I never sat down and said “I’m going to be a non-profit professional”. What actually happened is that when I was a 16 year old college freshman, my mentor approached me and said something along the lines of “Simone - you aren’t going to be the one carrying a sign at a protest but I know you are committed. And I think you could do a lot of great working raising money, and building organizations that enable social impact leaders to be successful.” And I took that message to heart.
Over the last 18 years I have met and worked with amazing change agents - friends, colleagues and supervisors - who I have deeply admired. And to be honest envied. Why? Because my secret passion has always been wanting to make it easier for inspired change agents to do their best work. And I never thought that was enough - but it is!
No matter my role - as a Major Gifts Officer, Major Gifts Manager, Director of Development, Director of Board Relations, or now as Chief of Staff - what has always given me the pep in my step that my friends and co-workers know they can count on - is knowing that my peers in the field are able to align their professional skills, intellectual interests and personal needs for inspiration, sustainability and stability.
And as the Chief of Staff at the Trust for Public Land, I’m committed to expanding the impact and influence of our work - work that I’m incredibly proud of. The Trust for Public Land exists to unlock the benefits of parks and open spaces for everyone. We work in communities around the country to support them in addressing challenges ranging from climate change to social isolation. We build parks, conserve land and model best practices to ensure every American can have meaningful experiences with nature, close to home and far away.
Prior to my current role, I was the Director of Board Relations at the Environmental Defense Fund, where I led the development of EDF’s global governance framework and board operations infrastructure, enabling more effective governance and cross organizational collaboration. I was also responsible for the revitalization of the board of EDF Action.
Before the Environmental Defense Fund, I was a founding employee of Van Jones’ non-profit accelerator, Dream Corps where I was charged with operationalizing the vision. From establishing our institutional and individual giving program to launching national communication partnerships my work at Dream Corps was about building a platform to enable change agents to have maximum impact.
In addition to writing on social impact sector trends and career development for the Stanford Social Innovation Review, the European Business Review, Levo League and other outlets - my own career has has been shaped by a deep commitment to equity, passion for organizational design and management strategies, and many years of experience working with social enterprises dedicated to improving quality of life outcomes for traditionally underserved communities.
That’s why 5 years ago I began teaching at NYU. And to date - I’ve supported over 300 students (grad & undergrad) to become stronger non-profit leaders. I’ve also served on the faculty of the Redwoods Initiative, teaching next gen donors on the nature of philanthropy, and been a guest lecturer to several co-horts of MBA students participating in Inspiring Capital’s summer program.
Where can you find me these days?
Chief of Staff - Trust for Public Land
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Public Service - NYU Wagner School of Public Service
Governance Chair, Board of Trustees - Ms. Foundation For Women
5 Words that Other People Would Use to Describe Me
What have I accomplished?
Raised and deployed $25M in philanthropic capital for issues ranging from affordable housing for individuals with mental illness to environmentalism.
Operationalized Van Jones' vision for Dreamcorps, a US based social justice accelerator
Designed a scalable framework for global strategy and governance at the Environmental Defense Fund
Taught over 300 students at NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service how to manage and lead in the social impact sector
Led the community engagement process for a regional women's foundation that needed to relocate the local women's building
Partnered with Anurag Gupta to take Be:More America, an organization committed to reducing implicit bias in the healthcare sector from idea to implementation
Chaired the Ms. Foundation For Women's Governance Committee from 2016 to now.