Staff Biographies

Cynthia Schaal

Interim CEO
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As the Interim CEO, Cynthia leads the staff to execute the mission, vision, and values of Exponent Philanthropy through the overall management and stewardship of day-to-day administration, internal culture, external relationships, and strategic plan implementation.

Cynthia received her undergraduate degree in Russian from Georgetown University and her master’s degree in education from Harvard University. She has served as the COO and Chief Program Officer at Exponent Philanthropy and Senior Management positions at The Advisory Board Company prior to coming to our organization.

When not spending time with her family, Cynthia enjoys creative writing, competing with her ice hockey team, and participating in initiatives that empower children and families.

Afia Amobeaa-Sakyi

Director, Equity and Inclusion
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Afia plays a critical role in shaping and sustaining an inclusive and equitable culture at Exponent Philanthropy. Working as a thought partner directly with the CEO and COO, she serves as a change agent to foster that integration of strategies that will cultivate and sustain a culture that advances diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within our organization, among our community of lean funders, and external stakeholders.

Before joining Exponent Philanthropy, Afia worked with various nonprofits and associations advocating for issues from education policy to humanitarian relief. Afia holds a master’s degree in Social Policy from the University of Pennsylvania and bachelor’s degrees in Sociology and Public Policy from the University of California, Riverside.

Afia is originally a product of Ghana, West Africa but considers California home. When she’s not daydreaming of warm weather, she spends her time learning about life through fashion, food, friends, and travel.


LaShonne Barnes

Director, Development
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LaShonne works to cultivate and steward meaningful relationships with organizations and individuals in the philanthropic community. Working collaboratively across internal departments and externally, LaShonne develops a strategy to target and engage industry experts in a manner that is mutually beneficial to Exponent Philanthropy and our partners.

Prior to joining Exponent, LaShonne spent several years engaged in development work with other associations and brings a wealth of knowledge and development experience to help move forward the mission of the organization.

LaShonne is a Washingtonian who has a passion for helping young girls succeed. She is also an avid tennis player, enjoys playing the piano and traveling in her spare time.


Brian BatesBrian Bates

Member Relations Specialist
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Brian is an essential part of our team and is responsible for providing administrative and logistical support in a way that aligns with the overall goals, mission, and culture of Exponent Philanthropy. He builds relationships with serves as a resource for individuals from the time they are interested in joining, through their renewal cycle.

Prior to joining Exponent Philanthropy, Brian worked as a program assistant at the Community Foundation of Greater Flint and in membership at the Council on Foundations where he developed his passion for philanthropy. He holds a BA in international relations from Michigan State University.

Brian is a native Michigander who spends his free time running and cheering for his beloved Spartans.


Noble Campbell

Administration Associate
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Noble keeps our office operations running smoothly and is the first person most members meet or speak with. He is a master at juggling multiple tasks, provides wonderful customer service, and is always looking to improve our internal processes to better serve our members and make things easier for staff.

Originally from South Carolina, Noble was raised in D.C. He studied Engineering and Mechanical Drawing at Southern University and comes to us from a career in administration at American University. A musician at heart, Noble enjoys playing keyboards and drums as well as singing all kinds of music. When not in the office, he nurtures his strong interests in the arts by frequenting music venues and other creative outlets.


Andy Carroll

Senior Advisor
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Andy advises staff, funders, and other leaders in the field through his experience with grantmaking, leadership, and trends in small-staffed philanthropy. He is also a trained facilitator in civic reflection and works to empower more foundations and donors to leverage their unique position to provide leadership on important issues they feel passionate about.

Prior to joining Exponent Philanthropy, he developed programs at the National Center for Family Philanthropy, and before that at the Council on Foundations. Andy has an MBA from the University of Michigan Business School and has 30 years of experience in management, training, and program development for nonprofit organizations.

Andy is a DC native and has spent countless hours exploring the Chesapeake Bay with his wife and daughter.


Serenity Greenfield

Senior Director, Relationships, Research, and Reach
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Serenity works to ensure the growth and success of our community through integrated marketing strategies that are grounded in our core values. She is a marketing nerd to the core and has been championing the work of associations for the majority of her career.

Serenity graduated with a degree in Marketing from Montana State University and secured her passion for non-profits with a graduate degree in nonprofit management from George Mason University.

In her free time, you’ll find her exploring the outdoor spaces of the DC region, chasing after her two small children, or searching for an opportunity to squeeze in a few extra minutes of sleep.


Althea Georgantas

Associate Director, Educational Programs
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Althea keeps our members informed and connected through creative educational programs and learning opportunities. She coordinates a wide range of virtual learning programs—from webinars to conferences—bridging the geographic gap of our national membership.

Althea brings national nonprofit programming experience from her previous position at the World Affairs Councils of America, where she also helped to spearhead and manage grant-making activities. She has a BA in International Relations from American University, including one year of study in Economic Geography at the London School of Economics. She possesses professional and personal experience in international exchange and citizen diplomacy and is passionate about global issues and the importance of lifelong education.

