2022 Ambassadors Conference

In June 2022, we will offer students who have participated in a course affiliated with The Philanthropy Lab in the 2021-2022 academic year a chance to participate in our annual three-day Ambassadors Conference held in Dallas, Texas. Each of our university partners will have the opportunity to send two student Ambassadors to represent their university at the conference.

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What will Ambassadors do?

Chosen ambassadors will be able to:

  • Represent their classes at a three-day conference in Dallas
  • Network with like-minded peers
  • Pitch one of the class’s chosen grantees for further funding
  • Debate with other Ambassadors to decide how to award $150,000 in grants

How will Ambassadors be chosen?

Since Ambassadors are representing their classes, it will be up to professors to decide how students will choose their representatives from among those who are interested. Students will choose which one of their grantees they would like their Ambassadors to pitch at the conference.

If chosen, what would I be committing to?

  1. Attend a weekend conference June 17-20, 2021, in Dallas, all expenses paid, with representatives from other Philanthropy Lab classes across the country!
  2. Be prepared to present and advocate for one of your class’s grantees to receive further funding.
  3. Submit information on your grantee by June 1st. You may use information prepared for your current class and supplement it if you wish.
  4. Review information on all grantees the week prior to the conference to prepare for presentations and debates.

What other universities may be represented
at the Ambassadors conference?

Abilene Christian University
Baylor University
Columbia University
Emory University
Harvard University
Northwestern University
Stanford University
Texas A&M University
Tulane University

University of California, Irvine
University of Notre Dame
University of Pennsylvania
University of Texas – Austin
University of Washington
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Vanderbilt University
Washington University in St. Louis

Past participants also include: Dartmouth College, Duke University, Rice University, Texas Christian University, University of Chicago, University of California – Los Angeles, University of Michigan, and University of Virginia

2019 Expert Panel

About The Expert Panel

Claribel Vidal

Ford Foundation

Claribel is a Program Associate on the Civic Engagement and Government team at the Ford Foundation, where she works with the grantmaking team seeking to close the civic participation gap among historically marginalized communities.

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Claribel was first hired by Ford in 2016 as a Program Assistant on the Youth Opportunity and Learning program team. Prior to this role, she worked for the Communities for Just Schools Fund, a national donor pooled fund that supports community organizing to end disparities in school discipline and create healthy and equitable school climates. She has worked on criminal justice, health care and education issues in a variety of roles ranging from service delivery, advocacy and philanthropy. As a native New Yorker and Latina raised in an immigrant household, she has encountered distinct challenges that have exposed her to the systemic inequalities prevalent in our society. These life experiences have become motivating
factors in her pursuit to contribute to social change. Claribel has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and English Language Arts from Hunter College. Ask Claribel about what she likes most about working in philanthropy, and what she misses most about working for nonprofits!

John Robinson

Amon G. Carter Foundation

John Robinson has been with the Amon G. Carter Foundation since 1980.  For the first sixteen years he was on the accounting/investment side of the organization.

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Since 1997 he has been responsible for all grant making activity of the Foundation.  During his tenure at the Foundation, assets have grown from $100 million to $650 million and philanthropic distributions have exceeded $600 million. His role at the Foundation has provided John with numerous (two pages worth of) opportunities for leadership positions in both professional and civic organizations.  John has received awards from the Live Theatre League, Boy Scouts of America, Leadership Fort Worth, Texas Christian University Alumni Association, Tarrant County Medical Society, and CASA (Child Advocates) of Tarrant County.  

John and his wife Charlotte have been married 38 years.  They have two married children, one new grandbaby and twins on the way later this year! 

Ask John about his six R’s of effective grant making!

Katie Chansler

Packard Foundation

Katie is currently a program associate on the Conservation and Science team at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

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She works on the Climate and Land Use strategies and supports a portfolio of both domestic and international grants working on palm oil and bioenergy. Before joining the Packard Foundation in 2016, she worked in Development at the California Academy of Sciences supporting high level donors to the museum. While studying at the University of California, Irvine, Katie was the sustainability commissioner for The Green Initiative Fund and oversaw the distribution of over $250,000 to sustainable campus projects. She graduated with a B.A. in Environmental Science.

Ask Katie about her experience as a fundraiser before working for a foundation!

Kern Headshot

Kern Wildenthal

UT Southwestern Medical Center, Children’s Medical Center Foundation

Kern Wildenthal, M.D., Ph.D., was the second President of UT Southwestern Medical Center, serving in that position from 1986–2008, and is now President Emeritus and Professor Emeritus of Medicine.

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He joined the UT Southwestern faculty as an Assistant Professor of Medicine and Physiology in 1970 and became an Associate Professor in 1971 and full Professor in 1975. From 1976 to 1980, he served as Dean of the Graduate School, and from 1980 to 1986, he was Dean of the Medical School.

