NPT Power & Influence Top 50 (2019)

Evolving Missions Pushed By Need
Fueled Honorees’ Innovations

For the PDF Version of The NPT Power & Influence Top 50, click here.

It just always works out this way. It’s never intended but a theme always emerges as the nominations for the annual NPT Power & Influence Top 50 come in and are discussed. Two trends quickly emerged for 2019. There is plenty of innovation popping in the Pacific Northwest and need is evolving missions into initially unimagined domains throughout the nation.

The most intriguing element is a push for 360-degree services. The realization that the three basic needs of shelter, food and healthcare should be a bundle is materializing in the work of foundations and rank-and-file charities. Affordable housing is being obtained or built in communities, even in areas of perceived wealth.

Nonprofit executives are also proving that Washington is the innovation capital of the country. Actually, it’s the other Washington, as in Washington State. Oregon also checked in with honorees. The Pacific Northwest makes up 10 percent of the honorees for 2019. The 50 leaders highlighted in this 22nd annual NPT Power & Influence Top 50 have distinguished themselves as initiators and leaders. An important criteria of the list is that the honoree must be a working day-in, day-out executive.

The 2019 honorees were selected from a group of roughly 300 top executives. A committee of NPT staff, contributors and a few executives plugged in to executive movement were involved in the selection process. This is not a lifetime achievement award. The executive must have had an impact during the previous 12 months.

There is quite a bit of turnover in this year’s roll call. There are 15 new honorees on the 2019 honor roll and one executive is returning to the list after a short hiatus. The fine china will be rolled out for honorees and their guests as they are feted in Washington (the other one) next month during the annual NPT Power & Influence Top 50 Gala at The National Press Club. One of the honorees will receive the NPT Innovator of the Year award. Turn the pages and discover why these executives are molding the way nonprofits change the world.

-Paul Clolery (Editor-in-Chief of The NonProfit Times)

 

Douglas B. Ammar

Douglas B. Ammar

Executive Director
Georgia Justice Project
(Atlanta, Ga.)
Nobody has to tell Ammar about the impact of the 1994 federal
crime bill. He continues to be a leading voice in preventing recidivism through understanding that service needs to be transformational not transactional. His success record of focusing on re-entry
and the impact of a criminal record should be a national model.
Abdullah Antepli

Abdullah Antepli

Chief Representative of Muslim Affairs
Duke University
(Durham, N.C.)
Antepli is one of the most prominent Muslim leaders in
higher education. He co-founded the Muslim Leadership Initiative
(MLI) at the Shalom Hartman Institute. It is a historic effort to
bring Jews and Muslims together to learn about each other.
It is critical for these nonprofit communities to engage and
MLI is getting that done.
Ana Marie Argilagos

Ana Marie Argilagos

President
Hispanics In Philanthropy
(Oakland, Calif.)
Argilagos is the complete package. An expert on global networks,
she has been an educator, federal government official,
foundation innovator and now philanthropic leader in a
population segment that is growing rapidly. She is an expert on
sustainability, as well as issues along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Fred Blackwell

Fred Blackwell

Chief Executive Officer
San Francisco Foundation
(San Francisco, Calif.)
The San Francisco Foundation was a mess before Blackwell. Not only has he repaired it but he is now focused on fixing the rest of the city, starting with the essentials such as affordable housing. He’s not going it alone. Blackwell is finding willing (and sometimes dragging) partners into the city’s people-focused renewal.
Jeffrey L. Bradach

Jeffrey L. Bradach

Managing Partner
& Co-Founder
Bridgespan Group
(Boston, Mass.)
Bradach generally wants answers to two questions: What would
it take to solve a problem, and do results improve social impact?
A co-leader of the Bain/Harvard mash-up, Bradach has been
pushing peer teaching, data and testing for transformative scale.
He’s chair of the Independent Sector board and his advice
is sought internationally.
Donna Murray-Brown

Donna Murray-Brown

President & CEO
Michigan Nonprofit Association
(Lansing, Mich.)
Leadership is difficult but executives simply gravitate to MurrayBrown. She not only leads Michigan’s nonprofits but also the
Census 2020 Michigan Nonprofits Count Campaign so every
person in the state is counted. She is equally effective behind the
scenes or sticking her chin out. She’s becoming a fixture on the
national and state scene.
Nancy Brown