Originally from Massachusetts, Althea lives in Washington, DC with her husband and dog and enjoys cooking, museum-hopping, and road trips.


Lauren Kotkin

Director, Educational Programs
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Lauren blends creativity and detail to deliver Exponent Philanthropy’s educational programs. She is the leader of the Educational Programs Team, plans our biennial National Conference, and contributes to our collection of daylong seminars.

In her first career, Lauren was an early childhood educator and served as the education director of a children’s museum near Boston. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Duke University and master’s degree from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA, with a focus on using arts in education.

Lauren is a collage artist. She volunteers for and exhibits her work at DC-area arts organizations.


Akeembra Lawrence

Manager, Corporate and Foundation Relations
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Akeembra serves as a liaison to companies whose strategic goals and priorities align with Exponent Philanthropy’s research, expertise, and vision. She builds collaborative relationships with donor and works to streamline internal operations and systems to maximize Exponent Philanthropy’s fundraising success.

Akeembra brings a wealth of knowledge and more than 10 years of development experience from the various roles she has held throughout her career. Akeembra earned her bachelor’s degree from Christopher Newport University and is pursuing a master’s degree in Nonprofit Management. She is a graduate of Leadership Frederick County and serves on the board of Laurel Advocacy and Referral Services.

Akeembra is a proud “Army brat” and the wife of an Army veteran. She has lived everywhere from Alaska to Germany and now lives in Maryland with her husband and two small children where she enjoys volunteering, island hopping, reading, resting, and rum tasting.


Quoc Le

Marketing Production Manager
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Quoc partners with everyone on staff to make sure their products, programs, content, and expertise are shared with our greater community. He manages workflows across teams and with outside vendors to execute marketing deliverables that support our organizational goals.

Quoc graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a bachelor’s degree in marketing.

His hobbies include kayaking, craftmaking, and running.


Brendan McCormick

Manager, Research and Education
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Brendan works with staff, members, and partners to develop resources grounded in research. He leads our efforts to learn more about our community of lean funders. Brendan focuses his research on how foundations approach impact and evaluation, investments, operations, demographics, and equity practices.

Brendan has worked in philanthropy and grantmaking with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Greater Washington Community Foundation. He earned his master’s degree in public policy at the University of Maryland where he focused on nonprofit management and social policy.

In his free time, he enjoys cooking new recipes and finding a quiet place to read a good book.


Cristiana Salazar

Digital Communications Associate
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Cristiana works with the Relationship, Research, and Reach team to ensure lean funders are informed and connected through diverse communication channels. She manages our website, social media, and email marketing.

Cristiana recently graduated from Marymount University with a bachelor’s degree in Communication and a minor in Business Administration and Marketing. Originally from Nicaragua, Cristiana lives in Arlington, Virginia with her dog.

She spends her time outside the office visiting family back home and going to the beach.



Madelyn Schorr

Program Specialist
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Madelyn helps develop content and manage delivery for key programs including our Next Gen Fellows Program, local and regional programs, and member-led convenings such as Peer Circles.

Before joining Exponent Philanthropy, Madelyn worked at Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO) and the Roosevelt Institute. She graduated from The University of Alabama with a BA in Digital Media and Anthropology. She is passionate about people, public policy, and a proud supporter of the Oxford comma.

When she isn’t at work, Madelyn can be found experimenting with new foods in the kitchen, going for long walks around the city, or reading a book for her book club.


Hannah Smith

Communications Manager
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Hannah is responsible for managing editorial projects, working with internal staff and external thought leaders to create and update content, maintaining the voice of our CEO and the organization, and upholding editorial quality and brand consistency.

Before joining Exponent Philanthropy, Hannah worked in marketing for two artificial intelligence B2B startups, and she was project manager for the Nielsen Foundation. Hannah received her undergraduate degree in sociology from Bryn Mawr College and she’s pursuing a master’s in writing through Johns Hopkins University.

In her free time, Hannah enjoys fishing.


Peter Tajat

Director of Finance and Operations
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Peter keeps our building and systems running smoothly and he is the first person we turn to for everything pertaining to our staff operations. He masterfully manages our overall budget, provides technical support to staff and manages our building, tenants, accounting, HR benefits, and operations staff.

Originally from Slovakia, Peter has an MBA in management from Comenius University. He spends his free time with his family and enjoys playing soccer and being active outdoors.


Heather Ukryn

Program Coordinator
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Heather supports our members through the management of our registration system, is an expert in customer service, and supports our programs with her unique understanding of our members’ needs and our internal processes.

Heather has worked in the broadcast television industry for many years but is interested in learning more about the philanthropic field with her job at Exponent.

In her free time, Heather enjoys traveling, reading and shopping for “junk” at estate sales.