Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity in Foundations

This session will dig into a case study with the Ford Foundation and its efforts to focus explicitly on DEI initiatives internally or externally. The case study will be followed by a panel discussion and Q&A of Ford staff and leaders of CT-based foundations of lessons that can be extrapolated from the case as well as other approaches that may be considered.


Jessica L. Cavagnero: Partner, SeaChange Capital Partners

Jackie Downing: Director of Grantmaking and Nonprofit Effectiveness, The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven

Justin Elicker: Executive Director, New Haven Land Trust

Kyle Pederson: Director, Connecticut Mental Health Center Foundation


Judith A. Chevalier: William S. Beinecke Professor of Finance and Management, Yale School of Management

Panelist Bios:

Jessica L. Cavagnero leads SeaChange’s grant-making and advisory services activities.   She is responsible for managing two funds, The SeaChange-Lodestar Fund for Nonprofit Collaboration and The New York Merger, Acquisition, and Collaboration Fund, which each make grants to support nonprofits that are exploring or planning collaborations (mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, administrative and programmatic partnerships, etc.).  In addition, Jess assists nonprofits in analyzing and developing financial strategies to refine their business models, including scenario planning for growth, risk assessment, and restructuring.

Prior to joining SeaChange, Jess was an Associate Director at CCS Fundraising, where she created and executed fundraising strategies for some of the largest nonprofit organizations in the United States. Before her transition to the nonprofit sector, Jess spent six years at Credit Suisse, the first two years working in Leveraged Finance sales & trading and the last four years in investment banking as Vice President in the Client Strategy Group, where she was responsible for developing global coverage strategy for a portfolio of 50 of the firm’s most important clients across all lines of business and geographies.


Jackie Downing is the Director of Grantmaking and Nonprofit Effectiveness for The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven.  She has been on the staff of The Community Foundation for nearly seven years. She divides her time between supporting the competitive grantmaking process and strengthening nonprofits through capacity building programs, workshops,® and technical assistance.  A graduate of Southern Connecticut State University, Jackie started her professional career at the New Haven Symphony Orchestra.  She went on to be Development and Program Director at the Dixwell Community “Q” House, and Development Director at her alma mater Sacred Heart Academy.  She spent four years the Deputy then Chief Administrative Officer for the Town of Hamden in the Amento administration, and five years in Fund Development at the Greater New Haven Community Loan Fund (now Capital for Change). Jackie has served on the Advisory Board of Sisters’ Journey, co-chaired the Hamden School Readiness Council and has serve on the Board of Directors of the Hamden Land Conservation Trust and the Hamden Arts Commission.


Justin Elicker has been the executive director of the New Haven Land Trust for four years. He grew up in Connecticut and is an active member of the New Haven community, including running for mayor of New Haven in 2013. Justin has been an adjunct professor at Southern Connecticut State University, a sustainability consultant, a U.S. Foreign Service Officer and a high and elementary school teacher. Justin received joint masters’ degrees from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and the Yale School of Management in 2010 and a BA from Middlebury College in 1997.


Kyle Pedersen is Director of the Connecticut Mental Health Center Foundation, lecturer at the Yale Divinity School, and an Episcopal deacon.  He has over 20 years experience in the non-profit sector and in community mental health services in New Haven, CT, and New York City.  He currently serves as the treasurer of the New Haven Land Trust and was president of the board of Schooner, Inc..  He also serves on the board of Beulah Land Development Corporation (New Haven, CT) and the Yale Divinity School Alumni Board; and has served on the board of other local and regional organizations. Kyle lives in New Haven with his wife, two children, and yellow lab.  He received his MAR from Yale Divinity School and BA from The New School.


Judith A. Chevalier's research is in the areas of both finance and industrial organization. Some of her recent research examines the interaction between customer reviews and firm strategy, consumer foresight in markets for durable goods, the impact of state regulations in the market for funeral products and services, and the taste for leisure as a determinant of occupational choice. She has written a series of papers on the economics of electronic commerce, the interaction between firm capital structure and product market competition, price seasonality and cyclicality, and tests of models of agency relationships and career concerns, and firm diversification. She is a former co-editor of the American Economic Review and of the Rand Journal of Economics.