Meet the Newest Members of the GEO Team

  • By Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, March 23, 2022

For the last couple of years, Covid-19 has made social separation a necessity for public health. But distance should not curb progress – as grantmakers continue to make shifts in philanthropic culture and practice, we too have seen our own changes here in the GEO team. With our first in-person conference since the start of the pandemic coming up, we wanted to take a moment to introduce the GEO community to our newest staff members. You can meet them below, learn more about them and get in touch with questions.

Jaser Alsharshan

Jaser Alsharhan (he/him/his) joined GEO in December 2019 and was recently promoted to Director of Programs, where he oversees cohort development and peer-to-peer programming. Jaser comes to GEO after working at Philanthropy Colorado, a regional association dedicated to serving, convening, and managing funder peer cohorts. Before working for Philanthropy Colorado, Jaser completed a one-year Fulbright Program Fellowship in Rubavu, Rwanda, where he coordinated with the U.S. Embassy to conduct weekly programs and research at the American Corner, a resource center that aims to increase understanding between Rwanda and the United States. Prior to working in Rwanda, he participated in the Duke University India Summer School for Future International Development Leaders. This field research position in Udaipur, India allowed him to analyze and propose creative, locally sourced approaches to rural development. Learn more about Jaser here.

Allison Beck

Allison (she/her/hers) joined in October 2021 and is a Program Specialist at GEO. As part of the program team, Allison manages the research and content development of GEO publications and is passionate about equity-centered approaches to grantmaking. She also contributes to the content development and delivery of peer learning, conferences and other programming by creating connected learning environments that highlight the resources and relationships needed to support thriving nonprofits and communities. Prior to joining GEO, Allison served as a project coordinator at Americans for the Arts, an arts advocacy, research and membership organization, where she worked to strengthen organizational sustainability through programming and relationship-building with internal and external stakeholders. Allison has a background in community development and brings skills in writing and social impact research, as she has worked with a number of nonprofit organizations across the performing arts, environmental and civic engagement sectors. Learn more about Allison here.

Naomi Becker

Naomi (she/her/hers) joined in June 2021 is GEO’s Knowledge Management Specialist. She works across the organization to ensure accurate data entry and identify training needs. Naomi administers Salesforce; analyzes and reports on member data; and manages GEO’s knowledge management approach, framework, and guidelines. Prior to joining GEO, Naomi worked as a Deputy Organizer with People’s Action where she recruited and organized volunteers across the country to mobilize for the 2020 election. She also spent three years working in research and evaluation at Facing History and Ourselves, a non-profit dedicated to providing professional development to educators to increase equity and an understanding of history in the classroom. Learn more about Naomi here.

Kaitlyn Borysiewicz

Kaitlyn (she/her/hers) joined in October 2020 is Communications Specialist at GEO. She is responsible for designing and implementing external marketing campaigns that support of GEO’s programmatic offerings. Throughout her professional career, Kaitlyn has been most passionate about using storytelling to move audiences to action in support of social justice. As a co-founder of a disability-owned social enterprise she designed and led a survey campaign to capture the experiences of women of color in the workplace and is the author of the subsequent brown paper. In her previous role at Georgetown University, she managed the creation of an online children’s health trends report, which provided state advocates a landscape view of children’s health and policies in their states. She also served on the McCourt School of Public Policy’s Inclusive Environments Committee where she surfaced strategies for retaining BIPOC staff and students. Learn more about Kaitlyn here.

Lauren Gentry

Lauren (she/her/hers) joined in June 2021 is the Development Specialist at GEO. In this role, she works closely with the Director of Membership & Development and the Membership Specialist to strengthen GEO’s community of grantmakers and to advance its mission of transforming philanthropy in service of nonprofits and communities. Previously, Lauren worked as the Development Manager at Metro Theater Company in St. Louis, where she actively led conversations on equity and diversity and helped to elevate its national profile. She previously served as a School Administrator for the Boston Ballet, where she supervised and trained part-time staff and supported school operations. Lauren has also worked as a freelance grantwriter, supporting organizations dedicated to serving young people in need. Learn more about Lauren here.

