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Gates Family Foundation
1390 Lawrence Street, #400 Denver, Colorado 80204-2081
Phone: (303) 722-1881
Fax: (303) 316-3038
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Thomas A. Gougeon, President
Tom Gougeon has served as the President of the Gates Family Foundation since August of 2010. Prior to Gates, Tom was a Principal and the Chief Development Officer for Continuum Partners (2000-2010), a developer and operator of mixed use urban real estate projects. Tom worked extensively on the Belmar redevelopment project in Lakewood, CO and the Union Station transit hub in central Denver among others. Tom also served as the Executive Director of the W.M.B. Berger Foundation (1997-2000), the CEO of the Stapleton Redevelopment Foundation (1991-1996) and as Assistant to the Mayor of the City and County of Denver (1983-1991). While in the Mayor’s office Tom was responsible for activities in the areas of budget and finance, planning, community development, infrastructure and liaison with the state and federal governments. Tom was heavily involved in the development of Denver International Airport and had direct oversight of the project from 1987-1990. Tom also worked as an Associate in the Industrial Economics Division of the Denver Research Institute, as a policy analyst at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and on the staff of U.S. Senator Gary Hart. Tom has served on the boards of numerous community organizations including The Nature Conservancy, Denver Civic Ventures, the Urban Land Conservancy, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, the Piton Foundation, Neighborhood Housing Services, the Stapleton Foundation, Preservation Action, A+ Denver, the Denver Urban Renewal Authority and the Denver Water Board. Tom has a BA in Economics and Political Science from the University of Denver and a MCRP from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.
Beth Conover, Senior Vice President for Natural Resources and Community Development
Contact for information on Natural Resources and Community Development Initiatives
Senior Vice President – Natural Resources, Rural Communities and Urbanism Beth Conover has worked for over twenty-five years at the intersection of environmental protection and economic development. She is a senior vice president with the Foundation, leading its initiated grant making for natural resources, rural communities and smarter, greener, healthier urbanism. As policy advisor to Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper from 2003-2007, she was the architect of Greenprint Denver, one of the nation’s earliest and largest urban sustainability programs, and helped lay the groundwork for the greening of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver. Beth worked for the Stapleton Redevelopment Foundation and the Stapleton Development Corporation from 1994-1998 as Director of Parks and Programs. Conover also worked in Zimbabwe, southern Africa from 1989-91 on a community forestry initiative, and was a consultant in private practice for 9 years, helping public, private and non-profit clients with strategic planning and program and policy development. Beth is a native of Denver, a graduate of Brown University and holds a joint MBA/Masters of Environmental Studies from Yale University. She is author/editor of How the West Was Warmed: Responding to Climate Change in the Rockies, a collection of over 40 essays by leading journalists and policy makers (Fulcrum Press, 2009), and author of Trees for Zimbabwe: An Illustrated Guide for Teachers (ENDA-Zimbabwe, 1991). Beth has served on numerous boards, including those for the Colorado Youth Corps Association, the Sand Creek Regional Greenway, Conservation Colorado, the Africa Schools Assistance Project and the Beim Family Foundation in Minneapolis, MN. She is a recipient of the University of Colorado Wirth Chair Sustainability Award (2008).
Laia C. Mitchell, Program Officer - Community Development
Contact for information on Community Development
Laia Mitchell joined the Gates Family Foundation in April of 2015, and works in the areas of Natural Resources, Rural Communities and Smarter, Greener, Healthier Urbanism. Laia has twelve years of experience, largely in the nonprofit sector. From 2003 to 2006, Laia lived in northern Spain, where she worked with organic farmers with support from a Fulbright grant. She also served as an English language teacher and tutor. More recently, she worked as a vocational rehabilitation specialist in Florida and as a shelter and program manager/caseworker for the Emergency Family Assistance Association in Boulder, CO. Laia graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BA in Anthropology and Political Science from the University of Florida, and received her Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Colorado, Denver in May of 2015. While pursuing her graduate degree, Laia served in a number of research assistant and intern roles with organizations including the Mile High Business Alliance, the Piton Foundation/Gary Community Investments, the Public Works Department of the City and County of Denver and Mile High Connects. She also provided staff support to the DRCOG Sustainable Communities Initiative analyzing transit oriented development options at rail station sites and conducted research on livable streets in ten Denver neighborhoods on behalf of the Department of Urban Planning at the University of Colorado, Denver.