Following his retirement as President of UT Southwestern, he became President and Senior Consultant of Southwestern Medical Foundation from 2008–2013. From 2013 to 2016, he served as President of Children’s Medical Center Foundation and Executive Vice President of Children’s Health System of Texas. Since his retirement from those roles in September 2016, he holds appointments as Past President of the Foundation and Consultant for Children’s Health, as well as President Emeritus and Professor Emeritus at UT Southwestern.

Dr. Wildenthal received his medical education at UT Southwestern and New York University Medical Center and his research training at UT Southwestern; the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; and the University of Cambridge in England, where he earned a Ph.D. in cell physiology in 1970.

Dr. Wildenthal has been a visiting professor and conference organizer in 24 countries, and has authored over 120 scientific papers in basic research and clinical cardiology as well as numerous articles on health and education policy issues. In 2008, he was elected to the Texas Business Hall of Fame, the first leader of a nonprofit organization to be so recognized.

Ask Kern about the unique impact of extroverts and introverts in the world of fundraising!

Kevin Crouch

Hewlett Foundation

Kevin Crouch is a Program Fellow in Education at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. He supports the monitoring and evaluation of grantees across the Deeper Learning and Open Educational Resources strategies.

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He also manages a portfolio of Deeper Learning grantees in the program’s recently launched diversity, equity and inclusion organizational effectiveness pilot project. These organizational effectiveness grants support work to deepen awareness, knowledge, skill and capacity about educational equity. 

Before joining the foundation, Kevin worked as a fellow with the XQ Institute, supporting the development of new models of learning with the Super School Project. He also worked for the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office as a site coordinator with its Gang Reduction and Youth Development initiative, directing programming in Watts, California. Prior to that, he served as an AmeriCorps member with City Year, providing academic intervention and socioemotional instruction to fourth grade students in South Los Angeles.

Kevin has a Bachelor’s degree in Education, Spanish and Applied Linguistics from Washington University in St. Louis, and a Master’s degree in Policy, Organization and Leadership Studies from Stanford University. He is a California native with a passion for cooking, comic books and the outdoors.

Ask Kevin about the values and principles that guide his work!

Lauren Gill

Robin Hood Foundation

Lauren is passionate about innovation, the power of human capital, education and the fight for social justice. As the head of People & Culture at Eight Sleep, Lauren is charged with building a team and an environment that will help achieve the startup’s ambitious mission: to optimize people’s health and wellness by improving their sleep.

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Previously, in her role as a program officer at the Robin Hood Foundation, Lauren worked with NYC-based education nonprofits. She evaluated grantees’ programmatic impact and efficacy and helped increase their capacity, all with the ultimate goal to increase NYC students’ success in high school and college and thereby decrease their likelihood of living in poverty.

Prior to her time in the world of philanthropy, Lauren honed her skills in direct service as a teacher and learned the ropes of operating a nonprofit as a founding team member of Venture for America.

Lauren holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Lehigh University, where she graduated summa cum laude with honors, and a Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction from George Mason University.

Ask Lauren about her thoughts on how philanthropy will change in the future!

Tawakalitu J. Mitchell

MacArthur Foundation

Tawakalitu J. Mitchell is a Senior Program Officer at the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation where she has responsibility for grantmaking in the Chicago Commitment program. The Chicago Commitment portfolio is aimed at achieving a city that is connected and integrated, where prosperity is shared, opportunity is equitable, and civic and cultural assets are available to everyone.

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Prior to joining MacArthur, Tawa served as the Director of Education Policy and Partnerships in the Office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. In this role, Tawa focused on supporting educational opportunities across the K-16 spectrum. Tawa also served as the inaugural Interim Director for Thrive Chicago, a multi-sector collective that aims to align efforts with improved outcomes for all Chicagoans, from cradle-to-career.  Previously, Tawa served as Executive Director of Strategic Partnerships at the City Colleges of Chicago. Prior to that, Tawa also served as Assistant to Mayor Richard M. Daley for Education and worked at the Chicago Public Schools as Senior Manager of the Community Schools Initiative. 

Tawa holds an M.A. from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration, a B.A. from Spelman College and she is a Class of 2018 Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow, the region’s premier civic leadership development program. A native Chicagoan, Tawa dedicates much of her extracurricular time to community service. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Chicago Women in Philanthropy, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Illinois, and the Augustana-Henze Endowment Fund. Tawa is also a member of the Theta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated and the Lake Shore Chapter of the Links, Incorporated, organizations dedicated to community service.

Ask Tawa about the most rewarding and challenging aspects of her job!