GRADUCon 2018 - Careers in Foundations Panel


Foundations support charitable activities by making grants to organizations or institutions or to individuals for scientific, educational, cultural, religious, or other charitable purposes. Through a range of philanthropic approaches (grant making, partnerships with community stakeholders and government leaders, promotion and convening, etc.) foundations support a wide variety of causes through a range and scale that can go from individuals and community nonprofits to global leaders and institutions. Foundation staff provide leadership, strategic direction, grant review, community collaboration, and progress toward goals. Foundation staff come from a variety of backgrounds and bring their expertise to improving their communities, country and the world.


Urmi Sengupta, Program Officer, MacArthur Foundation (MPP 2004)

Urmi is responsible for managing grant-making on field-building and collaborative activities to inform and build the impact investing marketplace. She also coordinates the team’s evaluation activities and represents the team on all impact investing efforts undertaken in conjunction with the Foundation’s international programs. With close to two decades of experience in international economic development, banking and impact investing, Urmi has worked with stakeholders along the financial services delivery chain, focusing specifically on the small and micro segments. She started her career in corporate banking at Bank of America in India after a business degree from the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, later earning a master’s degree (summa cum laude) at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. For eight years, she worked with CapitalPlus Exchange, leading and managing relationships with small business finance and microfinance institutions and developing a range of capacity building initiatives. Her work included conceptualizing, launching and running the first global community network for emerging market small business banks, an initiative that is now part of the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI) SME Finance Forum managed by the International Finance Corporation.

Jay Goodwin, Senior Program Officer, MacArthur Fondation (PhD Organic Chemistry 1992)

Jay reviews and develops nominations in science, engineering, and math within the Fellows Program at the MacArthur Foundation, and leads the program’s engagement with experts in STEM disciplines. He also contributes to ongoing and new initiatives within and beyond the Fellows Program, include 100&Change and Nuclear Challenges. After working in industrial and entrepreneurial drug discovery, Jay conducted research at Emory University and worked at the federal level on a variety of policy initiatives at the National Science Foundation. Jay has a B.A. in chemistry from Kalamazoo College and PhD in bioorganic chemistry from the University of Chicago.

Kandace Thomas, Senior Program Officer, Irving Harris Foundation (MPP 2004)

Kandace Thomas is a Senior Program Officer at the Irving Harris Foundation. She has worked for the Foundation since 2006 leading its efforts to build developmentally-appropriate trauma-informed equitable systems of care for young children and their families. She manages grants and projects in infant and early childhood mental health and child trauma, domestic violence, and reproductive health and justice. Kandace also facilitates and manages the Foundation’s Professional Development Network, a network of infant and early childhood mental health and child trauma institutions in the United States and Israel. A leader in the creation of the Diversity-Informed Tenets for Work with Infants, Children and Families, she integrates diversity-informed practice into child and family serving fields and facilitates workshops to infuse diversity and inclusion practices into organizations and systems. Kandace studied child and family policy at The University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and earned her undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University. She is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in Child Development at Erikson Institute/Loyola University of Chicago, with research, policy and practice interests in resilience and mindfulness, impact of policy on vulnerable families, and diversity-informed practice.

Kimberly McGee, Executive Director, Friends in the City Foundation (MA Social Service Administration 2014)

Kimberly L McGee serves as Executive Director of Friends of the City Foundation (FITCF) since December 2017. Friends in the City Foundation’s mission is to provide resources via education management and youth programming that impacts urban communities. Ms. McGee is responsible for the overall management of all programs and all aspects of the foundation’s operations, which includes the design, development, implementation, and supervision of programs which provides educational resources to college-bound students. As chairman of the fundraising and development committee, key responsibilities include fiscal management of fundraising activities and donor database development. Ms. McGee provides oversight of vendor contracts and collaborates with community stakeholders, business leaders, parents, and students. Ms. McGee recently served as a consultant for a multinational technology corporation where she directed volunteerism and employee engagement. Kimberly led the management of exclusive partnership between FIRST™ Robotics (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), the City of Chicago Early College STEM School (ECSS) program, and Chicago Public Schools. Other responsibilities included management and cultivation of the corporate partnerships, strategic planning, program development, budget management and allocation of grant funding.


Ianna Kachoris Ori, Director of Strategy, Research Initiatives, and Philanthropic Partnerships, UChicago Office of Civic Engagement (MPP 2002)

Ianna Kachoris Ori is the director of strategy, research initiatives and philanthropic partnerships for the University of Chicago Office of Civic Engagement. In this role, she is responsible for guiding the strategic program direction and securing financial resources for the Office’s civic engagement programs. In addition, Ianna is focused on facilitating the urban research collaborations with civic partners in the community, city, nationally. Prior to joining the University, Ianna served as senior program officer with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, overseeing the Foundation’s multi-year, $25 million How Housing Matters to Families and Communities housing policy and research initiative. She also led the Foundation’s engagement with other foundations to sustain and expand resources for housing efforts nationally, including as co-founder of Funders for Housing and Opportunity. Prior to the MacArthur Foundation, Ianna led The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Economic Mobility Project, overseeing the project’s research agenda, publications and communications strategy. She has also served as senior policy advisor to Senator Edward M. Kennedy on economic development, and held positions with the Fannie Mae Foundation, the Metropolitan Planning Council, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Ianna earned a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and has a bachelor of arts degree in sociology from Emory University.