Juanita T. James, President & CEO
Juanita T James is President & CEO of Fairfield County’s Community Foundation. Formerly, Juanita was Pitney Bowes’ Chief Marketing & Communications Officer and enjoyed a 20-year career with Time Warner and Bertelsmann. She is a Director for Asbury Automotive Group; First County Bank; Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, CFLEADS (Community Foundations Leading Change) and Connecticut Council for Philanthropy and a former Director of the Rouse Company. In 2015, Juanita was named a Savoy Magazine “Power 300 – Most Influential Black Corporate Directors”. Presently, she is Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees at Lesley University, a Trustee Emerita of Princeton University and is formerly a Trustee of UCONN. Some of the honors bestowed upon Juanita include: 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”. Juanita received Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from Mitchell College and Fairfield University; a master’s degree in Business Policy from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University.
Contact Juanita: Mkulis@fccfoundation.org
Karen R. Brown, Vice President of Innovation and Strategic Learning
Karen joined the Community Foundation in 1998, after many years working in the nonprofit sector. She is responsible for keeping us abreast of trends and best practices in the philanthropy sector, and promoting internal and external learning, innovation and thought leadership.
Karen is a founding board member of Social Venture Partners Connecticut (a program and field of interest fund at the Community Foundation), The Support Center for Nonprofit Management, and serves on the membership committee for The Connecticut Council for Philanthropy as well as the Connecticut committee of the Regional Plan Association. Karen has served on many community foundation sector committees at the national level, and is also a new steering committee member of Workforce Matters, a national affinity group for funders focused on workforce development.
Karen graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Brown University, and holds a master’s degree in public and nonprofit administration from the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University. She was one of the first recipients of The Connecticut Council for Philanthropy’s Martha S. Newman Award for sustained and exemplary staff performance at a Connecticut foundation. Karen lives in her adopted and beloved hometown of Norwalk.
Contact Karen: KBrown@FCCFoundation.org
Mendi Blue-Paca, Vice President of Community Impact
Mendi leads the Foundation’s grant making, programs, public policy advocacy, and major community leadership initiatives to close the opportunity gap in Fairfield County. Mendi’s areas of oversight include the Center for Nonprofit Excellence, Fund for Women and Girls and Thrive by 25. She is the key liaison between the Foundation and the nonprofit community, funder partners, external constituent groups and local elected officials.
Mendi brings diverse, cross-sector leadership experience to the Foundation. She has been a strategic consultant to more than 40 of the largest U.S.-based philanthropic organizations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates, Ford, William and Flora Hewlett, W.K. Kellogg, Robert Wood Johnson, David and Lucile Packard and Walton Family foundations.
Her experience in the private and nonprofit sectors includes work at Goldman Sachs & Co., Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. Mendi has also served in public sector leadership positions, most recently as the Director of Development and Policy for the City of New Haven, where she secured $15 million in competitive funding for the city and developed strategies for innovation, advocacy and process improvement.
Mendi has a Bachelor in Economics cum laude from Harvard College, a Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School and a Master in Business Administration from Harvard Business School. She is passionate about entrepreneurship; maternal and reproductive health advocacy; mental health awareness; and loves trying new recipes. She and her husband live in her hometown, New Haven.
Contact Mendi: MBlueemail@example.com
Julian Pierce, Program Manager, Economic Opportunity
Julian joined the 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 non-profits 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.
Contact Julian: JPierce@FCCFoundation.org
Sharon Jones, Community Impact Associate
Sharon joined the Community Foundation in 2008. She previously served as Nursing Scheduler for Family Care Visiting Nurse Agency, and Office Manager for Bindi Desserts, Inc.
As the Program Associate, Sharon provides support to the Director, CNE Manager and Program Manager within the Community Impact department.
She lives in Norwalk with her son, Cameron, and her daughter, Jade.
Contact Sharon: SJones@FCCFoundation.org
Khalilah Johnson, Community Impact Administrative Assistant
Khalilah joined the Community Foundation in 2017. She supports the fund in an administrative capacity. She most recently worked for 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.
