Newsletter   /   March 2024
Philanthropy Fellow Profiles

Since joining the JoCI Philanthropy Fellowship in May, 2023, our dedicated Fellows—  Ilana Ybgi, Santy Barrera and Maya Katz-Ali— have gained extensive professional development rooted in essential learnings of the philanthropic sector, equity-based approaches to philanthropy, and the perspectives of JoC and communal leaders. As the rest of the JoCI team prepares for a bittersweet goodbye to our Fellows at the upcoming conclusion to their year-long program, we are awestruck by the accomplishments of this exceptional group of leaders.

“The most successful professionals are a combination of raw and cultivated talent, drive and passion, supported with best-in-class development, training, and a powerful and influential network,” said Ilana Kaufman, CEO of the Jews of Color Initiative. “We have loved every minute supporting Ilana, Santy, and Maya during the Philanthropy Fellowship. Funders and philanthropic leaders across the United States were quite impressed by the Fellows’ scope of formal training, their hands-on experience running a grant program, and their sophisticated understanding of philanthropy as a vehicle for social change. Each Fellow offers their own brand of brilliance. All of the Fellows are wonderful colleagues. I’m excited for their next job placements and their continued growth as Jewish communal philanthropy professionals.”

The Philanthropy Fellows recently stewarded two exceptional rounds of grants in support of intergenerational connection and cultural preservation. Learn more.

The Fellows are now turning their eyes toward their next professional chapters, and are each seeking their new professional roles in philanthropy. 


MAYA KATZ-ALI Maya Katz-Ali headshot

Maya Katz-Ali believes that story sharing and relationship building are keys to building strong partnerships and a structure for community advocacy. She received her B.A. in International Development and Social Change and her M.A. in Community Development and Planning from Clark University. Maya joined the JoC Philanthropy Fellowship after several years working with diverse populations in the international humanitarian space and most recently as the Senior Field Manager at OneTable, building relationships and partnerships to create programming to meet the needs of local communities. 

Key Skills: 

  • Donor relations
  • Project management
  • Relationship building
  • Partnership creation and management
  • Conflict resolution / dialogue across difference
  • Community building
  • Facilitation and curriculum development 
  • Fluent in English, proficient in Spanish and Hebrew with experience in translation

Over the course of the Fellowship, Maya strengthened her ability to guide conversations and relationships with various organizations and prospective grantees. “I am proud to have honed my ability to be more direct and upfront with guidelines and expectations so as to have a clearer path for partnership,” she shared. Among her cohort, Maya excelled in task delegation, supported the aggregation of data to streamline the efforts of the JoCI Grants Team, and brought an effusive and warm spirit to the organization. After gaining knowledge and wisdom from speaking with grantees, Jewish professionals, organizational leaders, and foundations, Maya enjoyed consulting with her cohort and team to piece together a more holistic view of the philanthropic landscape. 

Maya is passionate about fostering community by resourcing diverse populations, including immigrants and refugees and people of different cultural backgrounds, serving as a bridge between grassroots communities and grantmaking entities, and promoting intergenerational projects. “The future I envision for our Jewish community,” Maya shared, “is a continued growth of resilience and embracing strength in diversity. I hope to see more value, through programs and resources, for Jews of Color, Jews in interfaith or intercultural relationships and Jewish diversity in many forms…I believe this will come from continued pursuit of intergenerational relationships and valuing the knowledge and cultural preservation of our elders in the community.”

Maya Katz-Ali is actively seeking new professional opportunities that work to build and manage partnerships. She is particularly interested in serving as a bridge between philanthropic funds and grassroots organizations, or working directly with community members.

Connect with Maya Katz-Ali on LinkedIn.




