Staff Team

Brooklyn Community Foundation is led and run by professionals who represent diverse perspectives, expertise, neighborhoods and interests. Our staff and our Board members have a deep knowledge of the borough and of the issues. 

President & CEO

For more than 20 years, Cecilia Clarke has successfully managed and developed nonprofit organizations in the greater New York City area, with an emphasis on community and cultural advancement. She joined the Foundation in September 2013 after more than a decade as Executive Director of the Sadie Nash Leadership Project, an innovative educational leadership program she founded in 2001 for low-income young women. Under her leadership, Sadie Nash was awarded the 2010 New York Times Company Gold Prize for Overall Management Excellence.

Prior to establishing Sadie Nash, Cecilia led the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, was Associate Director of The Drawing Center, and was responsible for government fundraising at the Brooklyn Museum. She got her start as a social worker, counseling women at Fountain House, a “clubhouse” program for the mentally ill.

Cecilia has served on the New York State Attorney General’s Leadership Committee for Nonprofit Revitalization, the Board of Directors of the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy, as an Adjunct Professor at New York University’s School of Education, and as a volunteer for the Park Slope Safe Homes Project. Cecilia received her B.A. from Georgetown University. She lives in Fort Greene with her husband and three children.

Director of Strategy & Operations

Russatta Buford is Director of Strategy & Operations, joining the team in November 2014. She plays an instrumental role in building Brooklyn Community Foundation’s internal operations and capacity to implement its new strategy program and position it for aggressive growth. Previously, she served as the Vice President of Strategy and Operations at Teach For America where she led a team supporting the strategic direction and execution of priority initiatives across the nonprofit’s 48 regions. Before making her way to the social sector full-time, she worked in petroleum engineering and business development, and led pro bono teams for the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Save the Children, and Explore Schools.

Russatta earned her MBA from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor and her BS in chemical engineering from Florida A&M University. The Michigan native (but proud Brooklynite!) sits on the Board of Directors at Brooklyn Community Services, volunteers with her church, and loves to get in all sorts of mischief on her bike.
 

Director of Community Leadership

Tynesha McHarris joined Brooklyn Community Foundation as Director of Community Leadership in June 2014. She has worked with the Foundation since January 2014, helping to launch and implement the Brooklyn Insights initiative; in her current role, she is developing the Foundation's core initiatives and grantmaking strategies. Previously, she was Director of Programs and Community Engagement at Newark Trust for Education, Director of Community Programming for PENewark, and Newark Program Director for the Sadie Nash Leadership Project. 

Tynesha is a graduate of Rutgers University, and has completed post-graduate training in Columbia Business School’s Social Enterprise Executive Education Program as well as Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Center for Creative Leadership’s Executive Education Program. She is on the board of Sadie Nash Leadership Project, Chad Schools Foundation, and Art & Abolition. She lives in Bedford Stuyvesant with her sister Tameika; the pair are the subject of a future HBO documentary, Another Night in the Free World, featuring young women activists.
 
 
Manager, Donor Services

Julia Metro joined the Brooklyn Community Foundation in November of 2012. Previously, she coordinated development and fundraising efforts for Friends of Materials for the Arts, the nonprofit partner of Materials for the Arts, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs. Julia is a graduate of New York University, where she studied Art History and French, and currently serves on the Advisory Committee of the Brooklyn-based dance group, the A.O. Movement Collective. A Brooklyn resident since 2007 and proud Massachusetts native, she lives in Park Slope.

Senior Program Associate

Prachi Patankar joined the Brooklyn Community Foundation as the Senior Program Associate in December 2014, She plays an instrumental role in implementing the Foundation’s core initiatives and new grantmaking strategies. Previously, she worked at Lower Manhattan Cultural Council managing regrant and professional development programs and at the Tenement Museum bringing contemporary immigration perspective into the Museum's historical immigration focus. She has a MA from New York University in International Education and Communications.

Prachi grew up in rural India, raised by a freedom-fighter grandmother and parents deeply involved in peasant social movements. After receiving her BA from Swarthmore College, she went back to India where she established a school for children of people displaced by dams. For over a decade in New York City, she has been part of movements against war, police brutality, and racism. She has worked in various capacities with social justice nonprofits like WITNESS, CHHAYA, and DRUM (Desis Rising Up and Moving) and has done popular-education and media-literacy training through organizations like Youth Solidarity Summer and Palestine Education Project. Prachi is currently involved South Asia Solidarity Initiative (SASI), a New York–based collective she co-founded that works in solidarity with social movements in South Asia.

Director of Philanthropy and Donor Services

Sarah Shannon joined Brooklyn Community Foundation in November 2014. As Director of Philanthropy and Donor Services, she is the principal fundraising officer for the Foundation. She is responsible for the oversight, planning, and implementation of a comprehensive fundraising program to secure support from individuals, foundations, corporations and others for the Foundation’s core program strategy. In addition, she works closely with the board, leadership, and staff to steward major donors, providing support and advisory services to further their philanthropic goals. With over two decades of experience in nonprofit management and fundraising, Sarah brings a wealth of knowledge about the sector as a whole and specifically the Brooklyn landscape. Prior to joining the Foundation, Sarah was Deputy Director for the Heart of Brooklyn, a partnership of the borough’s leading cultural institutions. She was also National Program Director for Careers Through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), a school-to-career initiative for the culinary and hospitality industries. As a nonprofit fundraising and management consultant, Sarah’s clients have included National Child Labor Committee, The Jewish Museum, Lutheran Medical Center, and Art2Facts, Inc.

Sarah graduated with honors from Barnard College. She is a proud Brooklynite since 1997 and currently lives in Clinton Hill with her husband and two sons.

Director of Communications

Liane Stegmaier manages the Foundation's multichannel communications, public relations, and marketing strategies to build awareness, engagement, and partnership for our work throughout the borough. Liane joined the Foundation in 2011; previously she oversaw communications for the Lupus Research Institute and the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation, and was an intern with the NYC2012 Olympic Bid. Liane graduated with honors from New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and is a proud decade-long resident of Brooklyn. She lives on Ocean Parkway (the country's first bicycle path!) in Kensington with her partner and their rescue dog, Arya.

Administrative & Program Assistant

Andrew Weaver joined Brooklyn Community Foundation as the Administrative & Program Assistant in December 2014, supporting every corner of the Foundation team. He previously held an array of positions, from law firm file clerk, to bicycle tour guide, to delivery truck driver, to barista, to vegan food truck cook. Andrew studied public relations and the nonprofit sector at Boston University, where he also managed Boston’s oldest student-run food rescue program. After growing up in a quiet New Hampshire town and spending four years in Boston, Andrew moved to Brooklyn in fall 2014. He spends his free time on a bike, in the kitchen, and exploring the city. He resides in Bay Ridge with his partner and their adopted calico cat, Pancake.