Contact Khalilah: KJohnson@FCCFoundation.org
RJ Mercede, Center for Nonprofit Excellence Manager
RJ joined the Community Foundation in 2014. Previously, he traveled the country for over 20 months with AmeriCorps, fighting off blackberry vines, constructing Habitat for Humanity homes and tilling the roots for a youth-led community garden. He worked with the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Connecticut, and most recently served as the Bridgeport Program Manager with Public Allies Connecticut. There he coached, trained and empowered emerging, diverse leaders in the nonprofit sector, and was recognized in 2014 as “Professional of the Year” by the Bridgeport Reentry Collaborative.
When RJ is not busy managing our Fairfield County’s Giving Day and other Center for Nonprofit Excellence endeavors, he is an active board member with the Springdale Neighborhood Association and serves as a Citizen Adviser to the Ferguson Library’s Board of Trustees. He also coaches emerging nonprofit leaders with Leadership Development Roundtable. In 2015, he was recognized with a “Milli Award” by Westfair Communications for his outstanding contributions to Fairfield County.
RJ earned two degrees in criminal justice, a Bachelor’s from Stonehill College, and a Master’s degree from Northeastern University. His hometown is Stamford, where he now lives with his wife.
Contact RJ: RMercede@FCCFoundation.org
Tricia A. Hyacinth, The Fund for Women and Girls Director
Tricia joined the Community Foundation in 2012. She previously served as program manager for community engagement at a nonprofit in Hartford, an academic administrator and instructor, and a corporate marketing consultant.
Tricia offers extensive experience working with volunteers, and organizing and executing large-scale service events.
She holds an MBA in marketing/management from the University of Connecticut and degrees in political science. She enjoys traveling and lives in Monroe with her family.
Contact Tricia: THyacinth@FCCFoundation.org
Alex Quesada, The Fund for Women and Girls Associate
Alex joined the Community Foundation in 2013. She provides administrative support for the Fund for Women and Girls and helps coordinate events. She previously served as an associate for the American Cancer Society, Inc.
Alex holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Connecticut, and an associate degree from Norwalk Community College. She lives in Norwalk with her family.
Contact Alex: AQuesada@FCCFoundation.org
Elaine V. Mintz, Vice President of Operations
Elaine joined the Foundation in 2011 to lead the Center for Nonprofit Excellence and also served as the Program Director for Arts and Culture before being named Vice President of Operations in July 2016. Elaine serves as a key liaison to the Fairfield County nonprofit community and is dedicated to strengthening the region’s nonprofit sector. Elaine is responsible for leading the Community Foundation’s human capital management plan and strategic goal setting process.
Elaine brings a variety of work experiences in the nonprofit and public sector. Prior to joining the Foundation, she served as the director of the Greater Danbury Nonprofit Resource Center providing training, consulting and volunteers for nonprofit organizations in northern Fairfield County. She led the Greater Danbury Nonprofit Resource Center from its inception in 2005 to its merger with the Community Foundation in 2011. Prior to her nonprofit work, Elaine served at the state level as a research consultant with the Office of Policy & Management and as a staff member to the Appropriations Committee with the CT General Assembly. She also served as an adjunct faculty member in the Political Science Department at Norwalk Community College.
Elaine holds a Master’s degree in public administration and a Bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Connecticut.
Contact Elaine: EMintz@FCCFoundation.org
Tara Berlingo, Human Resources Manager
Tara joined FCCF in 2017. She has over 15 years of human resources experience including developing HR processes and policies, compliance, employee relations, performance management, recruiting, benefits, compensation and training. Her career has included management and business partner positions with large, mid-sized, and small companies in various industries including sales and distribution, construction and technology.
Prior to joining FCCF, Tara spent 11 years at Westcon Group North America, Inc. where she was responsible for working with the leadership team in defining and implementing training, full life cycle recruiting, compensation, annual performance management, employee engagement, compliance, benefits and more. In addition, Tara has held human resources management roles for Charter Communications and Penna Construction.
Tara earned her Associates Degree in Business Administration with a major in Human Resource Management from Baker College and she is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management. Tara resides in New York with her husband and two children.
Contact Tara: TBerlingo@fccfoundation.org
Adhlere Coffy, Data Scientist
Adhlere joined the Foundation as a data analyst in 2016. In this new role, Adhlere is advancing the Community Foundation’s collection, use, and visualization of data across all departments. He works cross-departmentally to create dashboards and reports to inform organizational decision making.
