Our team is committed to improving the efficacy of philanthropy to address key social challenges. This diverse team includes a set of data driven advisors with both technical and strategic expertise.

+ Melissa Stevens, Executive Director

Melissa Stevens is the Executive Director of the Milken Institute Center for Strategic Philanthropy. The Center for Strategic Philanthropy works to maximize return on philanthropic investment by ensuring that innovation used to address one social issue is translated to another, best practices and metrics guide new and existing giving programs, and resources are invested to optimize outcomes. Previously, Stevens was the deputy executive director of FasterCures, a center of the Milken Institute that is driven by a singular goal – to save lives by speeding up and improving the medical research system. Prior to that, she worked in the health sciences practice of PricewaterhouseCoopers, advising commercial and federal clients across the healthcare continuum. Stevens received a bachelor's degree in biochemistry and an M.B.A. from Pennsylvania State University.

+ Cara Altimus, PhD, Associate Director

Dr. Cara Altimus is an associate director at the Milken Institute Center for Strategic Philanthropy. Utilizing her expertise in neuroscience, Altimus advises individual philanthropists and foundations on the state of research for various disease areas to help them identify opportunities for giving.

Altimus has more than a decade of experience in neuroscience research, including neurological devices, psychiatric illness, learning and memory, as well as sleep and circadian rhythms. Most recently, Altimus worked at the Food and Drug Administration leading the Neural Interfaces Laboratory, which evaluates the safety and effectiveness of electrical stimulation methods in the brain. Beyond her research experience, she serves as the chair for the Trainee Advisory Committee for the Society for Neuroscience and spent a year as an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow developing a neuroscience research portfolio at the Department of Justice. Altimus holds a bachelor’s degree in genetics from the University of Georgia and a doctorate in biology from Johns Hopkins University. She works at the Institute’s Washington office.

+ LaTese Briggs, PhD, Senior Director, Strategy and Programs

Dr. LaTese Briggs is the director of strategy and programs at the Milken Institute Center for Strategic Philanthropy. Briggs previously served as a pharmaceutical market analyst for Decision Resources, a Boston-based research and consulting firm serving the biopharmaceutical industry. In this capacity, she provided expert analytics on the state of research and clinical development, including research challenges, market drivers, and unmet patient needs in the infectious disease space. She is trained as a biochemist, having completed her doctoral studies at the University of Maryland Baltimore County and then postdoctoral training at Harvard University/Broad Institute focusing on chemical biology and early drug discovery. She has authored several scientific articles and received a number of honors, including being named a Bill & Melinda Gates Millennium Scholar.

+ Maura Donlan, Director

Maura Donlan is a director of the Milken Institute Center for Strategic Philanthropy. She has more than 20 years of experience in international development, advocacy, project and campaign management and strategic communications. Most recently, she served as director of marketing and communications at Omidyar Network, where she led all external relations and thought leadership for the financial inclusion, property rights and impact investing initiatives. Prior to that, she was a senior vice president at GMMB, where she worked with globally focused nonprofit and corporate clients to promote inclusive economic growth, sustainable development and global health, with a primary focus on the status of women and girls. She also managed GMMB’s London office. Earlier, Donlan worked on programs designed to promote economic and political development and gender equity at the United Nations Development Program, United Nations Foundation and National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. She also served as director of communications and policy at Turner Enterprises, where she managed the day-to-day communications and policy needs of philanthropist Ted Turner. Donlan began her career as a policy analyst on Capitol Hill and on several congressional and presidential campaigns. She holds a B.A. in history and French from the College of the Holy Cross, where she graduated with highest honors, and an M.A. in international affairs with a focus on gender and development from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. She works in the Institute’s Washington office.

+ Mileidy Gonzalez, PhD, Associate Director

Dr. Mileidy Gonzalez is an associate director at the Milken Institute Center for Strategic Philanthropy. She is a Computational Biologist and Data Scientist with 15 years of research and management experience in large-scale genomics applied to infectious diseases. Dr. Gonzalez brings her expertise in data science to the Center for Strategic Philanthropy as we evaluate the use of data analytics to inform decision-making and to maximize the impact of charitable giving.

Most recently, Dr. Gonzalez worked at the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In her tenure at NIH, Dr. Gonzalez applied pattern/motif discovery, algorithm development, and biostatistics to various interdisciplinary projects at the intersection of data-intensive biology and medicine. Her work involved close collaboration with mathematicians, biologists, computer scientists, and clinicians to translate knowledge discovered in silico to the experimental and clinical platforms. Her work has been featured in leading scientific journals.

She has been an active member of the scientific community as a journal reviewer and guest speaker, by chairing conferences, by leading outreach efforts to train and support women in the quantitative sciences, and by founding professional development organizations (the latter of which earned her an award for special services to the NIH). Dr. Gonzalez obtained a Summa Cum Laude Ph.D. in Computational Biology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and Honors Biology and Chemistry degrees from William Jewell College.

+ Ya Luan Hsiao, MD, MPH, Senior Associate

Dr. Ya Luan Hsiao is a senior associate at the Milken Institute Center for Strategic Philanthropy, where she uses her clinical training and expertise in health services research to advise philanthropists and foundations on various public health subjects to help them identify opportunities for giving.

