Board and Staff

Board of Directors
Debbie Berger
Kiki Fordham
Bill Reeves
Hilary Weinstein

Advisory Council
Shamit Saggar

Paulette Amadi
Sarah Carter
Bernadette Crasto
Celeste Dado
Adey Fisseha
Taryn Higashi
Jake Lee

Elyse Lightman Samuels
Will Somerville

Katy Toolin

Susan Vega

Ted Wang

Paulette Amadi, Grants Assistant
Paulette Amadi joined Unbound Philanthropy in November 2012 as Grants Assistant for the UK Program. She brings to the foundation administrative experience gained as an assistant at Queen Mary University, and as an intern at the Young Foundation and in the Civil Service Fast-Stream.

Paulette believes strongly in Unbound Philanthropy’s mission. Both of her parents migrated from Nigeria to London where Paulette now resides. She earned a degree in geography from Southampton University, where she became a volunteer for Unbound Philanthropy grantee Student Action for Refugees (STAR).

“I believe strongly that people seeking sanctuary in the UK must be treated fairly,” Paulette says. “Being part of the STAR network encouraged me to look at a global issue that’s very close to home and empowered me to believe that I could and was doing something about it.”

Paulette has continued to be an active volunteer for STAR for five years and has multiple volunteer roles: as governor to a local school; as bookkeeper for a guest house sheltering adult asylum seekers, refugees and migrants; and she is in the process of setting up a drop-in center to provide support for migrants in Haringey, London.

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Sarah Carter, Program Assistant
Sarah Carter joined Unbound Philanthropy in October 2012 as a program assistant to the US Program.  Prior to joining Unbound Philanthropy, Sarah worked at The Roosevelt Institute where she served as the assistant to the president providing both administrative and grants management support.  Sarah has a strong commitment to issues related to migration. She worked with social service organizations in Seattle that provided support to newcomers from Vietnam, and currently works with Resource Generation to run a giving circle that funds immigrant justice projects in Arizona.  

Sarah has also spent time working in Cameroon, Rwanda and Ghana.

Sarah graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and international studies with a focus on African affairs from Kenyon College.  She earned her master’s degree in social work from the University Of Washington School of Social Work.

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Bernadette Crasto, Executive Assistant
Bernadette Crasto joined Unbound Philanthropy in February 2012 as the executive assistant to the executive director. 

Prior to joining Unbound Philanthropy Bernadette worked for more than a decade with Dr. Olara Otunnu, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict and president of the International Peace Institute.

Bernadette is passionate about social-justice work. “All people deserve to be treated with respect, compassion, fairness, and justice,” she says, “and Unbound Philanthropy helps make that happen.” She walks the talk, doing volunteer work with Free and Fair Elections in Africa and the LBL Foundation for Children.

Bernadette has studied at Milagres College in Kallianpur, India, and at Marymount Manhattan College. She immigrated to the United States from India, and now makes her home in Queens Village.

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Celeste Dado, Grants Manager
Celeste Dado joined Unbound Philanthropy in March 2012 as grants manager. “I strongly believe in Unbound Philanthropy’s values around mutual respect and responsibility for all people,” she says.

Celeste has 14 years of international and United States grants-management experience. She served as the senior grants manager of the Arcus Foundation for the past six years and previously as a grants administrator in the Peace and Social Justice Program of the Ford Foundation. Celeste has lengthy experience in finance and administration. Between her work at Ford and Arcus she was finance manager for the Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden MuseumShe served as a budget analyst and planner for the New York Public Libraryand in similar positions for three arts organizations: Artists Space; TheWashington, DC Project for the Arts; and the Institute for Contemporary Art/PS1 Museum.

Celeste earned an MBA in arts administration from the State University of New York at Binghamton, and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Douglass Women’s College of Rutgers University. She was born in the Philippines and now lives in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.

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Adey Fisseha, Program Officer
Adey Fisseha joined Unbound Philanthropy in May 2012 as program officer. Adey helps develop, implement, and evaluate Unbound Philanthropy’s grantmaking strategies in the United States.