His background includes a Master of Science from NYU in Applied Urban Science & Informatics, A BS in Aerospace Engineering from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, with a minor in mathematics, and experience in STATA, R, SQL, and Tableau. Adhlere comes from the private sector, having worked as an aero-thermal design and analysis engineer for clients ranging from Pratt & Whitney to the Department of Defense. Adhlere was born and raised in Bridgeport, where he currently resides. He shares a deep commitment to the community.
Contact Adhlere: ACoffy@FCCFoundation.org
Marie E. Pronesti, Office Administrator
Marie joined the Foundation in 2013, bringing 20 years of experience in office management, client service and project management. She most recently worked for Susquehanna International Group in Stamford, and previously worked at Investment Management Institute, UBS and PaineWebber.
Marie earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of New Haven and a master’s Degree in divinity from Trinity School for ministry.
An active member of Stanwich Congregational Church in Greenwich, Marie lives in Norwalk.
Contact Marie: MPronesti@FCCFoundation.org
Donor Services & Development
Kristy Jelenik, Vice President of Development
Kristy joined the Foundation in 2013 and is a seasoned fundraising professional with a proven track record in generating revenue and building donor-focused strategies to support mission-driven work. She has nearly 20 years in public sector fund development roles in New York and Connecticut, and brings a variety of experience in major gift, corporate and foundation fundraising, board development, strategic planning and donor communications.
Kristy is responsible for leading, planning, and implementing the Community Foundation’s development efforts to grow revenue in order to sustain and expand our Community Impact efforts throughout Fairfield County. She works closely with Foundation donors, fundholders and partners to help execute their charitable giving and introduce them to new opportunities to make an impact with their philanthropy.
Kristy holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of South Carolina and a Master’s Degree in Urban Affairs and Planning from Hunter College. She is an active volunteer in Fairfield where she lives with her two children and husband.
Contact Kristy: KJelenik@FCCFoundation.org
Nancy Tartaglia, Director, Gift Planning and Philanthropic Services
Nancy joined the Community Foundation in 2015. Previously, she served as a planned giving officer in the development department of Fairfield University following an extensive career in banking, focusing on financial planning and wealth management.
Nancy was a VP and trust officer at BNY Mellon, formerly Putnam Trust, where she developed relationships in the Greenwich, Southport and Westport communities. Throughout her executive career, Nancy remained involved with community causes including Greenwich Special Olympics where she served as local coordinator. She was a leader in Putnam Trust’s United Way campaign, served on the Finance Committee for the American Red Cross in Fairfield, and volunteered at the Southport Women’s Exchange.
She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Ithaca College and has a paralegal certification in Trust and Estate Administration from The Institute for Paralegal Training. She acquired a certified Financial Services Counsellor accreditation from the American Bankers Association National Graduate Trust School. Nancy lives in Fairfield with her husband, Ronald Lowe, and they are avid golfers and active volunteers at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church.
Contact Nancy: NTartaglia@fccfoundation.org
Steve Aubin, Donor Services Associate
Steve joined the Foundation in 2014. He previously served as a grant administrator at the SBM Charitable Foundation in Manchester, Connecticut, and as a house manager at Hartford Stage.
Steve works with the Foundation’s donors and fund holders and manages the grant disbursement process for donor advised. He also administers the Foundation’s Scholarship Program.
He 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 at the Danbury Animal Welfare Society. He also enjoys traveling and the arts. He currently lives in Danbury and has a cat named Finn.
Contact Steve: SAubin@FCCFoundation.org
Alison Riith, Knowledge Associate
Alison joined the Foundation in April of 2012. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from Illinois Wesleyan University and a master’s degree in public administration with a concentration in nonprofit management from Fairfield University. Alison is an active member of the Well Spouse Association and she is passionate about support services for people with disabilities and their caregivers. Alison is also a tiny home enthusiast. She lives in her hometown of Norwalk with her husband, Michael, and their cat, Arthus.
Contact Alison: ARiith@FCCFoundation.org
Tiana Randretsanilo, Development and Finance Assistant
Tiana joined the Community Foundation in 2013. She previously served as the office coordinator at Levco Energy in Stamford.
Tiana is a Norwalk resident and speaks English, Malagasy and French. She received her degree in science from Ecole Paul Minault in Madagascar, and studied physics and chemistry at University of Galati in Romania, University of Lausanne in Switzerland, and Ecole D’Ingenieurs de Geneve in Switzerland.
