Moderator: Susan Taylor Batten, Association of Black Foundation Executives
Robert Thornton, The Skillman Foundation
Carmen A. Anderson, The Heinz Endowments
Raymond A. Colmenar, The California Endowment
Melanie Hartzog, NYC Young Men's Initiative
Maisha Simmons, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Carmen Anderson is a senior ofcer with the Endowments’ Children, Youth & Families Program. Her focus is advancing the program’s primary emphases: targeting the critical needs of children in the first eight years of life, addressing the special needs of adolescent youth and strengthening families as a means to promoting healthy development among children. Carmen’s work includes identifying innovative programs to strengthen parents’ skills in child rearing and supporting their children’s health. She examines ways to provide financial education for parents and adolescents. Carmen also assists in the Endowments’ development of strategies to make inclusion and diversity a defining element of the region.
Prior to joining the Endowments in 2000, Carmen was the executive director of Healthy Start, Inc., a federal public health initiative to reduce infant mortality in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. Her leadership and commitment to the mission helped Healthy Start meet its primary goal of reducing the infant mortality rate--one of the historically highest in the country--by 50 percent in the six areas served by the program.
Carmen’s professional work has focused primarily on women and children’s issues, particularly family violence and child maltreatment. In addition to many years of administrative and management work in the community, she has lectured and conducted workshops on a variety of topics pertinent to women, children
and families. She has been active in promoting healthy families through community organizing and public awareness, including co-hosting a 15-part television series on the issue.
Carmen has a master’s degree in mental health, a bachelor’s degree in mass and inter-personal communications, and certificates in nonprofit management, business administration and victim services. She has received the U.S. Department of Human Services Commissioners Award for outstanding service in the field.
Susan Taylor Batten
Susan Taylor Batten joined ABFE as President and CEO in January 2009. Prior to joining ABFE Ms. Batten was Senior Associate with the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Senior Program Manager, The California Endowment
Ray Colmenar is a senior program manager for Health Happens in Neighborhoods under the California Endowment's 10-year strategic program Building Healthy Communities. Ray is responsible for shaping and implementing the Endowment's programmatic strategy to improve community and neighborhood environments so that they promote health. He is also responsible for coordinating the Endowment's statewide work on improving the health of boys and young men of color — a key cross-cutting program priority of the Building Healthy Communities strategy. Prior to joining the California Endowment, Ray was an associate director at PolicyLink. He has also served as a senior research associate with the Rockefeller Foundation, executive director for the South of Market Problem Solving Council, and policy analyst for the San Francisco Department of Human Services. Ray received his BA in Management Science from the University of California, San Diego, and his MA in Public Policy from the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley.
Melanie Hartzog was appointed Family Services Coordinator in the New York City Office of The Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services in August 2011. In this role she oversees several city agencies responsible for the delivery of social services and justice programs. Melanie is also the Project Director for the Young Men’s Initiative, a bold and innovative public/private partnership aimed at reducing disparities between the economic and social outcomes of young men of color and other demographic groups in New York City.
Prior to joining the Mayor’s Office, Melanie served as the Deputy Commissioner for early childhood services at New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services. In this capacity, she designed and implemented initiatives to maximize utilization of child care resources and to increase efficiency and access to quality subsidized child care, culminating in the release of the City’s EarlyLearn NYC procurement in 2011.
Previously, Melanie led a social services unit in the Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget, and she was Director of Policy and Advocacy for the Human Services Council of New York City, Inc. Melanie has a Master of Science degree from The New School’s Robert J. Milano School of Management and Urban Policy and a Bachelor of Arts from Eckerd College.
Maisha Simmons, MPA, joined the Foundation in 2008 as a program associate working in the area of childhood obesity. In this role, she focuses on advocacy with communities most afected by childhood obesity. As she describes it, she "keeps communities in the picture" by helping them to promote relevant and grassroots solutions to the problem of childhood obesity and assisting community leaders in monitoring and enforcing effective policies in their communities. Her work, which enables her "to see change on a wide scale and be part of the Foundation’s enormous and exciting mission," includes project research, assisting grantees and applicants on strategies and action plans, helping design new initiatives, evaluating proposals, and monitoring programs and grants. Previously, Simmons was a grant writer and manager with United Way of Essex and West Hudson in Newark, N.J. In addition to managing existing grants, she developed new grant prospects and secured funding for community impact initiatives. She was a National Urban Fellow with the Community Development Law Center (CDLC) and the Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center (INRC), Indianapolis, Ind. She also served in various positions at Cathedral Community Development Corporation, Perth Amboy, N.J., including director of Community Development, director of Human Services, and development coordinator. In addition, to what she calls her first experience in public health, she served as an inspector with the Union County Division of Public Works, Bureau of Mosquito Control, during an outbreak of West Nile virus.
Simmons holds an MPA from CUNY/Baruch College, School of Public Afairs, and master certificate in public administration from Kean University, and a B.A. from Douglass College, Rutgers University. Born in Orange, N.J., she resides in Asbury Park with her husband. She enjoys movies, reading fiction, and participating in the activities of her church.
Robert Thornton is a Program Officer at The Skillman Foundation and is responsible for oversight of the Foundation's Good Neighborhoods work in the Brightmoor and Cody Rouge communities. Thornton coordinates the Foundation's Fatherhood and faith-based work, and leads the Foundation's emerging work around Black and Brown Boys. Prior to joining the Foundation, Thornton spent 13 years at New Detroit, Inc., in various positions focusing on consensus building, race relations and diversity issues. He received his bachelor's from Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., and his master's in Educational Leadership from Wayne State University. Thornton is a life-long resident of Detroit, the father of two adult sons and serves as a Deacon at Hartford Memorial