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Earlier this year, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving engaged in an extensive organizational redesign process to better align its grantmaking with its institutional values, mission, and strategic plan regional racial/ethnic, geographic, and income disparities. As a result of this work, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is announcing a new structure and leadership to maximize the Foundation’s impact in the community. The redesigned structure also merges grantmaking with the Foundation’s Research, Evaluation, and Public Policy areas.


Formerly known as the Community Investments, the new Community Impact team will be led by vice president Elysa Gordon, who previously served as vice president and senior advisor to Hartford Foundation President Jay Williams. Gordon is responsible for the overall executive direction of Community Impact and the newly created Impact Leadership Team comprised of her and four Directors.  Together, they will lead the Foundation’s grantmaking, strategic partnerships, learning and evaluation, capacity building, public policy, and impact investing under HFPG Impact!.


“Since January 2020, we’ve been operating with an interim leadership team in community investments,” said Hartford Foundation President Jay Williams. “Our work took a necessary pause as our staff-led our response efforts through the COVID crisis, but we have now come to a point where we can refocus on our organizational analysis and begin to plan for our grantmaking work in 2021 and beyond.  This work requires effective leadership and organizational structure to facilitate these important decisions. Since I arrived at the Hartford Foundation, I have relied on Elysa Gordon’s thoughtful input and guidance to move our organization forward, and I cannot think of anyone better suited to lead this work as we seek to make a greater impact on the communities we serve.”


Prior to joining the Foundation in 2011, Gordon served as Assistant Child Advocate for the Connecticut Office of the Child Advocate, where she shepherded reforms on behalf of youth in juvenile and adult prisons and residential treatment facilities. Previously, Elysa served as Senior Policy Advisor for the New York State Chief Justice’s Commission on Justice for Children, where she developed a statewide court-based innovation to maximize the wellbeing of children in foster care and she also served as the Coordinator of Intake Services at Gay Men’s Health Crisis, Inc.


Gordon will be joined by four directors on the Community Impact Leadership Team.


  • Megan Burke, Director of Community Impact Grantmaking
  • Judy McBride, Director of Strategic Partnership Investments
  • Kate Szczerbacki, Director of Strategic Learning and Evaluation
  • Melanie Tavares, Director of Capacity Building and Nonprofit Support


Megan Burke will oversee the Foundation’s strategic and emergent grantmaking efforts. Previously, she served as senior community investments officer. Before joining the Foundation in 2017, she led an international network of nonprofits engaged in advancing a ban on antipersonnel landmines and cluster munitions worldwide, and in mitigating the humanitarian impact of these weapons through research and advocacy. She has more than 20 years of experience in nonprofit organizational development, strategic planning, and philanthropy, which includes serving as a program officer at the Ford Foundation.


Judy McBride will focus on growing the Foundation’s strategic partnerships at the regional, state, and national levels and will lead oversight of our emergent impact efforts. She previously served as the Foundation’s director of grants and partnership investments. Prior to joining the Foundation staff in 2006, she served as vice president of program investments for YouthBuild USA and as deputy director of administration for the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. McBride has also served as senior advisor to the assistant attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs and assistant for governmental relations at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.


Kate Sczcerbacki previously served as the Foundation’s senior research and evaluation officer. She joined the staff at the Foundation in 2018 after serving as a program evaluator in Massachusetts and Connecticut for more than ten years. Much of her research experience is in community and K-12 education contexts including program evaluations of federal, state, philanthropic, and district-level initiatives. Her doctoral dissertation investigated the organizational and relational changes established by community foundations as they adopt a community leadership strategy to affect social change in the cities and regions they serve.


Melanie Tavares is expanding her previous role as director of the Foundation’s Nonprofit Support Program to support diversity, equity, and inclusion capacity building and lead efforts to strengthen the region’s nonprofit ecosystem. Prior to joining the Foundation in 2019, she honed her expertise in program design, funding, and strategic management at several state and national organizations including the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the Corporation for National and Community Service, MassHousing, YouthBuild, the Massachusetts Service Alliance, and Girl Scouts of the USA.  She recently completed her doctoral degree at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where her scholarship focused on system-level leadership and organizational development and sustainability.


“This new leadership team represents a broader, shared leadership body with each member contributing to collaborative decision making, providing consultation in areas of functional expertise and raising opportunities to be informed by community stakeholders,” said Gordon. “I am grateful to work with these directors and the leaders among the community impact staff to enhance our efforts to listen, learn, and advance inclusive opportunity in our region. This will enable the Foundation to more effectively respond to and collaborate with the community we serve.”


The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is the community foundation for Hartford and 28 surrounding communities. Made possible by the gifts of generous individuals, families, and organizations, the Foundation has awarded grants of more than $795 million since its founding in 1925. For more information about the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, visit or call 860-548-1888.