Ms. Heather Peeler is the President & CEO of ACT for Alexandria. During her tenure, ACT expanded its service to the community and deepened its impact. Key initiatives have addressed racial equity, economic mobility for low-income Alexandrians, and youth success. In 2020, ACT distributed $5.76M in COVID emergency assistance. Prior to ACT Ms. Peeler served as the Vice President of Member and Partner Engagement at Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, a highly regarded organization dedicated to effective philanthropy and nonprofit success. She previously served as Chief Strategy Officer at the Corporation for National and Community Service and as Managing Director at Community Wealth Partners. Throughout her career she has focused on bringing people together to make their organizations and their communities stronger. She regularly writes and speaks about capacity building, community engagement, collaboration, and learning and evaluation. Her own community involvement includes serving as Chair of the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers and as a Commissioner on the Washington, D.C. Commission on Out of School Time Grants and Youth Outcomes. Ms. Peeler holds a Bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts and earned her M.B.A. from The Anderson School at UCLA in Los Angeles, California.
Brandi Yee is the chief program officer for ACT for Alexandria. She oversees ACT’s community investment initiatives including grantmaking through the Alexandria Resilience Fund and Capacity Building Grants, the Racial Equity Capacity Building Initiative, the Youth Council and Spring2ACTion, Alexandria’s Giving Day, celebrating 13 years of giving and raising more than $17M for Alexandria nonprofits. She is passionate about strengthening the nonprofit sector, advising donors on trust-based philanthropic giving and engaging community members in creating a vibrant place for all Alexandrians.
Prior to ACT, she worked with Workforce Organizations for Regional Collaboration (WORC) and Goodwill of Greater Washington, opening the Arlington Career Campus of Goodwill that offered workforce development skills job training programs, ESL and GED courses on-site. Prior to working in the nonprofit sector, Brandi worked with undergraduate students as a career consultant at George Mason University’s School of Management and as a recruiter with User Technology Associates, Inc., a government contractor.
Brandi has an M.S. in Organizational Learning from George Mason University and a B.A. in Rhetoric & Communication and Sociology-Organizational Studies from the University of California, Davis. Brandi is a member of the Diaconate and Women’s Leadership Council of Grace Presbyterian Church DC and was a founding board member of Girls on the Run – DC and Food For Life DC.
Tricia Ritchie joined ACT for Alexandria in October of 2019, bringing with her two decades of professional development experience. She currently serves as Chief Development Officer, where she provides strategic oversight of ACT’s development program and helps build a strong donor base to support ACT’s community-building initiatives.
Prior to joining ACT, Tricia provided consulting services to local nonprofits and specialized in program evaluation and advising clients on fund development, solicitations, data collection and evaluation, and organizational development. Before opening her consulting practice, Tricia held the position of Associate Director of Development at Maret School in Washington, D.C., where she oversaw their Major Gifts, Annual Giving, and Planned Giving programs. She also worked on all aspects of a $25 million fundraising campaign for the school.
Tricia holds a B.A. from the College of William and Mary. Valuing community both in the workplace and in her personal life, she has held volunteer positions with Scouts of America and Girl Scouts and serves as a member of the Diaconate of First Baptist Church of Alexandria. Tricia lives in Alexandria with her husband, Branden, and their two children.
Sally Bolger Gardner joined ACT in September 2017, returning to Alexandria, her hometown, from 11 years in the Northern California town of Grass Valley. Sally’s background is primarily in office administration and human resources with minor detours for graduate school and raising two children, Sam and Clara, whom she and her husband, Gary, adopted from Bolivia. Sally is looking forward to working with the ACT team and re-rooting herself within the Alexandria community.
Leeann joined ACT in September 2019 and brings over 20 years of experience in project management, data management, and capacity building for organizations. As the Development Program Manager, she provides day-to-day support for donor-advised fund holders, supports programmatic initiatives, and the local nonprofit community.
Leeann has a B.A. in Psychology from California State University, Fullerton and obtained her M.S. in Public Health from A.T. Still University. Empowering resiliency and enhancing the needs of our most vulnerable communities has been both a personal and professional passion of Leeann’s and has motivated her to work in the non-profit sector. In her free time, Leeann loves to cook, listen to audio books, and enjoys being outdoors in beautiful Northern Virginia.
Shelley Spacek Miller joined ACT in March 2023 to support grant programming related to the American Rescue Plan Act (Community Access, Emergency Support, and Childcare Workforce Stabilization grant programs). As a program manager, Shelley leverages her experience serving Alexandrians, supporting systems change and seeking user-centered solutions to support grantees and the community members they serve. She is passionate about housing stability as well as supporting vulnerable community members in meeting their basic needs.
