The board and staff of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation are pleased to welcome three new directors. With experience in community development, public policy, philanthropy, research and education, these accomplished new members will add breadth and depth to our board’s collective experience and wisdom.
Ashleigh Gardere is Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at the New Orleans Business Alliance, the city’s economic development agency. Prior to joining the Business Alliance, Gardere was Executive Director of the Network for Economic Opportunity and served as an advisor to Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Previously, Gardere served as Vice President of Community Relations at Chase Bank for Louisiana, where she managed philanthropic activities and community development efforts. She has also worked with several community development nonprofit organizations, including Enterprise Corporation of the Delta, HOPE Community Credit Union, Center for Community Change in Washington DC and the F.B. Heron Foundation in New York. A New Orleans native, Ms. Gardere earned a B.A. in metropolitan studies from New York University and a master’s in public policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. "For 65 years, MRBF has demonstrated compassion and courage, tackling the root causes of poverty in the American South,” said Gardere. “I am honored to serve with such an amazing group of leaders who are committed to advancing home-grown innovation that delivers equitable outcomes in the South and nationally."
Micah Gilmer is Senior Partner of Frontline Solutions, a consulting firm serving philanthropic and nonprofit organizations across the country. Gilmer helps clients design research processes, build strong organizational cultures and evaluate impact. He also conducts research and writes about issues involving race and gender. In addition to his work at Frontline, Gilmer serves part-time as Clinical Assistant Professor of Social Innovation at UNC-Chapel Hill. Gilmer holds a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Duke University and a B.A. in religious and African-American studies from UNC-Chapel Hill. “We are in a critical moment to face head-on the legacy of racism, patriarchy and other systems that have fundamentally shaped the development of this country,” Gilmer said. “I’m excited to be working with this foundation as it pioneers new approaches to supporting folks on the ground who know what it takes to change these systems in places across the South.”
Karama Neal serves as Chief Operating Officer for Southern Bancorp Community Partners, where she oversees all asset building and public policy programs as well as partner relations, grant reporting and staff supervision. Before joining SBCP in 2009, Neal served as an adjunct professor and program director at Emory University, where she earned a Ph.D. in genetics. Neal also holds an M.A. in bioethics and health policy from Loyola University-Chicago and a B.A. in biology from Swarthmore College. She also completed the Impact Investing Programme at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School. “I have long been impressed with the mission and methods of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation and so am honored to support their critical work for a region I love and that is my home,” Neal said. “I am especially pleased to join the Board at a time when the work of the Foundation is increasingly important in the South and beyond.”
Please join us in welcoming these leaders in the movement for greater social and economic justice in the South. With their skills, experience, education and passion, we are excited about the contributions they will make to our work over the coming years.