Dr. Hsiao is trained and Board-certified in Family Medicine and has completed fellowships in both Palliative Care and Geriatrics. During her residency and fellowship years, she participated in clinical trials and worked closely with researchers on quality improvement projects. In addition, she has served as co-principal investigator for two longitudinal studies on elderly health care in Taiwan. As a graduate student at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, she continued her interest in quality improvement and obtained certificates in Global Health, and Quality, Patient Safety and Outcomes Research. Ya Luan most recently was a faculty research associate at Johns Hopkins University where she conducted research on several important public health issues—from tracking the effectiveness of vaccines in Bangladesh to understanding the impact of e-cigarettes on youth. Dr. Hsiao received a M.D. degree from National Yang Ming University in Taipei, Taiwan, and an MPH from the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health in 2014.

+ Kirstie Keller, PhD, Senior Associate

Kirstie Keller has recently joined the Milken Institute Center for Strategic Philanthropy as a Senior Associate, with a focus on health and medical philanthropy. Dr. Keller comes to the Institute with over eight years of biomedical research experience in fields ranging from cancer cell metabolism to bacterial pathogenesis. Dr. Keller most recently worked as a consultant at Clarkston Consulting, specializing in life sciences, where she led research and business teams in the design, development, and execution of highly complex, data-driven projects that resulted in successful outcomes in a variety of field settings. Dr. Keller received her Bachelors of Science in biology from Gonzaga University and her doctoral degree in biology from Johns Hopkins University; additionally, she completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Her thesis work focused on the regulation of cancer cell metabolism, and she studied membrane proteases in pathogenic bacteria during her post-doctoral research.

+ Mali Locke, Director

Mali Locke is a director with the Milken Institute’s Center for Strategic Philanthropy, where she leads the Center’s design thinking and workforce development in higher education initiative.

Prior to joining the Institute, Locke started and led the development team at CityBridge Education, focusing on large institutional gifts. Previously, she was the director of the Maverick Capital Foundation in NYC, the philanthropic arm of the hedge fund Maverick Capital. Locke started her career in philanthropy at the Robin Hood Foundation where she was a senior program officer on the education team. Locke has a bachelor’s degree in French literature from Yale University and an M.S. in organization change management from the New School University. She works in the Institute’s D.C. office.

+ Matt Lurie, PhD, Senior Associate

Dr. Matt Lurie is a senior associate at the Milken Institute Center for Strategic Philanthropy, where he uses his experience as a scientist, educator, and policy expert to advise individual philanthropists and foundations on the state of science for biodiversity and conservation to help them identify opportunities for giving.

Dr. Lurie received a B.Sc. in Marine Biology from the University of California at Los Angeles followed by an M.S. and Ph.D. in Botany from the University of Hawaii. As a trained ecologist, he led collaborative research projects focused on plant invasion ecology and conservation in marine and terrestrial ecosystems. He has a passion for science education and has facilitated teacher professional development workshops and co-written the online marine science curriculum Exploring Our Fluid Earth. In 2016, as the Knauss Marine Policy Fellow for the White House National Ocean Council, he helped establish the Nation’s first two ocean plans in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic by strengthening cooperation among Federal, State, and Tribal representatives. Dr. Lurie continues to be interested in initiatives and actions that promote environmental stewardship.

+ Ebony Motley, Program Associate

Ebony Motley is a program associate for the Milken Institute Center for Strategic Philanthropy. Previously, she provided administrative support to the philanthropy department at ChildFund International, where she worked with the development team managing stewardship and operations for major donors. Prior to working in the nonprofit sector, Motley spent almost four years in the banking industry. She graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications. Motley works in the Institute’s Washington, D.C. office.

+ Ekemini A.U. Riley, PhD, Associate Director

Dr. Ekemini A. U. Riley is an associate director of the Milken Institute Center for Strategic Philanthropy. She uses her scientific expertise to advise individual philanthropists and foundations on the state of research for various disease areas in order to help them identify opportunities and devise strategies for giving. Dr. Riley’s project portfolio has spanned oncology, neurology, internal medicine, and rare disease.

Prior to joining the Milken Institute, Dr. Riley worked as a science policy and communications analyst at Ripple Effect Communications, Inc. where she worked across several different NIH divisions on high impact projects related to policy and external communications. In addition to policy and communications. With a passion for biomedical workforce development and education, Dr. Riley previously led the Baltimore Chapter of the Association for Women in Science, a national organization advocating for women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). She also previously served as a STEM Education Consultant for Beysix Consulting, LLC, a STEM workforce and education consulting company.

Dr. Riley received a B.A. in Natural Sciences from Johns Hopkins University, followed by a Ph.D. in Molecular Medicine from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Her doctoral and post-doctoral research focused on molecular cancer biology and protease inhibitory mechanisms.

+ Roderick Todd, Associate

Roderick Todd is an associate with the Milken Institute Center for Strategic Philanthropy, where he provides project management and communications support across a variety of the Center’s initiatives.

Prior to joining the Institute, Todd supported the Aspen Community Programs team at the Aspen Institute, where he worked with donors and coordinated events on the think tank’s Aspen campus. Todd also interned for the communications team at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, D.C.

Todd returned to Washington after graduating from Wofford College, a liberal-arts college in South Carolina. He holds a bachelor’s degree in international affairs and Chinese.