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Investing in Policy Movements: Tools for Funders to Engage

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Investing in Policy Movements: Tools for Funders to Engage

September 9, 2020 @ 10:00 am 5:00 pm PDT

$25 SAFSF Member / $40 Non-member funder

This session will kick off our policy series and will focus on the strategies funders can engage to address disparities that are driven by public policy. Foundations and investors have a range of tools and strategies they can employ – ranging from c3 charitable funds directed towards civic/policy engagement, and grassroots movement building, as well as c4 advocacy aimed at engaging candidates for public office. We will hear directly from philanthropic and non-profit legal experts on the value of both c3 and c4 funding to build long-term change. We will open up the conversation for peer-to-peer learning and to address your questions or concerns when it comes to engaging c3 and c4 funding strategies.


Abby Levine, director, Alliance for Justice

Abby Levine serves as Director of the Bolder Advocacy Program at Alliance for Justice. She provides legal guidance that encourages grantmakers to support advocacy and other nonprofit organizations to participate in policymaking decisions through an understanding of federal tax and election law. Abby’s work includes creating curriculum, teaching workshops, providing technical assistance, writing plain-language legal guides, and describing federal legislative and regulatory developments that impact nonprofits.

Prior to joining Alliance for Justice in 2004, Abby served as the Public Policy Analyst at the National Council of Nonprofit Associations (NCNA). At NCNA, Abby monitored and analyzed issues affecting the nonprofit sector, such as challenges to nonprofit tax exemptions and advocacy, state budget cuts, government grants streamlining, and corporate governance.

Before working at NCNA, Abby was an associate in the tax department at Squire, Sanders & Dempsey in Cleveland, Ohio.

(B.A., American University; J.D., Case Western Reserve University School of Law).

Ann Mills, executive director, Agua Fund (moderator)


ANN MILLS is Executive Director of the Agua Fund, a Washington DC-based foundation that supports work to protect the environment, boost civic engagement and help the disadvantaged and underserved. She previously served as the U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment from 2009 to January 20, 2017 where she had responsibility for the Natural Resources Conservation Service. She co-chaired of the federal National Drought Resilience Partnership and represented USDA on the Obama Administration’s ecosystem restoration initiatives including those in the Chesapeake Bay Basin, Great Lakes, Mississippi River Basin, and California Bay-Delta. She also served as Secretary Tom Vilsack’s designee to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council and the Natural Resources Damage Assessment Trustee Council for the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

Ann also has held senior positions at American Rivers and served as chief of staff to Senator Tom Daschle, legislative assistant to then-Representative Richard Durbin and chief of staff to California Lt. Governor Leo McCarthy. She earned a BA in Political Science from Tufts University and a Master of Public Administration from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin.

Lukas Haynes, executive director, David Rockefeller Fund

Bio coming soon

Ronnie Pawelko, senior counsel, Alliance for Justice

Ronnie Pawelko is Senior Counsel for the Bolder Advocacy program at Alliance for Justice and is based in AFJ’s Washington, DC office. Through trainings and technical assistance, she provides nonprofit advocacy organizations and foundations with accessible information, resources, and information so organizations can safely navigate complex laws and rules as they pursue systems change. Ronnie received her J.D. from Albany Law School and her B.A. from Russell Sage College. Before joining AFJ, Ronnie was General Counsel at Family Planning Advocates of New York State. Previously, Ronnie served as Health and Human Services Team Counsel for the New York State Senate and as staff attorney for the MergerWatch Project.