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Our Team

We have offices in New York City and Portland, OR, as well as one person working from San Francisco.


Kahlief Adams, Technical Support Representative
Nandita Batheja, Community Manager
Amelia Byers, Director of Operations
Adriana Cárdenas, Program Associate
Ben Carr, Software Engineer
Jake Chatt, Social Media Manager
Matt Cifaldi, Community Manager
Caroline Contillo, Community Manager
Victoria Crispo, Idealist Careers Program Coordinator
Ami Dar, Executive Director
Celeste Hamilton Dennis, Editor
Monique Dupre, Community Relations Manager
Josh Elsasser, Site Reliability Engineer
Tim Forster, Video Producer
Ero Gray, Technical Support Manager
Emily Hashimoto, Account Manager
Elise Hoffberg, Product Owner
Mandi Hoffman, Web Designer
Derek Hurley, Software Engineer
Sara Jensen, Technical Support Representative
Allison Jones, Editor, IdealistCareers.org
Kevin Kennedy, Office Manager
Jason Kirtland, Director of Technology
Alia Lahlou, Community Manager, Idealiste.org
Joe Lee, Software Engineer
Sara Lewis, Accounting Manager
Chris Machuca, Program Manager, Idealist Grad Schools
Elena Martin, Program Manager, Idealistas.org
David McCabe, Software Engineer
Kara Montermoso, HR Manager
Alex Morken, Software Engineer
Eric O'Connell, Software Engineer
Megan O'Leary, Community Relations Manager
Max Orhai, Software Engineer
Joshua Richey, Web Designer
Katherine Rodriguez, Associate Video Producer
Phillip Sontag, Director of Communications
Lorene Straka, Director of External Relations
Mike Sugarbaker, Software Engineer


Claire Hansen, Designer

Staff Profiles

Kahlief Adams, Technical Support Representative (Portland)

Kahlief was born and raised in the Bronx, New York and has spent over a decade providing great customer support both professionally and personally. Helping people use technology to solve their problems brings him great joy. As an avid technophile and lover of all things video games he set his career path toward a life of game-making until he found out his arch nemesis, "Math," had other plans in store. So instead of making the next Tetris he found himself writing and talking about games on his website TheSpawnPointBlog.com and his podcast Spawn On Me. When he's not playing or writing he's ingesting mass quantities of cured meats and stinky cheeses.

Nandita Batheja, Community Manager (New York)

Accidentally yet persistently loyal to small places and cold weather, Nandita grew up in Armonk, NY and then attended even smaller Williams College to study English literature. When she wasn't lost in literary space, she could be found stomping and clapping on her college step team, writing, or wondering. She spent her summers and post-grad years working in nonprofits, arts organizations, and urban education. In 2014, she set out for rural India to teach at Shanti Bhavan Children's Project where she met the most loving and inspiring children, teachers, and volunteers. She then headed to Elsewhere in North Carolina—a living art museum set inside a former thrift store. A former Idealist intern, she was psyched to return in summer 2014 and join Matt on the Community Engagement team. She loves ideas, community, dancing, and most of all, people—so don't hesitate to email your thoughts her way!

Amelia Byers, Director of Operations (New York)

Prior to working at Idealist, Amelia worked in various positions in the private and nonprofit sectors. Her experience includes communications, community outreach programs, volunteer management, human resources, and event planning. A political junkie, she loves a good debate, reading, music, and traveling as often as possible.

Adriana Cárdenas, Program Associate (New York)

Adriana was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia and recently joined the Idealistas team. She studied communications and journalism in Colombia and has since been working for nonprofits in her country and the United States. Aside from her job, she is studying marketing and is passionate about traveling and helping people. In her spare time, she likes trying different and delicious foods from all over the world and spending time with her family.

Ben Carr, Software Engineer (Portland)

Ben Carr is aging like a fine bourbon: fiery as fermented sunlight and smooth as the barrel of a glassy wave. He's sired two outstanding children and slain countless computer programs during his computer science degree program at Portland State. You can find Ben with his amazing wife hiking or running on forest trails, playing music in the basement, or camping on mountains with family and friends.

Jake Chatt, Social Media Manager (New York)

Born in the north, bred in the south; Jake is an avid cinephile and tortured wanderluster that came to New York with a dream and the determination to back it up. He is always asking questions and has a passion for passing information onto others. This is why he is the eyes, ears, and mouth of Idealist's social media network; so if you catch him scouring Facebook or Twitter then he's probably working and not just seeing what Scarlett Johansson ate for lunch.

