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.

About Open Road

Open Road Alliance is a private philanthropic initiative that serves the social sector by keeping impact on track in an unpredictable world.

Open Road was  founded in 2012 by psychologist and philanthropist Dr. Laurie Michaels to address the need for contingency funds and the absence of risk management practices in philanthropy. We provide both short- and long-term solutions to unexpected challenges that arise during project implementation, so that impact and finite resources can be maximized across the social sector.

To meet immediate needs, we offer fast, flexible funding to nonprofits and social enterprises facing discrete, unexpected roadblocks during project implementation. We fund via two portfolios, Charitable Grants and Loans. Open Road Loans are below market-rate and disbursed via our loan fund, Open Road Ventures.

Open Road sees every grant and loan it makes as an investment for social impact. Our funding model is based on speed and financial leverage.

In addition to our investment portfolio, Open Road promotes the long-term, sector-wide adoption of better risk management practices. In collaboration with peers, we conduct research, develop tools, and generate data on approaches to financial and non-financial risk management. By disseminating learnings and advocating for the adoption of best practices, Open Road is working to make risk management as commonplace in philanthropy as monitoring and evaluation; ultimately, preserving finite resources and social impact in our sector.

Our Funding Process

Open Road does not operate on a traditional grant or investment cycle. Proposals for grants and loans 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.

Both grant and loan applications are subject to a strict criteria focused on supporting mid-implementation projects that encounter an unexpected roadblock. This approach ensures that the impact of the original project stays on track preserves the ROI of the original donor’s investment, and generates significant leverage for Open Road. As of December 31, 2017, Open Road has disbursed $12.9 million.

Open Road makes investments across all sectors and geographies, to both registered charities and for-profit social enterprises.

How we do business

Open Road Team

Natalia Alonso
Portfolio Fellow

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
Director of Social Investments

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 Bugay
Communications Manager

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 Madnick
Fund Director

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.

 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,, 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

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
Program Associate

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
Executive Director

Maya Winkelstein is Executive Director of Open Road Alliance where she is responsible for the organization’s overall investment strategy and management of both Open Road Alliance and Open Road Ventures.

Founded in 2012, Open Road Alliance is a philanthropic initiative that serves the social sector by Keeping Impact on Track in an unpredictable world. Open Road provides short-term solutions by disbursing fast grants and loans to nonprofits and social enterprises facing discrete, unexpected roadblocks during project implementation. It also conducts research and advocates for the adoption of long-term, system-wide risk management practices across the social sector.

Open Road Ventures is a fund established in 2018 by Open Road Alliance to disburse below market-rate loans to nonprofits and social enterprises. The fund has an initial commitment of disbursing $50 Million over the next five years. While ORV is a legally independent entity, it is wholly managed by Open Road in accordance with our philanthropic mission.

Winkelstein has worked with Open Road since the organization’s inception in 2012. Prior to her role as Executive Director, she worked 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 multiple roles in the non-profit and government sectors focusing on program development, fundraising strategy, and corporate partnerships.

Winkelstein writes and speaks frequently about Open Road’s work and its growing research expertise in ‘Risk Management in Philanthropy.’ She is a regular speaker at forums such as Council on Foundations, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, Clinton Global Initiative, and The Philanthropy Workshop. Her work has also appeared in Stanford Social Innovation Review, Chronicle of Philanthropy, The Foundation Review and many other publications. In 2017, Maya was featured in Chronicle of Philanthropy’s ‘On the Rise’ series and Huffington Post’s ‘Women in Business.’ She is also a Board Member of Global Press Institute and a member of the Leadership Advisory Council for

Winkelstein holds a B.A. from the University of Michigan; MSc from the London School of Economics; and Certificate in Corporate Finance from Georgetown University. She lives in NY with her husband and two young sons.

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Learn more about Open Road

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Portfolio History

Open Road Ventures will disburse $50 million in loans to nonprofits and social enterprises over the next five years. Open Road Ventures (ORV) is Open Road’s latest instrument to “keep impact on track” in the social sector.
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