“The social justice issues that we tackle at Unbound Philanthropy are deeply personal to me,” says Adey, who is a refugee and immigrant from Ethiopia. “It is rewarding to support efforts to welcome newcomers and strengthen communities.”

Adey previously worked for 10 years at the National Immigration Law Center (NILC), most recently serving as a policy attorney and campaign coordinator. She worked on a wide range of federal policy issues at NILC, including, notably, as lead lawyer on a national advocacy campaign to pass the Dream Act. Adey was a compelling media spokesperson on the effort and led of a coalition of more than one hundred national faith, education, labor, and immigrant/civil rights groups on the campaign. She also has served as a legislative aide to Congressman Howard Berman (D-CA).

Adey graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor’s degree in government and a certificate in African studies, and earned her law degree at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, where she was a Cardozo Public Service Scholar.

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Taryn Higashi, Executive Director
Taryn Higashi is the executive director of Unbound Philanthropy. From 1997 to 2008, Taryn worked at the Ford Foundation where she managed the migrant and refugee rights portfolio and served as deputy director of the human rights unit.

Prior to joining the Ford Foundation, Taryn was a program officer at The New York Community Trust, where she coordinated the Fund for New Citizens. She has also worked as a staff attorney and program coordinator for Safe Horizons in New York City, and as an associate at the law firm O'Melveny & Myers. From 1999 to 2008, Taryn served as a board member of Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, where she was co-chair from 1999-2005.

Taryn's own family history informs her passion for justice for immigrants and migrants: "I am a third-generation Japanese American, and my mother's family was interned during World War II along with 110,000 other Japanese Americans-almost two-thirds of whom were United States citizens. Our history tells us that we cannot take our freedom to move, live, and work in this country for granted."

Taryn's work has been widely recognized in her field. Recently, Taryn was a co-recipient with Geri Mannion of the Carnegie Corporation of New York of the Robert V. Scrivner Award for Creative Grantmaking from the Council on Foundations. She has also received a 40th Anniversary Community Change Champion Award from the Center for Community Change, a Human Rights Visionary Award from the Border Network for Human Rights and an award from the National Immigration Law Center for her work to advance immigrants' rights.

Taryn speaks frequently on trends and issues in immigration, speaking recently at Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy and Grantmakers for Effective Organizations. She was recently appointed to the advisory board of the International Migration Initiative of the Open Society Foundations. Taryn is a graduate of George Washington University Law School and received her bachelor's degree from the University of California at San Diego. She resides in New York City with her husband and son.

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Jake Lee, Program Officer

Jake Lee joined Unbound Philanthropy in June 2012 as Program Officer and is now Head of Legal Rights and Protections for the United Kingdom Program.


Jake has served for more than seven years as an attorney with the international law firm, Allen & Overy, where he continues to play a role. As manager of pro bono and community affairs for the firm, his work focuses on human rights and access to justice. Jake develops strategies and builds strategic partnerships for social justice work at both Allen & Overy and Unbound Philanthropy. He brings grant-making and charity law experience from his work with the Allen & Overy charitable foundations and the Baring Foundation.


“I am passionate about immigration and securing justice and equal opportunities for migrants and refugees,” says Jake, whose Malay-Chinese father immigrated to Ireland as a teenager. “I grew up in one of the United Kingdom’s most diverse and socially deprived areas, witnessing first-hand the benefits and challenges presented by new arrivals. I’m a strong believer in the positive social change that immigration can bring about.”


Jake holds a first class degree in economics from the University of Warwick and graduated from BPP Law School with distinctions in both the postgraduate diploma in law and the legal practice course. He has also studied fine art at Central St Martins College, London. Jake speaks English, French, and Spanish and enjoys running as a guide with a friend who is a blind war veteran.

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Elyse Lightman Samuels, Communications, Learning, and Special Projects Officer

Elyse Lightman Samuels joined Unbound Philanthropy in April as Communications, Learning, and Special Projects Officer. Elyse has worked in communications, qualitative data analysis, and external relations at EngenderHealth and American Jewish World Service. She has also spent extensive time working in Cambodia as a founding member and Trustee of the Harpswell Foundation, whose mission is to empower a new generation of women leaders in Cambodia and the developing world. Elyse earned a MPA in International Nonprofit Management and Public Policy at NYU Wagner’s School of Public Service, a MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing from the School of the Arts at Columbia University, and her bachelor’s degree from Brown University. Elyse lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and daughter.


