We Bring Together Passionate People
Our seasoned staff has an extensive knowledge of philanthropy, deep roots in Fairfield County’s nonprofit community and a strong commitment to working collaboratively across sectors to foster innovative solutions for lasting change.
Juanita T. James
President & CEO
Juanita T. James is President & CEO of Fairfield County’s Community Foundation. Formerly, she was Pitney Bowes’ Chief Marketing & Communications Officer and a member of the Chairman’s Council and enjoyed a 20-year career with Time Warner and Bertelsmann, holding several senior executive positions, including President & CEO of Time-Life Libraries.
Ms. James is a Director for Asbury Automotive Group; a Director for First County Bank; Audit Committee chair for Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, a Director of CFLEADS and former Director of Connecticut Council for Philanthropy and the Rouse Company. Juanita was named a Savoy Magazine “Power 300 - Most Influential Black Corporate Directors” in 2015, and a “2018 Most Influential Corporate Director” from Women Inc.
Presently, Ms. James is Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees at Lesley University, a Trustee Emerita of Princeton University and a former Trustee of UCONN. Some of the honors bestowed upon her include: League of Women Voters “Outstanding Woman in Philanthropy Award”; Connecticut Center of Philanthropy “Martha Newman Award”; American Cancer Society “Women Leading the Way to Wellness”; Girl Scouts of CT “Woman of Merit”; Moffly Media “Light a Fire”; NAACP “100 Most Influential Blacks in CT” and “Stamford Citizen of the Year”.
Ms. James earned a master’s degree in Business Policy from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University. She also holds Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from Mitchell College and Fairfield University, and an Honorary Associate Degree in Humane Letters from Housatonic Community College.Close
Director, CT Urban Opportunity Collaborative
Cesar Aleman joined the Community Foundation in 2021, as Director of the CT Urban Opportunity Collaborative. In his role, Cesar facilitates and coordinates the team of community foundation chief executives and senior level staff from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and Fairfield County’s Community Foundation to develop collective strategies to dismantle structural racism and advance social and economic mobility; aligning the strategic and programmatic efforts of the three foundations to create an actionable plan that builds on each organization’s individual strengths.
Cesar has previously organized for the Center for Leadership and Justice, where he developed racially-conscious leaders who act collectively on issues that intersect with race and poverty. Prior to joining the Community Foundation, he has held several positions in non-profits at the local and national level working on civil rights issues including housing justice, health equity, and educational equity. He centers an approach to his work that is community-led and that builds power to achieve racial and social justice.
Cesar holds a BA in Communications Studies from Edgewood College. He lives in Elmwood, West Hartford with his partner and their blue-nose pit, Miles.Close
Mendi Blue Paca
Chief Community Impact Officer
Mendi Blue Paca joined the Community Foundation in 2018, taking on oversight of its Center for Nonprofit Excellence, Fund for Women & Girls and Thrive by 25 initiative. As Chief Community Impact Officer, Mendi leads the organization’s grant making, programs, public policy advocacy, and major community leadership initiatives to close the opportunity gap in Fairfield County. She also serves as the key liaison for cross-sector collaborations with nonprofits, funder partners, external constituent groups and local elected officials.
Mendi brings diverse cross-sector leadership experience to her role. Prior to joining the Community Foundation, she held numerous private and nonprofit positions, including working at Goldman Sachs & Co. and for the law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. She also served in public sector leadership positions; most recently, as Director of Development and Policy for the City of New Haven, where she secured $15 million in competitive funding. As a strategic consultant at the Center for Effective Philanthropy, Mendi worked with more than 40 of the largest US-based philanthropic organizations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation.
Mendi holds a bachelor’s degree in economics cum laude from Harvard College, a Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School and a Master’s in Business Administration from Harvard Business School. She is Board Chair of Partners for Educational Leadership and a board member of Harvard Business School Community Partners of CT. She is passionate about entrepreneurship, maternal and reproductive health, and mental health awareness. Mendi lives with her husband, daughter and doodle in Trumbull, where, in her spare time, she loves trying new recipes.Close
Rebecca Cordero joined Fairfield County's Community Foundation in November 2019 as our Sr. Associate, Field of Interest funds. In 2022, Rebecca was promoted to CNE Manager. In this role, Rebecca is responsible for creating and executing the programs of the Community Foundation’s Center for Nonprofit Excellence and for developing the annual goals and plans.