Russell Schnitzer, Program Officer - Natural Resources
Contact for information on Natural Resources
Russ joined the Foundation in the fall of 2016. His work is concentrated in the natural resources area, particularly water resources management and land conservation. Russ's career in nonprofit conservation has carried him from organizational development and strategic planning to large-scale project management, major gifts fundraising, and public policy. His primary conservation interests focus on finding mutually-beneficial solutions to the increasingly complex demands facing people, communities and their environment through creative collaboration and leading through innovation. He spent a decade with Trout Unlimited, most recently as the Agricultural Policy and Partnerships Advisor to TU's Western Water Project. Prior, he was with The Nature Conservancy as Director of External Affairs for its Wyoming office. Russ is a recipient of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Achievement Award, and has co-authored a number of publications pertaining to the intersection of social values and the environment. He played a key role in the development and eventual reauthorization of the 2014 Farm Bill’s conservation title, and was a founding steering committee member of the Western Agricultural and Conservation Collaborative. A former US Forest Service “smokejumper,” he is a graduate of the University of Idaho, where he earned his M.S. in Environmental Studies and B.S. degrees in Conservation Social Sciences and Wildland Conservation.
Mary Seawell, Senior Vice President for Education
Contact for information on K-12 Education Initiatives
Mary Seawell leads work on education initiatives, particularly in the areas of innovations in governance and delivery of public education services, rural school innovation, public policy and strategies for expanding the pipeline of excellent school leaders and teachers. Mary has served previously as the Executive Director of the Sturm Family Foundation and the Judith Ann Griese Foundation. She has also served as a Director and member of the Grantmaking Committee for the Charles T. Beaird Foundation, and a board member and Chair of the Grantmaking Committee for the Chinook Fund. From 1993 to 2003 she worked in various capacities at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Denver District Attorney’s Office. Mary also worked for Get Smart Schools developing an MBA program at the University of Denver for autonomous school leaders. Mary has served on numerous community boards including the Odyssey School, the Denver Language School, The Lab at Belmar, Bluff Lake Nature Center and Rape Assistance and Awareness Program. Mary was elected to the Denver Public Schools Board of Education in 2009 and served as its President from 2011-2013. Mary is a graduate of American University (Print Journalism and Philosophy) and has a law degree from the University of Denver College of Law. She also studied Literature at Cambridge University in Cambridge, England.
Abigail Schaller, Program Officer - Education
Contact for information on K-12 Education
Abby joined the Gates Family Foundation staff in September of 2015, and supports the Foundation’s initiated education work. Abby identifies and assesses new partner relationships and grant opportunities in K-12 public education in Colorado, and monitors and evaluates the impact of existing grants. Prior to Gates, Abby worked as a Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Colorado – Denver School of Public Affairs and at Jefferson County School District. At Jeffco, she supported the collection, reporting, analysis, and interpretation of data to inform curricular and instructional decision-making. Previously Abby worked for Klein Buendel, a public health research firm, administering various grant-funded behavior health projects, and as a Program Assistant (Americorp member) for an activity and employment center for adults with developmental disabilities in Tacoma, WA. Abby has a BA in Sociology from the University of Puget Sound and a MA in Public Administration from the University of Colorado – Denver.
