Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation

50 years of good 1963 - 2013

Meet Our Staff

Cheryl W. Elliott, President & CEO

Cheryl joined the Community Foundation in 1992. In her 22 years at AAACF, she has filled multiple roles - as Program Director, Youth Council Advisor, and Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer - before becoming AAACF's President & CEO in 2001. Cheryl also serves on a number of community boards and committees: St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, Council of Michigan Foundations Community Foundation Committee, Midwest Community Foundations’ Ventures and The LEAGUE Michigan. She has also served as a board member for the Ann Arbor Rotary Club, Junior League of Ann Arbor, Washtenaw United Way, Washtenaw Economic Club, NEW Center, Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, Ann Arbor Art Center, Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce, and Washtenaw Community College. Having spent more than 20 years here, Cheryl obviously loves this place.  What does she appreciate most - beyond an endless supply of Diet Coke?  "Whenever I walk around town or drive around our area, I'm always amazed at all the things I see that the Community Foundation helped make possible.  . . . When I see a Food Gatherer's truck - I am reminded that we were there to support their beginning and at key points in their history. "

Neel Hajra, Chief Operating Officer and Vice President for Community Investment

Born and raised in Ann Arbor, Neel considers himself an "Ann Arbor boy thru and thru."  That counts for college too.  He earned both an undergraduate and law degree from the University of Michigan.  Neel recently joined the Community Foundation in November 2010 after a decade at Nonprofit Enterprise at Work (NEW), including several years as its CEO.  His local efforts there were recognized nationally through fellowships at the Independent Sector and the Aspen Institute.  Neel's wealth of professional experience, community knowledge, and strategic perspective are an asset to the Community Foundation. Neel's  favorite part of working at AAACF is the opportunity to serve the community that has played such an important role in his life - and which he now is raising two boys.  He also appreciates his colleagues and is grateful that their passion for community extends to keeping his clothes lint-free and his office plants alive.

Shelley Strickland, Vice President for Development and Donor Services

Shelley Strickland recently joined the Community Foundation on September 2, 2014.  As the lead for AAACF’s development team, Shelley will support the Community Foundation’s development goals including the Giving for Good initiative, donor philanthropic services, and marketing plan. Shelley brings a strategic perspective and wealth of development experience to her role at AAACF. A recent post-doctoral fellow at the Nonprofit & Public Management Center (NPM), Shelley earned a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan where she also created and delivered educational programs for both development professionals and undergraduates, including U of M’s Development Summer Internship Program (D-SIP) which placed interns throughout the University of Michigan and Dobson Interns in 18 local nonprofits. She and husband Tim, a PGA golf professional, live with son Mitchell and dog Divot in Ann Arbor. In sharing why she was drawn to AAACF, Shelley noted, “The Community Foundation’s mission of providing leadership and creating impact in many areas across our local community deeply resonates with my personal and professional values, interests, and experiences.”

Jennifer Balch Hale, Development Officer
A native of Ann Arbor, Jennie moved back to Ann Arbor after spending 20 years away, and  joined the Community Foundation in 2000.  She has held a variety of positions - first in Gift Processing, as a Development Associate, Program Officer for Scholarships, Youth Council Advisor, and as a Development Officer. Jennie holds a BA in Political Science from DePauw University and has worked in the nonprofit sector her entire adult life - eighteen years at five community foundations in Hawaii, Virginia, and Washington State. When asked what she likes best about working at AAACF, Jennie supplied a rather long list that includes Cheryl's court jester winter hat and celebrating staff birthdays. At the top of her list: working to improve her hometown where she is raising her daughter Julia.  "Everywhere I go, I find connections to the Community Foundation". 
Christopher Lemon, Youth Council Advisor
As an inaugural member of the very first AAACF Youth Council in the 1989-1990 school year, Chris has come full circle.  He joined the Community Foundation in 2009 and serves part-time as the Youth Council Advisor.  As a climbing enthusiast, Chris spends time at his other day job as the General Manager of Planet Rock.  He also serves on Milan Township's Planning Commission, and is a founding member of AAACF's Next Generation Philanthropists, one of AAACF's giving circles. Chris often speaks of how impressed he is with how AAACF's Youth Council has grown, and the commitment and wisdom current YC members have in serving the young people in our community.  He shares, "I love working in an environment that promotes and celebrates civic participation.  It is a privilege to get to know and work with  nonprofits here in Ann Arbor.  We are surrounded by so many caring individuals who work hard to improve our City.  Working with them helps me feel even more connected to our community."  
Diann Moses, Fund Specialist
Diann joined the Community  Foundation in 2005, and started as an  Administrative Assistant to AAACF's President.  Diann currently supports AAACF Donors as a Fund Specialist, and processes gifts and grants.  Prior to the Community Foundation, Diann worked in the title insurance field for 20 years. In addition to AAACF's endless supply of Diet Coke, Diann maintains her own supply of the "real thing" in a small retro refrigerator in her office.


