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The Collaboration Conference 2015

November 16–17, 2015

Houston, Texas

B2 Breakout Session: Governing an Evolving Donor Collaborative

Monday, November 16, 2015 at 10:45 AM–12:00 PM Central Time (US & Canada)
Cottonwood (Third Level)

Choosing the right governance model for a co-funding effort can make or break the partnership. In most situations, this is neither a one-time nor a simple decision, as it defines how participating funders make decisions, communicate externally, expand or exit membership, and more. A variety of possible governance models exist both for funders that pool their resources and jointly make grants, as well as for those that prefer a looser structure. As these collaborative efforts evolve, their governance needs may too. During this “World Café”-style session, you will gain exposure to the real-life governance evolution of a growing collaborative effort: the Collaborative for Student Success, a fund that invests in building support for the successful implementation of the Common Core State Standards. This session will help you identify appropriate governance options for your collaborative efforts by talking through how peers have made these decisions and then adjusted structures and actions over time.

Primary Points Of Contact

Daniel, Widome

Session Designers

Daniel Widome, Arabella Advisors


Karen Nussle, Collaborative for Student Success

Karen is the Executive Director of the Collaborative for Student Success, a grant-making initiative created with the pooled resources of a diverse group of regional and national education foundations deeply committed to improving public education. The mission of the Collaborative is educate and inform all stakeholders – parents, students, teachers, community leaders and policy makers — about the needs for and benefits of increased standards, aligned assessments and comparability across states.

Karen is a veteran communications strategist with experience in the private, public, political and non-profit sectors. Her work has included strategic communications plans, public relations, advocacy campaigns, corporate communications, strategic planning, lobbying and advocacy and media training. Prior to the Collaborative, Karen owned and operated a successful boutique communications firm, Ripple Communications, which she started in Manchester, Iowa in 2005. Karen is also a frequent guest on a variety of television networks and speaker to groups of all sizes. 

Richard F. McKeon, The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust

Richard F. McKeon is the Program Director of the Helmsley Charitable Trust’s Education Program, which focuses on national work in education at both the K-12 and higher education levels. In this capacity, he leads a team that seeks to increase the number of American students who succeed in college or careers and can compete in the global, 21st century marketplace. Rich also co-chairs the Collaborative for Student Success, which supports higher K-12 academic standards and high-quality student assessments.

Before joining the Trust, Rich was a director at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA) where he led grantmaking programs for clients funding in education, youth development, healthcare and conservation.  Prior to RPA, Rich was vice president and community relations manager at Fleet/Bank of America where he led grantmaking programs for NYC and Westchester County in the areas of education, community and economic development, youth development and arts and culture. 

Chris Hobbs, Arabella Advisors

As a senior director, Chris oversees the Managed Organizations team, which is responsible for Arabella’s management of several nonprofits, including the New Venture Fund, a 501(c)(3) public charity, and the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a separate 501(c)(4). Chris helps donors and social entrepreneurs turn their philanthropic visions into reality by implementing innovative donor collaboratives, campaigns, and grant-making initiatives that help them achieve concrete goals.

At Arabella, Chris has launched and managed a number of groundbreaking projects. He helped a large institutional foundation develop a global grant-making mechanism for time-sensitive investments in global health, and has helped it to grow significantly over the past six years. Chris also recently helped a donor launch an initiative to improve women’s economic outcomes. Chris has managed projects on a range of other issues, including conservation, public policy, gun violence prevention, and education.

Session Materials