Nancy Brown

President & CEO
American Heart Association
(Dallas, Texas)
Brown must be sleep-deprived. Along with numerous initiatives
that impact the immediate and long-term health of everyone, she
is helping shape healthcare policy that will change how nonprofits
operate. Organizations demanding her attention include: the
Coalition to Transform Advanced Care, Research!America, and
the Health Governors Community of the World Economic Forum.
Phil Buchanan

Phil Buchanan

President
Center for Effective Philanthropy
(Cambridge, Mass.)
You’d never think that one of philanthropy’s most provocative critics
would be accused of defending it. Buchanan does just that in his
book, “Giving Done Right: Effective Philanthropy and Making Every
Dollar Count.” His words: “Institutions that are funded outside
government are an important check and counter to the power of
both government and business.” Buchanan’s opinions matter.

 

James Canales

James Canales

President & Trustee
The Barr Foundation
(Boston, Mass.)
Canales’s philosophy might be considered all things great and small.
He works to ensure small organizations aren’t ignored while leading
the idea that sharing power at the governance level is imperative
to advancing mission and ensuring that everyone can reach their
full potential. Canales transformed a local family foundation into a
national role model for internal and external growth.
Daniel Cardinali

Daniel Cardinali

President & CEO
Independent Sector
(Washington, D.C.)
Cardinali has written he believes in “big bets.” Those big bets involve
wealth, but also NPO operations. He’s taken a big bet remolding
Independent Sector into more of a community organizer but on a
large scale. The annual conference is no longer a stuffed shirt affair.
There’s a real exchange of ideas and not from the stage but in every
spot where a few people can chat; what he’d call force multipliers.
James Clark

James Clark

President & CEO
Boys & Girls Clubs of America
(Atlanta, Ga.)
Clark refocused BGCA’s 4,300 clubs to three priority areas: academic
success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles.The
group has had seven consecutive years of revenue growth, added
17 service locations, more than doubled personnel and seen
growth in daily attendance by youth. His formula has landed him
on two influential boards, Leadership 18 and Independent Sector.
Asha Curran

Asha Curran

Co-Founder & CEO
Giving Tuesday
(New York, N.Y.)
Curran was co-founder and the operational backbone of #Giving–
Tuesday on its launch as a nice day of giving under the umbrella of
the 92Y. She has spun it out as its own entity. She heads an ecosystem
of individuals, nonprofits, communities, countries and the #GivingTuesday team. It has become an engagement movement.
Tim Delaney

Tim Delaney

President & CEO
National Council of Nonprofits
(Washington, D.C.)
There simply is nobody better at translating what federal boondoggles
mean to nonprofits at the state and local level. Delaney can be
blunt and to the point while explaining nuance. Nothing gets by
him and his team. He makes sure state associations have the
information needed. Ignore his advice at your peril.
Susan Dreyfus

Susan Dreyfus

President & CEO
Alliance for Strong Families and Communities
(Milwaukee, Wisc.)
Pragmatic and bold is how Dreyfus describes her organization. The
same can be said for her, which generally can’t be said of someone
who made their bones in state government. She was one of the first
to ensure long-term outcomes were examined through the lens of
equity of access and opportunity. An important member of Leadership 18, she helps steer the national social service infrastructure.
James Firman

James Firman

President & CEO National
National Council on Aging
(Arlington, Va.)
If you have not heard his talk on the illusion of scarcity and the
economics of abundance, stop reading this and go here. Now that you’re back, he’s making a difference in
reversing the concept that interventions for older Americans were
designed for impact, not scale. He is the leader when it comes to
reframing age in an era of a just society.
Brian Gallagher

Brian Gallagher

President & CEO
United Way Worldwide
(Alexandria, Va)
Gallagher continues to find ways to generate income for the
national organization while putting resources in the field. United
Way launched its own workplace giving suite at a time when such
giving is regaining its popularity as an employee engagement and
retention tool. He understands structural employment has
changed and is adapting the UW network to it.

