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Our Staff
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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.



Celeste Amato
410.727.1205 ext. 1205

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.

Elisabeth Hyleck
Director of Learning and Engagement
410.727.1205 ext. 1211

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.

Elyse Robinson
Office Manager
410.727.1205 ext. 1207

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 Snipes
Director of Operations
410.727.1205 ext. 1210

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.


Victor Valentine
Director of Engagement and Policy
410.727.1205 x1206


Vic brings more than twenty years of community development and policy experience in both the nonprofit and public sectors. He is the former director of programs and evaluation with the New York Urban League. Prior to that role, Vic led the nonprofit capacity building initiatives for the United Way of New York City. Having served as an executive for two community-based organizations, he also boasts past experiences as a lobbyist for two Washington, DC-area membership associations and is a former Executive Liaison to the Baltimore Workforce Investment Board. Specializing in the areas of organizational assessment, strategic/operational planning, program design and professional coaching, Vic has helped support over 200 nonprofits throughout his career.

He holds an undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Maryland at College Park, a Master’s degree in public administration from Wilmington University and a certificate from the prestigious American Express Academy for Nonprofit Leaders. In his spare time Victor actively volunteers in the community via his fraternity and is an avid sports enthusiast.



Jonalyn Denlinger
Coordinator, Impact Investing and Maryland Community Foundations Association

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.


Linda Dworak
Director, Baltimore Workforce Funders Collaborative
410.727.1205 ext, 1208

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.


James Macgill, Jr. 
Consultant, Affinity Group on Aging 

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.


Rebecca Ruggles 
Consultant, The Green Funders Affinity Group 

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. 


Shannen Coleman Siciliano
Education Funders Affinity Group Coordinator

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 Sommer

Director, Baltimore Integration Partnership
410.727.1205, ext. 1202

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.

Tamara Toles O'Laughlin

Executive Director, Maryland Environmental Health Network

Tamara  Toles O’Laughlin is an environmental advocate focused on health, equity, access, and justice. She comes to MdEHN with a wide breadth of knowledge and service experience in the environmental community. She serves as the Vice President of Professional Development of DC EcoWomen and is the Vice Chair and state representative on the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments: Air and Climate Public Advisory Committee. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Women’s Voices for the Earth.

Tamara most recently completed a fellowship at the District Department of Energy and Environment where she led and facilitated an Environmental Justice Working Group, and developed legislative and policy recommendations related to EJ, childhood lead screening and reporting, municipal storm water, renewable energy and waste disposal programs. Prior to that, Tamara served as the Energy Communications Manager at the Maryland Energy Administration, in Annapolis, where she led planning and development of programmatic communications, working primarily with Maryland state agencies and the Office of the Governor.

Tamara graduated from the Vermont Law School in 2009, with a Juris Doctor and Masters of Environmental Law and Policy. In the past she has held positions with the Advisory Council of Historic Preservation, The Environmental Protection Agency, the Center on Race, Poverty and Environment, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, among others. Tamara is committed to environmental advocacy and capacity building for vulnerable communities, with particular emphasis on poverty work and services to the chronically underserved. She has worked for over fifteen years to promote the principles of environmental justice, with particular attention to community capacity building, mobilization, equity of enforcement, and environmental health.


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