Lisa Rucker, Program Officer/Grants Manager
Contact for information on Capital Grants
Lisa Rucker joined the Foundation in April of 2014. She is the primary Foundation staff for the capital grants program, and oversees the Foundation’s grants management system. Lisa was most recently a Program Officer/Grant Administrator for the Anschutz Foundation from 2009 to 2014. In that role she performed staff review and analysis of proposals and was responsible for the Anschutz Foundation’s grants management system. Prior to Anschutz, Lisa worked for a developer of senior living communities, Siemens Building Technologies and Farmers Insurance. Lisa has a degree in Business Administration from Towson University in Maryland, with a concentration in Marketing.
Carol A. Menard, Office and Assistant Grants Manager
Carol Menard joined the Foundation in 1998. She serves as office manager, coordinator of information technology services, provides grants management staffing for the family funds housed at the Foundation and supports the Foundation’s overall grants management activities. Prior to Gates, Carol worked as an administrative assistant for Gates Capital Management. From 1989 to 1998, she served as a purchasing assistant and inventory control manager for a private business in Denver.
Melissa Milios Davis, Vice President for Strategic Communications
Melissa joined the Gates Family Foundation in May 2017. Her role is to bring greater visibility to the work of the Foundation's grantees and partners, to facilitate knowledge sharing, and to amplify the quality of life issues and ideas of greatest concern to the Foundation and Coloradans. Melissa brings two decades of collective experience in communications, journalism, public relations, event planning and fundraising. Most recently she served as Director of Institutional Giving for BakerRipley, Texas' largest community development agency, where she helped agency leaders close a $20 million capital campaign to build a new, 7-acre multi-service community center in a chronically under-served Houston neighborhood. Prior to that, she spent seven years as a director of communications, marketing, public policy and fundraising for Houston A+ Challenge, a nonprofit organization working to strengthen, innovate and connect the Greater Houston region’s public schools. Melissa spent most of 2006 as communications director for the school board president of Los Angeles Unified School District (during the tenure of then-superintendent Roy Romer), following a two-year stint as an award-winning education reporter for a daily newspaper covering south L.A. County. She has worked as a production intern for the Voice of America in London, both L.A.-area NPR stations (KCRW and KPCC), and the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, and also as a full-time, online news content producer for the Austin American-Statesman and a sister site in San Antonio. Melissa holds a B.A. in journalism from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and an M.A. in journalism from the University of Southern California.
Susan N. Dorsey, Vice President for Finance and Administration
Sue Dorsey joined the Foundation in 2016. She has over 20 years of experience in nonprofit management, international development and finance. Sue is responsible for all financial management, accounting, investment management, human resources, reporting and compliance activities at the Foundation. Prior to coming to Gates, Sue served for seven years as the Chief Financial Officer for Water for People. Water for People is an NGO focused on sustainable, market-based solutions to global water and sanitation challenges. Prior to joining Water for People, Sue spent 12 years as the Executive Director of Friendship Bridge, a microfinance and education organization operating in Vietnam and Guatemala. Sue served as a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Costa Rica from 1990-92, working in small business development. Prior to the Peace Corps, Sue worked for several years in banking and finance with the First National Bank of Maryland. Sue is an adjunct professor at the University of Denver’s Josef Korbel School for International Studies. She has an MBA from the Yale School of Management and a Bachelor’s degree in Business and Finance from the University of Vermont. Sue has served on the Board of InsideNGO since 2013 and as Treasurer since 2015.
Anna Snow, Senior Accountant
Anna Snow joined the Gates Family Foundation in 2017. She is a CPA with over seven years of accounting experience in both the public and private sector. Prior to joining the Foundation, Anna worked as a senior accountant for an IT firm and a non-profit specializing in senior living residences. During her time in public accounting she worked with a range of clients, from museums to manufacturing to wineries. She received her BBA in Accounting from Loyola University of Chicago, minoring in International Business and Studio Art. After graduation, Anna spent a year volunteering at The Working Boys’ Center in Quito, Ecuador, which focuses on breaking the cycle of poverty for families. She spent almost a decade living in Chicago. In 2015, Anna took a four-month road trip around the United States. She ended up back in her beloved hometown of Denver in 2016, where she is enjoying the extra sunshine and hiking.