Before joining the Community Foundation, Rebecca served as an Account Manager at Total Administrative Service Corp (TASC). At TASC Rebecca managed corporate giving programs for both regional and national clients. She was also a certified change leader working to define and foster a transitional process for various projects and stakeholders. Rebecca has a strong sense of integrity, wanting her work to reflect community minded values and beliefs.
Rebecca holds her Master of Museum Studies, Nonprofit Management from John Hopkins University and her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from University of Connecticut.Close
Director, Immigrant Support Fund
Luis Guzman joined Fairfield County's Community Foundation in 2019 as Director, Immigrant Support Fund. As Director, Luis oversees the Fund’s strategic direction and initiatives that advance immigrant well-being in Fairfield county.
Prior to joining the Community Foundation, Luis served as Deputy Director of Colorado’s Office of Children, Youth, and Families. He also served overseas as a U.S. diplomat for the U.S. Agency for International Development where he developed and managed humanitarian projects in Nicaragua, Nepal, Burma, and Kosovo. His humanitarian work earned him four federal awards for excellence in supporting vulnerable communities. Luis also practiced law for seven years as an attorney for the federal government and the private sector. He has extensive experience engaging with communities and managing large-scale initiatives at the local, national, and international level.
Luis holds a JD from the University of Southern California Law School and a BA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He enjoys traveling and writing.Close
Senior Manager, Economic Opportunity Program
Julian Pierce joined Fairfield County's Community Foundation in 2017. He is the Program Manager for Economic Opportunity, an initiative focused on ensuring that all Fairfield County households are economically secure.
Julian’s previous work includes program evaluation and data analysis for nonprofits in the Greater Bridgeport and New Haven County Area. He also served as a Foreclosure Prevention and First-Time Home Buyer Counselor for Bridgeport Neighborhood Trust prior to joining the Community Foundation.
Julian holds a Master’s degree in Program Development from the University of New Haven and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Sociology from the University of Miami. He was born and raised in Stratford, where he currently resides.Close
Senior Director, Fund for Women & Girls
Lutonya Russell-Humes joined Fairfield County's Community Foundation in 2021. As Sr. Director, FWG, Lutonya is responsible for executing FCCF's long-term strategic plan for the Fund and day-to-day operations, grantmaking and asset development.
Prior to joining the Community Foundation, Lutonya worked for The Boys and Girls Club of New Rochelle where she served most recently as Executive Director. During her time there Lutonya provided quality programs that allowed young people and their families to access services that might not otherwise be available to them. Lutonya began her career at the Children's Village, a residential treatment facility for adolescent boys in Westchester County. She spent the next ten years working in the foster care systems of New York City and Bexar County, Texas. Hoping to impact families and children before they entered the system, she began her community-based work with the Westchester Community Opportunity Program (WestCOP) at the Ossining Community Action Program overseeing a nationally recognized pregnancy prevention program.
Lutonya received her undergraduate degree in sociology from Mississippi Valley State University, and holds a Masters of Public Administration from Pace University. She is currently an adjunct professor at Mercy College.Close
Director, Education & Workforce Development
Elizabeth (Liz) Hoagland joined us as Director, Education & Workforce Development on July 5th, 2022 reporting to Mendi Blue Paca. Liz comes to us from Bronx Youth Center at The Door, where she was Managing Director. In that role, she oversaw all programming and operations at The Door’s satellite location in the South Bronx with young adults ages 16-24. She also served as part of the senior management team at The Door. Liz previously served as a Director at The Door where she oversaw all of career and education work in the South Bronx with young adults who were out of school and out of work.
Liz began her career as Assistant Director of College and Academic Services at The Door/University Settlement Society of New York and as Senior Manager of Education and Workforce Development at the Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center, where she oversaw the agency’s work with young adults.
Liz received her Master of Public Administration from New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, undergraduate degree in Anthropology from Bates College, and is a graduate of Columbia University's Developing Leaders Program. Liz has also served as an Adjunct Associate Professor at New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and has served on the board of College Access Consortium of New York (CACNY). Liz resides in Bronx, NY with her family.Close
Vice President, Human Resources
Tara Berlingo joined Fairfield County's Community Foundation in 2017. As Director, Human Resources, Tara is responsible for leading the Community Foundation’s Human Resources programs, practices and policies to support the achievement of the organization’s strategic goals.
Prior to joining the Community Foundation, Tara served as Human Resources Business Partner at Westcon Group North America, Inc. where she was responsible for working with the leadership team to define and implement training, full life cycle recruiting, compensation, annual performance management, employee engagement, compliance, and benefits. In addition, Tara has held human resources management roles for Charter Communications and Penna Construction. Tara is a member of the Society of Human Resources Management.