Contact Tiana: TRandretsanilo@FCCFoundation.org
Marketing & Communications
Beth DeMarte, Director of Marketing & Communications
As head of integrated marketing and communications for the Foundation, Beth leads our brand strategies and positioning. And as an award-winning marketer, she brings extensive professional expertise to the Foundation in advancement of our brand evolution, multi-media content curation, customer experience acumen, advertising, social media amplification, PR innovation, and overall project leadership.
Beth has served as Vice President of Marketing & Communications for a global tourism organization, leading a domestic and international team. And she’s held Mar Com management roles in the travel, technology and financial sectors – delivering innovative and results-driven campaigns.
Beth holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Lehigh University, where she also minored in American Literature. She has a strong passion for community service, exemplified by her roles as a Leadership Board member of the American Lung Association of Metro New York, a volunteer with the Junior League, a Board member of the Lehigh University Westchester & Fairfield Alumni Group, and as a Leadership Board member and volunteer with the American Lung Association of Westchester & Fairfield Counties.
Contact Beth: BDemarte@FCCFoundation.org
Brynne Bartiromo, Marketing & Communications Associate
As part of the marketing team, Brynne works to support the Foundation’s full array of branding and integrated marketing initiatives. She manages social media platforms to increase FCCF’s presence and growth. Brynne assists in evolving the Foundation’s website and drive-to-web strategies. And she supports design needs for print and online deliverables.
Prior to joining the FCCF team, Brynne worked as a Digital Marketing Specialist for Carbonfoot Medical. While there, she successfully supported online and offline marketing campaigns to grow the customer base, customer acquisitions, and brand awareness. Brynne designed and executed marketing strategies that included SEO, paid search advertising programs, email marketing, social media growth and social media optimization, website analytics and improvement of customer conversation rates.
Brynne graduated cum laude from Fairfield University with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication and Journalism. Originally from NJ, Brynne now lives in Stamford.
Contact Brynne: firstname.lastname@example.org
Joseph R. Baker, MBA, Chief Financial Officer
Joe joined the Community Foundation in 2011 as Vice President of Finance & Administration and was named Chief Financial Officer in July 2017. He oversees the foundation’s $200 million investment portfolio, and all financial management and reporting for the P&L, balance sheet, audit and accounting activities. He came to the foundation with 25 years experience in nonprofit finance, investments, fundraising, and development of community initiatives. In his previous position as director of finance and administration at the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain, he managed finances, investments and administration for the foundation. In previous positions, Joe created a parent-run community initiative, served as executive director of the United Way of Meriden and Wallingford, and co-executive director of Fellowship Place in New Haven.
Joe received his bachelor’s degree in Economics and Spanish from Colby College and his master’s degree in public and private management from the Yale School of Organization and Management, where he was awarded a Patricia Roberts Harris Public Service Fellowship. Joe chairs the Northeast CFO group of community foundation finance professionals.
A longtime resident of North Haven, Joe teaches Sunday school at his church. He enjoys succulent gardening and exercising. Joseph and his wife, Carmen, have three children.
Contact Joseph: JBaker@FCCFoundation.org
Sonia Rivera, Finance Assistant
Sonia joined the Foundation in 2008 after working in the same position at the Greater Bridgeport Area Foundation for eight years. She previously served as an analyst in credit card collections for the Bank of New England in Fairfield.
Sonia earned a degree in computer programming from the New Haven Academy of Business and an associate 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 their three children.
Contact Sonia: SRivera@FCCFoundation.org
Renee Tucker, Controller
Renee joined the Community Foundation in 2017. She most recently served as the Controller for Waveny LifeCare Network in New Canaan. Prior to Waveny, Renee has had many years of Accounting & Finance experience, mostly in small to medium size firms in the public and private sector. Renee holds a Bachelors of Business Administration in Accounting from Iona College in New Rochelle, NY.
Renee is a resident of Eastchester, NY, for the past 15 years and the Chairperson for her towns’ Swim Across America event which raises money for cancer research. Renee enjoys cooking in her spare time. Renee and her husband have one daughter & two dogs.
Contact Renee: RTucker@FCCFoundation.org