 

Stephanie Klasky-Gamer

Stephanie Klasky-Gamer

President & CEO
LA Family Housing
(Los Angeles, Calif.)
The new LA Family Housing campus is a sparkling achievement.
Klasky-Gamer leads an organization where it is stability first on the
journey to permanent housing. What’s remarkable is the
community acceptance of the work. She is a respected affordable
housing expert who makes homes, even if it’s just for a little
while. This is a national model.
Helene D. Gayle

Helene D. Gayle

CEO
Chicago Community Trust
(Chicago, Ill.)
Gayle has been quoted as saying “A big part of leadership is just
being comfortable with the fact that some decisions really are
only yours.” Substitute fearless for comfortable. She is putting her
theories on the power of collective action to work in Chicago. Her
career has been attacking seemingly intractable situations using
the guiding principle of see the whole board.
Paul Gionfriddo

Paul Gionfriddo

President & CEO
Mental Health America
(Alexandria, Va.)
Gionfriddo is the leader in changing not just minds but regulations
on mental health issues. His “B4Stage4” might be the most
influential initiative in changing perceptions of mental illnesses
from a public safety to a public health frame. The use of social
media and games for early intervention is standard-setting.
John H. Graham IV

John H. Graham IV

President & CEO
ASAE/The Center for Association Leadership
(Washington, D.C.)
The credentialing and certification of professionals by
organizations such as associations is under attack and Graham is
having nothing of it. Roughly 30 states have targeted programs that
adopt and enforce their own ethics codes and procedures. He’s a
leader of the Professional Certification Coalition to ensure
organizations can continue credentialing professionals.
Jonathan Greenblatt

Jonathan Greenblatt

National Director & CEO
Anti-Defamation League
(New York, N.Y.)
Let’s start with opening an ADL office in Germany funded by
Volkswagen. While leaders at other anti-hate groups are being
marginalized or fired, Greenblatt remains a fearless advocate for
blocking hate speech on every platform. It’s not by accident
social networks are scrubbing their sites and corporations
are holding anti-bias training.
Neal Keny-Guyer

Neal Keny-Guyer

CEO
Mercy Corps
(Portland, Ore.)
One of the founding members of the new Global Emergency
Response Coalition, Keny-Guyer’s strategies for circumventing
authoritarian regimes to get food to starving people is nothing
short of miraculous. People, literally, are alive because of his
ideas of sourcing and networks. He knows the risks too well
with one staffer recently killed doing the job.
Lisa Hamilton

Lisa Hamilton

President & CEO
Annie E. Casey Foundation
(Baltimore, Md.)
It is unusual for a newly appointed CEO to make this list
but Hamilton has been around the block a few times. She led
development of seminal research in the Race for Results report.
She is pushing funding that ensures a community has a framework
for entrepreneurship to eradicate generational poverty. It’s all
about data analysis, research and policy solutions.
Jacob Harold

Jacob Harold

Executive Vice President
Candid
(Washington, D.C.)
He was key to pulling off the unprecedented merger of GuideStar
with The Foundation Center. Harold is a social change strategist.
His essays have been used as course materials at Stanford, Duke,
Harvard, Wharton, and Oxford. Harold refuses to let nonprofits act in
isolation against complex problems, “spinning reinvented wheels,”
as he would say. It’s about transparency and focusing impact.

 

Scott Harrison

Scott Harrison

Founder & CEO
charity : water
(New York, N.Y.)
Harrison sure knows how to make waves. His idea to give staff
bonuses of donated Uber stock raised eyebrows. He’s separately
raising money so he can tell other donors that 100 percent of their
money is going to program. He is a walking marketing and program
machine to whom other nonprofit leaders should pay close attention.
Eileen R. Heisman

Eileen R. Heisman

President & CEO
National Philanthropic Trust
(Jenkintown, Pa.)
Heisman has always been about partnerships and is using that keen
instinct to combine donor-advised funds (DAFs) with mainstream
giving. She is working with some of the nation’s top fundraising
agencies to bring the concept to kitchen table giving conversations.
She is also a sought-after international speaker on the topic of DAFs.
Susan Desmond-Hellmann

Susan Desmond-Hellmann

CEO
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
(Seattle, Wash.)
It could be argued Desmond-Hellmann pushes the foundation
to do more than most governments when it comes to reducing
disease, hunger and inequity. The Bill & Melinda Gates Medical
Research Institute should have big pharma looking over its
shoulder. The good doctor is also hip deep in the privacy and
data implications of Facebook and other social networks.
Melanie L. Herman

Melanie L. Herman

Executive Director
Nonprofit Risk Management Center
(Leesburg, Va.)
You’ll have to excuse Herman if she speaks in abbreviations such
as LAX or LGA or IAH. There is no doubt she is the most in-demand
expert in the nonprofit risk field, spending more time in airports
than is reasonable. Herman helped to craft the risk plans for some of
the nation’s largest nonprofits while prolifically writing and
persuading on the topic.
JoAnn Jenkins

