Scherman Staff (page width)

from left to right: Nancy Handler (retired), Zabrina Collazo, Alexa Avilés, and Mike Pratt

Mike Pratt, President,

Mike Pratt

Mike Pratt has been the President and Executive Director of the Scherman Foundation since 2009. He served as Program Officer from 1996 until 2009, and continues to serve as the Foundation’s Treasurer, overseeing its investment portfolio. He has provided leadership in several outside philanthropic roles, including serving as Chair and Treasurer of the Environmental Grantmakers Association and as Chair of the Advisory Committee of the Initiative for Neighborhood Organizing (INCO.) Prior to entering the world of philanthropy through a one-year fellowship at the Rockefeller Family Fund in 1995, he practiced law with the civil division of New York City’s Legal Aid Society for ten years, developing expertise in equitable development, federal housing subsidies, and landlord tenant law. Earlier, he worked for NYPIRG as a community organizer, later becoming Director of the Straphangers Campaign. He serves as the Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees of Pratt Institute, and is also a board member for the New York Foundation. He received his undergraduate degree at Amherst College and a J.D. at the NYU School of Law.

Alexa Avilés, Program Officer,

Alexa Aviles

Alexa has been with the Scherman Foundation as Program Officer since March 2011. Prior to Scherman, she was a Program Manager at the JEHT Foundation, a national foundation focused on funding criminal and juvenile justice system reform; electoral reform; and expansion of the role of international justice norms and the rule of law in the U.S.  As the Program Manager for the Juvenile Justice Program, she managed a portfolio of grants aimed at reducing the numbers of youth in contact with the juvenile justice system and promoting more humane and effective models of care for justice-involved youth. While at the Fund of the Four Directions, Ms. Avilés provided seed grants to grassroots groups nationally addressing the areas of environmental justice, racial justice, workers rights, and the revitalization of Native American cultures and languages. She serves on the Board of Directors of Strategies for Youth, a national nonprofit working to improve police/youth interactions and the Management Assistance Group, a national non-profit management consulting organization working to strengthen social justice organizations.  She received her B.A. from Columbia University and M.P.A from CUNY’s Baruch College School of Public Affairs. A proud alumna of the National Urban Fellows and A Better Chance, she is also an active community member in her neighborhood of Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

Catherine Porter, Administrator,

Catherine Porter

Catherine Porter is delighted to have recently joined the Scherman Foundation as Administrator. Prior to Scherman, she was Director of Development for the renowned downtown performance space, Dixon Place, where she also served as Finance Director and Interim Executive Director. Catherine is also Co-Founder/Co-Artistic Director of Peculiar Works Project, an OBIE Award-winning, NYC-based performance company with whom she has produced more than 80 site-specific plays and large-scale performance events, featuring the work of over 100 artists annually. Previously, she served as the Coordinator of Individual Giving and Special Events for HERE Arts Center in NYC, and Ticket Office Manager for Casa Mañana Playhouse and Summer Musicals in Fort Worth, TX, and she co-founded the multi-disciplinary art and politics series, stART, at Judson Church. Ms. Porter is also a performer: she has performed many leading roles in Peculiar Works’ productions; appeared Off Broadway with En Garde Arts in Mac Wellman’s award-winning Crowbar; and acted with such Off-Off companies as Concrete Temple Theatre, Flux Theatre Ensemble, Theatre Askew, TOSOS, The Forge, and Aisling Arts. A Texas native, Catherine graduated from Texas Christian University with a BFA in Theatre. She is a member of Actors Equity Association and the League of Professional Theatre Women, and serves on the boards of the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York and Concrete Temple Theatre. Catherine was named one of’s 2010 Persons of the Year.

Zabrina Collazo, Program Assistant,

Zabrina Collazo

Zabrina joined the Scherman Foundation staff as the Administrative Assistant in 2010, shortly after graduating from CUNY Hunter College, where she studied Race, Ethnicity, and Class, with a minor in Asian American Literature.  While at Hunter, she organized with Hunter CRAASH, a student group dedicated to securing funding and full-time staff for the Asian American Studies program, and worked at the Asian American Writers Workshop as the Programs Assistant. She is currently a proud member of Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment, a grassroots organization that serves the Filipina community in the NY/NJ area.