Matt Cifaldi, Community Manager (New York)

Matt is from a small town in Connecticut, which is where he stayed until he was 18. He moved to New York City in 2004 to attend Fordham University, and, after a few volunteer trips and studying abroad, he discovered he really enjoyed traveling. After graduating in 2008, Matt worked in Alaska with AmeriCorps, where he learned to defend himself against bear attacks. He then moved to Argentina for a year to teach English, and traveled through much of South America. After that, he decided his family missed him and moved back to New York to be closer to home. He now works for Idealist and cooks empanadas.

Caroline Contillo, Community Manager (New York)

Caroline studied Cultural Anthropology at Hunter College and has had almost every type of job that exists during her 12 years here in New York City. Originally from New Jersey, she's lived all over North Brooklyn, but recently left the borough for Ridgewood, Queens. She has done content management in a variety of environments, including Businessweek Online and The Daily. Most recently, she acted as a community manager at The Interdependence Project, a Buddhist meditation center on the Bowery. When she's not managing content and helping communities connect, she teaches mindfulness meditation and sometimes performs stand-up comedy. Caroline is passionate about social, environmental, and economic justice, with a particular focus on the connections between climate change and various social movements. Additionally, Caroline is a huge Cher fan and doesn't take much convincing to imitate some of the singer's more famous film personas.

Victoria Crispo, Idealist Careers Program Coordinator (New York)

Victoria became acquainted with Idealist in 2000 and has been using it ever since to help liberal arts majors and job seekers find meaningful career opportunities with purpose. With a background in career counseling at an NYC college and career coaching for professionals in various industries, she joyously joins the team as Careers Program Coordinator (a position she found on Idealist.org, of course). Her great loves are cooking (preferably without a recipe, otherwise she doctors it up), dancing, live cultural performances, identifying the tasting notes in a good cup of coffee, and anything else that sparks the senses and allows her to experience all the beauty, dynamism, and intrigue that vivaciously living in a remarkable world offers.

Ami Dar, Executive Director (New York)

Ami is the founder and executive director of Idealist. Built in 1996 with $3,500, Idealist.org has become one of the most popular nonprofit resources on the web, with information provided by 100,000 organizations around the world and millions of visitors every month. Ami was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Peru and in Mexico, and lives in New York.

Celeste Hamilton Dennis, Editor (Portland)

Celeste spends her days trying to understand where good ideas come from, how to implement them, and how they spread. She spends her nights writing short fiction, reminiscing with Craig about their Peace Corps days in Guyana, and trying to prevent her teething baby from chewing off her big toe. Read Celeste's blog posts here, listen to her podcasts here, and if you ever have a question about how to bowl a turkey or where to find sassy fabrics, email her at celeste [at] idealist [dot] org.

Monique Dupre, Community Relations Manager (Portland)

Monique grew up on a farm two miles up a dirt road near the Oregon coast; her only neighbors were the cougars and critters in the forest. At age 18 she packed her bags and left for a life changing solo expedition in Europe. There she mastered the French language and French kissing. It was during her time in France where she met her husband. Together they have two bilingual daughters. Monique has enjoyed starting small businesses in the past as well as working with non-profits. Today Monique calls Portland home and can be found playing classical guitar for the bees in her garden.

Josh Elsasser, Site Reliability Engineer (Portland)

Josh grew up in Oregon and claims that he really doesn't mind the rain at all. He spends most of his time tinkering with open source software and obsolete hardware. At Idealist he is responsible for keeping the hamsters in the data center fed and happy. When he's away from his computers, he's probably out riding his bike or enjoying local Portland brews.

Tim Forster, Video Producer (New York)

Tim started his path toward film and video by wearing out VHS copies of Back to the Future and Ghostbusters. After stints in the financial world and the NYC tech start-up scene, he gladly comes to Idealist to tell the stories of people striving to better the world. Born and raised in Ohio, he is a long-suffering fan of underperforming sports teams, as well as an avid runner, budding cook, and full-time space enthusiast. You can view some of his work at Timfo.info.

