FCCF Welcomes Six New Team Members

Sep 25, 2023

Fairfield County’s Community Foundation is delighted to welcome six new team members! Get to know our new staff, board member, and interns who joined us in the summer of 2023.

New Staff

Carolina Arriaga joined us as Events & Marketing Manager in 2023.

In this role, Carolina is responsible for managing and marketing Foundation events, as well as developing and implementing the Foundation’s social media strategy.

Prior to joining the Community Foundation, Carolina worked for OME Concerts & Events, a start-up promotion company, where she led the launching of dynamic marketing campaigns, reaching an impressive audience of over 200,000 customers. Carolina joined the start-up in 2021 and helped grow their marketing and public relations from the ground up and played a pivotal role in the company’s rebranding plan. Carolina was also a Senior Account Executive at Martin Retail Group, where she managed the advertising across various media channels for their regional and local clients under the Cadillac account for General Motors.

Carolina received a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from Western Connecticut State University. She currently resides in Danbury, CT. She enjoys traveling and has a very active lifestyle, between going on walks with her two dogs and training at the gym.

Ryan Deal joined us as Director of Community Philanthropy in 2023.

In this role, Ryan will strategize and execute the overall plan to expand and diversify the Foundation’s donor base.

Prior to joining the Community Foundation, he worked for the City of Greensboro, NC where he spent the last four years as the Chief Creative Economy Officer. During his time there, he established a new municipal office for arts and culture focused on the implementation of the Creative Greensboro Cultural Arts Plan and initiatives to drive equitable outcomes for communities historically marginalized by arts philanthropy. Prior to his role at the City of Greensboro, he spent ten years working in nonprofit leadership with cultural organizations in Charlotte, NC. This included several years as Vice President at the Arts & Science Council where he was responsible for a $7M annual grant-making and capacity-building portfolio, along with time as the Director of Advancement at the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte.

Ryan received his Bachelor of Arts degree in music studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

New Board Member

Marie Rocha joined FCCF’s Board of Directors in July 2023.

She is the visionary founder behind Realist Ventures, a Connecticut-based venture fund dedicated to funding early-stage biotech and software startups.

With a remarkable career spanning over 20+ years, Marie brings a wealth of expertise in both business and technology. Her journey began as a software engineer, where she honed her skills before venturing into entrepreneurship. Marie has co-founded multiple successful ventures, including a sustainable e-commerce store and IMAK software, a startup focused on providing software solutions for small businesses and nonprofits. In 2022, Marie’s passion for supporting entrepreneurs led her to establish Realist Lab, a tech incubator to provide aspiring business owners with the necessary funding, technology resources, and practical tools to scale their ventures. Recognizing the importance of giving back, Marie has served on several boards, including the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich, Greenwich Academy, HAYVN, VestHer, Live Girl, and CT Next.

Marie Rocha’s impressive track record as a software engineer, serial entrepreneur, and dedicated mentor showcases her commitment to driving innovation and fostering the growth of promising startups. Through Realist Ventures and Realist Lab, she continues to profoundly impact the entrepreneurial landscape, empowering founders to realize their visions and make a lasting difference in their industries.

New Interns

Chelsea Osei is interning at FCCF as Strategy, Learning and External Relations Research Associate.

Current student status: UConn Graduate Student, in the School of Public Policy, currently pursuing a master’s degree in Public Policy.

Q: What appeals to you about your role at FCCF?
A: I am very excited about my position as a research intern because it offers me the opportunity to take the lead and showcase the skills I have developed during my academic journey. Our team recently secured a federal grant to investigate equity and inequity within Fairfield County. I am enthusiastic about making a meaningful contribution to this research project and assisting the team/organization in achieving its goals. Through this role, I hope to expand my knowledge in research methodology, data analysis, and program evaluation.

Q: What appeals to you about your role at FCCF?
A: What particularly appeals to me about collaborating with FCCF is the organization’s commitment not only to researching and understanding equity issues but also to creating actionable plans that positively impact the community. FCCF not only applies this strategy externally but also internally, ensuring that their work is rooted in equity and, most importantly, inclusivity.

Karishma Rentia is interning at FCCF as a Strategic Learning and Evaluation Associate.

Current student status: UConn School of Public Policy pursuing a master’s degree in Public Administration.

Q: What appeals to you about your role at FCCF?
A: I am thrilled to have the opportunity to gain experience in the nonprofit sector. This opportunity will allow me to refine my skills in data analysis and program evaluation. Both skills are important for creating a positive change in the community.

Q: What appeals to you about your role at FCCF?
What appeals to me about working with FCCF is its commitment to driving positive change in Fairfield County. I look forward to applying my skills and learning from the FCCF team.

Grace Vino is interning at FCCF as Capacity Building Associate.

Current student status: UConn Graduate Student, College of Public Policy, pursuing a degree in Public Administration in May 2024.

Q: What appeals to you about your role at FCCF?
A: I was interested in the opportunity of being able to help other nonprofits in Fairfield County/Connecticut. Being able to not just help the individuals FCCF reaches, but also help other nonprofits, stuck out to me. I knew that I would be able to apply the skills I learned in the classroom to this position and be able to contribute in a positive way to the FCCF team.

Q: What appeals to you about working with FCCF?
A: Growing up in Fairfield County, being able to work with FCCF is an opportunity to help to give back to my community. I felt strongly about the mission and strategic plan of FCCF and knew that this was a place that I could align my goals with. I knew that working with FCCF would help me better understand the nonprofit sector while bringing positive change to the community.