Prior to joining ACT, she supported vulnerable Alexandrians through her work at ALIVE! and the Alexandria Health Department. She has also worked at a national court administration organization to support improvements in access to justice, civil justice reform, and judicial selection and independence in state courts. Her previous volunteer efforts focus on child abuse & neglect and asylee support.
Shelley holds a Bachelor’s of Business Administration from Texas A&M University and her Juris Doctor from the College of William & Mary. She enjoys exploring her “new hometown” Alexandria with her husband and their two dogs while also continuing her adventures in cooking, travelling, and language-learning.
Vannice Evans provides administrative support to both the Program and Development teams at ACT and helps to amplify the work of the Alexandria community by bringing people and resources together. Vannice has a bachelor’s degree in Justice, Law, and Criminology & a certificate in Advanced Leadership Studies from American University, where she served as Student Co-Director. Vannice has a comprehensive background in nonprofit work and passion for community organizing. Prior to joining ACT of Alexandria, Vannice was an intern at the ACLU, Albright Stonebridge Group, Center for American Progress, and the Research Triangle Institute. A highlight of Vannice’s college career was raising $2,000 in school supplies for participants of the Raising A Village Foundation. Her passion for organizing came from being an Explore DC Coordinator, where she designed a multi-day experience for American University’s incoming first-year students to do community service and learn about the DC metropolitan area. Vannice was born and raised in Chicago and in her free time she enjoys attending concerts, yoga, and playing with her dog Cookie.
Caitlin Brown is delighted to be working with ACT for Alexandria and supporting the dedicated out of school time and youth-serving organizations in the Alexandria community. Caitlin has a multi-faceted background as a non-profit co-founder, program director, and educator. Prior to joining ACT for Alexandria, Caitlin was a program director at Levine Music, where she was responsible for the continued development of Camp Levine, a multidisciplinary arts program serving one thousand youth across campuses in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., each year. Additionally, Caitlin established school partnerships, working alongside school administrators and teachers to create engaging programming for students in grades PK-12. Caitlin also has experience in the classroom, having taught in public and private schools in Fairfax County, Montgomery County, and Prince George’s County for ten years.
Janae Thompson was born in Buffalo, NY but has been a native of the metropolitan area for more than 25 years. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Biology and later her master’s in Healthcare Administration from the University of Maryland. Janae’s passion for helping others in need has prompt her in pursuing her current full time career with Fairfax County Department of Family Services. Prior to working with the county, she was employed at National Spine & Pain Centers Stem Cell Arts as their clinic manager. Through her experience in healthcare, she enjoyed providing quality customer service and care to patients. During her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends and taking her three-year-old Maltese Westie Terrier Dior on walks.
Najmah Ahmad, the Founder & CEO of Chisholm Group, brings to ACT 15 years in education and youth development. Najmah has a wealth of expertise and dedication to the cause. Her impressive achievements include creating the district-wide DCPS Career Ready Internship program, establishing partnerships with over 200 industry leaders, and spearheading the development of the Tenacity Employability Skills Curriculum. Najmah’s passion to expand equitable access to postsecondary opportunities led to the creation of the DCPS Career Bridge program, which provided year-round mentoring and career coaching to underserved seniors at risk of not graduating.
Before founding Chisholm Group LLC in 2021, Najmah continued her impactful work at the national level with the Council of Chief State School Officers as the Director of Career Readiness Initiatives, leading the JP Morgan Chase New Skills for Youth Initiative, collaborating with State Education Agency leaders to ensure all students are career-ready through strategic planning, goal-setting, and sustainability planning.
ACT BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Chair – Maureen Devine Ahl, Candor & Company
Vice Chair – Karen Avery, Isaacson, Miller, Inc.
Secretary – John Armstrong, Joy Riot Agency
Treasurer – Brian Lundeen, Grobstein Teeple, LLP
Chair Emeritus – C. Eugene Steuerle, Urban Institute
Board Member Emeritus – Lori Morris, Bruhn-Morris Family Foundation
David Baker, Virginia Tech
Virginia Bennett, CNA
Julia Burgos, Alexandria City Public Schools
Scott Darling, Dyson Capital Advisors
Rose Dawson, Alexandria Public Library
Jennifer Ferrara, John Marshall Bank
Chris Foster, BCW Global
Lisa Guernsey, New America
Charles Holt, Verdence Capital Advisors
Bryan Jackson, Nonprofit HR
Basim Khan, Neighborhood Health
Joseph LaMountain, Reingold
Stephanie Landrum, Alexandria Economic Development Partnership
Lisa Martin, Embrace Communications
Peter McElwain, Baker Tilly, US, LLP
Erik Muendel, ESP Coffee & Tea
Sukumar Rao, The Parnin Group
Amy Rutherford, Red Barn Mercantile and Penny Post
Rob Whittle, Williams Whittle