Our Associate Program Officers

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Three Skillman Foundation team members have recently been appointed to the role of associate program officer: Ashley Aidenbaum, Matt Hoerauf, and Siobhan O’Laoire. Each of these talented folks brings a different set of skills and experience to their new role, contributing to the Foundation’s grantmaking and changemaking efforts. 

The trio explains what led them to the Foundation, and what they’ve learned in their previous roles to carry forward as they, and the Foundation, transition to a new way of work.  

ashley
Ashley Aidenbaum

How long have you been a member of the Skillman Foundation team?
Almost three years.

Previous role at the Foundation:
I’m currently transitioning from my previous role as special projects manager for the Office of the President, where I managed key projects and initiatives such as the Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren and the mayor’s Workforce Development Board Youth Committee. My role has been a mix of communications/messaging, project management, and in general, moving work! Many of my duties around initiatives and stakeholder engagement will carry forward in my new role, but in a way that is more integrated with our grantmaking strategies.

One big takeaway from previous role: 
Balancing flexibility and control. Big, complex projects with multiple stakeholders need structure and process, but you also have to sense when the group energy or broader context of the work is shifting and require you to take a step back.

What drew you to the Foundation, and what makes you stay?
Two things drew me to the Foundation: One was my interest in place-based work, and the second was the focus on increasing opportunity for youth. Prior to joining the Foundation, I was interested and engaged in various issues that I felt were righteous or a part of repairing the world, but hadn’t considered how access to education fit in. I’ve personally come to appreciate education as a social justice issue, and I love working at a place that puts kids first every day.

Matt Hoerauf
Matt Hoerauf

How long have you been a member of the Skillman Foundation team?
3 ½ years. 

Previous roles at the Foundation:
I began my tenure at the Foundation as an administrative assistant to the vice president of program and the senior program officer of education. I was promoted to program analyst, and spent about two years in that role assisting with the management of internal grantmaking flow as well as production of materials for the Foundation’s board of trustees.

One big takeaway from previous role:
I have a great respect for administrative staff, who silently make the work happen behind the scenes. A common challenge at the Foundation and elsewhere is to ensure that the people who fill these roles are kept up-to-date on information that helps them to do their jobs most effectively. I try to build those information bridges.

What drew you to the Foundation, and what makes you stay?
The Foundation offers a rich environment for personal growth, and staff are deeply passionate about the wellbeing of Detroit’s youth as well as the systems that impact them.

Detroit is emerging from years of disinvestment and leadership challenges. There are many bright spots and opportunities to best ensure the city’s youth thrive. The Foundation is poised to play a key role in that work.

siobhan
Siobhan O’Laoire

How long have you been a member of the Skillman Foundation team?
Nearly four years.

Previous roles at the Foundation:
I first held the role of grants management associate, helping to manage the grantmaking process from application to payment, reporting and close-out. Most recently, I served as an evaluation fellow for both the Skillman Foundation and Council of Michigan Foundations. I supported the Skillman Foundation’s strategic learning and evaluation team, helping to manage evaluations, data, continuous learning and strategy development.

One big takeaway from previous roles:
The importance of having a continuous improvement lens on the work in order to learn, adapt and drive results. I’ve spent the past two years digging deep into the outcomes and lessons of the Foundation’s decade-long Good Neighborhoods work, and considering how the team can build upon these learnings as we develop and execute our new strategy.

What drew you to the Foundation, and what makes you stay?
I was first drawn to the Foundation’s innovate youth-focused place-based work. I stay because our relentless commitment to ensure Detroit youth are exposed to opportunities that prepare them for college, career and life perfectly aligns with my interests in education, youth development and systems change.

 

We're grateful for the contributions of these dedicated staff member. They are not only great assets to the team, but an inspiration!

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