A national network of funders supporting strategic, innovative, and effective solutions to homelessness

2021 Funders Institute Speakers

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Speakers are listed in alphabetical order by first name. 

Barbara Poppe

Founder and Principal
Barbara Poppe and Associates


Barbara Poppe is the founder of Barbara Poppe and Associates and the former executive director of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. During her tenure, Opening Doors, the first comprehensive federal strategic plan to prevent and end homelessness was launched in June 2010. Ms. Poppe is a nationally recognized expert on homelessness and results-driven public-private partnerships. Barbara Poppe and Associates, established in 2014, is an independent consulting firm that develops the capacity of communities and organizations to tackle complex issues using a collaborative systems approach to achieves results and impact. Ms. Poppe is a frequent national, state, and local speaker on homelessness and serves on the national board of the Enterprise Community Partners and the national advisory board for the Center for Evidence-based Solution to Homelessness.


Chantelle Fisher-Borne

Project Director, Out in the Initiative
Funders For LGBTQ Issues


Chantelle joins Funders for LGBTQ Issues after almost two decades working in the nonprofit sector. Her professional career began in the public health field with a focus on community development and LGBTQ youth. She has worked to address issues of affordable housing and homelessness through transforming community based services to better meet the needs of families living in poverty. Most recently, she has been working in the philanthropic sector as a consultant supporting funders concerned about issues of poverty and economic justice. Chantelle has a proven track record of working with groups tackling tough issues such as poverty, homelessness and religious based bigotry in the South.

Chantelle is inspired by the legacy of resilience and resistance found in communities throughout the South. In recent years, she and her wife were the lead plaintiffs for North Carolina’s lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on adoption and marriage rights for same sex couples. Years ago, she helped build the first statewide network of LGBTQ affirming faith leaders in North Carolina and worked with nonprofit organizations to build their capacity to address issues of oppression with a focus on institutionalized racism.

The descendant of Catholic Cajuns, Chantelle spent the first 25 years of her life in southern Louisiana and has lived in North Carolina for the past 15 years. She and her wife, who is originally from Mississippi, are proud to call the South home. They have two kids that keep them happy and busy on most days. In her spare time, Chantelle likes to go for a run and cook food with friends.

Chinwe Onyekere, MPH

Director of Equity and Inclusion
HealthSpark Foundation


In her current role as Director of Equity & Inclusion at HealthSpark Foundation, Ms. Onyekere is responsible for developing and implementing the strategic vision for equity and social justice within the foundation and with its community partners. This vision guides HealthSpark’s philanthropic investments and partnership with the Montgomery County community to create an equitable and just safety net.

Before coming to HealthSpark Foundation, Ms. Onyekere served as the System Director for Health Equity and Graduate Medical Education and Designated Institutional Official at Main Line Health, Ms. Onyekere was responsible for system-wide efforts focusing on community health and equity, overseeing graduate medical education, as well implementing innovative models for addressing social determinants of health, health care disparities, and quality of care.

Ms. Onyekere’s professional experience has provided her with the unique opportunity to develop a keen understanding of how to create and manage programs that have the potential for far-reaching impact on people's health, the quality of care they receive, and the systems that provide that care. During her tenure as a Program Officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Ms. Onyekere focused on reducing health care disparities, reversing the childhood obesity epidemic, and identifying innovative ideas for breakthroughs in health and health care. After RWJF, Ms. Onyekere served as the Executive Director for Health Leads New York, where she had the opportunity to establish a new model of health care delivery, in which patients' unmet resource needs are addressed as a standard element of patient care. 

Ms. Onyekere received her Master of Public Health at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, a Certificate in Business Essentials from Wharton School of Business at University of Pennsylvania, and her undergraduate degree from Wellesley College. Ms. Onyekere was awarded the 2015 Forum Award for Emerging Women Leaders by The Forum of Executive Women and accepted into the 2019 Class of Leadership Main Line.

Deborah Gilbert White, Ph.D

Founder and Coordinator
HerStory Ensemble


DeBorah Gilbert White is a diversity and inclusion specialist, social justice and community advocate for people experiencing homelessness, at risk of homelessness, or formerly homeless.  She is founder of HerStory Ensemble LLC, an awareness, education, and advocacy community-based group focused on women and homelessness.  She serves as a member of the National Coalition for the Homeless Faces of Homelessness Speakers Bureau, where she shares her story and work connected to homelessness.  HerStory Ensemble LLC is a member organization of the National Coalition for the Homeless, Delaware Continuum of Care (DE CoC), and the Delaware H.O.M.E.S. (Housing, Opportunity, Mobility, Equity, Stability) Campaign.  She and her organization work as advocates locally and nationally for protective homeless policy and legislation.

