Introducing the 2015 Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellows

December 16, 2014

Aya Johnson and Avi Viswanathan, two leaders with experience in nonprofit administration, constituent advocacy and community engagement, will join the Bush Foundation next month through the Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellowship.

“We are thrilled to have Aya and Avi join the Bush Foundation. They each bring a tremendous mix of skills and experience that will greatly benefit our work,” said Bush Foundation President Jennifer Ford Reedy.

Johnson and Viswanathan are among four individuals selected as 2015 Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellows by the Minnesota Council on Foundations. Launched in 2013, the Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellowship prepares high-potential individuals from communities underrepresented in leadership positions in philanthropy for careers in the field. Fellows are employed by MCF and placed at participating foundations for three years. Over the course of a three-year appointment, Fellows receive significant professional development and networking opportunities. 

“For foundations to remain credible partners, their staff must reflect the shifting diversity of communities,” says Alfonso Wenker, MCF’s director of diversity, equity and inclusion. “These leaders bring strong community relationships that will help position their host sites for the future.”

The Fellowship is dedicated to the late Ron McKinley, a longtime member of the philanthropic and nonprofit communities who embodied justice and equity and worked tirelessly throughout his career to ensure that those from underrepresented communities were afforded equal access, opportunity and the resources necessary to fully participate and be heard.

Meet the 2015 Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellows:

  • Aya Johnson is currently a community representative in the United States Congress focusing on immigration, foreign affairs, unemployment and outreach to communities of color. She has also served as a domestic violence advocate in St. Cloud and Blaine. She will join the Community Innovation team at the Bush Foundation.
  • Avi Viswanathan has served as the campaign director for HIRE Minnesota, a campaign working to achieve racial equity in employment. He lives with his family on the East Side of St. Paul where he is engaged in many community activities and has served on the Dayton's Bluff Community Council. He will join the Community Innovation team at the Bush Foundation.