Open Road Alliance is a private philanthropic initiative that provides capital to nonprofits and social enterprises 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 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 April 2019, Open Road has disbursed over $28 million, keeping $300 million of impact on track. Open Road makes investments across all sectors and geographies, to both registered nonprofits and for-profit social enterprises.

How we do business

Open Road Team

Mariam Begiashvili
Portfolio Fellow

Mariam Begiashvili joined Open Road Alliance as a Portfolio Fellow as part of the Atlas Corps Fellowship program. Prior to this Fellowship, Mariam was an M&E Specialist & Grants Assistant at UNDP Georgia, contributing to the strengthening of the vocational education related to agriculture. At the UNDP project level, Mariam helped develop monitoring and evaluation framework and tools. In addition, she was responsible for collecting and managing project data.

Previously, Mariam worked at Clean Energy Group Georgia as a Socio-Economic Officer, where she led the Company’s Community Investment Program. In this role, she solicited and registered local project ideas on small-scale infrastructure construction, capacity building, and business development; drafted project proposals; and implemented the approved projects to improve the livelihoods of local populations. Additionally, Mariam has diverse experience working in nonprofits, the private sector, and international organizations in a wide range of fields, including rural development, democracy and civic engagement, youth and women empowerment, public health, and migration/refugees.

Mariam is a former Fulbright Scholar, Muskie alumni, Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) Program alumni, and Erasmus Mundus scholarship recipient. She holds an MA from Brandeis University in Sustainable International Development. She graduated from Ilia State University of Georgia with an MA in Public Administration, as well as from University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain with a degree in International Studies. She also holds an LL.B. from Georgian-American University in Georgia.

Caroline Bressan
Director of Social Investments

Caroline Bressan is the Director of Social Investments of Open Road Alliance.

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
Senior Program Manager

Bridgette is Open Road’s Senior Program Manager, prior to which she 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.

Aaron Kotler
Director of Partnerships

Aaron has spent the last decade advising philanthropists, family foundations and multinational corporations on strategic grant-making, partnership development, and advocacy.

He comes to Open Road from global health nonprofit Population Services International (PSI) where he served as Deputy Director for Philanthropy. Over five years, Aaron built and helped lead PSI’s flagship philanthropic and advocacy initiative – Maverick Collective – in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Prior to joining PSI, Aaron was a strategy consultant in New York specializing in advising healthcare companies on innovative access to medicines and public health-focused CSR initiatives. He has also served as a legislative and communications adviser to a member of Parliament in the United Kingdom, and as a political aide to the UK’s Secretary of State for International Development.

Aaron is originally from Boston but grew up in London. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Durham University and a master’s in International Development from Oxford University. He currently lives in Washington, DC.  

Joe Liszewski
Operations Manager

Joe Liszewski joined Open Road Alliance as the Operations Manager, prior to which he was the Program Director of the NorthSky Nonprofit Network, the capacity building program of Rotary Charities of Traverse City. In this position, Joe was responsible for the management of the NorthSky Nonprofit Network including organizational counseling and managing consulting engagements with nonprofits throughout the region. Working with the Rotary Charities’ Leadership Team he managed programs and services to meet community needs, particularly in the areas of network and organizational capacity building.

Previously, Joe served as Executive Director of California ReLeaf where he was responsible for the overall direction of the organization, including advocacy, fundraising and program administration. Joe joined California ReLeaf in 2005 and served as the Program Director before being promoted to Executive Director in 2010. While there, he managed numerous state and federal grants, including the administration of over $6 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. Prior to California ReLeaf, Joe worked as a Program Manager for the National Tree Trust in Washington, DC.

Joe brings extensive organizational and program management experience to Open Road. He has a Bachelor of Science in Botany and Environmental Science from Miami University.

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.

Franklin Mora
Investment Officer

Franklin Mora joined Open Road as an Investment Officer after working in Investment Banking at Wells Fargo Securities. There he worked on providing advisory services and creating financial models for companies ranging from large-cap telecommunications to diversified media focused on debt and equity raises, M&A, and IPOs.

Previously, Franklin worked as Deputy Director for the Queens Economic Development Corporation where he developed an award-winning Social Enterprise program helping Immigrant entrepreneurs in the construction contracting sector within New York City. Franklin has worked for and consulted with companies including Google, NBCUniversal, ACCION USA, and Cisneros Group of Companies as well as small businesses and social enterprises located domestically and in emerging markets.

Franklin is an MLT fellow alum, Consortium fellow alum, and NLC fellow alum. Outside of work Franklin spends time in the woods with his dog Oscar, checking out new ethnic restaurants, reading recommended books, and planning his next adventure. Fun fact: Franklin lived out his teenage dream of becoming a rapper by performing to a crowded venue of over 200 people during business school with a band called “Risky Business.”

Franklin holds an MBA from the University of Michigan – Ross School of Business, and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Vermont. He is fluent in English and Spanish.

Miguel Rivera Rios
Data Scientist

Miguel Rivera Rios joined Open Road as a Data Scientist after working as a Data Scientist for Democracy Prep Public Schools where he developed systems to streamline operational tasks and built tools to help educators educate more effectively. He was previously with InnovateEdu as a Data Scientist and served as Brooklyn Laboratory Charter Schools’ Chief of Staff.

In his time working in educational data science, Miguel has developed interactive dashboards, provided high-level insights, and streamlined and automated the flow of data through disconnected systems.

Miguel was awarded second place in the Social Emotional Learning Assessment Work Group’s second annual Design Challenge for his team’s text-based game designed specifically to address Social Emotional Learning needs for high school students. Miguel is an Education Pioneers fellow alum and an International House fellow alum. He is also a founding member of a traveling book club that travels to destinations to enjoy good company and deep discussions.

Miguel holds an MA from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and a BA from Florida Atlantic University’s Wilkes Honors College.

Tom Schumacher
Investment Officer

Tom Schumacher is an Investment Officer at Open Road Alliance, prior to which he was a Digital Finance Specialist at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) under the ProInspire Fellowship in Digital Finance where he identified, evaluated, and structured opportunities in fintech and financial inclusion. Prior to OPIC, Tom was a Senior Advisor at USAID’s Global Development Lab where he made grants to social enterprises, nonprofits, and impact evaluations within several innovation programs including Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) and the Scaling Off-Grid Energy Grand Challenge.

Tom has experience in international development, startups, and financial markets through a variety of positions including as co-founder of Tala, a fintech company committed to financial inclusion globally.

Tom holds a M.P.P from UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and a B.A. in Economics from the University of Maryland. He lives in Maryland with his wife, son and two dogs.

Ivon Silva
Portfolio Administrator

Ivon Silva is the Portfolio Administrator for Open Road Alliance. Her 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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