DeBorah’s experience with shelter homelessness led to her advocacy work for homeless rights and housing justice. She has been working in community since 2012 toward a Delaware Bill of Rights for Individuals Experiencing Homelessness, and to dismantle stereotypes, myths, and misinformation about homelessness. Her work continues today to eliminate discrimination based on housing status, to stop the criminalization of homelessness, and to promote more low-income and affordable housing.

Dr. Gilbert White is author of Beyond Charity: A Sojourner’s Reflections on Homelessness, Advocacy, Empowerment and Hope, a memoir to be released September 2021.

Dylan Waguespack

Public Policy and External Affairs Director
True Colors


Dylan Waguespack is the Public Policy and External Affairs Director at True Colors United, where he develops, directs, and implements our federal, state, and local administrative and legislative public policy agenda. Before joining True Colors United, Waguespack was a political communications and advocacy consultant working in Baton Rouge, La and Washington, D.C. His past clients include the National Center for Transgender Equality, American Civil Liberties Union, Center for Secure and Modern Elections, Louisiana Budget Project, and more.

Before opening his consulting firm, Waguespack served as Executive Director of Louisiana Progress, the progressive movement-building partnership where he started his career as an intern in 2011. While there, he drafted and successfully lobbied for a number of bills to expand opportunity for children, youth, and families impacted by homelessness, including protection from eviction for survivors of domestic abuse, expanded eligibility for child care assistance for families experiencing homelessness, and in-state tuition and campus housing for current and former homeless and foster youth in postsecondary education.

Waguespack is a proud New Orleanian and a graduate of Ben Franklin High School. He lives in Northeast D.C. with his partner, Matthew, and his dog, Ham.


Edward Jones

Vice President of Programs and Philanthropic Advising Services
The Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE)


Edward Jones is the Vice President of Programs and Philanthropic Advising Services at ABFE – A Philanthropic Partnership for Black Communities, where he deeply embraces the organization’s vision. In his role, he leads philanthropic professional development & convening activities as well as supports the design and implementation of the organization’s racial justice and equity program initiatives for over 900+ members and partners across the globe. Prior to joining ABFE, he was the Director of Conference Programming at the Council on Foundations, before joining ABFE. Edward is a founding member of Black Benefactors, a social investment club/giving circle comprised of individuals, local businesses and organizations that are dedicated to addressing the societal ills facing Black people in the DC region. He is also a founding member of Black Philanthropic Alliance and board member of Us Helping Us, People into Living, Inc. a regionally-focused HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, overall health and well-being organization. Jones also serves as a board member with Weissberg Foundation. He serves on the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers Racial Equity Working Group, an active member/volunteer of Zion Church in Maryland and founding member of its Justice League. Edward is a commissioner of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Serve DC Commission for volunteerism. Born in Los Angeles, Edward is a graduate of the University of Akron, OH and long time resident of D.C.



Elly Bludworth

Director of Youth Housing


Elly is the Director of Youth Housing at SMYAL. She is originally from Sanford, Florida, but has lived all over the country. She’s always wanted to live in DC and views this as her forever home. Throughout her career, she has worked as a Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, and Human Trafficking Victim Advocate, a Shelter Supervisor, and a Forensic Interviewer. She also served as an AmeriCorps volunteer with City Year Orlando, and spent two years as a Resident Assistant and one year as a Head Resident Assistant at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. Elly is passionate about creating a world where youth have a voice; where housing isn’t a barrier to success.

Outside of work, you can find Elly training Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, lifting Atlas stones and logs while training Strongman, or taking innumerable pictures of her dog, Amara, and her cat, Mr. Crowley. Elly also loves cooking and baking vegan food for her friends.