Ero Gray, Technical Support Manager (Portland)

Ero joined Idealist in May 2012 after managing IT and communications for several New York nonprofits. He's a fanatic about providing friendly customer support, but his previous background includes jobs building websites, removing malware, and composing music for commercials (he once imitated Elvis for a radio jingle). In his spare time he creates very strange music, bakes pies, and tries to be near trees as much as possible.

Emily Hashimoto, Account Manager (New York)

Emily has used Idealist to find almost every job she has ever held. Before coming to the organization, she worked for political campaigns and nonprofits. Recently she completed her master's in library and information science, which allowed the nerdier parts of her brain to flourish. In her free time, Emily enjoys baking (or at least thinking about it), reading, writing, and voraciously consuming pop culture.

Elise Hoffberg, Product Owner (Portland)

Elise has a longstanding commitment to using technology for good. She joined Idealist in 2007 and has worked in Buenos Aires, New York, and now Portland, OR, always focused on making sure the website delivers value to our users. As Product Owner, she represents the interests of Idealist stakeholders to the Development Team (read: she translates human speak into geekspeak). She transitioned into this role after managing our Community Support Team. Before joining Idealist, she helped research and build software solutions to improve language access for immigrants in the health care system. Outside of work, Elise regularly incapacitates herself by laughing at jokes, crying over a superb sandwich, or (the best!) doing both at the same time. Actually, let's be honest: she does that at work, too.

Mandi Hoffman, Web Designer (Portland)

Mandi has had a deep and profound relationship with the Internet since the mid-nineties. She began with a love for GeoCities and animated gifs, and is currently enamored with usability and mobile apps. Mandi loves the ever-changing landscape of technology and hopes to one day design and build something so beautiful and innovative that the whole world stops for a second to admire its glory. When not basking in the glow of her monitor, you can find Mandi in her kitchen whipping up a delicious plant-based meal, suspended from the ceiling doing circus tricks, or being the craziest cat lady you will ever meet.

Derek Hurley, Software Engineer (Portland)

When he's not out bouldering, or sipping some tea, Derek enjoys diving into code and figuring out where all the bits and pieces connect. Learning and asking questions are very important to him, so if he seems a tad excitable, don't panic. Derek has a degree in Computer Science from Portland State University, takes the occasional photo or two, and can be recognized practically anywhere by his headphones. After working in Residence Life at Portland State University for four years, he's thoroughly excited to work in a technical capacity with the superb people at Idealist, and he's even more excited that people finally get his jokes.

Sara Jensen, Technical Support Representative (Portland)

Sara is delighted to support the people who use Idealist; so if you have any troubles, she can help! On the Portland side of life, she enjoys a good hike, show, fog, cafe painting, joke, brew or book. In various combinations!

Allison Jones, Editor, IdealistCareers.org (New York)

Allison is passionate about connecting people to the resources they need to change the world. In her current role as Editor, she engages the Idealist community on social media and manages IdealistCareers.org, a blog for job seekers who want to work for the public good. When not working she's blogging about how Millennials can create careers that make a difference at allisonj.org, exploring her New Jersey neighborhood by foot, and making a mess in her kitchen. Drop her an email if you want to chat about careers, the social sector, and social media allison [at] idealist [dot] org.

Kevin Kennedy, Office Manager (Portland)

Kevin is the lone staff member of Idealist who happens to be a Portland native. During his teen years he lived a double life as a typical high school student and member of a Disney pop band. You could say he had the best of both worlds. When he's not managing the Portland office, you'll find Kevin on the hunt for the perfect brunch and happy hour spots in the city.

Jason Kirtland, Director of Technology (Portland)

Jason is a software developer, and in the past primarily built proprietary systems using free software tools and technologies. These days, he is an active author of and contributor to open source software and a minor community rabble rouser. He lives in Portland, OR, a town with a fabulous convergence of creative technical energy and good beer. He can be spotted at local tech events, out on the trails, or at a sidewalk cafe with his dog, Lupe.

Alia Lahlou, Community Manager, Idealiste.org (New York)

Alia grew up in Morocco and is constantly moving through different spaces looking to grow, to love, and to learn and unlearn in community. She has a master's degree in international relations but has learned everything she knows outside the classroom.

Alia comes to Idealist after years of involvement with Seeds of Peace, an international conflict transformation and leadership nonprofit. She is a UN-certified dialogue facilitator and a core member of the facilitation team at YES!, an organization working at the meeting point of internal, interpersonal, and systemic change. Chez Idealist, she works on the French site and tries to stay away from all the snacks.

