CFLeads: Community Foundations Leading Change


About CFLeads


Deborah A. Ellwood, President and CEO
800-292-6149 ext. 605

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Deborah A. Ellwood, President and CEO Deborah believes that community foundations are uniquely positioned to be vital partners in building strong communities and is passionate about helping the field be all it can be. As President and CEO of CFLeads, she guides the strategic direction of the organization and builds alliances that help community foundations deepen their impact.

Since Deborah joined the organization in December of 2009, she and the CFLeads team have developed and refined highly successful and popular learning opportunities, uncovered and promoted important community leadership practices, and substantially increased the number of organizations that engage with and invest in CFLeads.

Deborah 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), setting strategies that led to greater partnerships, more focused grantmaking and deeper community impact. 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 been an advocate for low-income children and families at Children Now in California, the Fiscal Policy Institute in New York and Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. She also developed and taught a popular course on children and public policy at the University of Rochester and 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, Director of Operations and Program Services
800-292-6149 ext. 610

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Caroline Jonah Merenda, Program DirectorCaroline cares deeply about the issues facing our communities and has seen first-hand how community foundations can make a difference. As the Director of Operations and Program Services at CFLeads, Caroline manages the program logistics and internal operations of the organization and supports a high level of engagement in our learning opportunities.

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.