Eric Ares

Senior Manager, Homeless System Change
United Way of Greater Los Angeles


Eric Ares is the Senior Manager, Homeless System Change with the UWGLA Home Food Good Initiative. In this capacity, he works with public agencies, service providers, community organizations, and people with lived expertise to create policy and system solutions that better serve the immediate service and long-term housing needs of people experiencing homelessness. Prior to joining UWGLA in 2018, he worked as a community organizer and policy advocate alongside unhoused and/or extremely low-income residents in the Skid Row/DTLA community. When he’s not working, he enjoys losing to his 7 year-old daughter at UNO and unironically cheering for the LA Clippers.

Eric Tars

Legal Director
National Homelessness Law Center


Eric Tars serves as the National Homelessness Law Center’s legal director, leading its human rights, civil rights, and children’s rights programs and managing its cutting edge litigation, strategic policy advocacy, and outreach and training initiatives at the international, national, and local levels. Eric helped spearhead the launch of the Law Center’s national Housing Not Handcuffs campaign, has served as counsel of record in multiple precedent-setting cases, including Martin v. Boise in the 9th Circuit, and is frequently quoted in national and local media, including NPR, AP, New York Times, Washington Post, and VICE News.

Before coming to the Law Center, Eric was a Fellow with Global Rights’ U.S. Racial Discrimination Program and consulted with Columbia University Law School’s Human Rights Institute and the US Human Rights Network, where he currently serves as the vice-chair of the Network’s Board.

Eric received his J.D. magna cum laude as a Global Law Scholar at the Georgetown University Law Center. He received his B.A. magna cum laude in political science from Haverford College and studied international human rights in Vienna at the Institute for European Studies and at the University of Vienna.

Eric also teaches human rights advocacy as an adjunct professor at Drexel University Kline School of Law.

Harmony Giovanni

Youth Advocate
Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders (SMYAL)


I have been featured in articles posted by “Washington Blade” & “Street Sense Media.” I am currently a community board member working with “Greater Washington Community Foundation” which is an organization that gives grants to LGBTQIA+ Organizations in the Local & even outer layer communities. I have been working with SMYAL as a consultant for two years in raising awareness about transgender equality & equity.

Mark Horvath

Invisible People


Mark Horvath has broken the mold. He’s not doing what makes sense. He is living out his passion and doing what burns deep inside of him. Mark has developed Invisible People to give a face and voice to homelessness, something he knows all too well since he once lived among them. His work is extremely innovative and his ingenious use of social media for storytelling is a model for both the corporate and not-for-profit worlds.

After an extended period of unemployment due to the 2008 crash and losing everything facing homelessness a second time, Mark grabbed his camera and started to use social media to help tell the stories of people experiencing homelessness. With only a $45 start-up budget and lots of tenacity, Mark has used social media to reach the general public and change how people perceive a very serious social crisis that’s mostly ignored.

Mark regularly works on cause campaigns with major brands like Hanes, Ford, Pepsi, General Motors, and Ritz Crackers, and has consulted for the City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, Los Angeles Police Department, Utah, the City of San Francisco, USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, and more. In addition, Mark has served as a guest lecturer at educational institutions across the globe including Geneva Forum on Social Change, UCLA, USC, NYU, and Syracuse University. In 2018, The Nonprofit Times included Mark in their 2018 Power & Influence Top 50 nonprofit executives.


Martha Toll

Author and Funders Together board member


Martha Anne Toll recently completed twenty-six years as the founding Executive Director of the Butler Family Fund. Under her leadership, the Fund developed and expanded two major philanthropic programs with a deep commitment to racial equity: advocacy to end homelessness and to fight injustices in the criminal “justice” system. Martha now works fulltime as a writer. Her debut novel, Three Muses, is the 2020 winner of the Petrichor Prize for Finely Crafted Fiction and is forthcoming in Fall 2022. Martha regularly publishes book reviews and essays on NPR Books and in The Millions, as well as in the Washington Post, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. She has served as a nominator for the annual NPR Book Concierge since 2017. Her personal essay, “Dayenu,” was selected for inclusion in the anthology Alone Together: Love, Grief, and Comfort in the Time of COVID-19.

Martha graduated from Yale College and received her law degree from the Boston University School of Law. She lives with her husband, a climate activist, and their espresso machine just outside of Washington, DC. They are the lucky parents of two daughters.


Michael Parkhurst

Housing Opportunities Program Officer
Meyer Memorial Trust


Michael has a need to do work that makes a difference and to learn new things constantly along the way.

He is fascinated by the space where social justice, public policy, market forces and the practical challenges of real estate come together. Michael also admires and enjoys working with the dedicated and creative people working on housing issues throughout Oregon.