Tara holds her Bachelors degree in Business from WGU with a major in Human Resource Management. Tara resides in New York with her husband and two children. In her spare time, she enjoys watching marathons of The Real Housewives.Close
Elaine V. Mintz
Chief Operating Officer, Operations
Elaine joined the Community Foundation in 2011 to lead its Center for Nonprofit Excellence. In July 2016, she was named VP of Operations. Elaine oversees the Community Foundation’s human capital management plan, the strategic goal setting process and the administrative operations of the Community Foundation. In her role, Elaine ensures that the Community Foundation has processes in place to meet its strategic goals efficiently and effectively with space for reflection and learning.
Prior to joining the Community Foundation, Elaine served as Director of the Greater Danbury Nonprofit Resource Center, leading the organization from its inception in 2005 to its merger with Fairfield County’s Community Foundation’s Center for Nonprofit Excellence in 2011. Before her nonprofit work, Elaine served at the state level as a research consultant with the Office of Policy & Management and as a staff member for the Connecticut General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee. She also served as an adjunct faculty member in Norwalk Community College’s Political Science Department.
Elaine holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration and a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Connecticut. She lives in Redding with her husband Doug and has two children. Elaine enjoys spending time outdoors, is active in local politics, and loves attending local theater and cultural destinations.Close
Tiana Randretsanilo joined Fairfield County's Community Foundation in 2013. As Assistant, Operations, Tiana provides administrative support to both the Operations and Finance departments. Tiana also manages the front desk and assists the Human Resources function.
Prior to joining the Community Foundation, Tiana served as the office coordinator at Levco Energy in Stamford.
Tiana holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Ecole D’Ingénieur de Genève, Switzerland. She lives in Norwalk with her husband Samy and their son, Jonathan. She is passionate about exploring different cultures when traveling, and spending time with her family.Close
Dr. Tanya A. Hills
Director, Learning & Evaluation
Dr. Tanya A. Hills joined Fairfield County's Community Foundation in 2022. As Director, Learning & Evaluation, Dr. Hills is responsible for managing the learning and evaluation practices of Fairfield County’s Community Foundation.
Prior to joining the Community Foundation, Dr. Hills began her career at Lawyers Without Borders, where she developed, implemented, monitored, and evaluated research, measurement, and evaluation plans for international rule of law programs and provided data-driven strategic direction to the efficacy and fidelity of programs, curricula and trainings.
She is an applied Research & Evaluation professional with fifteen years of expertise in leveraging research and evaluation methods to improve learning, strategic planning, and strategic decision-making. Dr. Hills is a published author; her research is focused on evaluation capacity building. In practice, Dr. Hills leverages research and evaluation to help mission-based organizations achieve measurable social change.
Dr. Hills received a Doctorate in Health Education from A.T. Still University, master’s degree in Public Policy & Law from Trinity College and bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Bard College.Close
Revenue Generation & Business Development
Karen R. Brown
Vice President, Development & Philanthropic Services
Karen R. Brown joined Fairfield County's Community Foundation in 1998. She initially served as Program Director, and was named Vice President of Programs as the Community Foundation grew. Currently, as the Vice President of Development and Philanthropic Services, Karen works with Foundation senior staff and board members to strategize and execute on the Foundation’s overall fundraising and business development initiatives. Karen also works closely with a cadre of donor advised fundholders to provide philanthropic advisory services.
Prior to joining the Community Foundation, Karen worked at a school-based community center led by Bronx Community College and The Families and Work Institute in Manhattan. In May 2008, Karen was awarded one of Connecticut’s highest honors for philanthropic leadership, The Martha S. Newman Award, from The Connecticut Council for Philanthropy.
Karen holds a MPA from The Robert Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University, where she was a Dean’s Scholar. She earned a BA from Brown University, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated magna cum laude. Karen lives in Wilton, where she enjoys hikes at Weir Farm National Historic Park with her two sons.
Karen is a Board Member of Social Venture Partners Connecticut, of which she was a co-founder. She also serves on the Steering Committee of Workforce Matters, a national affinity group for grantmakers passionate about workforce development. Karen has been actively involved with The Connecticut Council for Philanthropy, now serving on its membership committee. She is a past Board Member of The Support Center for Nonprofit Management based in New York.
