure at McKinsey & Company, Don co-founded American Restaurants, which today has over $1 billion in sales and employs more than 20,000 people across seven Central and East European markets. An early pioneer in the e-commerce field, Don co-founded or was Founding Board member of six other companies including hotwire.com, now part of Expedia.
More recently, Don has devoted a significant portion of his time to philanthropy and socially-minded enterprise creation in the arena some people refer to as “Education 2.0”. Don was a catalyst and driving force in the creation of Social Venture Partners Connecticut, a Field of Interest Fund at the Community Foundation. SVP Connecticut is part of a global network of 3500+ partners in 39 cities. Under the SVP model of engaged venture philanthropy, members pool annual contributions and leverage their time, expertise, and resources to make strategic investments in nonprofits in their local community with proven potential for social change. SVP Connecticut helps nonprofits in our region strengthen their capacity and increase their impact.
Don currently serves on the boards of SVP Connecticut and the National Outdoor Leadership School. For 10 years, he was also an active member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO). A graduate of Stanford University, Don lives with his wife and three children in Weston where he is a volunteer EMT and coach.
Elizabeth Lazarus, joined the Board in 2017 and serves as Chair of the Fund for Women & Girls Steering Committee. Liz has been involved with The Fund for Women & Girls since 2012, first as a member of the Program Committee and then a member of the Steering Committee.
Liz also serves on the NY Regional Board for UNICEF USA Fund. Prior to moving to Connecticut in 2011, Liz served on the Boards of Directors of Zoo Atlanta, Skyland Trail/George West Mental Health Foundation, The Schenck School and Camp Sunshine all in Atlanta, Georgia. Liz received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Vanderbilt University and is a graduate of the Villa Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart in St. Louis, Missouri, her native city. Her professional career experience includes 14 years in marketing and sales in the financial services industry in New York. She and her family live in Greenwich.
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 the co-chair of the firm’s Tax-Exempt Organizations and Charitable Giving practice group, 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.
Mark Riser, Chair of Development 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.
Richard Wenning, Chair of Thrive by 25
Richard Wenning joined the board in 2016 and serves as Chair of Thrive by 25. He serves as executive director of BeFoundation, a family foundation devoted to dramatic improvement in the education of underserved children in Connecticut and the vitality of their communities.
Richard co-founded SpreadMusicNow, a donor advised fund that supports music education for underserved youth, and serves on the board of Social Venture Partners-CT. As an education leader and policy expert, Richard has worked with federal, state, and local agencies and nonprofits for more than 25 years. Richard’s role in launching BeFoundation fostered his return to Connecticut after stints in Washington, D.C. and Colorado. These included positions with the Colorado Department of Education as Associate Commissioner, the Denver Public Schools as executive on loan, and the Colorado League of Charter Schools as vice president. In Washington, D.C., Richard served as senior policy advisor to the CEO of DC Public Schools and as professional staff to the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations. Rich has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Ithaca College and an MPA from American University. He resides in Redding.
Mary joined the board in 2018. She is currently Vice Chair of the Fund for Women & Girls Steering Committee, with which she has been actively involved since 2013.
Mary has been actively 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. Her expertise includes strategic planning and execution, governance and policy setting, risk management, 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