Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation

50 years of good 1963 - 2013

Meet Our Staff

Neel Hajra, President & CEO

Neel became AAACF's President & CEO effective January 1, 2015.  His list of accomplishments in the nonprofit sector and field of philanthropy is extensive.  Neel joined AAACF in 2011 as Chief Operating Officer and Vice President for Community Investment.  In that role, he has overseen every aspect of AAACF's operations, served as a key ambassador for the Community Foundation throughout Washtenaw County, and has been instrumental in leading a number of innovative community initiatives, including Coordinated Funding and Cultural Economic Development.

Prior to joining AAACF, Neel spent ten years at Nonprofit Enterprise at Work (NEW), where as President & CEO for two years, he led all aspects of NEW’s development efforts and operations including providing governance, technology and facility support to more than 400 nonprofits per year. Before NEW, Neel served as a corporate attorney at Ford Motor Company. Born and raised in Ann Arbor, Neel holds a BS with honors in Physics from the University of Michigan and a JD from the University of Michigan Law School. He is also currently a lecturer at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School for Public Policy.

Neel is recognized statewide and nationally as a thought leader in the nonprofit and philanthropic sector. He has received the Aspen Institute Fellowship for Emerging Nonprofit Leaders and the American Express Next Gen Fellowship, both of which recognize 12 individuals nationally for emerging and visionary leadership.

Shelley Strickland, Vice President for Development and Donor Services

Shelley 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.” 

Patricia Walker, Chief Operating Officer

Patricia joined the Community Foundation in December, 2014 as Chief Operating Officer. Patricia has extensive financial, managerial and leadership experience in the nonprofit sector. She has managed Michigan non-profit organizations for the last 15 years, with a successful record of consistently improving operational and financial performance. Most recently, she served as the Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at the Michigan Science Center where she oversaw museum operations and administration through a period of early growth and stabilization at the start-up organization. Prior to that, she spent over 14 years at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra where she served as Chief Operating Officer and, earlier, as Vice President for Human Resources. At the DSO, Patricia oversaw the launch of live concert webcasts, explosive growth in music education programs, new neighborhood residency initiatives and innovative program partnerships.

Patricia holds an M.A. from Cornell University and a B.A. from the University of Michigan. Patricia lives in Ann Arbor with her daughter who attends Huron High School. When asked what she loves best about working with the Community Foundation, she says “To serve my community by building a permanent endowment for the good of the community is amazing work. Supporting an array of nonprofit organizations and their missions is something I’m so proud to be a part of.”

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, Director of Community Investment

Jillian joined the Community Foundation in  2012.  As the Director of Community Investment, Jillian manages and oversees all activities related to AAACF’s investments in our local community: grant programs, community initiatives and partnerships, scholarships, and the Youth Council program. In overseeing AAACF's general and targeted grantmaking programs, Jillian works with local nonprofits and the various advisory committees that evaluate grant applications. 
 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 Jillian to discuss your potential grant proposal? Please click here for an appointment. 

Phillipia Shumate, Controller

Phillipia  joined AAACF in November, 2014 to temporarily assume the responsibilities of the Community Foundation's controller, upon Angel Sachdeva's move to San Francisco. 

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 Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Trinity College and an MBA with Highest Distinction from the University of Michigan'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.