About the Foundation

Foundation Trustees- Bios

Vanessa Lowe joined the Board in 2018.  She’s a native New Yorker who embraced Philadelphia as her home in the early 1980s. Her early career was spent in legal advocacy programs including the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women and the AIDS Law Project of PA. She’s spent the last 20 years in federal service supporting access to capital for underserved communities. She underwrote investments in community development financial institutions (CDFIs) while working for the U.S. Treasury Department’s CDFI Fund, and developed online training content for the National Credit Union Administration. She’s currently pursuing the Chartered Financial Consultant (CHFc©)  designation as she builds her financial education and consulting practice.  Ms. Lowe has a B.S. in Education from Temple University and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Aisha Mohammed joined the board in 2018. She is a couple and family therapist who uses harm reduction principles to support individuals and families experiencing harms from various systems and policies. She manages the Student Assistance Program at Einstein Hospital, which provides mental and behavioral assessments for K-12 students in the Philadelphia School District. Aisha is also an advisory board member at Project SAFE, a grassroots direct-service and peer-based advocacy organization that provides women and femme-centered services to people involved in the street economies in Kensington, Philadelphia. In 2016, she helped establish the Philadelphia Red Umbrella Alliance, a collective of sex workers and allies that advocates for the human and labor rights of sex workers. She has been advocating for sex workers and substance users for 10 years.

Staci Moore joined the board in 2020. She is a visual artist, and board chair of the Women’s Community Revitalization Project serving low income women and their children with high quality affordable housing and resident leadership development.  Her volunteer work with WCRP started in 1997 and she has continued to lend her voice to issues of affordable housing ever since.  Staci also is a proud volunteer for Women’s Way participating in their Women’s Economic Security Initiative work.  Staci’s artwork has been featured with the Philadelphia Art Museum as part of one of the museum’s most extensive social practice of the arts project, Philadelphia Assembled of 2017.

Azucena Ugarte is the Director of Domestic Violence Strategies for the City of Philadelphia and, as such, has been assigned the responsibility of improving the City’s Health and Human Service agencies response to families and individuals affected by intimate partner violence. Before working with the City, Azucena worked for 11 years for the largest domestic violence organization in Philadelphia implementing education programs about Domestic Violence and Intimate Partner Violence for community members and professionals; as well as developing teen dating violence prevention programs in middle schools, high schools and other organizations for youth. Azucena holds a Master of Arts in Anthropology and Education, a Master in Education of Human Sexuality, and is a PhD Candidate for Human Sexuality. She joined the board in May of 2019.

Jennifer Kates is an attorney and Chief of Staff for Philadelphia City Councilwoman Helen Gym, and previously served in the office of Councilwoman María Quiñones-Sánchez. She is a graduate of Penn Law School and Temple University, and studied at Bard College at Simon’s Rock and Oxford University. Her work in City Council has emphasized equity in public education, economic justice and fair taxation, and juvenile justice reform.  She has also focused on the law and policy of housing, community development, and land use. She advocates for increased access to justice for low-income Philadelphians and the establishment of a civil right to counsel. She serves on the board of the Valentine Foundation and was a founding board member of the Philadelphia Land Bank.

Charney Robinson-Williams, a fierce advocate for justice and equity, joined the board in 2024. Currently serving as the Chief of Staff at Coded by Kids, a nonprofit dedicated to preparing underrepresented individuals for leadership roles in the tech and startup sectors through education programs, resources, and support. Charney plays a crucial role in helping the organization be the springboard for the underrepresented leaders of the world’s most impactful tech companies. As the Founder and Principal at Noire Impact LLC, she passionately supports social impact organizations and empowers BIPOC entrepreneurs in navigating the complexities of securing impact capital. In addition, her commitment to fostering equitable frameworks extends to her collaboration with Make Justice Normal (MJN), where, as a Collaborator, she actively contributes to developing and executing projects that advance just organizational and financial systems. Beyond her professional roles, Charney maintains a commitment to civil rights evidenced by her lifetime membership and previous regional leadership roles within the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Mrs. Robinson-Williams holds a B.S. in Political Science & Africana Studies and an MPA from Rutgers University. She joins the board in 2024.

Lizzy Schmidt is an advocate for community and individual health. As an HIV Primary Care Nurse Practitioner for the past 25 years, she has been an educator and translator of medical information, so that people are aware of their options, and can choose strategies that allow them to thrive. Previous work as an options counselor and clinic defender at the Elizabeth Blackwell Women’s Health Center, an HIV tester at the NET substance use treatment center, and an adult literacy trainer helped build her toolkit to be a partner in harm reduction and health empowerment. She believes that housing is a crucial component of health and while the board co-chair of the Women’s Community Revitalization Project she worked on community facility development (Maria de los Santos health center) and organizing power to obtain more housing resources for low income women and their families. Ms. Schmidt holds a B.A. in Sociology from Bryn Mawr College and an M.S. in Nursing from the University of Pennsylvania. She joins the board in 2024.

Kristin Romens joined the board of trustees in 2024. She directs the Pew Fund for Health and Human Services, overseeing Pew’s grantmaking and support for Philadelphia-area nonprofits that serve individuals and families facing complex challenges rooted in poverty.

Romens began her career as a human rights attorney after receiving a juris doctorate degree from Harvard Law School. Before joining Pew, she was president of The Learning Agenda, a consulting firm that helps philanthropies, nonprofits, and educators across the country expand opportunities for youth in under-resourced communities. She has also served as vice president of research, innovation, and growth for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, and as a consultant with the Bridgespan Group, where she developed sustainability and growth plans, performance management frameworks, and replication strategies for nonprofits.

She also serves on the boards of Philanthropy Network of Greater Philadelphia and FabYouth Philly.


Foundation Trustees Past & Present