After a stretch in academia, Michael worked in local government for about 15 years in community development, housing policy and revitalization. He also served on the board of Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives Inc. for nearly a decade.

Michael came on board at Meyer in 2014.

Mike Dickerson

Ktown for All


Mike Dickerson is a co-founder of Ktown for All, an advocacy group in the Koreatown neighborhood of Los Angeles. Ktown for All does outreach in Koreatown to build relationships with unhoused neighbors that inform its political advocacy


Monique King-Viehland

Associate Vice President, Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy
Urban Institute


Monique King-Viehland is associate vice president for metropolitan housing and communities policy at the Urban Institute where she is leading new work on racial equity and housing justice, as well as working with researchers on policy, communications, and business development to grow compelling bodies of work and embedding racial equity across Metro’s practice areas.

King-Viehland previously served as executive director of the Los Angeles County Development Authority (LACDA) where she oversaw 580 employees and a budget of $600 million. She was the first woman and African American to take the helm of the 40-year-old agency. She led the agency through significant transformation, including the merger of the Community Development Commission and housing authority into one unified agency to augment cross-agency thinking and client service, increase organizational effectiveness, and reposition the agency as a forward-thinking, industry leader in the provision of housing, community, and economic development.

She enhanced the LACDA’s efforts to fight the homelessness and affordability crises, including a 10-fold increase in affordable and supportive units funded, increasing project based rental voucher commitments by more than 100 percent while providing housing and housing assistance to hundreds of thousands annually. In 2019, she was recognized as an LA Power Woman by Bisnow.

King-Viehland has 20 years of experience in housing, community, and economic development. She is a member of the LAHSA Ad Hoc Committee on Black People Experiencing Homelessness and a member of the Policy Advisory Committee for the California Roadmap HOME 2030 initiative.

In late 2020, King-Viehland served as a member of the US Housing and Urban Development Agency Review Team for the Biden-Harris Transition Team.

She graduated with honors from Smith College and has a master’s in public policy from Carnegie Mellon.

Ryan Moser

Vice President for Strategy and External Affairs
Corporation for Supportive Housing


Ryan Moser is an innovator and futurist grounded by twenty years of experience in housing, justice, health and human services, education and international development. Currently the Vice President for Strategy and External Affairs at CSH, they are responsible for CSH’s Data & Analytics, Strategic Alignment, and Impact Investment portfolios. Ryan is a returned Peace Corps Volunteer, ceramicist and guitarist with a BA from the University of Richmond and an M Ed from Pennsylvania State University. When Ryan isn’t at work he’s probably chasing after his kid and happy to be doing it.


Sarah Amour-Jones

Director of Communications
Melville Trust


Sarah joined the Melville Trust in spring 2020 as Director of Communications. In this role she is helping to elevate the work of the Trust and its grantees; shift national and state-based narratives around homelessness and affordable housing; and develop and implement strategic communications that support the Trust’s mission of ending homelessness.

For eleven years prior to joining the Trust, Sarah served as a communications, program and research consultant to foundations, nonprofits and academic institutions. Earlier in her career she worked as Special Projects Manager for philanthropist David Haas, Officer of Program Administration at the Pew Charitable Trusts, Marketing Director at Free Press and Editorial Assistant at the British Film Institute.

Sarah earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Pennsylvania.



Sarah Hunter

Housing Justice Collective


Sarah is a big-picture strategist with experience at the local and federal levels. She looks across all the moving parts of a system, community, or set of efforts and turns them into collective vision. Specializing in housing and homelessness solutions, Sarah formerly served as Policy Advisor to Secretary Julián Castro at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. She led the original design of the Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program, and spent several years as a technical assistance provider, learning and emerging alongside communities in its implementation. Previously, Sarah spent time as a community organizer, leading lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) youth policy and practice shifts, and centering the experinces of young people. If you need your motorcycle repaired, a puzzle figured out, or a ridiculous metaphor for some complex problem you’re experiencing or solution you're seeking to design, she’s your go to. She is currently based in the Washington, DC Metro area.


Tara Raghuveer

Founding Director of KC Tenants
Homes Guarantee Campaign Director at People's Action


Tara Raghuveer is the founding director of KC Tenants. She is also the Homes Guarantee Campaign Director at People’s Action, a national network of grassroots organizations committed to racial, economic, gender, and climate justice. Tara is an Australian-born, Indian-American immigrant who came to the US with her family in 1995 and grew up in Kansas City.