In January 2022, Karen joined the national Board of the Asset Funders Network, the leading national grantmaker membership organization focused on advancing equitable wealth building and economic mobility.Close
Vice President, Philanthropy
Joseph Collin joined the Community Foundation in September 2019 as Director, Development & Philanthropic Services. In 2022 Joe was promoted to VP, Philanthropy. In this role Joe leads the strategy and execution of the overall fundraising and business development plan for the Community Foundation, ensuring that annual organizational fundraising goals are achieved to empower the organization to maximize its impact on the community.
Before joining the Community Foundation, Joe served as Director, Institutional Giving for Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Joe has a decade of fundraising experience with a background in grant writing, research, and relationship building. Earlier in his career, Joe served in various fundraising roles with the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, New York Academy of Medicine and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Joe holds his Masters of Music from University of Hartford and his Bachelor of Music from Catholic University of America. Joe lives in Ridgefield with his family.Close
Gift Acknowledgement Associate
Khalilah joined the Community Foundation in 2017. As Assistant, Revenue and Business Development, Khalilah provides administrative support to the department with a special focus on our Fund for Women and Girls Initiative. She also manages the gift processing and acknowledgement function for all gifts.
Prior to joining the Community Foundation, Khalilah worked at Save the Children in Fairfield.
Khalilah holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Bridgeport. She enjoys music and spending time with her family.Close
Donor Engagement Officer, Partnerships and Learning
Rebecca Mandell joined the Community Foundation in 2018 as Manager of Development. In 2022 Rebecca was promoted to Donor Engagement Officer, Partnerships & Learning.
Prior to joining the Community Foundation, Rebecca worked for Bridgeport-based Wholesome Wave, the national nonprofit working to make locally grown fruits and vegetables more affordable for the people who need it most. In her four-year tenure, Rebecca managed the Development Department’s institutional funder relationships, led individual giving activities and supervised development-related event functions.
Rebecca holds a BS from Indiana University in Public Affairs and her MPA from IU’s School of Public & Environmental Affairs. She has earned Certificates of Achievement in Annual Sustainability, Major Gift Development and Fund Development for Nonprofits from The Fundraising School at IU’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy as well as Certified Nonprofit Professional credential from the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance.Close
Sara DeRose joined the Community Foundation in 2022. As Philanthropic Advisor, Sara will work with our donors and fundholders to strengthen our community and expand our impact.
Sara has focused her career on cause marketing and fundraising with cross-functional expertise. She prides herself on bringing critical thinking and commitment to impact and innovation.
Sara holds a master’s degree in Public Policy & Non-Profit Management from The New School University. She currently resides in Fairfield with her husband and two children.Close
Manager, Development & Scholarship Services
Steve joined the Community Foundation in 2014 and currently works with the Community Foundation’s donors and charitable fundholders to manage the grant disbursement process for donor advised, agency, and designated funds. He also manages and administers the Community Foundation’s Scholarships Program.
Prior to joining the Community Foundation, Steve worked in the for-profit sector for many years; then made the switch to non-profit when he became the house manager at Hartford Stage, and later a grant administrator at a private foundation in Manchester.
Steve holds a bachelor’s degree in computer information systems from Rhode Island College. An avid tennis player and enthusiast, Steve is also passionate about animal welfare and volunteers with the Danbury Animal Welfare Society. He also enjoys traveling and the arts. Most weekends are now spent renovating and restoring an antique farmhouse in Bethel’s historic downtown, where he lives with his partner and two cats.Close
Database & Reporting Associate
Maria Casey joined Fairfield County's Community Foundation in 2019 as an Office Assistant. In 2022 Maria was promoted to Database & Reporting Associate.
Prior to joining the Community Foundation, Maria spent several years at Save the Children in Fairfield, CT where she wore many hats including Data Services, Philanthropy Coordinator and Gift and Acknowledgement Associate. Maria also spent over 12 years at The Nielson Company where she managed client data, was a liaison between Account Managers and clients and performed high priority customer service projects and process improvement plans.
Maria holds an Executive Assistant Certification from Gibbs College, an Associate Degree in Business Administration from Housatonic Community College and lives in Fairfield with her family.Close
Sharon Jones joined Fairfield County's Community Foundation in 2008 as Program Administrative Assistant. In March 2018, she was named Community Impact Associate. Sharon manages Foundant, the foundation’s online grants management system for competitive grants. She also provides support to the Community Impact Program Managers.
Prior to joining the Community Foundation, Sharon served as Nursing Scheduler for Family Care Visiting Nurse and as Office Manager for Bindi Desserts, Inc.