Things that make her happy include being on a plane, her color-coded home library, New York's endless culinary pleasures, and babies.

Joe Lee, Software Engineer (Portland)

Barring anything catastrophic, Joe should be in his final year at Portland State University. He's had an affinity for data and numbers ever since he realized that the backs of his baseball cards were far more interesting than the pictures on the front, or the stale gum. His hobbies include failing at outsmarting his girlfriend, basketball, and writing in the third person.

Sara Lewis, Accounting Manager (New York)

Sara grew up in Orlando, FL or "The City Beautiful" as people like to call it. Before coming to Idealist she spent her days playing trombone in punk, ska, and hip-hop bands, symphony orchestras, and with the Tubafours at Walt Disney World. Outside the office you can find Sara still playing the occasional trombone gig, spending time with her awesome family, or perfecting the art of smoking meat in her backyard. Sara now lives in Westchester County with her husband and son - but at work, she's the Harry to Amelia's Sally.

Chris Machuca, Program Manager, Idealist Grad Schools (Portland)

Chris manages Idealist's Grad Fairs, traveling several months each year to host events where aspiring grad students can meet with admissions professionals from hundreds of different degree programs. Chris moved to Portland in 2006 and was delighted to discover the city's thriving nonprofit community; some of his most rewarding local experiences have included receiving the Rotary Youth Leadership Award and serving on the board of directors at the St. Ignatius School Foundation. A native of the Philippines, Chris attended the Ateneo de Manila University all 16 years of his academic life, where he was very active in theater groups and music ministries – a background that has served him well at Idealist karaoke nights.

Elena Martin, Program Manager, Idealistas.org (New York)

Elena is from Madrid, Spain and landed at Idealistas in 2010. As the face behind our Spanish site and blog, she spends her days encouraging organizations and individuals to turn good intentions to action both online and offline. Passionate about engaging, inspiring, and sharing, Elena is also on the core team of the Idealist Network and works toward a day when, no matter where you are, there will be someone close by who will help make it possible to do whatever you want to do for the common good. When not in the office, she loves to explore Brooklyn – and taste as many new flavors as she can find along the way.

David McCabe, Software Engineer (Portland)

David McCabe is a software developer who believes that people are atomized and must be polymerized. He helped Wikipedia run a top-five website without a budget. He has given talks on functional programming, real-time audio processing on mobile devices, and urban planning. He received a BA in mathematics from Portland State University in 2011. In his spare time, he cycles, plays ukulele, and makes iPhone apps for musicians.

Kara Montermoso, HR and Operations Manager (San Francisco)

Kara holds a B.A. in Public Policy from Brown University and moved to New York City upon receiving a fellowship with Common Ground—an opportunity she found on the Idealist website! With a few other nonprofit experiences under her belt, plus a stint waiting tables, running through the streets of New York for the marathon, and her certification in massage therapy completed, she joined Idealist in 2003. Kara has worked in various capacities throughout the organization and is very excited to have a role in supporting an amazing staff everyday. In 2007, Kara headed back to her home state of California where she enjoys beautiful weather and long runs year round—not to mention a little more living space for her two energetic kids.

Alex Morken, Software Engineer (Portland)

Alex grew up in rural northern Minnesota and moved to the Twin Cities to attend the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. After working with technology in the College of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics and playing stand-up bass in various groups, he (obviously) graduated with a degree in political science. After school, he spent time exploring the western half of the United States and fell in love with Portland, Oregon during his travels. Since moving to Portland in 2003, he has married his career in technology with his political ideals, working with open source software for green manufacturing and other applications, and volunteering his skills for local nonprofits. He continues to play music, ride his bikes in the woods, and explore what the food, music, and outdoors of the Pacific Northwest have to offer.

Eric O'Connell, Software Engineer (Portland)

Eric O'Connell is a graduate of Portland State University, finally having been awarded a bachelor's degree in computer science in 2012 after beginning his education in 1998. He enjoys combining elegant design with beautiful code and enjoys bringing those together as an Engineer at Idealist. He is married to his best friend Marjorie, a Speech Language Pathologist, whom he loves dearly. In his free time he cycles, swims, runs, and plays with his dogs, Cholula and Lebowski. Eric and Marjorie recently had their first child, Zora, and are over the moon.

