Our team has more than 100 years of combined experience in strategic planning, fundraising, corporate communications, media relations and web design.

Jim Vella
Jim Vella, CEO & Founder

Jim has 40+ years of philanthropy leadership expertise, public relations and broadcast journalism experience. He served as president of the Ford Motor Company Fund and Ford vice president of Global Public Affairs. Jim spent 14 years in broadcast journalism in California, Ohio and Michigan. He currently sits on multiple governing boards for international NGOs and community nonprofits. Jim is a consummate advocate for social justice, and a dedicated father and grandfather. He holds a B.A. in communications from University of Detroit Mercy.

Learn more about Jim’s story and current board memberships.

todd nissen
Todd Nissen, Partner, Communications

Todd has a 30-year career in corporate communications and journalism, including 20 years at Ford Motor Company in the U.S. and Europe. He also lead Ford Fund’s Volunteer Corps and Communications department. Prior to joining Ford, Todd was a news reporter and bureau chief for Reuters News Service. Todd holds a B.A. in history from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Ore. He enjoys family time with his wife and three adult children. When time permits, Todd is on the water in his kayak or playing trumpet in community bands.

Brian Vella
Brian Vella, Chief Financial Officer

Brian has 35 years of experience in accounting, finance and corporate leadership. He began his career as an auditor with Deloitte Haskins & Sells and has also had significant roles with Waste Management, Coughlin Logistics, Jefferson Wells Consulting and the City of Detroit. Brian graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame. He has three sons who all graduated from Michigan State University. Brian has held a volunteer leadership position with the Little Caesars Amateur Hockey League for the past 16 years and enjoys golfing and traveling outside of work.

andrea zuehlk
Andrea Zuehlk , Partner, Marketing & Strategy

Andrea has 20 years of marketing, growth strategy and brand development experience at both large and small companies. She has held executive marketing positions with Procter & Gamble, S.C. Johnson, Ford Motor Company and start-up businesses. She earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering in 2001 from Michigan Technological University and an M.B.A. in 2008 from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. Outside of work, Andrea spends time building – and rebuilding – super hero Legos with her little men at home, managing the mixed-sports relationship (Go Blue!) with her husband Matt (a Sparty), and endlessly redesigning rooms in their Michigan home.

Jennifer Cain
Jennifer Cain, Associate Partner, Web Design & Marketing Support

Over 25+ years, Jennifer has worked in marketing communications, web design, employee communications and public relations.  Her clients have run the gamut, from Fortune 100 companies, such as Dow Chemical and Ford Motor Company, to small businesses and nonprofits.  She holds a B.A. in public relations from Syracuse University and a Certificate in Web Technology from Washtenaw Community College.  She enjoys spending time with her family of MSU Spartans – her husband and two daughters.

Nicole Gize
Nicole Gize, Associate Partner, Fundraising

Nicole has worked in nonprofit fundraising, strategic planning and corporate sales for more than 25 years at such major institutions as Northwood University, Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation, WDIV and CBS Radio. She serves on the mentorship committee at the Detroit Athletic Club and holds a B.A. in management and advertising from Northwood University. Nicole is a first-generation American, whose family emigrated from Lebanon. She loves to check out the new restaurants in Metro Detroit and spend time with her family and her dog, Parker.

Anne Marie Gattari
Anne Marie Gattari, Associate Partner, Project Management

Anne Marie has more than 35 years as a communications professional in corporate public relations at Ford Motor Company and newspaper journalism at the Detroit News and Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram. Today, Anne Marie is dedicated to writing about social justice issues. She holds a B.A. in journalism from Michigan State University. She enjoys her two adult daughters and grandchildren.

Karla Patten
Karla Patten, Associate Partner, Marketing & Technology

Karla has more than 20 years of corporate experience across the automotive, retail and e-commerce sectors. After earning her B.S. in computer science at University of Michigan, she joined Ford Motor Company in an information technology role. She later completed her M.B.A. at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business and transitioned into marketing where she led projects for both Walmart Stores and Walmart.com. Her passions include social justice and the decriminalization of cannabis.

Jerry Sloan
Jerry Sloan, Associate Partner, Grant Writing

Jerry has 10 years of grant writing and prospecting experience for nonprofit clients, including Detroit Public TV and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. He has raised more than $20 million in federal, corporate and foundation financial support for clients in eight states. Jerry holds master’s degrees from Central Michigan University and Arizona State. He enjoys visiting Eastern Market, Belle Isle and bookstores.

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