Founded in 2012, Open Road Alliance is a private philanthropic initiative that provides grant capital to non-profits for mid-implementation projects facing an unexpected roadblock or a sudden catalytic opportunity. Open Road makes discrete, one-time charitable and recoverable investments across all sectors and geographies. Open Road Alliance was founded by psychologist and philanthropist Laurie Michaels, to fill a market demand for fast, flexible contingency funding in the philanthropic sector.
Open Road sees every grant it makes as an investment for social impact. We provide fast, flexible capital via three portfolios: Charitable Grants; Loans; and The Unexpected Fund. Our portfolios exclusively support mid-implementation projects that encounter an unexpected roadblock. Our funds ensure the impact of the original project – and often rescue or preserve the ROI of the original donor’s investment, thus generating great leverage for Open Road. Since its first grant in 2012, Open Road has disbursed $7.6 Million dollars to over 50 organizations, leveraging more than $54 Million in original project funds.
Open Road’s model is based on speed and financial leverage. Most traditional grant-making programs have slow, inflexible, and restrictive procedures for releasing funds. Many do not provide funds outside of their fixed grant cycles at all. To address this funding gap, grants from Open Road do not operate on a traditional grant cycle. Proposals are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year and the application itself is a concise, three-step process: an initial conversation, short written application and final interview.
How we do business
Open Road Team
Natalia joined Open Road Alliance in 2017 as the portfolio fellow.
Prior to Open Road, Natalia worked as a maternity grants analyst at Superintendencia de Seguridad Social (SUSESO) in Chile, she evaluated maternity grants, audited the expense reports of nationally funded subsidies, and analyzed the data related with maternity grants reported by different entities as well as preparing information for the study of public policy in the field of social security.
Previously, she worked as a studies analyst at Servicio Nacional de la Discapacidad (SENADIS) in Chile, analyzing information about different areas of disability and defining indicators. She also was the academic director of the management control diploma at Universidad Mayor in Chile, responsible for designing the academic program, structuring the courses, and recruiting professors in addition to her teaching activities.
Natalia earned a Bachelor’s degree in Management Control Engineering at Universidad de Chile and a Master’s degree in Accounting, Auditing and Control at Erasmus University Rotterdam in The Netherlands.
Caroline Bressan is the Director of Social Investments of Open Road Alliance, which she joined in 2015.
Prior to Open Road, Caroline was an Investment Principal at D. Capital, the investment advisory wing of Dalberg. There she focused on D. Capital’s impact investment advisory offerings, building a pipeline of investment opportunities in Sub Saharan Africa, specifically in energy and agriculture. Caroline also worked on the design and structuring of innovative financing mechanisms, including impact bonds and social impact insurance.
Previously, Caroline was an Investment Officer at Calvert Foundation where she managed its $20 million portfolio mainly focused on Latin America. At Calvert Foundation, she originated and managed a pipeline of lending and investment deals focused on the sustainable trade, social enterprise, and financial inclusion sectors. In addition, Caroline designed and launched a revolving line of credit product, the first of its kind for Calvert Foundation and helped launch the international component of the Women Investing in Women Initiative (WIN-WIN). She also sat on the investment committee of the Haitian Emergency Liquidity Fund, created to provide funding to microfinance institutions in the aftermath of the 2009 earthquake. Caroline has previously worked in Bolivia with Pro Mujer designing a business education program for clients.
Caroline received her MBA from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and holds a Bachelor in Business Administration from the University of Michigan. She speaks English and Spanish.
Bridgette joined Open Road Alliance late 2016 as the Communications Manager.
Before joining Open Road, Bridgette served as a Creative for the human rights organization, WITNESS, where she contributed to messaging, content strategy, strategic partnerships, and multimedia production.
Previously, Bridgette was living in Uganda and working in conflict-affected regions of DR Congo, the Central African Republic, and South Sudan where she reported on regional developments and contributed to programmatic work for the NGO Invisible Children.
