Our Board and Staff

The Cricket Island Foundation board is comprised of three generations of family members and their spouses.  All board members have made a financial contribution to the Foundation, which is intended to empower them as vested board members who collectively define the Foundation’s direction. The board and staff currently include:

Board of Directors


  • Jeffrey Welles◊#, President and Chair
  • Cameron Miranda# and Maud Welles◊#, Vice Presidents and Grantmaking Committee Co-Chairs
  • Taylor Jordan, Treasurer, Finance Committee Chair

Members at Large:

  • Luke Jernagan#
  • Brooke Jordan
  • Ginny Jordan
  • Nicole Jordan
  • Adam Miranda
  • Alexandra Welles
  • Andrew Welles
  • Berkeley Welles
  • Chris Welles
  • Georgia Welles
  • Hope Welles Jernagan
  • Peter Welles◊#
  • Rene Welles
  • Hunter Welles

◊ = Finance Committee
# = Grantmaking Committee
⊗ = On Leave


Elizabeth Sak, Executive Director
Liz Sak has served as the Executive Director since joining the Foundation in 2007. Liz brings with her more than two decades of experience running non-profit organizations in New York – from a Beacon School in the South Bronx to an arts and youth-led social change group in Manhattan. She currently serves on the Board of Philanthropy New York and on the Executive Committee for the Communities for Just Schools Fund, and is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

In partnership with the Foundation Center, Liz spearheaded an effort to analyze the impact of the recession on social justice philanthropy that resulted in release of Diminishing Dollars for Social Justice Philanthropy. Liz received her B.A. from Lehigh University and her MBA from the Yale School of Management.

Leela van Balkom, Program Officer
Leela joined the Foundation in 2016, and has over seven years of professional and volunteer experience working for diverse non-profit organizations in New York and internationally. Prior to joining CIF, Leela led resource mobilization for a community-based non-profit in the Bronx working on intersecting issues of affordable housing, homelessness, and discriminatory policing. She also consulted with a Montreal-based firm on impact assessment and non-profit performance measurement. She holds Bachelor and Master degrees in International Development Studies from McGill University (Montreal, Canada) and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (Geneva, Switzerland), respectively.

Jenny Peters, Finance Manager
Jenny has overseen the finance, personnel and operational activities at Cricket Island Foundation since 2010. Prior to that, she spent ten years in grants, finance and operations management in both the philanthropic and not-for-profit sectors in New York City, at a private anti-poverty foundation and then at a multicultural, arts-based youth leadership organization. She transitioned into the field after a decade of experience managing businesses representing international cottage artisans.

Jenny has served multiple terms on the executive board of the Park Slope Jewish Center, and volunteers in a number of community initiatives around food and sustainability, having joined as a founding member of her local food cooperative as well as managed a neighborhood CSA. She received her B.A. from Barnard College, and pursued her graduate studies in non-for-profit management at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

T. Bakare , Program and Operations Associate
T. Bakare has worked as a consultant for several NYC-based nonprofits over the last 7 years. Prior to working in the nonprofit sector, she performed in local theater productions and regional commercials. She holds a A.S. in Business Administration from Queensborough Community College and is pursuing a B.S. in Public Affairs from Baruch College.

Elisabeth E. Garrett, New York City Cohort Consultant
Elisabeth Garrett (Lisa) is a leadership consultant and coach with more than 15 years of experience in the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors and has worked primarily in community based and youth serving organizations. Lisa is also part of the national Somatics and Social Justice Collaborative which explores how combining both somatics and social justice activism leads to transformative change for individuals, organizations and communities.

Makani Themba, New Orleans Cohort Consultant
Makani Themba is Chief Strategist at Higher Ground Change Strategies based in Jackson, MS. A social justice innovator and pioneer in the field of change communications and narrative strategy, she has spent more than 20 years supporting organizations, coalitions and philanthropic institutions in developing high impact change initiatives. Previously, Makani served as the founder and executive director of The Praxis Project, a nonprofit organization helping communities use media and policy advocacy to advance health justice.