Mike Pratt, President, mpratt[at]scherman[dot]org
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 NeighborhoodOrganizing (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 Chair of the Board of Philanthropy New York, 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 Director, aaviles[at]scherman[dot]org
Alexa Avilés has been the Program Director of Scherman Foundation since 2016. She served as its Program Officer from 2011 until 2016. At the Foundation, she manages the Reproductive Rights and Justice, Governmental Transparency and Accountability, and the Human Rights and Liberties programs while co-managing the Strengthening New York Communities and Arts programs. Prior to the Scherman Foundation, Ms. Avilés consulted with philanthropic and nonprofit organizations on criminal and juvenile justice reform. As Program Manager of the Juvenile Justice program at the JEHT Foundation, she managed a portfolio of over $16 million in grants aimed at reducing the number of youth in contact with the juvenile justice system and promoting more humane and effective models of care for justice-involved youth. At the Fund of the Four Directions she provided seed grants to grassroots groups across the U.S. working on environmental and racial justice issues, as well as the revitalization of Native American cultures and languages.
In 2013, she was appointed to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s transition team and was recently appointed to the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development’s Youth Board. Alexa is a board member of the Management Assistance Group, a national organization that strengthens social justice organizations, leaders, and networks to create a more just world. She serves on the Racial Justice Advisory Council of the Brooklyn Community Foundation. She is also a member of Community Board 7 and serves as President of the PS 172 Parent Teachers Association. Alexa is a graduate of Columbia University and CUNY Baruch’s School of Public Affairs. She is also a proud alumna of the National Urban Fellows and A Better Chance, Inc. programs.
Catherine Porter, Director of Operations, cporter[at]scherman[dot]org
Catherine Porter joined the Scherman Foundation as Administrator in 2014. Prior to Scherman, she was Director of Development for the renowned downtown performance space, Dixon Place, where she previously 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 100 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 Actor’s Equity Association, and serves on the boards of the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York, the League of Professional Theatre Women, and Concrete Temple Theatre. In 2010, Catherine was named to the NYTheater Now Indie Theater Hall of Fame.
Naiche Parker, Grants and Communications Manager, nparker[at]scherman[dot]org
Naiche Parker is the newest addition to the Scherman Foundation’s team as its Grants Manager. She recently graduated Magna Cum Laude from Hunter College, where she earned a degree in Media Studies with a concentration in Journalism. Naiche spent her time at the CUNY working for various publications, including The Hunter Word, for which she was a Senior Editor, White House Correspondent, and Red Carpet Correspondent during the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival. Naiche also worked as a reporter for The Hunts Point Express, the Bronx neighborhood’s sole print news source, for which she wrote on hard-hitting social and community issues surrounding Hunts Point. In 2015, she was able to complete her college career a year earlier than the four-year program required after having graduated from high school with her Associate’s Degree in 2012. Prior to joining the Scherman Foundation, Naiche worked various administrative positions and was the founder of a self-made creative business.