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Mary Thomas

President and CEO, CFLeads

Mary Thomas knows that there is incredible momentum in the community foundation field to do more community leadership. With over 25 years of experience in the community foundation field, Mary is adept at amplifying community voice through grassroots leadership training and is a tireless advocate for racial equity.  As the President & CEO of CFLeads, Mary is using her skills as a dynamic leader, connector and relationship-builder to identify opportunities, develop strategies and implement initiatives that will help strengthen community foundations’ capacity to do more community leadership.  She previously served as the Chief Operating Officer of The Spartanburg County Foundation and as the Executive Director of the Robert Hett Chapman III Center for Philanthropy. 

Donna Cooper

Executive Director, Children First

Prior to Children First, Donna was a senior fellow at the respected national think tank, the Center for American Progress, where she led the Center’s research on early childhood education, public infrastructure, and was a contributing researcher to the Center’s work to reduce the incidence of poverty.  She served as the Secretary of Policy and Planning for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from 2003–2010 where she was responsible for the state’s education, public supports, environmental and health care policy. While in that position, Donna led the development of the state’s Cover All Kids program which expanded access to affordable health care to nearly every child in the state. Donna also led the seven-year effort to boost funding for public education that increased K-12 funding by over $2 billion, and designed the state’s groundbreaking school funding formula which was enacted in 2008.

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