Bridgette holds an MSc in Global Media and Communications from the London School of Economics and an MA in Global Communication from the University of Southern California. She held a Global Fellowship at USC’s Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy where she supported publishing scholars researching the intersection of human trafficking and technology.
Bridgette attended the University of California, San Diego where she earned a BA in Political Science and a BA in Visual Art.
Michael has served in various leadership positions in the international philanthropy arena, and most recently served as the Deputy Executive Director for the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). Prior to this position he was Deputy Director for Global Health Policy and Advocacy at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where he managed portfolios spanning government relations and issue advocacy while also spearheading an “Emerging Donors” initiative that has quietly generated over $1 billion of new philanthropic resources and partnerships for global issues in the last 3 years.
Michael also served for many years as the Senior Vice President at the United Nations Foundation, where he institutionalized an organization-wide partnership approach to generate additional financial and other support for UN causes, and was central to the creation and growth of several new social enterprises.
Michael currently serves on a number of non-profit Boards and committees, including Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, TB and Malaria, Refugees International, MTV Staying Alive (HIV) Foundation,
The 1630 Fund, 1000Days.org, and Uncharted Play.
In 2010 Michael published a chapter titled, “Global Philanthropy in the Era of Turner & Gates: Collaboration, Scale and Leverage Re-imagined,” in a book of essays titled, “Global Philanthropy.” In 2011 he was also named by Development Exchange (DEVEX) as one of “40 Under 40” leaders in International Development.
Laurie Michaels, Ph.D. is an individual philanthropist based in Aspen, CO. Prior to founding Open Road Alliance, a private philanthropic fund, in 2012, Dr. Michaels maintained a practice in clinical psychology.
Through Open Road Alliance, Dr. Michaels and her team make charitable and recoverable grants to non-profits in need of contingency funds. Her experience has led her to actively advocate for change within the philanthropic sector by highlighting the need for better risk management in grant making. She is a contributor to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, SSIR, and Forbes as well as a speaker at forums such as Fail Forward, Clinton Global Initiative, GEO, Council on Foundations, and Global Philanthropy Forum.
Dr.Michaels currently serves on the Board of Directors for PATH and Search for Common Ground. She served on the board of the Aspen Community Foundation for 12 years and had been Board Chair for four years ending in 2013.
Dr.Michaels earned a B.A. from Williams College. She holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Colorado State University.
Ivon Silva is the Program Associate for Open Road Alliance. She joined the Open Road team in February 2016. Ivon’s broad experience includes work at New York University, the North Star Fund and The Ford Foundation. Specifically, Ivon’s experience is in the fields of information technology, communications, development and grantmaking.
Ivon holds a B.A. in Political Science/Public Policy from Stony Brook University and a M.A. in Economics, Political Economy from Brooklyn College.
Maya Winkelstein is Executive Director of Open Road Alliance where she is responsible for the organization’s overall investment strategy including finding new ways to deploy capital to achieve maximum social returns. Winkelstein has worked with Open Road since the organization’s inception in 2012. Prior to her role as Executive Director, she worked with Open Road as an Associate Director with the consulting firm williamsworks. Former clients also include Eastern Congo Initiative, Nike Foundation, PATH, Tostan, and TOMS Shoes.
Prior to williamsworks, Winkelstein served in the non-profit and government sectors focusing on program development, fundraising strategy, and corporate partnerships. Former affiliations include The Corporate Council on Africa, International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), the Institute of National Strategic Studies (INSS) at National Defense University (NDU), and Exclusive Analysis Ltd. She is a frequent contributor and guest speaker at forums such as Council on Foundations, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, Clinton Global Initiative, and The Philanthropy Workshop. She is also a Board Member of Global Press Institute and a member of the Leadership Advisory Council for GrantAdvisors.org.
Winkelstein holds a B.A. from the University of Michigan; MSc from the London School of Economics; and a Diplôme Internationale from Sciences-Po in Paris, France. She lives in New York with her husband and young son.