JoAnn Jenkins

Chief Executive Officer
AARP
(Washington, D.C.)
It is easy to think of AARP as an organization for folks older than
50 but Jenkins’ initiatives into prescription drugs, aging, video
games and, oh yeah, smacking around elected officials is a
blueprint every nonprofit executive should be emulating. Her
lobbying operation is just about the best in the sector.
Vu Le

Vu Le

Executive Director
Rainier Valley Corps
(Seattle, Wash.)
In addition to being an effective leader in the Pacific Northwest
for social justice and leadership development, Vu is the author of
the nonprofit humor blog “Nonprofit AF.” His humor allows him
to take head-on some of the bizarre, harmful power games
funders play that cause pain for their grantees.
Antony Bugg-Levine

Antony Bugg-Levine

Chief Executive Officer
Nonprofit Finance Fund
(New York, N.Y.)
Bugg-Levine is fighting against risk aversion when it comes to
making grants. He realizes, as he has written, that short-term
funding causes distraction for nonprofits and hinders long-term
improvement. Via New Markets Tax Credits, cash from other
foundations and NFF’s wallet, he’s creating conditions for
resources to flow from the for-profit world to social good.
Robert Lynch

Robert Lynch

President & CEO
Americans for the Arts
(Washington, D.C.)
Lynch might be more effective at saving federal funding for the arts
than the behemoths targeted for the cuts. He touts the economic
impact of the largest and smallest organizations, traveling the
nation making sure doors stay open. He leads the way in sharing
ideas that even competitive organizations can all implement.
Sr. Donna Markham

Sr. Donna Markham

President & CEO
Catholic Charities USA
(Alexandria, Va.)
Sr. Donna foretold the crisis at the border and was among the first
to jump into action, pushing other nonprofits to follow her lead. It
makes sense that the organization moves into affordable housing,
given the volume of those who make it across the border and
Americans who need assistance. It is the most frequently cited
ask that her 164 agencies receive.
Timothy J. McClimon

Timothy J. McClimon

President
American Express Foundation
(New York, N.Y.)
McClimon helps generate the next generation of nonprofit
leaders in partnership with sector infrastructure leaders.
He was a trailblazer in the corporate social responsibility
space long before most for-profits caught on that social
engagement supports both community building and
workforce enticement.
Tony Mestres

Tony Mestres

President & CEO
Seattle Foundation
(Seattle, Wash.)
How do you take $1 billion seriously without taking it seriously?
Meet Tony Mestres. Forget for a moment the marketing ability,
such as Geeks Give Back. Take a look at his Climate Justice
Impact Strategy to support communities and his repositioning the
organization as a voice for the community. It’s a case study for
remodeling civic purpose for justice and equity.
Brian Mittendorf, Ph.D.

Brian Mittendorf, Ph.D.

Chair, Department of Accounting & MIS
The Ohio State University
(Columbus, Ohio)
His roughly 1,900 followers on Twitter isn’t going to scare a
Kardashian but it sure gets the attention of regulators, nonprofit
finance officials and anyone interested in nonprofit accounting and
its impact on donors. His writing on Donor Reliance on Accounting
should be read by non-accountants. His common sense back and
forth on social media should be monitored by all in the industry.
Bradley Myles

Bradley Myles

Chief Executive Officer
Polaris
(Washington, D.C.)
Combatting human trafficking has become a cause célèbre but not
to Myles who has been on the front lines for more than 15 years.
He’s put together probably the largest data sets on human trafficking
in the United States. He is a sought-after expert on the topic whose
ideas are the foundation for public policy.
Michelle Nunn

Michelle Nunn

President & CEO
CARE USA
(Atlanta, Ga.)
Make no mistake. It takes a dealmaker, politician, tactician and
dreamer to run an international organization and Nunn is all of the
above. Starting local in Atlanta and now working internationally,
deals like those with the Abbott Fund and PepsiCo is laser-focused
funding. She has spoken out on tariffs as “threats of an inwardlooking and nationalistic sensibility.”
Una Osili, Ph.D.

Una Osili, Ph.D.