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Will Somerville, Program Director
Will Somerville is the program director for Unbound Philanthropy's United Kingdom Program. Will shares Unbound Philanthropy's commitment to building civic engagement and developing public awareness on immigration issues. "We need thoughtful reforms around immigration to build a society that is more dynamic and open. To do so, reformers need to engage more people from different backgrounds in the issues."

Throughout his career, Will has focused on immigration policy and practice at the international and national levels, publishing widely. He is the author of Immigration under New Labour, published by Policy Press in 2007, and more than 60 articles, chapters and papers. Since 2006, Will has been a senior policy analyst for the Migration Policy Institute and during that time he has consulted with foundations including the Barrow Cadbury Trust and Open Society Foundations. His previous employment includes serving as a policy advisor on migration issues in the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit and as the policy lead on asylum and immigration at the Commission for Racial Equality.

Will holds a first class history degree from the University of Leeds and a master's with distinction in social policy and planning from the London School of Economics. Will is a member of English PEN, a charity that works to promote literature and human rights. He is currently based in Bath in the West of England; during his career he has lived and worked in London, Lisbon, Buenos Aires, and Washington, D.C. He is a British citizen, born in Germany.

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Katy Toolin, Director of Finance and Administration

Katy joined Unbound Philanthropy as director of finance and administration in August 2013.  She has over thirty years of experience in finance, having served most recently as the Chief Financial Officer of Philanthropy New York for the past five years, where she successfully brought the organization’s finance and accounting functions back in house. Before joining Philanthropy New York, Katy was the CFO of Building with Books, a nonprofit organization based in Stamford, CT whose mission is to empower youth through education using two interconnected programs, an after-school youth development program for teenagers in the United States, and community-based schoolhouse construction and adult education in developing countries. Katy spent her early career at Citigroup, where she held numerous finance and credit roles over a twenty-five year span in both their consumer and corporate banks throughout North America.


Katy earned a bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York and holds a master of business administration from Pace University.


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Susan Vega, Accounting and Operations Officer

Susan Vega joined Unbound Philanthropy as accounting and operations officer in January 2014.  Susan brings to Unbound over eighteen years of experience in finance, having served most recently as the assistant director of finance for Panthera, a  New York-based nonprofit, where she managed the accounting functions for the organization. 


Prior to that, Susan spent fourteen years at the American Museum of Natural History in a number of roles of increasing responsibility in finance and accounting.  Susan earned her bachelor’s degree in finance from Brooklyn College. She lives in Long Island with her husband and two cats.


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Ted Wang, Program Director
Ted Wang is the program director for Unbound Philanthropy's United States Program, focused on immigration and social justice issues. Ted works with Unbound Philanthropy because of its mission to improve public awareness of immigration issues and protect this population from discrimination and abuse.

Ted reflects, "As someone who came to this country shortly after the federal civil rights laws passed in the 1960s, I saw firsthand the challenges that immigrants face in becoming part of their new communities. Given my experience, I appreciate Unbound Philanthropy's commitment to help immigrants overcome barriers and create conditions that allow them to contribute to and strengthen our country."

Before joining the Unbound Philanthropy staff full time in 2011, Ted worked extensively as a public policy consultant, advising a mix of foundations, policy organizations, and elected officials. Prior to consulting, he worked for 14 years in the civil rights community, holding leadership positions at Chinese for Affirmative Action and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area. Ted litigated discrimination and voting rights cases and drafted local and state laws promoting immigrant rights, racial justice, and small business development. He has published widely on immigration and social justice issues.

Ted received his bachelor's degree from Reed College and his law degree from Yale Law School. He has received awards from public and private groups, including the California Asian Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus' Legislative Hero Award and the Asian American Bar Association of the Bay Area's Outstanding Leadership to the Legal Community Award. Ted is an avid runner and spends much of his free time outdoors, a primary reason why he lives in Berkeley, California. Ted is originally from Taipei, Taiwan.

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