News & Ideas  -  Kettering Foundation announces promotions of key staff

Press Release

The foundation is strengthening its capacity to meet the needs of democracy in a changing world.

DAYTON, OHIO (Feb. 23, 2023) – The Charles F. Kettering Foundation today announced organizational changes to enhance its ability to meet the needs of democracy in the 21st century. In April 2022, the foundation’s Board of Directors chose Sharon L. Davies as its president and chief executive officer—the first change in leadership at the foundation since 1981. Under her leadership, the organization is committing itself to addressing new threats to democracy, challenging persistent inequality and helping to bring about an inclusive and equitable democracy for all.

“The Kettering Foundation is in the midst of a deeply reflective strategic planning process during a time of unprecedented threats to our democracy,” said Davies. “These promotions position the foundation to meet this important moment.”

The foundation has promoted four key staff to expand its international reach, enhance its communications capacity, build new relationships in the nation’s capital, and tap the unique power of the arts to advance democracy. They are as follows:

Paloma Dallas is Senior Program Officer for International Programs. She works closely with the Director of International Programs, shaping the foundation’s international work to address the myriad democratic challenges around the globe. Dallas has previously done work to advance the Kettering Foundation’s international efforts in citizen diplomacy and brought together journalists from around the world to pursue innovations in reporting that minimize polarization and distrust. Dallas holds bachelor’s degrees in political science and Spanish from Macalester College and a master of international affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

Joni Doherty is Senior Program Officer for Democracy and the Arts. She is building a program that looks at the arts as a democratic practice and explores people’s understanding and experience with democracy through art. At the foundation, she has led research projects examining how higher education, humanities councils, libraries, and museums have strengthened democracy. Doherty has been a studio artist and taught in the American Studies program at Franklin Pierce University. She holds a bachelor of fine arts degree in painting from the University of New Hampshire, a master’s degree in cultural studies from Simmons College, and a doctorate in philosophy and art theory from the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts, in Portland, Maine.

Melinda Gilmore is Director of Communications. She oversees foundation publications, press relations, and digital communications and media, and directs all communications to advance the mission, vision, and values of the foundation. Gilmore has for many years played a key role in writing and editing foundation publications and communications, most recently as director of strategic initiatives at the foundation. Gilmore holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Wright State University and a master’s degree in English from the University of Dayton.

Brad Rourke is Director of External Affairs and DC Operations. He leads the foundation’s Washington, DC, office and heads efforts to increase the foundation’s visibility, impact, and reputation with key audiences, promoting awareness and understanding of the foundation’s mission. For more than a decade at the foundation, Rourke served as a program officer and executive editor of issue guides, enabling groups to come together to discuss contentious public issues. Rourke holds a bachelor’s degree in comparative literature from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master of public administration from American University in Washington, DC.

The Charles F. Kettering Foundation, headquartered in Dayton, Ohio, is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, operating foundation rooted in the American tradition of inventive research. Founded in 1927 “to sponsor and carry out scientific research for the benefit of humanity,” the foundation is inspired by the innovativeness and ingenuity of its founder, the American inventor Charles F. Kettering. For the past four decades, the foundation’s research and programs have focused on the needs of democracy worldwide.