January 07, 2014

People to Watch in 2014

Eric Stowe, founder of Splash, a charity that brings clean water to schools, hospitals, and other institutions in developing countries, is a proponent of warts-and-all nonprofit transparency.

This article is part of our Outlook 2014 package. See more advice and ideas for the year ahead in our special section.

Jon Baron, president, Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy

Leader pushes low-cost ways to evaluate social programs

Photo of Jon Baron

Evaluation is all the rage, even though many charities struggle to afford the measurement methods needed to determine what approaches work best. Jon Baron, president of the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy, says his group has proved that randomized controlled trials, often considered the gold standard of evaluation, can be conducted even by organizations on a tight budget. Now, with support from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, his nonprofit is holding a competition to support randomized controlled trials, for up to $100,000, to discover what works in social programs.


Emmett Carson ,CEO, Silicon Valley Community Foundation

$2-billion from Zuckerberg brings fund new opportunities

Photo of Emmett Carson

 With nearly $2-billion in donations from Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder of Facebook, Emmett Carson has an opportunity to broaden the impact he can have as chief executive of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which appears poised to overtake the Tulsa Community Foundation as the nation’s largest community fund.

Mr. Zuckerberg hasn’t said exactly how he would like the money spent, but has said that health and education are two priorities for him and his wife, Priscilla Chan.


Andrew Means, founder, Data Analysts for Social Good

New group helps nonprofits tackle big data

Photo of Andrew Means

 As data about nonprofits, donors, and social programs become more accessible, many nonprofits want to harness such information to improve their work. Andrew Means started Data Analysts for Social Good to improve the process at two levels. First, he wants to bring together people who analyze data at charities so they can share knowledge and learn from one another. In addition, he wants to help charity leaders make sense of the new world of big data. A one-day conference on the subject that the group held in August sold out and had a waiting list of more than 60 people. The group is now planning a two-day meeting in May.

“I’m really passionate about trying to get the people who are running nonprofits, that are already working at nonprofits, to understand the value of data and what it is and what it can be,” says Mr. Means. “Long term, that will help move the sector forward.”


Eric Rosenthal, founder, Disability Rights International

A crusader for disabled people worldwide begins a new campaign

Photo of Eric Rosenthal

Eric Rosenthal’s work over the past 20 years helped to bring about the creation of the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to eliminate the practice in some countries of holding people with disabilities in cages, and to halt electroconvulsive therapy without anesthesia in Turkey.

In 2013 he won the Charles Bronfman Prize, a $100,000 award that recognizes a person or group under 50 doing humanitarian work. Next on his agenda: ending the institutionalization of disabled children worldwide.


Reshma Saujani, founder, Girls Who Code

Nonprofit leader tackles the scarcity of women in tech jobs

Photo of Reshma Saujani

The gender gap in technology and engineering is more like a chasm. Reshma Saujani wants to change that by giving girls a hands-on introduction to computer science and programming. Last year the nonprofit she founded, Girls Who Code, ran in-depth summer immersion programs in five cities in which instruction in robotics, web design, and development of mobile apps was combined with mentoring and the chance to meet leading female entrepreneurs and engineers. The charity’s approach, which also includes a curriculum to help schools and community groups start Girls Who Code clubs, has attracted support from heavy hitters in the industry, including AT&T, eBay, and Twitter.

Photo by Adrian Kinloch


Michael Smith, director, Social Innovation Fund

A new chief steers White House efforts to help nonprofits grow

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Michael Smith left the Case Foundation in July to become director of the White House’s Social Innovation Fund. The fund, intended to spur the growth of promising nonprofit solutions to social problems, has awarded $137.7-million in grants over the past five years to 20 organizations that select nonprofits to focus on issues of youth development, economic opportunity, and health.

The initial grants have generated $350-million in matching funds, and 2014 will be a crucial year for showing whether the investments made since the fund was created in 2009 are making a difference.


Eric Stowe, founder, Splash

Leader gives continuous, candid assessments of charity's work

Photo of Eric Stowe

Eric Stowe, founder of Splash, a charity that brings clean water to schools, hospitals, and other institutions in developing countries, is a proponent of warts-and-all nonprofit transparency. Unlike the static figures used by many charities on their websites, the number of children that Splash reports serving has fluctuated on its Proving It website, indicating new water systems that have been built and others that have gone offline for repairs. The charity also provides water-quality reports, user reviews, and service records simultaneously to the group’s leaders and to the donors who support the various projects. Mr. Stowe says donors appreciate the organization’s candor, and so far only one person has pulled support in response to news of setbacks.


La June Montgomery Tabron, president, W.K. Kellogg Foundation

A major grant maker’s first African-American president settles in

Photo of La June Montgomery Tabron

Kellogg’s new president plans to carry out the foundation’s effort to help needy children and their families by focusing on providing them with education, food, health, and economic security. Ms. Tabron, 51, is the first African-American to lead the nearly $7.3-billion philanthropy.

The Detroit native is also committed to continuing the foundation’s alliance with 26 other grant makers, started in 2013, to support programs designed to improve the well-being of young minority men.

Send an e-mail to Doug Donovan, Cody Switzer, and Nicole Wallace.