Sharon lives in Norwalk with her son Cameron and enjoys visits with her daughter Jade and grandsons, Amare and Kyree. Sharon enjoys reading and writing and spending time with family.Close
Bill Andrews, CPA
Chief Financial Officer
Bill Andrews joined the Community Foundation in 2018. As Chief Financial Officer, he will support the organization’s strategic plan by ensuring accurate and efficient financial operations to provide timely and transparent information to foundation stakeholders.
Bill is a seasoned finance executive with over 30 years’ experience in a wide range of industries and roles. He has extensive finance and accounting experience especially in financial reporting for companies of varied sizes. Most recently, his accounting and finance experience has been supplemented by roles in operations such as manufacturing, customer relationships, product management and sales.
Bill earned a BBA in accounting from Iona College, an MBA in Finance from the Stern School of Business of New York University and is a CPA. Bill lives in Easton with his wife and youngest son.Close
Data, Administration & Reporting Director
Alex Quesada joined Fairfield County's Community Foundation in 2013 as Administrative Assistant, FWG and then moved to Associate, FWG managing the Fund’s competitive grant portfolio. In 2019 Alex was named Project Manager and most recently in 2022 has been promoted to Data, Administration & Reporting Director. In this role, she will oversee process improvements and operational efficiencies for Foundation wide activities, projects and processes. This includes process mapping, documentation of current processes, process improvements, and new process implementation.
Prior to joining the Community Foundation, Alex served as an Associate for the American Cancer Society, Inc.
Alex holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut and an Associate’s degree from Norwalk Community College. She lives in Norwalk with her family.Close
Jenny W. Holaday
Senior Associate, Finance
Jenny W. Holaday joined Fairfield County’s Community Foundation in 2017 as Staff Accountant. In 2018, she was named Finance Associate for her support in managing and recording the Community Foundation’s investment holdings.
Prior to joining the Community Foundation, Jenny spent four years providing accounting services for low-income housing sectors. This included services for both the largest multifamily investment firm in the industry, Alden Torch Financial, and the affordable housing properties themselves.
Jenny holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting from Western State Colorado University, with an Environmental Studies minor. She enjoys using her free time to work as Ambassador for CID Entertainment, executing VIP programs. Her hometown is Wilton, where she currently resides.Close
Sonia Rivera joined Fairfield County’s Community Foundation in 2008, after working in the same position at the Greater Bridgeport Area Foundation for eight years.
Prior to joining the Community Foundation, Sonia served as an analyst in the Credit Card Department of the Bank of New England in Fairfield. She also served as student loan administrator for the State National Bank of Connecticut.
Sonia earned a degree in computer programming from the New Haven Academy of Business and an Associate’s degree from Housatonic Community College. She serves as treasurer for her church. A native of Puerto Rico, Sonia lives in Bridgeport with her husband and has three children.Close
Senior Associate, Data
Alison Riith joined Fairfield County's Community Foundation in 2012. Alison was promoted to Sr. Associate, Data in 2020. Alison supports FCCF’s strategic objectives and organizational learning by leveraging internal knowledge and data with timely analysis and reporting across the organization.
Prior to joining the Community Foundation, Alison served as Project and Financial Coordinator at a local consulting firm and completed internships at the East Central Illinois Area Agency on Aging and State Farm Insurance Company. Alison is a tiny homes enthusiast, and her tiny homes idea was selected as the winner of the 2014 Fairfield County’s What Works Challenge.
Alison has her Master’s degree in Public Policy (MPP) and a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) graduate certificate from the University of Connecticut. She also holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration (MPA )from Fairfield University, a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Illinois Wesleyan University, and is a graduate of the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program at the Westchester Institute for Human Development.
Alison is a Jackie Robinson Foundation alumna and an active member of the Well Spouse Association. She lives in Norwalk with family and has a cat named Arthus the Lich Kitty.Close
Carolina Bonaparte joined Fairfield County's Community Foundation in 2022. As Controller, Carolina is responsible for the management of the financial operations of the Community Foundation, including financial accounting, reporting, data analysis, audit, and tax.
Before joining the Community Foundation, Carolina worked at PNT Data Corp., where she was the Financial Specialist. Carolina’s career began as a Director of Client Services for almost ten years, focusing on Financial Management. She then moved into a Staff Accountant position with RJ Testo and Associates, where she spent her time focused on establishing and maintaining the financial foundation of various small businesses around the State of Connecticut.
Carolina received her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Accounting from SUNY Plattsburgh. She currently resides in Fairfield County and enjoys hiking, kayaking, and salsa dancing with her son in her spare time.Close