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.

Elizabeth Beerer

Elizabeth Beerer, Project Manager

With a passion for supporting her community through service and advocacy for others, Betsy graduated with a B.S. in public administration and public policy from Oakland University in December 2021. She enjoys time with family, watching the Cleveland Browns lose and spending time surrounded by people who do good. Betsy is a Phi Sigma Sigma alumni and a Taylor Swift superfan.

Jennifer Cain

Jennifer Cain, Partner, Digital Storytelling & Design

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.

pamela moore

Pamela Moore, Partner, Organizational Development

Pamela is a native Detroiter with 35+ years of nonprofit and public-sector experience. Her last seven years as the president and CEO of the Detroit Public Schools Foundation resulted in more than $25 million in grants for 50,000 Detroit Public Schools Community District students, 38,000 families and 4,000 educators in Michigan’s largest public school district. Prior roles include working with Detroit’s last three mayors. She was the founding president/CEO of Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation where she created a high-performing, White House-recognized public workforce nonprofit agency. Her experience includes fundraising, operations, strategy, nonprofit creation and administration, public-private fund modeling and organizational management. She has a B.S. in finance and an MBA from Wayne State University. In her leisure time, she travels the world, mentors youth and is a dance instructor.

Brandi Neal

Brandi Neal, Project Manager

Brandi’s favorite quote is “Be sure to leave the world better than when you arrived to it” and in every aspect of her personal and professional life, she strives to do just that. Her professional background includes utility engineering (with a special concentration in imperviousness billing methods), finance-collection services, administrative health insurance services, retail and institutional banking, and campaign management/strategy and project management — just to name a few.  Brandi obtained her B.S. in organizational administration from Central Michigan University (Fire Up, Chips!!!!).  To recharge, she loves spending time at various museums, Broadway shows, traveling and discussing current social and sporting events (especially football). She is thrilled to be a member of The Vella Group where the mission is at the forefront of what we do!

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.

Jenna O'Connor

Jenna O’Connor, Office Manager & Executive Assistant

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 MBA 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.

Peyson Ocana

Peyson Ocaña, Future Philanthropy Consultant

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