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 became the second Executive Director of the Cricket Island Foundation in 2008, overseeing all aspects of the Foundation’s management including finance, program development, grantmaking, and field building.

Prior to joining the foundation, Liz spent more than two decades running non-profit organizations. This work included securing millions of dollars of public investment in youth development work in the South Bronx which culminated in her securing funding for the Phipps Beacon School, a multi-service initiative serving young people and families in the East Tremont section of the Bronx; Liz served as the inaugural director of that program. She has since led organizations at the intersection of youth-organizing, the arts and youth-development, developing public-private partnerships in support of that work. Since her move to philanthropy in 2008, Liz has focused on the development of strategies that are grounded in principals of social justice philanthropy, organizational strengthening and partnership. She recently co-authored an article on evaluation for the Foundation Review and her writing has appeared in the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Foundation Center, and numerous blogs. She has spoken extensively on evaluation, impact, organizational development and social justice philanthropy at industry conferences and as an adjunct assistant professor at NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service and has served on several boards including Philanthropy New York, Hetrick Martin Institute, and the Empire State Pride Agenda.

Liz holds a BA in political science from Lehigh University and an MBA from the Yale School of Management.

Leela van Balkom, Program Officer

Leela joined the Foundation in 2016, and has over eight 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. Prior to this, she spent three years consulting with a Montreal-based firm on non-profit impact assessment and engaging and managing a large portfolio of corporate donors for WE in Toronto, Canada.

Leela 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.