Marilyn Gelber, President, was the founding Executive Director of the Independence Community Foundation, and established it as Brooklyn’s leading philanthropy; she then led its transformation into the Brooklyn Community Foundation. A lifelong New Yorker and current resident of Boerum Hill, Ms. Gelber served 28 years in NYC’s public sector, including positions as Commissioner of the NYC Department of Environmental Protection, Executive Assistant to the Brooklyn Borough President, and Director of Neighborhood Strategy Planning for the NYC Department of City Planning. Marilyn serves on various public and private nonprofit boards and has received several awards and honorary degrees from Brooklyn institutions.
The 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. And, as strong stewards of the funds, our team is committed to an open and fair process.
Michael J. Burke joined the Community Foundation in January 2012. Previously Michael was the Chief Operating Officer of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. He has also served as Chief of Staff for Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz; Budget and Policy Director for former Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden; and Vice President in community and housing development matters for Chemical Bank and Manufacturers Hanover Trust. A resident of Brooklyn for almost 25 years, Michael has been very involved in the borough’s arts and civic organizations. He has held positions on the Boards of Directors of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp., BRIC Arts/Media/Bklyn and Best of Brooklyn, and the Brooklyn Community Pride Center. Michael received his Bachelors in Political Science from Columbia College, and a Masters in Public Administration from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.
Toya Williford, Program Director, handles the education, youth, environmental, and community development programs for the Brooklyn Community Foundation. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Toya is a graduate of Cornell University and received a Masters of Science in Urban Studies from Cleveland State University. She is an active volunteer with the NYC Transit Riders Council, her local PTA and block association. She is a proud resident of Bedford-Stuyvesant, where she lives with her two children.
Diane John, Small Grants Administrator and Office Manager, manages Brooklyn Community Foundation’s unique small grants program as well as the Foundation's office. Diane is an active volunteer with the Parents Association at her daughter's school, and several organizations in Brooklyn. She holds a B.S. in Business Administration and lives in Crown Heights with her family.
Alex Villari joined the Brooklyn Community Foundation in July 2012. Previously, Alex served as Senior Director of Institutional Advancement and Principal Giving at New York Public Radio. He has also held posts at Columbia University Medical Center, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York Academy of Sciences, and St Michael’s Episcopal Church. Alex has been a resident of Brooklyn since 1995. He lives in Park Slope with his wife Amy and their young son. He can be found many mornings running or biking in Prospect Park. He loves the “soccer tacos” in Red Hook.
Liane Stegmaier, Director of Communications, joined the Brooklyn Community Foundation in June 2011. A graduate of New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, she spent the previous seven years in public relations and marketing at the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation and the Lupus Research Institute. Liane brings her social media savvy to the Foundation's team, as well as a love of biking, flea markets, and library books. She is a proud resident of Crown Heights, not "Pro-Cro."
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 Prospect Heights.
Kavie Barnes joined the Brooklyn Community Foundation in April 2013. Previously, she served as Research Associate on the Study of Artist-Endowed Foundations at the Aspen Institute and as Curatorial Coordinator and Assistant to the Chief Curator at the Rubin Museum of Art. Kavie studied nonprofit arts administration at New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. A Chicago native, Kavie also attained a Masters degree in Art History at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. She currently lives in Lefferts Gardens.