ABFE Members in Action


Individual Member in Action

Gladys Washington

Gladys Washington

Program Director

Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation

2015 James A. Joseph Lecturer

Lecture Transcript >>

Gladys Krigger Washington is the Program Director of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, a family foundation in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The Babcock Foundation’s mission is to help people and places across the Southeastern United States move out of poverty and achieve greater social and economic justice. The Foundation supports organizations and networks working in low-wealth communities that are poised to expand their scale of impact and working across race, ethnic, economic, and political differences to build just and caring communities.



Gladys works with Babcock applicants and grantees working across the region and in the Gulf Coast and Delta regions. She has directed the Foundation’s programs in grassroots leadership development and community problem solving. Before coming to the Babcock Foundation, Gladys was a Program Officer for the Community Foundation Serving Coastal South Carolina (now Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina) in Charleston.


Institutional Member in Action

Poise Foundation

POISE Foundation

2014 Institutional Award for Philanthropic Leadership

POISE Foundation began in December of 1980 as the first public foundation in the state of Pennsylvania organized and managed by African Americans. The purpose of the Foundation is to develop and enhance the participation of Black philanthropists in the economic and social development of the Black community. For 35 years, the Foundation has been supporting programs that add value to the quality of life of Black Pittsburgh and its surrounding regions; and has expanded its services to impact Black families and their communities across the US. This was the vision of our founder Bernard H. Jones, Sr., of an empowered community, able to take care of itself.


POISE Foundation employs collective giving to enable donors to realize their philanthropic goals, pooling resources to provide funding to worthy organizations and causes. Donors may give to the Foundation’s general unrestricted endowment, where funds are pooled to make a greater impact on the Pittsburgh Region. Donors may also start their own individual endowment funds to support their specific charitable interests and organizations. As of December 2014, the Foundation manages more than 150 funds with a balance of over $6,500,000.


Collective giving supports the Foundation’s leadership, advocacy and grantmaking efforts. While the Foundation typically does not provide direct-service programs, it does strive to be a catalyst for change and growth in the Black Community. Therefore, POISE has initiated programs and partnerships with others, whose programs align with its mission. For example, POISE partnered to launch The Sankofa Fund of Southwest PA, a giving circle of African American philanthropist, as well as The African American Funders Group (AAFG). AAFG works to advance the rich history of African Americans in philanthropy by providing a supportive environment in which professionals in the field can build networks, develop expertise, and find partners in the work of addressing the complex issues facing African Americans in southwestern Pennsylvania. POISE also provides fiscal sponsorship services to projects and programs that are in line with its mission. Since program inception, POISE has enabled its partners to provide millions of dollars in support to worthy programs and projects in the Greater Pittsburgh Region and beyond.


Collective giving enables POISE to provide grants to programs and projects that primarily benefit the Black Community. The Foundation’s grants are typically small, yet over its grantmaking history; POISE has impacted the Greater Pittsburgh Region and beyond with more than $9,000,000 of direct financial support to organizations assisting our most underserved populations. Beginning in fall 2013, the Foundation implemented its new grantmaking strategy, which will direct its unrestricted endowed funds to programs and services that aim to Strengthen Black Families.


Emerging Leader Member in Action


Maisha Simmons, MPA

Program Officer

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

2015 Emerging Leader in Philanthropy

Maisha Simmons, MPA, is a program officer on the Vulnerable Populations Team where she is responsible for coordinating Forward Promise. Forward Promise is the Foundation’s new $9.5 million initiative that aims to improve the health of middle school- and high school-aged boys and young men of color, as well as their opportunities for success in school, work and life.

Simmons joined the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2008 as a Program Associate on the Childhood Obesity Team working to support advocacy efforts to combat childhood obesity. She then became a program officer within Vulnerable Populations, which creates opportunities for better health by investing in health where it starts—in our homes, schools and jobs. Throughout her work at the Foundation, her aim has always been to “keeps communities in the picture.”
Previously, Simmons was a grant writer and manager with United Way of Essex and West Hudson in Newark, N.J. In addition to managing existing grants, she developed new grant prospects and secured funding for community impact initiatives. She was a National Urban Fellow with the Community Development Law Center (CDLC) and the Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center (INRC), Indianapolis, Ind. She also served in various positions at Cathedral Community Development Corporation, Perth Amboy, N.J., including director of Community Development, director of Human Services, and development coordinator. In addition, to what she calls her first experience in public health, she served as an inspector with the Union County Division of Public Works, Bureau of Mosquito Control, during an outbreak of West Nile virus.
Simmons holds an MPA from CUNY/Baruch College, School of Public Affairs, and master certificate in public administration from Kean University, and a BA from Douglass College, Rutgers University.
Born in Orange, N.J., she resides in Asbury Park with her husband. She enjoys movies, reading fiction, and participating in the activities of her church.