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.

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.

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 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.

Elizabeth Beerer

Elizabeth Beerer, Project Manager

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.

Jenna O'Connor

Jenna O’Connor, Office Manager & Executive Assistant

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 MBA 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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