Karen Perkett, Executive Assistant
Karen joined the Community Foundation in 2011 and supports AAACF's President & CEO in an administrative capacity. Before joining AAACF, Karen's nonprofit experience included working as a church administrator and at a low-income, multi-family housing community.  She also volunteers for a number of local organizations including:  Growing Hope and as the Coordinator for the Volunteer Corps of the Ypsilanti Police Department. Karen spent her early childhood in Ann Arbor, before moving with her family to a suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in French from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Karen returned to Ann Arbor in 1991 for professional reasons sharing: “I have always considered Ann Arbor home and a place I wanted to come back to.” Asked what she appreciates the most about working at AAACF, Karen explained: “I really appreciate AAACF's wide reach in the community and the important role it plays in supporting a number of nonprofit organizations and causes.”
Jillian Rosen, Program Officer
Jillian joined the Community Foundation in  2012. As AAACF's Program Officer, she manages AAACF’s general and targeted grantmaking programs - working with local nonprofits and the various advisory committees that evaluate grant applications. Jillian also oversees AAACF’s scholarship program. 
 With an MBA and Masters in Professional Leadership from Brandeis University and a BA in Anthropology from the University of Maryland, Jillian has a great understanding of strategy, people, and what makes communities thrive. She also has five years experience working in the nonprofit sector where she had the opportunity to work on issues that she is passionate about: social justice, poverty alleviation and youth engagement in philanthropy.  Jillian understands the important role the Community Foundation plays in enriching the quality of life in our region.  Her favorite part of working here?  Having immediate access to the Ann Arbor Farmers Market on Wednesday mornings. Interested in learning more about AAACF's Grant Programs and want to meet with Jillian to discuss your potential grant proposal?  Please click here for an appointment. 
Angela Sachdeva, Controller
Angela joined AAACF in April, 2013.  She was born in Boston and raised in India.  Angela came to Ann Arbor in 2003 when she got married, and she and her husband Sandeep have a son and daughter.  A Chartered Accountant from India, Angela earned her CPA license here in the U.S., and has worked as an Assistant Controller at Busch's for nearly five years. As AAACF's Controller, Angela works closely with COO Neel Hajra, and is responsible for the day-to-day oversight of all of AAACF's accounting and finance operations.  Angela loves the "freshness and diversity" of Ann Arbor.  But until Angela joined AAACF, she didn't realize how generous  and caring our community is. She notes:  "I am impressed by the generosity of the donors and volunteers who give their time and money to give back to the community - for the future.  With two children, I want them to grow up in a place where people care enough to be invested in supporting the community."
Suzanne Upton, Communications Coordinator
Sue joined the Community Foundation in 2009, and is responsible for AAACF's online and print communications. She also serves on the Council of Michigan Foundations' Communications Advisory Council.  Sue holds a BA in Economics from Trinity College and an MBA with an emphasis in marketing from U of M's Ross School of Business.  Prior to joining the Community Foundation, Sue served as Ozone House's Development Director, and has professional experience in consulting, marketing, and program development and management.  As a volunteer, she has served in leadership positions to support  her children's schools and  a number of  local community boards: Greenhills School, Angell Elementary School, University of Michigan Museum of Art, Junior League of Ann Arbor, and the Thrift Shop Association. Her favorite part of working at the Community Foundation beyond Bank of Ann Arbor's summer ice cream delivery and waking up to an early morning email from Connie Dunlap is "connecting with local nonprofits to help share their stories and all the good work AAACF supports."

Katie Van Dusen, Office Coordinator
Katie joined AAACF in August 2013 and plays an important role in supporting a variety of office functions from gift processing, grantmaking, development, and accounts payable to projects focused on data systems and web work. Katie recently graduated from the University of Michigan with two degrees - a BA in Organizational Studies and a BMA (Bachelor of Musical Arts) in Violin Performance - earning academic honors.  Most recently, Katie worked as a Dobson Intern at the Glacier Hills Foundation supporting activities surrounding Glacier Hills' 40th anniversary celebration.