Michelle Allen Harrington

Michelle (she/her/hers) is Director of Communications and Marketing at GEO. In this role, Michelle is responsible for the leadership, direction and administration of communications strategies that broaden awareness of GEO’s programs, events and activities. Throughout her career, Michelle has pursued work that centers on promoting equity within underserved populations and communities of color through high-impact communications, policy and partnerships. Prior to her role at GEO, Michelle served in both policy and communications roles at Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, DC, Meridian International Center and the National Alliance for State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD). Michelle got her start on Capitol Hill serving in the Office of Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) and gained a wealth of experience through stints at public relations agencies Ketchum, Palladian Partners and Edelman. Learn more about Michelle here.

Cozzie King

Cozzie (she/her/hers) joined GEO in January 2022 and has worked over 13 years as a nonprofit/association professional. Prior to GEO, Cozzie was the Manager of Operations & Special Projects for the National Coalition for Hospice and Palliative Care (The Coalition). During her time with the Coalition, Cozzie worked directly with the Executive Director to manage the day-to-day operations of the Coalition, including Board support, workgroup/committee management, website content, social media and communication planning, member engagement and the deliverables of all special grants and projects the Coalition partnered on. Her work at the Coalition helped their mission to ensure that patients and families living with serious illness had access to quality hospice and palliative care services regardless of race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, religion, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or disability. Cozzie also worked for several years at the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO). Learn more about Cozzie here.

Mareeha Niaz

Mareeha (she/her/hers) joined in November 2021 and is a Director of Programs overseeing peer learning and partnership programming at GEOs. As part of the program team, she co-creates initiatives with partners aimed at transforming philanthropic culture and practice. Before joining GEO, Mareeha managed leadership programs at Independent Sector, a national membership organization that brings together a diverse community of changemakers at nonprofits, foundations, and corporate giving programs working to strengthen civil society. During her time at Independent Sector, Mareeha worked on a broad portfolio including nonprofit governance and ethics, racial equity, fellowships, peer learning, online learning, leadership cohorts, and awards. Learn more about Mareeha here.

Sinem Reed

As GEO’s Vice President of Operations, Sinem (she/her/hers) is responsible for GEO’s infrastructure and oversees GEO’s people and culture, finance, accounting, information technology, facilities and compliance functions. Sinem shares responsibility for translating GEO’s mission/vision into a strategic direction and creating alignment between different functions/teams in the organization to achieve that strategic direction. Prior to joining GEO, Sinem served as Chief of Business Planning and Analytics at the Institute of International Education (IIE), where she oversaw financial planning, budgeting, costing/pricing, grant/contract administration and US-based program financial operations. Learn more about Sinem here.

Sammi Santini

As a Program Specialist at GEO, Sammi (she/her/hers) works with the program team to increase community connection and support the planning, development, and facilitation of peer learning programs. Previously, Sammi worked as a Mental Health and Wellness Program Specialist at Wounded Warrior Project (WWP). While there, she designed and facilitated multi-day mental health workshops providing coaching and psychoeducation to participants who have experienced trauma in their lifetime. Throughout her 5+ years at WWP, Sammi worked closely with local and national stakeholders to create dedicated community forums to address and highlight mental health challenges facing traditionally underserved populations – specifically, survivors of military sexual trauma, LGBTQ+, womxn, and/or homeless veterans, service members, and their families. Learn more about Sammi here.

Andrea Tacconi

Andrea (she/her/hers) is a Program Manager at GEO with nearly a decade of experience in the nonprofit and philanthropy sectors committed to advancing racial equity and social justice. As a values-based, bilingual program manager, workshop facilitator and community organizer, her work is grounded in intersectional, anti-oppression approaches and liberatory pedagogies that center meaningful relationships, community learning, power building and opportunity to act. Most recently, Andrea managed an emergent trust-based philanthropy program at a community foundation in the Chiapas Highlands of southern Mexico designed to redistribute power and wealth in the region by decolonizing historic philanthropic practices. She spearheaded organizational practice change to decentralize decision-making structures and promote inclusive, community-informed grantmaking practices. Learn more about Andrea here.

Vincent Winters

Vincent (he/him/his) is the Operations Associate in the operations department for GEO. Previously he has worked with the Brookings Institute as the Finance & Administration Associate where he provided support to 3 Senior Financial Officers and the director of procurement. Prior to Brooking Institute Vincent began his nonprofit organization work at Managed Funds Association. He has spent most of his career serving as the Human Resource Specialist for the Federal government. Learn more about Vincent here.