ABAG is a 501 (c)3 nonprofit membership association that does not award grants and does not accept proposals seeking financial support.
As a membership organization, we are proud that our staff is comprised of professionals with years of experience in the fields of philanthropy and the nonprofit sector to serve our diverse membership.
ABAG CORE STAFF:
Celeste joined the philanthropic community after 18 years invested in public service and issues including housing, economic development, public works and environmental initiatives. As the Director of Media and Communications for Baltimore City Public Works, Celeste served as the public spokesperson and manager of communications for the City’s $400 million dollar water and solid waste operations. In her role she provided advocacy and strategic communication support for the successful implementation of single stream recycling and One PLUS ONE waste collection services in Baltimore City.
As the Director of the Initiative for a Cleaner Greener Baltimore Celeste served the Office of the Mayor, recruiting, developing, coordinating and implementing a comprehensive public outreach and engagement strategy focused on a cleaner city -- including development of supporting public-private partnerships. The Initiative successfully raised private funds and in-kind services totaling $1.9 million and the CleanerGreener campaign achieved a 72% brand recognition rate.
Celeste’s wide and varied background in business development, marketing, communications, management and leadership lead her to her role with Baltimore Area Grantmakers. She is an active volunteer and has served on the board of directors for Cleaner Greener Baltimore, Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, Baltimore International College and the Southeast Community Development Corporation. Celeste has a Bachelor of Arts from Loyola University, Baltimore.
Jonalyn most recently served as a Program Officer at the Baltimore Community Foundation. Her areas of work included: education, neighborhoods and community development, volunteer management, program planning, design and evaluation.
She holds a graduate degree in Social Work from the University of Maryland, a graduate certificate of Business Fundamentals from the University of Baltimore and a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Liberal Arts from Eastern Mennonite University. She is currently teaching a Masters course at her alma mater, the University of Maryland. Jonalyn serves on the board of Pigtown Main Street and has been actively engaged in her neighborhood in a variety of ways. When not at work, she can be found hiking in Patapsco State Park with her husband, Jon, and her Giant Schnauzer, Gracie, or trying new restaurants in Baltimore.
Elisabeth manages educational programs and special projects for ABAG and supports the affinity groups related to Basic Human Needs and Arts as well as ABAG's Diversity and Inclusion Committee. She manages the consultants who work with various other ABAG affinity groups. Prior to joining ABAG in 2007, she worked at the Annie E. Casey Foundation as the Leadership Development Program Assistant and was the Administrative Coordinator for a residential treatment facility for chemically dependent women and their children. Elisabeth is passionate about best and promising practices, community engagement, and collaboration of all types.
With a master's degree in City and Regional Planning from Morgan State University, Elisabeth has a great interest in the relationship between people and the natural and built environment and serves on the board of Blue Water Baltimore. She has a BA in English and French (and a minor in Women's and Minorities' Studies) from Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio and polished her fluency in French at the Sorbonne in Paris, France. When not at work, she can be found mothering Lillian and Theo, connecting dots, hiking, sewing, and attempting to "green" her life.
Before joining the ABAG team, Elyse was the Telecommunications’ Administrative Assistant III at the American Red Cross for 22 years. In this role Elyse provided administrative support to the Directors of Information Systems and Facilities/Logistics, maintained over 24 telecommunication accounts, purchasing IT equipment, and maintained various spreadsheets and accounts payable.
Kim assists with growing and sustaining ABAG’s membership and a philanthropic network across the Maryland region. Kim staffs the Business Giving Roundtable and Green Funders Affinity Group and is available to answer questions about our member publications, member benefits and services. She also administers our Salesforce database and finds great professional fulfillment in creating systems that help our office run more efficiently.
She graduated from Wheaton College in Norton, MA with a B.A. in Political Science and Women’s Studies. With two study abroad trips to Durban, South Africa and London, a move from the Boston area to Baltimore and a M.S. in Women’s Studies from Towson University behind her, she joined ABAG in 2007. If she isn’t brewing a pot of strong coffee at the office, she is most likely brewing an even stronger pot at the home she shares with a rescue chihuahua, ChaChi.