Terri Davis-Merchant

Program Director
Trinity Church Wall Stree


Terri Davis-Merchant serves as the Program Director for the Housing & Homelessness initiative with the Philanthropies team at Trinity Church Wall Street. In this capacity, she manages Trinity’s grantmaking in furtherance of its ten-year strategy to combat homelessness and to support the development of affordable housing in New York City. Previously, Terri was the Director of Predevelopment Planning at the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, where she managed the Request for Proposals process for upcoming affordable housing development projects on publicly owned land as well as solicited ideas for the Agency’s future pilots and initiatives. Her past roles have included legislative advocacy around various housing issues as well as financing for and the legal representation of community-based organizations building affordable housing. Terri received her BA in African American studies from Yale University and JD from the University of Michigan Law School.


Dr. Tiffany Manuel (Dr. T)

President and CEO


DrT (as she prefers to be called) is a dynamic speaker, bestselling author and the President and CEO of TheCaseMade, an organization dedicated to helping leaders powerfully and intentionally make the case for systems change. In her role at TheCaseMade, DrT works with hundreds of passionate social changemakers, innovators and adaptive leaders around the United States who are building better, stronger communities that are diverse, equitable and inclusive. By aligning their community stakeholders around the kind of deep systems changes that can improve population outcomes, these leaders are able to grow their impact, scale their programs, and harness the investments they need to improve their communitie

Tonia Wellons

President and CEO
Greater Washington Community Foundation


Tonia Wellons is the President & CEO of the Greater Washington Community Foundation, the largest public foundation in the Greater Washington region. Leading an organization with a staff of 35, nearly $400 million in assets under management, and $70 million in annual grants, Tonia oversees the day-to-day business of the organization, serves as chief development officer, and works with the Board of Trustees and staff to determine the strategic priorities of The Community Foundation. Tonia has successfully launched and led programmatic and development efforts for several key initiatives at The Community Foundation, including the COVID-19 Emergency Response Fund, VoicesDMV, the Resilience Fund, and the Partnership to End Homelessness. She also has purview over all grantmaking, community engagement, and strategic partnerships.

Prior to joining The Community Foundation in July 2016, she served as a political appointee for the Obama Administration as head of global partnerships at the Peace Corps. Tonia previously served as fund manager of a multi-donor initiative focused on financial access and inclusion at the World Bank Group. She also spent a significant part of her career working on USAID-funded capacity development initiatives during the immediate post-apartheid era in South Africa and the broader sub-Sahara region.

Tonia is a 23-year resident of Prince George's County and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She has a master’s degree in Public Administration and International Development Policy from the University of Delaware, and a bachelor’s in Political Science from North Carolina A&T State University. 

Tonia serves on the board of Leadership Greater Washington and the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers. She also serves as co-chair of the Black Voices for Black Justice Fund DMV’s Black Justice Fellowship and a member of the Federal City Council and the DC Interagency Council on Homelessness.


Showing 1 reaction

We joined Funders Together because we believe in the power of philanthropy to play a major role in ending homelessness, and we know we have much to learn from funders across the country.

-Christine Marge, Director of Housing and Financial Stability at United Way of Greater Los Angeles

I am thankful for the local partnerships here in the Pacific Northwest that we’ve been able to create and nurture thanks to the work of Funders Together. Having so many of the right players at the table makes our conversations – and all of our efforts – all the richer and more effective.

-David Wertheimer, Deputy Director at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Very often a lack of jobs and money is not the cause of poverty, but the symptom. The cause may lie deeper in our failure to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities, in a lack of education and training, in a lack of medical care and housing, in a lack of decent communities in which to live and bring up their children.

-President Lyndon B. Johnson, 1964 State of the Union Address

Funders Together has given me a platform to engage the other funders in my community. Our local funding community has improved greatly to support housing first models and align of resources towards ending homelessness.

-Leslie Strnisha, Vice President at Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland

Our family foundation convenes local funders and key community stakeholders around strategies to end homelessness in Houston. Funders Together members have been invaluable mentors to us in this effort, traveling to our community to share their expertise and examples of best practices from around the nation.

-Nancy Frees Fountain, Managing Director at The Frees Foundation

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