News & Ideas  -  Kettering Foundation announces promotions of key staff

News Press Release

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

DAYTON, OHIO (August 2, 2023) – The Charles F. Kettering Foundation today announced the promotion of eight staff members. These new roles will play an integral part in our work moving forward, implementing our new strategic plan, In Defense of Democracy, expanding our work in new focus areas, enhancing our relationships with partners and strengthening our communications. “As we continue to address new threats to democracy, these staff members will play critical roles in pursuit of our expanded mission,” said Sharon L. Davies, Kettering Foundation President and CEO.

Tayo Clyburn, Chief Strategy Officer and Senior Advisor to the President, will serve as a guide and resource to staff in carrying out the foundation’s new strategic plan. He will work across the senior team and program leadership to identify strategic opportunities to innovate and create change through the foundation’s programs. Acting as a trusted advisor to the president, Clyburn will provide guidance on internal priorities, challenges, culture and decisions. Clyburn earned his MA and PhD from Ohio State’s Department of English.

Damien Conners, Senior Program Officer for Defending Inclusive Democracy, will lead and carry out programs and projects that defend inclusive democracy and strengthen the public’s commitment to democracy, increasing its ability to recognize antidemocratic threats and its willingness to act in democracy’s defense. Conners holds a BA in political science from Ramapo College of New Jersey, an M.Div from Princeton Theological Seminary, a Th.M from Emory University and a graduate certificate in nonviolent conflict reconciliation from the University of Rhode Island’s Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies.

Sarah Dahm, Strategic Project Manager, will plan and direct project schedules and budgets and identify risks and resolutions. This involves advancing internal and external facing projects and programs including DEI initiatives. She will work closely with the leadership team on the implementation and management of strategic projects. Dahm has more than 20 years of project management experience, including client-based and internal-facing projects, and holds a BS in financial services from Wright State University.

Elizabeth Gish, Senior Program Officer for Democracy and Community, will lead and carry out programs that help create inclusive communities where everyone can participate in shaping their future. She will be engaged in the Dayton community, as well as other communities, with a focus on amplifying voices, promoting mutuality, encouraging collective action and enhancing and deepening democratic engagement with an eye toward justice, inclusion and equity. Gish has an undergraduate degree in political science and religion from Miami University of Ohio and a masters and doctorate from Harvard Divinity School.

Mindy LaBreck, Vice President for People and Culture, will provide leadership for organizational effectiveness and culture, talent development and advancing an inclusive and equitable organizational culture that innovates for democracy. She will also provide leadership for the development and administration of personnel policies and benefits; adoption of information technologies; talent recruitment, development and assessment and facilities management for the Dayton campus. LaBreck holds a BA with a humanities concentration and an MA in management from Antioch University, a graduate certificate in employment law from Cornell’s ILR School and is a SHRM-SCP.

Valerie Lemmie, Senior Advisor for State and Local Government, brings a wealth of experience as an appointed official in state and local government along with years of experience as Director of Exploratory Research at the foundation. A pracademic and proven leader, Lemmie will advise and collaborate with staff and affinity organizations to make visible threats to democracy through government actions, holding public officials accountable to the public and support critical democracy-building efforts locally and statewide. Lemmie received her BA in political science and urban sociology from the University of Missouri and an MA in urban affairs/public policy planning from Washington University.

Alex Lovit, Senior Program Officer and Historian, will focus on analysis of threats to democracy and providing historical context on these topics. He will work closely with communications and the five program areas as a historical consultant and will publish in a variety of mediums. Lovit holds a PhD in American history from the University of Michigan.

Sarah Murphy, Communications Manager, will manage communications work for external audiences across mediums and platforms, including maintaining knowledge of and an understanding of the status of all communications projects. She will play a key role in increasing the visibility of the work of the foundation. Murphy holds a BA in communication from Cedarville University, an MS in public communication from Drexel University and a graduate certificate in strategic communications management from Purdue University.