Through her work, she has travelled to Asia and Africa. Tausi is an eloquent public speaker often advocating for the vulnerable, and some of her specialties are: organizational capacity building, public relations, writing and editing, community outreach, and information systems. Tausi is multilingual and fluently speaks English, Kiswahili, Luganda, and French. She is the Cofounder and a Board Member of Childbirth Survival International (CSI), an international non-profit committed to advocate, improve, and strengthen quality, access, and delivery of health services and information for pregnant women, newborns, children, and adolescents in marginalized communities. Tausi is part of the Rotary International family, and is the President-elect (2015-2016) and Public Relations Officer. In her current role, she's been instrumental in increasing the Club's visibility and establishing support for global health projects in developing countries. When she is not travelling, at a speaking engagement, orchestrating multiple tasks, or reading, Tausi spends time with family and friends.
PROJECT STAFF & CONSULTANTS:
After being part of the Association's growth the last 17 years as the Director of the Baltimore Giving Project and Communications Director, Buffy continues her tenure on staff in a consulting capacity. She serves as a Philanthropy Advisor to ABAG staff, board, membership and partner organizations.
Buffy has broad experience working with foundations and nonprofits on strategic communications, social media strategy, and the promotion of philanthropy. Buffy also has significant experience with collaborative giving, giving circles, and women's philanthropy. She co-authored a book published by Jossey-Bass in 2010 called "Women & Philanthropy: Boldly Shaping a Better World” and is the author of, and has been quoted in, dozens of articles on philanthropy, women's giving, and giving circles. Buffy was awarded the Circle of Excellence, being chosen as one of Maryland's Top 100 Women in 2003, 2008 & 2010 by the Daily Record, is an "Innovator of the Year" 2004 by the Daily Record for her work with giving circles, one of "40 Under 40" 2004 by the Baltimore Business Journal, and an Impact Award Winner 2012 by The Columbia Mall and WGC. She is a founder and Past Chair of the Women's Giving Circle of Howard County (WGC) and has served on the Board of Directors of the Community Foundation of Howard County and HopeWorks and has been active in her children’s schools. She received her BA in Russian History from the University of Maryland. She and her husband Howard live in Howard County and are raising four children ages 23 to 9.
Drawing from fifteen years of nonprofit service and philanthropic work (including six as Member Services Director), Adam remains on call to assist ABAG’s members with their grant practices and philanthropic strategy. He advises the President and staff team with implementation of the organization’s 2015-2020 Strategic Plan. Adam is a Board Member of the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers, the largest network serving philanthropy in America, and earned his B.A. in English from Kenyon College in Gambier, OH and a Masters in Public Policy and Nonprofit Management from Johns Hopkins University. He resides in Rhode Island.
Linda staffs the Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative, a group of public and private funders which work together to seed and support local workforce partnerships. Linda also develops programming for ABAG's Workforce Affinity Group and provides support to the Baltimore Integration Partnership. Linda has devoted her career to the work of enhancing employment opportunities for low- wage workers. She formerly served as the Executive Director of the Garment Industry Development Corporation – one of the first nationally recognized sector-based workforce partnerships, and as Senior Consultant to the Aspen Institute's Workforce Strategies Initiative. Her work has helped to define the field of sectoral workforce development. Additionally, Linda brings to ABAG experience gained through her work with a number of national and regional organizations. Linda holds a Masters Degree from the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs and a post-graduate certificate in Non-Profit Management from the Columbia University School of Business.
Jim provides staff support for ABAG's Affinity Group on Aging. He has nearly 30 years of experience planning, and managing services for older adults. He has served as the Director of the Harford County Office on Aging and Deputy Secretary of the Maryland Department of Aging. He presently provides consulting services to a number of public agencies, nonprofits, and foundations on health and human services issues, with an emphasis on aging policy. He holds a B.A. in History from Columbia University and a M.A. in Administration from Antioch University.
