The board and staff of the Babcock Foundation are excited to welcome two new network officers, Melanie Allen and Meisha McDaniel. In their new roles, Allen and McDaniel will manage grant portfolios, develop the Foundation’s relationships, identify investment opportunities, co-learn and consult with grantee partners, and help build strong, effective partnerships among people and organizations in the South.
With 12 years in the nonprofit, philanthropic and public sectors, Melanie Allen has considerable experience facilitating community-based solutions that ensure those most affected by policy are centered in the decision-making process. She also has a strong background with community development projects in many sectors, including affordable housing, food security, and rural and workforce development.
Allen comes to the Foundation from the Conservation Trust for North Carolina, where she served as Diversity and Equity Director for four years and Conservation and Diversity Coordinator for two. Allen developed a program to bring conservation resources and tools to rural areas to help families create wills, access legal services, retain land assets and make them profitable. She has developed curricula to help organizations identify and dismantle systemic inequality, and taught a graduate-level course on diversity, inclusion and equity at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment.
“The South is full of potential, creativity, and grit,” Allen said. “Moving home to North Carolina reinforced my dedication to helping our region thrive. I'm excited to work with the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation and their grantee partners to bring these elements together to move people and places out of poverty.”
Allen earned her bachelor’s degree in History and African-American Studies from Columbia University. She is a native of Greensboro.
With a decade of experience in the nonprofit and community development worlds, Meisha McDaniel knows the power of cross-sector partnerships to achieve greater social and economic inclusion for marginalized communities in the South. McDaniel made her foray into philanthropy through her AmeriCorps service at the Marin Community Foundation. She has worked extensively with the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, first as a fellow and later as a consultant. McDaniel also completed a fellowship with the Professionals Learning about Communities, Equity and Smart Growth, convened by the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities.
“I have had the privilege of working for and alongside leaders who persevere in the face of incredible obstacles and make significant, positive changes in the lives of people in the communities they care about,” McDaniel said. “Those people—my heroes and mentors—have made an indelible impact on how I interpret the mission and vision of this foundation.”
McDaniel recently earned dual master’s degrees – in Business Administration and in City and Regional Planning – at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she focused on sustainability and economic development. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in Community and Justice Studies from Guilford College. She attributes her passion for thriving, equitable, sustainable communities to her roots in Welch, West Virginia.