News and analysis
June 19, 2015

People in Philanthropy: Former New York Immigration Commissioner Takes Over the Fresh Air Fund

The City of New York

Fatima Shama, who formerly ran the New York City Office of Immigrant Affairs under Michael Bloomberg, is now the new head of the Fresh Air Fund

Fatima Shama, immigrant-affairs commissioner during former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration, has been named executive director of the Fresh Air Fund, a nonprofit that offers needy inner-city children a summertime respite in the country. She begins July 15 and succeeds Jenny Morgenthau, who headed the organization for 32 years.

Ms. Shama, currently vice president for strategic development and external affairs at Brooklyn’s Maimonides Medical Center, says she wants to expand the Fresh Air Fund’s reach to a wider group of New York City children.

"The Fresh Air Fund has the ability to help close education and achievement gaps for children in low-income communities," she says. Along with providing a break from the city, the nonprofit also provides programs that introduce children to various outdoor activities and teach them about environmental awareness, physical fitness, and cultural arts.

The charity began in 1877, in part to help alleviate unhealthy conditions during a time when waves of immigrants began crowding into the city’s tenements. Ms. Shama, a Bronx native whose parents were both immigrants (Brazilian and Palestinian), began a more than four-year tenure as immigrant-affairs commissioner in 2009. During that time, she drew praise for helping to connect more immigrants to educational and health-care services, spearheading campaigns to combat immigration fraud, and creating a model for other immigrant-policy offices around the country and abroad.

American Brain Foundation

Jane Ransom, former chief executive officer of Girls Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania, has been named executive director.

Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation

Kathleen Weis, chief executive of the American Red Cross Gold Country Region, was appointed executive director. She starts on July 16.

El-Hibri Foundation

Farhan Latif, former chief operating officer and director of policy impact at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, was named president.

Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

Robert Kirshner, former Clowes professor of science at Harvard University, will be chief program officer for science.


Nicole Gotthelf, former director of institutional advancement at the Center for Neighborhood Technology, will be director of development.

Music Center

Rachel Moore, former chief executive officer of the American Ballet Theatre, was appointed president.

National Book Foundation

Harold Augenbraum, executive director, will resign at the end of March 2016.

National Park Foundation

Will Shafroth, counselor for America’s great outdoors at the Department of the Interior, was named chief executive officer.

Operation Homefront

Marguerite Kirst, vice president for marketing at United Service Organizations, was appointed chief development officer.

Poetry Foundation

Richard Kiphart, senior adviser at William Blair and Company and former chief executive officer of Lyric Opera of Chicago, was named chair of the Board of Trustees.

ReSurge International

Jeff Whisenant, former executive vice president at Lutheran World Relief, will start as chief executive on July 1. He succeeds Susan Hayes, who will retire on June 30.

United Nations Foundation

Hans Vestberg, chief executive of Ericsson, appointed to the Board of Directors.

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