Shawn Escoffery is the Executive Director of the Roy and Patricia Disney Family Foundation, where he leads a team committed to social justice and addressing the historical inequities that plague many lower-income communities. Since joining the Foundation 2018, Shawn has led the organization through a strategy revisioning process, created a fellowship for someone who was formerly impacted by the Justice System, and launched an Impact Investing portfolio with a 10% carve-out of the endowment. The Foundation now focuses on Criminal Justice Reform, Environmental Justice, and Affordable Housing Preservation with a trust-based approach that is centered in place and emphasizes lasting partnerships as well as capacity building. With assets exceeding $120 million, Shawn oversees a $5 million annual grantmaking budget and is responsible for sourcing impact investments ranging from $250,000 to $1 million aimed at advancing racial and gender equity. Prior to joining RPDFF, Shawn directed the Inclusive Economies portfolio at the Surdna Foundation – a nationally focused family foundation with over $1 billion in assets. In this role, Shawn worked to support the development of robust and sustainable economies that include a wide range of businesses, equitable economic policy, and access to quality jobs. Shawn managed a $9.5 million annual grantmaking budget and an impact investing portfolio over $10 million. As an urban planner with over 20 years of experience, Shawn has worked on community economic development and affordable housing projects across the country. Shawn holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and English Literature from Rutgers University and a Master’s of City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also holds certificates in Communications and International Relations, Urban Redevelopment, and Effective Leadership from Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Duke University, respectively. Shawn currently sits on the board of directors of The Funders Network and Hispanics in Philanthropy.
Frida Hatami joined the Roy and Patricia Disney Family Foundation in 2015 as its first Grants Manager. She has been instrumental in overseeing the effort to formalize processes and procedures, and to develop a state-of-the-art grants database. She is responsible for working with grantee partners, grantseekers, and Foundation staff to manage the grantmaking processes. Frida is also responsible for leading the Foundation’s emerging Environmental Justice portfolio, including identifying new partnership opportunities with organizations on the frontline of environmental fights and addressing capacity challenges of the field. Frida brings many years of experience in both philanthropy and the nonprofit sector, including her previous role at Annenberg Foundation, where she helped streamline the Foundation’s responsive grantmaking process and managed a $5.0M portfolio of several grants. She also spent time at the California Endowment, a $6.0B healthcare conversion foundation, and with Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles providing support to two major programs Family Violence Project and At Home Services. Frida holds a Master’s degree in Public Health from California State University, Northridge.
Evie Ponder was born in the South Bronx, New York, and grew up in the foster care system after her parents passed away due to health complications. At 16, Evie left school and used her passion for helping people by working in the restaurant industry. She began as a hostess, moving to a server, and then as assistant manager. She moved to Hawaii at 21 and was promoted to restaurant general manager the following year.
Unfortunately, because of unhealed trauma from birth, drugs became Evie’s daily medication to cope, ultimately leading her to federal prison. During the four years, she was incarcerated, Evie turned her life around, transforming pain into power. She wrote poetry, completed drug treatment classes, and graduated as the valedictorian of her GED class.
While incarcerated, Evie came across Susan Burton’s book, “Becoming Ms. Burton” and felt inspired to write a letter to A New Way of Life Reentry Project, and she was accepted into the program. Since living at a New Way of Life, Evie has embraced every opportunity offered to her, from being on The Kelly Clarkson Show, performing her poetry in Sacramento to and speaking at local and National events.
Associate Program Officer
Clara Steele serves as Associate Program Officer at the Roy and Patricia Disney Family Foundation, where she supports and guides the Foundation’s programmatic strategies. Raised in Altadena, CA, Clara was inspired to work in the social sector after her mother, Nancy Steele, founded Arroyos & Foothills Conservancy (AFC) to preserve land in her neighborhood. The work of AFC showed the power of nonprofits to address hyper-local community issues. Before joining the Foundation as a Program and Operations Associate in 2017, she was Senior Program Manager at Best Buddies International. This organization empowers student leaders to engage their communities to eliminate the social segregation of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Clara was an Exponent Philanthropy Next Gen Fellow, a Women’s Foundation California Policy Institute (WPI) Fellow, and currently serves on the Los Angeles Steering Committee of Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP). In her free time, she enjoys powerlifting, traveling, and teaching people about honeybees through her family’s beekeeping business, Chaparral Mountain Honey Co. She received her BA in History from Occidental College and graduated with honors from Case Western Reserve Weatherhead School of Management with a Master of Science in Organization Development and Change Management. Additionally, she received a Professional Mastery in Leadership and is a member of Beta Gamma Sigma, an International Business honor society.
Adrian Vasquez serves as a program associate at the Roy and Patricia Disney Family Foundation, where he supports the foundation on Criminal Justice Reform and Community Grants which allocates funding throughout Los Angeles County. He is the oldest of three brothers and grew up in South Central Los Angeles. He worked for the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC), where he served as the Vocation and Education Manager for over five years. There, he helped men and women who were impacted by the justice system by providing them support with meaningful employment, mentoring, and counseling. He obtained his bachelor’s degree from California State University, Long Beach (CSULB). His major is sociology. He took the role at CSULB to help create a student organization called Rising Scholars. An organization that provides a support network in academia for formerly incarcerated students and those directly impacted by incarceration. Prior to joining RPDFF, Adrian worked as the Program Associate for Youth Development and Education at the California Community Foundation. He helped coordinate a $38 million public-private partnership in funding organizations that are serving positive youth development in Los Angeles County. He is also a 2018 Just Leadership fellow. He was accepted to a fellowship program called Legal Education Access Pipeline (LEAP), which diversifies the legal profession by preparing underrepresented students to become successful law school applicants. He is currently a law student in Southwestern Law School’s evening program. Through his work and studies, he plans to become a lawyer to advocate for fair and just policies in the criminal justice system.
Tommy Morris, Jr.
Program Associate for the Youth & Transformative Justice, Liberty Hill Foundation
“I was RPDFF’s first Philanthropy Fellow, and it was life-changing. Not only the relationships I cultivated but the ability to do so because of the prestige of the Foundation. They trusted, supported, empowered, and opened doors that helped create the career path I’m on today. Working with them, in partnership with the Anti-Recidivism Coalition, changed the trajectory of my life, and I’m forever grateful.”
National Urban Fellow:
Co-manager of Alignment Initiative, Chisholm Legacy Project
During my year as a fellow, I supported the Foundation through data analysis and research on policy solutions for issues involving Criminal Justice Reform and Environmental Justice. I plan on leveraging what I learned to expand my knowledge on nonprofit communities from a philanthropic standpoint and expand my capacities to help uplift communities fighting poverty, environmental harm, and neglect.”
Student Worker, California State University Northridge