CONTACT US   |   Print Page   |   Sign In   |   join.
Monthly ABAG Members' Memo Blog
Blog Home All Blogs

ABAG Announces New President

Posted By Beth Harber, Tuesday, October 23, 2012

October 23, 2012

By Beth Harber

On Friday we were pleased to announce the appointment of our new President, Celeste Amato.

As I hope you read in our announcement, Celeste comes to ABAG with an inspiring leadership background in public service. She has an eighteen year career in City government, most recently in entrepreneurial positions as architect of, and Media and Communications Director for, Baltimore City's Cleaner Greener Initiative and the City's conversion to single stream recycling and One PLUS ONE curbside waste collection.

We are impressed by her proven ability to bring together partners from communities, philanthropy and government in pursuit of common goals for a better Baltimore.

We believe that Celeste has the perfect combination of experience, qualities and enthusiasm to lead ABAG into the future.

"Philanthropy can make the critical difference in so many issues important to the future of our city, our region, our communities and our individual quality of life" says Celeste. "I look forward to bringing fresh eyes and new energy to an extremely successful organization and will work to firmly establish the philanthropic community as an essential and highly valued partner in local and regional program and policy development, implementation and success."

Many talented candidates responded and we would like to thank the members of the Search Committee for their hard work and dedication to a thoughtful and deliberate process.

The Transition Committee, chaired by Laurie Latuda Kinkel, has developed a plan to help Celeste integrate and learn all aspects of our organization.

We hope you will join us, the Board and the staff in extending a very warm welcome to Celeste and we look forward to having our membership meet with her in the coming weeks and months. Celeste will begin her tenure at ABAG on December 3 and Betsy Nelson help support Celeste's orientation and transition to her new position.

In the meantime, learn more about Celeste here.

We are all looking forward to this next chapter for the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers under Celeste's leadership. Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions.

Beth Harber, Chair, ABAG Board of Directors

Tags:  And Now  And Now A Word from Our Members  October 2012 Members' Memo 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

"We Are in the Information Business"

Posted By Ann Billingsley, Thursday, October 20, 2011

October 2011

By Ann Billingsley, Executive Director, Hoffberger Family Philanthropies

A wise colleague of mine once said that those of us who work in philanthropy are in the information business. An unexpected comment that was right on the mark. While this is not the only "business” we are in, it is certainly a core piece of our work. 

Whatever our deep commitments may be to doing good or making change or any other philanthropic impulse, we pursue our objectives by acquiring information, and we do that in part through the connections we make with colleagues on both sides of the grant table.

With this preface, perhaps you can understand my state of semi-paralysis when I arrived in Baltimore a year ago, with limited knowledge about the local community and no relationships. I had been the recipient of good fortune from the ever-generous Hoffberger family, who invited me to help them reach their philanthropic goals. What a wonderful opportunity to work with great people, in a richly historic and complex town. But, I needed a cheat sheet fast - not only did I not know Baltimore, I didn’t know what I didn’t know!

On my first day in the office, I received an email invitation from Betsy Nelson to meet and learn about the local donor community. Her fingers had barely lifted off the computer keys before I responded with an eager acceptance. Notices about meetings quickly followed, and I immediately became an ABAG groupie. Now, a week without an ABAG meeting feels dull and barren indeed.

Betsy’s generosity in proactively bringing me into the fold has been echoed by all of her staff and other ABAG members (who graciously have not held it against me that I am a transplant to this neck of the woods). At every meeting I attend I learn from my peers and benefit from the conversation with guest speakers. 

ABAG staff have not only encouraged my attendance at various meetings, but have also cheerfully provided information I have requested on a broad range of subjects, from research on philanthropic topics to a list of the best purveyors of chocolate. ABAG has been a living, breathing Cliff’s Notes for this student of the city.

So, 13 months into my tenure in Baltimore, I can confidently say that I now know what I don’t know. But I have found an information loop, and I have begun to build the relationships that are a key part to understanding the fabric of Baltimore. 

Thank you ABAG.

Ann can be reached at:

Tags:  A Word from Our Members  And Now  October 2011 Members' Memo 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)

Mental Health Funders Group Support Pilot Project

Posted By Lara Hall, Thursday, May 5, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, July 6, 2011

ABAG Board Member Lara Hall of the Blaustein Philanthropic Group was informing us of a recent article in the Baltimore Sun that highlighted a positive outcome, the genesis of which was developed in the ABAG Boardroom at a meeting of the Mental Health Funders Group - so we invited Lara to blog about it!

The Honorable Gale Rasin, Associate Judge on the Baltimore Circuit Court, was frustrated.

Too many defendants coming before the bench had unaddressed mental health problems. The Baltimore District Court has had a mental health program since 2003, allowing for treatment instead of jail time in exchange for a guilty plea. The Circuit Court, which handles the more serious felony cases, did not have the capacity to monitor and supervise such sentences. Judge Rasin believed that creating a Mental Health Case Management Docket within the Circuit Court could have a transformative effect on certain defendants, but there were not sufficient public dollars to make the program happen.

Fortunately, Judge Rasin had a receptive audience – TheMental Health Funders Group.

The Mental Health Funders Group is a peer learning network of Baltimore-based funders interested in the continuum of mental health programming – from prevention and early intervention through intensive treatment models. The Group meets monthly in the ABAG conference room to learn about best practices, emerging models, and federal, state and local policy trends, often hearing directly from practitioners, advocates and public officials.

Judge Rasin presented her idea to the Mental Health Funders Group at a recent monthly meeting. Soon after, three members of the group – the Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Charitable Foundation, the Charles Crane Family Foundation and the Baltimore Community Foundation – responded with funding to enable the launch of a three-year pilot program under Judge Rasin’s oversight.

Click here to read the Baltimore Sun article for more info.

Any ABAG members interested in joining the Mental Health Funders Group should contact me at

I invite and encourage your thoughts below!

Tags:  A Word from Our Members  affinity group  And Now  And Now A Word from Our Members  May2011MembersMemo  mental health 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
Association Management Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal