CFLeads: Community Foundations Leading Change


About CFLeads


Deborah A. Ellwood, Executive Directo

Deborah A. Ellwood, Executive Director
800-292-6149 ext. 605

Deborah joined CFLeads as Executive Director in December of 2009. She has a broad background as an advocate, policy analyst, grantmaker, fundraiser and community builder. She served as both a board and staff leader during 10 years with Rochester Area Community Foundation (Rochester, NY), moving its grantmaking from responsive to highly focused and tapping into the many other non-grantmaking resources to move a community agenda. While at the foundation, she founded a children’s advocacy organization, launched a successful community-wide after-school alliance and led many other community initiatives. Deborah was also co-chair of the public policy subcommittee of the Council on Foundations' ProNet affinity group.

An award-winning graduate of Bowdoin College and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Deborah has advocated for children, low-income families and clean indoor air at Children Now in California, the Fiscal Policy Institute in New York and Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, respectively. She previously served as director of development at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, which is leading community development efforts in Pittsburgh's Northside neighborhood.

Caroline Jonah Merenda, Program Director

Caroline Jonah Merenda, Program Director
800-292-6149 ext. 610

Caroline was named Program Director at CFLeads in
February 2011.

Caroline has a reputation as a trusted and persistent community builder and collaborator, creating long-lasting partnerships leading to systemic change in a number of areas affecting children and families. In her 10 years at Rochester Area Community Foundation (Rochester, NY), she assembled a taskforce headed by the mayor and school superintendent to create a comprehensive after-school strategy for the City of Rochester; leveraged Community Foundation funding by working with City, County, and State agencies on child care subsidies, youth programming, and school violence; and conducted research and advocacy on the issues of early childhood education, out-of-school time, and childhood obesity.

As part of this work she helped create and staff the Greater Rochester After-School Alliance (GRASA), served on the New York State Afterschool Network (NYSAN) Statewide Steering Committee, and was named an “Afterschool Ambassador” by the Afterschool Alliance, an alliance of public, private, and nonprofit groups committed to raising awareness and expanding resources for after-school programs.