Socialize With Us

Innovations in Nonprofit Capacity Building with a Regional Approach

Tuesday, June 26, 2018 -
12:00pm to 1:30pm PDT
The San Francisco Foundation
One Embarcadero Ctr, Ste 1400,San Francisco, CA
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This program has reached capacity. To be added to the waitlist, please email

How can foundations address the targeted capacity building needs of nonprofits, at scale, throughout a region?  The San Francisco Foundation and The East Bay Community Foundation are mobilizing resources and acting as catalysts for change to build strong communities, foster civic leadership, and promote philanthropy. As a part of this work, they are building regional collaboratives that focus on nonprofit sustainability in innovative new ways. Come learn more about their vision to think innovatively and in partnership with other foundations to achieve their goal of greater racial and economic equity across the region.

Lunch will be provided. 


12:00pm - 12:15pm   Networking

12:15pm - 12:30pm   Program Overview by Kay Fernandez Smith 

12:30pm - 1:30pm   Speaker Presesentations by Rachael Chong, Byron Johnson and Hidden Genius Project over lunch


Rachael Chong, Founder and CEO, Catchafire

Byron Johnson, Capacity Building Initiative Officer, East Bay Community Foundation

Brandon Nicholson, Founding Executive Director, The Hidden Genius Project

Kay Fernandez Smith, Assistant Vice President of Programs, The San Francisco Foundation

Sean Valentine, Operations Director, The Hidden Genius Project

Speaker Bios 

Kay Fernandez Smith is the Assistant Vice President of Programs at The San Francisco Foundation. She is an established leader with extensive cross-sector experience working in community based organizations, public agencies, and philanthropy to advance racial and economic equity through advocacy, public policy, and strategy. As the Assistant Vice President of Programs at The San Francisco Foundation, she leads the day-to-day management of the Foundation’s racial and economic equity strategy, develops teams, and strengthens the department’s overall operations and culture by promoting collaboration, and partnership within the Program Department, and across the Foundation. Kay is responsible for the integrated implementation of the regional equity strategy to reach population-level impacts, and she manages the Foundation’s first strategic learning and evaluation unit. Kay also oversees the Multicultural Fellowship Program, and her grantmaking portfolio includes responsive grants and restricted trusts. Read full bio here

Rachael Chong is the Founder and CEO of Catchafire, the first online platform to provide high-quality capacity building services to nonprofits and social enterprises. Over the past seven years, Catchafire has delivered over $50 million in strategic and operational work to nearly 10,000 nonprofits while creating meaningful pro bono experiences for professionals. Leading foundations maximize their impact by partnering with Catchafire to support the nonprofits and communities they seek to serve.

Rachael was born in Canberra, Australia and grew up in multiple cities across Asia. She came to the United States to attend Barnard College at Columbia University. Her first job after college was as an investment banker which she saw as her “practical MBA” and an important part of her journey to leverage the power of business for social good. Prior to founding Catchafire, Rachael helped to startup BRAC USA, the U.S. affiliate of the Bangladeshi nonprofit, BRAC, the largest poverty alleviation organization in the world. Rachael holds a Master’s of Public Policy from Duke University, is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, and one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business.

Byron Johnson is the Capacity Building Initiative Officer of the East Bay Community Foundation. Before coming to the Foundation in August, 2017, he served for 12 years as a Senior Project Director at CompassPoint Nonprofit Services in Oakland, where he designed and delivered cohort-based leadership development programs such as the Fundraising Academy for Communities of Color, Bright Spots Fundraising Academy, and the STRONG Nonprofits Program for East Contra Costa County.

As a certified coach he’s worked with individuals, boards, and teams to increase trust and accountability during times of change and transition and to deepen the impact of strategic leader development, succession, and transition plans. His coaching practice was informed by over a decade consulting and training nonprofit leaders, networks, and teams in executive transitions management and succession planning and is centered on fun and risk-taking that inspires bold, confident, and creative actions.

Prior to CompassPoint, Byron spent over ten years in leadership and senior fund development positions for Bay Area nonprofit organizations, including San Francisco State University and the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC). A proud Oakland native and graduate of Oakland Tech, he currently lives in Richmond, CA. Byron brings a passion for stemming the tide of violence and exploitation; particularly in disenfranchised communities, promoting individual and collective health, and striving for economic and social equity. His vast professional experience is an invaluable addition as the foundation works toward advancing a just East Bay.

Brandon Nicholson is the Founding Executive Director of The Hidden Genius Project.  He is an Oakland native and has always felt a deep sense of commitment to promoting equity in the public realm, particularly in the education space. Previously, he was a Senior Associate at Social Policy Research Associates (SPR), where he conducted research, evaluation, and analysis across a range of key social policy areas. Brandon has conducted substantial research in the areas of education and youth development, with a particular focus on issues of equity and access in K-12 education for underserved populations. He has considerable experience investigating linkages among race, class, and youth development.

Sean Valentine is the Operations Director of The Hidden Genius Project. He grew up in the Greater New York City Area. In 2009 he relocated to Oakland to work with youth athletes through personal training. In this pursuit, Sean developed a passion for mentorship and teen counseling. While studying Economics, he became determined to incorporate his life’s experiences, scholastic knowledge and pure people skills to help underserved teens reach their true potential. Sean received his B.S. in Economics from Saint Mary’s College.


Targeted Audience 

This program is open to all NCG members and non-member funders.