Program:  Changing the Conversation: Race and Equity in Grantmaking
Race and equity issues are increasingly prominent in our local, regional, and national conversations. This donor panel discussion will explore how local foundations are developing and expanding initiatives to reflect issues of race and equity in the Chicago area. Panel participants include Arianna Cisneros, Program Officer at The Robert R. McCormick Foundation, Heather Smith, Senior Program Officer at The Field Foundation of Illinois, and  Janine Hill, President of Soar Strategies. The panel will be moderated by Kimberly Casey, Director of Member Networks at Forefront.


Janine Hill, Soar Strategies

Janine Hill, MPH, PhD(c), is the President of Soar Strategies, a consulting firm focused on the program, policy, and professional development of the social good sector. For over 20 years, she has worked in and with nonprofit organizations, of varying sizes and budgets. Janine consults in the areas of policy/program development and evaluation; organizational development and management; community engagement; diversity, equity, and inclusion practices; group facilitation; and executive/career/team coaching. Janine is a PhD candidate at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) School of Public Health, and has a Certificate of Professional Achievement in Nonprofit Management from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University (NU). In addition, Janine serves on the Board of Directors of the McGaw YMCA in Evanston. When she is not working, she is hanging with her daughter, reading, or running some race in the Chicagoland area.

Arianna Cisneros, Robert R. McCormick Foundation

Arianna Cisneros is a Program Officer in the Communities Program, responsible for leading its Education and Health giving areas and place-based initiative in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood. She also manages relationships with corporate partners and assists them in developing, implementing, and evaluating their grant strategies.

Prior to joining the McCormick Foundation, Ms. Cisneros was a Program Officer at the Illinois Children's Healthcare Foundation, focusing on the integration of children's mental health services in community settings, and an Associate Director at Arabella Advisors, advising funders on grant-making, program implementation, and evaluation. Ms. Cisneros holds a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Studies and Spanish Literature and Culture from the University of Michigan, and a Master's Degree from the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration, where she was a McCormick Tribune Fellow in Urban and Community Leadership. She was also a 2009-2011 Illinois Early Childhood Fellow, serving two years at the Ounce of Prevention Fund.

Heather Smith, The Field Foundation of Illinois

As Senior Program Officer, Heather Smith reviews and evaluates grant requests from Chicago area not-for-profit organizations. In addition to leading the foundation’s justice portfolio, Heather also manages the foundation’s internship program. Prior to Field, Heather served as the Planning Director for the Congress for the New Urbanism and coordinated the Metropolis Plan activities for Chicago Metropolis 2020. She received an American Planning Association fellowship to foster sustainable development and planning in the United States Senate. Heather co-chairs the Environmental Grantmakers Group at Forefront and serves on the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning Land Use Committee. Heather is also an adjunct faculty member in DePaul University’s Geography Department. In 2017 Heather was awarded the PLACES fellowship through the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities to advance equity and inclusion in philanthropy.

Moderator: Kimberly Casey, Forefront

As Director of Member Networks at Forefront, Kimberly is responsible for overseeing the learning and action of all Member Networks at Forefront, including creating opportunities for networking, education, policy engagement, leadership development, partnership, and collective action among members. She was a speaker at the Breaking It Down Conference and at Corporate America Diversity Programs: Lessons for Nonprofit Leaders. Previously, Kimberly managed member programs for Chicago United. In addition to her professional work, Kim serves as a board member for Deborah’s Place, is a core group member with the Greater Chicago Dialogue and Deliberation Community of Practice, and a member of the Chicago Urban League’s Metropolitan Board. Kimberly earned bachelors' degrees in political science and African-American studies from Purdue University.