Associate Dean
Lilly Family School of Philanthropy/IUPUI
(Indianapolis, Ind.)
There are statistics, damned statistics and then Osili, who makes
going into the weeds not only informative and usable but also fun.
She led the research and publication of Index of Global Philanthropy
and Remittances and Index of Philanthropic Freedom. Check her
Generosity For Life Project and women in philanthropy work.
It’s all groundbreaking and impactful.
Jonathan Reckford

Jonathan Reckford

Chief Executive Officer
Habitat For Humanity
(Atlanta, Ga.)
Reckford knows that a roof over a family’s head is just the start.
He makes the argument about, and connections between, health,
education and a community’s center. His ability to bring together
proven results in various social service fields builds communities.
He is a trusted guru who is sought by other leaders.
Kathy Reich

Kathy Reich

Director, Building Institutions and Networks
Ford Foundation
(New York, N.Y.)
The BUILD initiative is in the U.S. and 10 global regions. She
emphasizes “whole organization” support and investment from
the funding community. She’s powerfully speaking out against
“funder knows best,” which is unique given her employer. It’s
impact over time, not a burst of unsustainable programmatic impact.
Anthony Romero

Anthony Romero

Executive Director
ACLU
(New York, N.Y.)
Romero is the lawyer for the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of
Rights. He aggressively pursues litigation that impacts almost all
charities and the people supported by those groups, whether you
agree with those views or not. He’s expanding the mission to be
more proactive. Romero also has a remarkable winning record in
federal court since, well, late January 2017.
Douglas Rutzen

Douglas Rutzen

President & CEO
International Center for Not-for-Profit Law
(Washington, D.C.)
Rutzen has worked in 100 countries to help develop the legalframework for civil society, philanthropy, and public
participation. Punch is name into a web browser and see how
many languages in which you’ll see his name included.
A member of the advisory board of the United Nations
Democracy Fund, his ideas and work are valued across the globe.
Jennifer Sampson

Jennifer Sampson

President & CEO
United Way of Metropolitan Dallas
(Dallas, Texas)
Sampson was probably the first United Way executive to
understand the implications of #GivingTuesday on community
fundraising and impact, raising $56 million over two years in the
process. She brought UW executives from across the U.S., not
necessarily known for collaborative spirit, into the #GivingTuesday network. Oh yeah, she’s a trailblazing manager, too.
Brad Smith

Brad Smith

President
Candid
(New York, N.Y.)
Smith (and Jacob Harold) put together the largest public good
data and information merger the sector has ever seen, establishing
Candid as the place to go for philanthropic information. It took a
long time to work out the details but the integration of dozens of
products appears to have been seamless to users of both The
Foundation Center and GuideStar.
David L. Thompson

David L. Thompson

Vice President of Public Policy
National Council of Nonprofits
(Washington, D.C.)
Read his comments on proposed federal regulations and you’ll see
he understands the impact of those rules better than those who are
writing them. Next, watch him pull together coalition after coalition to
mobilize nonprofits to engage in federal as well as state legislative
matters, always shining the light on others, rather than
claiming any credit.
Henry Timms

Henry Timms

Executive Director
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
(New York, N.Y.)
Timms continues to be a remarkable ideas person who turns
everything he touches into gold. He and his team rescued the
92Y in Manhattan while launching #GivingTuesday. He is now
running one of the nation’s most important but stodgy arts
complexes. It is going to be fun watching what he does there
(maybe mimes doing The Mikado).
Anne Wallestad

Anne Wallestad

President & CEO
BoardSource
(Washington, D.C.)
Even in this era of #MeToo and inclusion, getting boards to be
more diverse can be a lonely trail. Wallestad’s even talking about
pushing board members to think about mergers. It’s her common sense approach that board members can’t avoid. Her Stand
For Your Mission campaign champions board advocacy and
eschews the rubber stamp.
Amy Sample-Ward

Amy Sample-Ward

CEO
NTEN
(Portland, Ore.)
Amy Sample Ward and her band of tech miscreants built a
community of more than 50,000 and it is no doubt the best show
in town when the annual NTC opens. It’s all about exchanging
ideas and pushing the limits of technology for social good.
The community posts are so insightful that anyone can
implement the concepts.
Kevin Washington

Kevin Washington

President & CEO
YMCA of the USA
(Chicago, Ill.)
Many execs talk a good game when it comes to LGBTQ inclusion
but Washington is forming partnerships to make it happen. The
Y was a safe place for Washington when growing up and now he
is showing how to build a community whether its via recreation,
healthcare or a place to feel and be safe. He’s also finding ways to
get new funding for health-related programs.