Allison Rich is the Coordinator of the Maryland Environmental Health Network and became a full-time staff member in fall 2012 as a Children’s Environmental Health (CEH) Specialist.She is a graduate of Goucher College where she majored in Communications and Environmental Studies.Prior to joining MdEHN, Allison served as the Green Schools NetworkCoordinator in the Office of Engagement at the Baltimore City school district where she assisted in developing the Baltimore Green Schools Network.She is a published playwright, and has worked previouslyas a health educator, environmental educator, writer, community organizer, researcher on jaguar populations, and on press relations for the film The Cove. She serves as the Chair of The Filbert Street Garden Board of Directors and sits on Board of the Environmental Justice Partnership. She is an active member of the Greater Baltimore Asthma Alliance.
Rebecca Rehr is the Public Health Advocacy Coordinator for the Maryland Environmental Health Network. She holds an MPH from the University of Maryland School of Public Health Institute for Applied Environmental Health, where she focused on environmental justice and health disparities in Maryland. Rebecca earned her BA in Environmental Studies and Public Policy from Franklin and Marshall College. She served for two years as a fellow in the Office of Children’s Health Protection at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and has worked in the past for both the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Rebecca is a Commissioner on the Maryland Commission for Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities.
Rebecca Ruggles is Director of the Maryland Environmental Health Network. Rebecca holds a BA in History and Literature from Harvard University and an MBA with a concentration in public administration from Stanford Graduate School of Business. She was formerly Director of Special Projects at Baltimore Medical System (BMS), a community health system serving Baltimore City and Baltimore County. Rebecca consults to the ABAG as the coordinator of the Green Funders affinity group. She sits on the Board of Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake (formerly Chesapeake Covenant Community), a network of congregations and people of faith pursuing better stewardship of our natural world. She is a member of the Health Care Sustainability Leadership Council, the Advocacy Committee of the Maryland Public Health Association, and a Board member of the Environmental Integrity Project. She serves on the Advisory Council for the Johns Hopkins Environment, Energy, Sustainability and Health Institute and on the Executive Committee of the Maryland Pesticide Network.
Ann has over 25 years of experience in planning, grassroots organizing, coalition-building, public policy and non-profit management. Prior to joining ABAG as the Baltimore Neighborhood Collaborative's first director, she was program and policy director for Action for the Homeless, a statewide advocacy organization focused on homelessness and housing. She also worked for Planned Parenthood of Maryland, Greater Homewood Community Corporation, Coalition of Peninsula Organizations, and New York City Department of City Planning. She has a BA from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota and an MSW from the University of Maryland School of Social Work.
Shannen has over a decade of professional experience focused on Baltimore City education issues. She currently provides consulting to nonprofits, schools and communities on the 21st Century Buildings Plan, community school planning, diversity programming, grant writing and nonprofit events. Prior to consulting, Shannen worked as the Director of Strategic Initiatives at Child First Authority. While at Child First, from 2009-2012 she also served as the founding co-chair of the Baltimore Education Coalition. During her tenure as co-chair, the Baltimore Education Coalition worked to ensure excellent educational opportunities for Baltimore City Public School students, saved over $125 million in state funding for City Schools and began a $2.4 billion school facilities campaign to renovate and rebuild Baltimore City Schools. Shannen also brings experience as a community organizer, curriculum developer, reading intervention teacher/coach, and a 2nd grade teacher.
Originally from Southern California, Shannen has a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of Southern California and a Masters in Teaching from The Johns Hopkins University. She proudly calls Baltimore home and lives in the City with her husband, daughter and cocker spaniel.
Kurt is the Director of the Baltimore Integration Partnership (BIP) which is a new initiative designed to connect workforce development opportunities and revitalization projects in targeted Baltimore City communities. The Partnership is comprised of government, philanthropic, financial, and nonprofit representatives to guide and manage grant and loan dollars made possible by Living Cities. Prior to joining the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, Kurt has held positions in public policy and research with the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, Baltimore Housing, and the Brookings Institution. Kurt holds a B.A. in Political Science from Washington College and a M.C.P. (Master of Community Planning) from the University of Maryland. He is a Baltimore native and is married with one child.
Education Legislative Update
ABAG Program Committee Meeting