Avani has served Senior Program Officer for Atkinson Foundation since late 2021, when she joined Pacific Foundation Services, the Foundation’s philanthropic support service provider. She enjoys working in collaboration with client foundations that work in service to nonprofits and she is excited by the many opportunities ahead to embrace a more equitable lens in philanthropy.
Prior to joining PFS and working with the Atkinson Foundation, Avani consulted with education, nonprofit and philanthropic organizations supporting executive leadership through change management, DEI efforts, program development & evaluation, and capital campaigns. Avani started her career in philanthropy at the Peery Foundation and joined as its second full-time hire. She eventually served as the organization’s co-CEO, overseeing all operations and giving. An educator by training, she taught middle school in East Palo Alto and east San Jose, and eventually moved into school and district administration. She helped advance equity in education by successfully advocating to redraw equitable district boundaries, changing the process for math placement in high schools, and authoring equity reports.
Avani holds a BA in African & African American Studies and Sociology from UC Davis and a doctorate in Educational Leadership from SF State. She is a Bay Area native who loves spending time outside and globe trotting with her fiancé.
Yeshi has supported the Atkinson Foundation since May 2021, when she joined Pacific Foundation Services as a grants manager. She enjoys creating a conducive and easy-to-navigate system for nonprofits in the grant application and award processes.
Yeshi previously worked for the Christensen Fund (2007-2011) as grants manager. Before moving to the US in June 2006, her work focused on redressing gender inequality in Ethiopia while working for different national and international organizations. At the former Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in Addis Ababa, Yeshi managed their gender fund and advised CIDA on gender equality issues in their food security/sovereignty, agriculture, and rural development work. She also served as the gender officer of the UN World Food Programme in Addis Ababa and as the coordinator of a gender research and training center at Addis Ababa University.
Yeshi has an MA in Development Studies with a specialization in Women in Development from the International Institute of Development Studies (IIDS), The Hague, The Netherlands, and a BA in Philosophy from Addis Ababa University, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Yeshi grew up in Addis and speaks fluent Amharic and English. She now lives in San Jose with her teenage daughter.