Megan O'Leary, Community Relations Manager (Portland)

Megan can bake a mean cake, and brings over a decade of nonprofit expertise focusing on relationships, fundraising, finance, and operations to Idealist. A loyal Arizona Wildcat, Megan left the sunny desert for Northern California to serve as an AmeriCorps member with City Year and has since worked her way north to Portland. She loves identifying, connecting, and maximizing resources to provide opportunities for others and is always looking for good Mexican food.

Max Orhai, Software Engineer (Portland)

Max gets that special sunshiney feeling from making the world a little better by helping people and their technologies play nicely together. When he's not communing with the code, he's probably biking, cooking, gardening, writing, contemplating, organizing, exploring, rearranging, prettifying, simplifying, playing with his friends, or just enjoying the companionship of his life partner and their cat. A Portlander since 2002, he comes to Idealist from Portland State University, where he's spent the past several years learning and teaching mathematics and doing computer science research. He brings his passion for social betterment along with his keen analytic mind, courageous creativity, pragmatic design sensibility, occasionally dark humor, big heart, and astonishing dance moves. And he's humble! You can interact with some of his ideas by visiting his personal public website.

Joshua Richey, Web Designer (Portland)

A graphic designer, artist, and photographer, Joshua has spent the last 15 years honing his talents as a visual craftsman (and the last 36 minutes writing this sentence). He spends most of his time reading, playing his bass, and going on long walks around Portland with his retired racing greyhound named Conquer.

Katherine Rodriguez, Associate Video Producer (New York)

Katherine, known around the office as Kat, is a Brooklyn born-and-raised photographer, videographer, adventurer, and geek. She recently graduated from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in visual journalism. In her free time she likes to go on photo adventures throughout the city and anywhere her Honda Civic will take her. Her life's goal is to one day move out of her mother's place. Feel free to chat her up about video games, Doctor Who, Comic Con, and whatever else your inner geek desires.

Phillip Sontag, Director of Communications (New York)

Phillip's career has all been about building brand awareness and engaging target audiences for some of the world's best-known brands and companies - P&G, Mercedes, Unilever, Kodak, Toyota, UPS, etc. After more than 25 years working, Phillip decided that it would be important to use his communications skills to have a real impact in the world by helping people move from intention to action all to do good. Originally from Southern California, Phillip has been living in New York City for more then 10 years. Phillip graduated from the University of Southern California with a bachelor's degree in Journalism/Public Relations.

Lorene Straka, Director of External Relations (New York)

Two weeks after moving to New York in October 1999, Lorene met Ami on the subway. Three weeks after moving to New York, Lorene became an intern at Idealist. Two months later, she was hired on as a program coordinator, doing administrative work and anything else needed to help an organization with a staff of three. More than a decade after moving to New York from her hometown of Woodstock, VT, Lorene is delighted to still be working at Idealist. In the early days, she developed the Kids & Teens website, oversaw the development of the Spanish, French, and Russian versions of Idealist, and, in 2004, moved to Buenos Aires to open the first Idealist office outside the United States. She returned to New York in May of 2005. Lorene graduated from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in 1998.

Mike Sugarbaker, Software Engineer (Portland)

Mike Sugarbaker has probably been making web pages that do things since before you were reading them, and was definitely writing JavaScript before it was cool. He also probably owns more board games than you, has whatever genetic mutation it is that lets people learn to play the drums successfully, draws the occasional bad mini-comic, and makes very strange, delicious cookies. He lives in northeast Portland.


Claire Hansen, Designer (New York)

Claire Taylor Hansen is a Brooklyn-based graphic designer. She studied art at the Cooper Union, and since then has been honing her design skills working on an array of projects for folks ranging from the Public Theater to Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Claire now thoroughly enjoys designing for Idealist. Mornings, evenings, and weekends, she and her husband are gut-renovating a 100-year-old house—they hope to have it complete by 2050.


Gabe Ellzey, Event and Communications Intern (Portland)

Originally from Spokane, WA, Gabe has called the Pacific Northwest home his entire life. Currently completing his MA in international development & service at Concordia University, he is excited to be working with the Idealist Grad Fairs team to help connect other socially-minded students to awesome graduate programs like his own. On the rare occasions he has free time between classes, his thesis, and this rockin' internship, he enjoys rooting on his favorite soccer teams, hanging with his film club, exploring Portland's great live music scene, sipping on microbrews and craft cocktails, and hopping flights to random destinations around the world.