ILANA YBGI Ilana Ybgi headshot

Ilana Ybgi is a dynamic leader with innovative and creative perspectives. Her educational background includes a B.A. in Journalism from Northeastern University and an M.F.A. in Theatre from Pace University. With a diverse skill set ranging from Jewish communal leadership and data analysis to grant writing and program development, she has served as a lay leader in many Jewish communal spaces, including as a facilitator for Repair the World and serving on the UJA-Federation Brooklyn Advisory Board and the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) JEDI Leadership Board. In all that she does, Ilana is passionate about making a meaningful impact in areas such as art, Jewish life, birth justice, coalition work, and civil rights.

Key Skills:

  • Leadership
  • Grants management
  • Grant writing
  • Program development and evaluation
  • Facilitation
  • Fundraising and donor relations
  • Data analysis
  • Networking
  • Coalition building

One of Ilana’s notable achievements during the Fellowship was her success in further developing her skills in due diligence and budget analysis, particularly in managing the RFP process from drafting to recommendation letters. Ilana approaches grantmaking with a dedication to collaboration and trust-based philanthropy.

“As a Haredi woman of color, wife, mother, and artist, I bring a unique perspective to the Philanthropy Fellow cohort,” Ilana shared. “I understand the significance of uplifting diverse voices and perspectives, and advocating for inclusivity and equity within the Jewish community.” Ilana envisions a future for the Jewish community characterized by thriving, safety, respect, and equity, emphasizing the essential role of philanthropy in achieving this vision.

Through the Philanthropy Fellow cohort, Ilana increased her project management skills and got hands-on experience in managing the grants process. “One of the largest benefits of the cohort experience was the ability to listen to the needs of our community, and plan and develop our RFP as Fellows. We worked from the drafting stages of the RFP all the way to writing our grant recommendations for our Grant Advisory Committee and finally drafting the grant contracts. All of this practical application of knowledge was priceless and equivalent to working in the field,” reflects Ilana.

Ilana Ybgi is currently seeking her next role in the Jewish philanthropic sector. She has a special interest in positions with a focus on humanitarian efforts, art, Jewish communal funding, Jewish/Israel advocacy, and birth justice.

Connect with Ilana Ybgi on LinkedIn.




SANTY BARRERA Santy Barrera headshot

Santy Barrera is a passionate philanthropy and educational professional, dedicated to creating positive social impact through strategic giving and community engagement. With a B.A. in English & American Literature from Middlebury College and over 10 years of working in the public education sector, Santy brings a unique interdisciplinary perspective and passion for education and youth engagement to his work.

Key Skills:

  • Education
  • Grantmaking
  • Communications
  • Program development 
  • Leadership and management experience
  • Organization and project management
  • Data analysis
  • Fluency in English, Spanish and Italian

Over the course of the Fellowship, Santy and his peers worked to spearhead a successful grantmaking campaign for intergenerational projects and initiatives serving Jews of Color across the United States. He demonstrated his ability to meticulously evaluate proposals and conduct due diligence, collaborate with stakeholders and grantee partners, and ensure effective communication for resource allocation to drive meaningful social change.

Santy’s diverse expertise in both education and communications provides a distinctive lens that enriches any team. He leverages this background to champion marginalized communities by crafting written materials and spearheading initiatives aimed at fostering equitable change in the Jewish community. Santy envisions a vibrant, inclusive Jewish community that embraces diversity, celebrates its rich cultural heritage, and actively works towards social justice and global solidarity.

One of the greatest benefits of the Fellowship experience for Santy was the value of mutual learning and collaboration. “Engaging with my peer Fellows and grants team members allowed us to exchange ideas, best practices, and innovative approaches in the grantmaking field,” he reflects. “The cohort experience provides us with a supportive network of peers and professionals who share a common goal and challenges, offering valuable mentorship, feedback, and encouragement along my one-year journey of making a meaningful impact at the Jews of Color Initiative.”

As Santy seeks out his next professional role, he is especially interested in job opportunities in education, philanthropy, and community engagement, with a special interest in Jewish education. 

Connect with Santy Barrera on LinkedIn.

Date Posted

March 2024


Jews of Color Initiative