Composite of six new staff

Welcoming New Bush Foundation Staff

November 11, 2021

We are excited to welcome six new colleagues to the Bush Foundation! They bring an incredible array of experiences and perspectives, along with a deep commitment to make our region better for everyone.

In the spring, we shared our strategy evolution and continued commitment to be more open, more responsive and more supportive in all we do. We highlighted plans to deepen our commitment to racial justice and ensure simple, supportive and equitable experiences for our applicants, grantees and partners. This adapted approach included organizing our teams and staff roles to better support our grantmaking and help us be a stronger force for equitable change

Each of our new staff members will help build our capacity to engage more deeply and broadly with communities across all our programs. We are delighted to have this amazing group of people join us as we work to make even greater impact in our region.

Introducing our New Bush Foundation Colleagues

Farhiya Abdulkarim, Grantmaking Coordinator. Before joining the Foundation, she led and supported racial equity work at Concordia College and Macalester College. She is excited to combine her knack for people and processes to ensure supportive and equitable experiences for grantees and applicants.

Mattie Harper DeCarlo, Grantmaking Officer focusing on the 23 Native nations in our region. She previously worked in Tribal State Relations for the MN Governor’s office, and also in public history and higher education. Mattie is especially excited about supporting community-driven change and big ideas that transform lives and close equity gaps in Native nations.

Tony LookingElk, Grantmaking Director focusing on Community Innovation. In his previous experience at philanthropic institutions across our region, he served communities in Native, rural, and metro areas. Tony looks forward to supporting communities as they transform hope and aspiration into community change. 

Tyra Payer, Communications Associate. They previously managed social media and communications at a Native-led non-profit and managed and facilitated a BIPOC artist council. Tyra is most excited about sharing stories of change and those who are leading it across our region.

Christopher Romano, Chief Operating Officer (starting January 2022). He is the Executive Director at Seward Redesign, and has held a variety of leadership roles at other economic development organizations as well as Thrivent Financial. Christopher is inspired by the opportunity to support the Foundation’s strategies and its impact in community.

Damon Shoholm, Grantmaking Director focusing on the Bush Fellowship. He has served in the non-profit sector for over a decade in leadership development, civic engagement, and facilitative training. Through his work, Damon aims to support effective reflection, learning, and self-analysis to help organizations and individuals thrive.


See all staff bios here