The secret of genius is to carry the

spirit of the child into old age, which means

never losing your enthusiasm.


                                             — Aldous Huxley

staff and fellows

     Always ask yourself—is it useful, is it big?


                    — Eleanor Roosevelt


                           as told to grandaughter Anne Roosevelt                                          about the importance of making a difference.


gayle peterson

Co-founder and Senior Managing Director


Gayle holds an MA in Social Policy from the University of Chicago and an MSc from HEC-Paris School of Management and Oxford University. Gayle is Associate Fellow at Saïd Business School, Oxford University, where she is a founder of the Women Transforming Leadership Programme and programme director of Oxford Impact Investing. Gayle has more than 25 years of experience as strategist, philanthropist,

and trusted advisor to social investors worldwide. 


areas of expertise

  • Philanthropic innovation and strategy

  • Leadership and organizational development 

  • Performance measures and strategic evaluation

  • Research, case studies, and community storytelling

  • Teaching and coaching 


core belief

The greatest change movements have occurred when passionate people reach across communities and cultures, across disciplines and divides to unite, take a stand, make a difference. From the U.S. civil rights movement and the end of apartheid in South Africa, to the toppling of governments in Egypt and Libya and the creation of new democracies—people working in partnership create lasting change. pfc is grounded in the deep belief that the greatest challenges of our time will be met and mitigated when people work together.


favorite things

Watching my sons grow into fun and compassionate adults. August, when Murdena, our 75-year-old neighbor in Cape Breton, surprises us with warm, homemade blueberry pie made from freshly picked North River berries. Her ritual reminds me to slow down, enjoy friends, and remember sometimes it is just about the cinnamon. Hiking and walking virtually anywhere.


current obsession

Writing Good, Evil, Wicked: The Art, Science, and Business of Giving, Stanford University Press.



  • Managed successful campaign to change Illinois Constitution to preserve inner city housing. Lesson learned: ignore naysayers and follow your passion             

  • As Executive Director of a nonprofit literary press, created award-winning series Literature for a Land Ethic to preserve wilderness areas in partnership with Sundance Institute and Alliance for Reading which created  book clubs for middle school readers in poor neighborhoods

  • As Program Director, Great Lakes Protection Fund, helped create a new bi-national foundation and established first social and environmental screens for endowment funds

  • Started advisory consultancy to help clients achieve excellence in philanthropy, and assessed or managed $12 billion to do good in the world

  • Created innovative executive education programmes in women’s leadership, philanthropy, and impact investing at Oxford University, with the Council on Foundations, and Charities Aid Foundation to reach more than 2,500 students in 20 countries 


what others say about gayle

“She is the Steve Jobs of the firm—taking our team and partners to the next level. She inspires excellence, insists on the highest quality, and truly loves what she does.”


Visit Gayle’s LinkedIn page for more information.


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My humanity is bound up in yours,

      for we can only be human together.


                 — Archbishop Desmond Tutu

john sherman

Co-founder and Senior Managing Director


John has an MPH from the University of Michigan and brings over 20 years of experience in nonprofit advocacy and management, evaluation, strategic planning, and grantmaking. He resides in Nashville, Tennessee, with his family and small dogs.


areas of expertise

  • Design and implementation of philanthropic programs

  • Evaluation of complex programs, and policy advocacy

  • Grantmaking and evaluation of environmental, food and agricultural programs

  • Action-oriented research and learning

  • Project management


core belief

We create our reality through a series of choices in our actions and behaviors, individually and as a society. Living humbleness, raising up others, listening carefully with patience, showing trust, and keeping a healthy level of skepticism—all are necessary ingredients to create lasting change.


favorite things

Family—the center of my heart for love and laughter, challenge and comfort. Live music and its insistent reminder of our potential for unbounded grace, joy, and fiery aliveness. (I am lucky to live in Nashville where creative energy is everywhere.)  Early mornings almost anywhere—the forest, the barn, a canoe, a mountain meadow, or my kitchen table. Witnessing success in others, doubly when they faced adversity and displayed resiliency. Silence.


current obsession

Transforming heroic, command-and-control leadership into Deliberate Leadership—based on a collaborative model. Deliberate Leadership is the alchemy of individual creativity and vision blended with collective action and partnership.



  • Led community-based efforts to pass Tennessee’s first comprehensive recycling and waste management legislation

  • Managed operations for the $125 million Great Lakes Protection Fund.

  • Co-created, implemented, and revised a multi-year evaluation of a multi-million dollar community food program that has increased access to healthy food in low income communities, including schools

  • Completed major reports on advocacy efforts supported by private foundations and targeting the federal farm policy, children’s health insurance, marine conservation, regulation of water quality, and energy policy

  • Published policy-focused evaluation articles including “Finding the Win in Wicked Problems: Lessons for Evaluating Public Policy Advocacy” (Foundation Review, summer 2009 Vol. 1:3) and a chapter entitled “Evaluating Public Policy Grantmaking” in the Fieldstone Alliance book Power in Policy: A Funder’s Guide to Advocacy and Civic Participation


what others say about john

“He is our engineer and a strategic doer. He lives his core beliefs—humbleness, raising up others through patience. As a trusted advisor, he has the ability to offer guidance but challenges thinking with candor, sincerity, and humor.”


Visit John’s LinkedIn page for more information.



jim litwin                                                                    COO and Managing Director


Jim has an MBA in Finance and an MA in Urban Policy from the University of Chicago. He has decades of experience as an executive in the financial sector including 15 years at American Express Financial Advisors, where he held various titles including Vice President – New Business Development and Vice President – Direct Channel Expansion.


areas of expertise

  • Multi-state initiative leadership

  • Large (>$10M) project budget management

  • New business development from initial concept, to program design, to implementation, and then on-going management

  • Joint ventures and other forms of collaboration with outside organizations

  • Impact investing and other new forms of social investment


core belief

Individual philanthropic giving has not changed substantially over the past 100 years. Technology has made the mechanics of giving faster and easier, but the decisions of where to give, when to give, and how much to give remain virtually the same. It is wealthy individuals, primarily acting alone, using partial information, giving to causes that interest them, and hoping for the best. What these individuals don’t have is access to the wealth of information that larger philanthropic organizations use to make their funding choices. These groups, such as private and community foundations, employ full-time program staff to define funding initiatives, research activities and opportunities, fund organizations that are working to achieve specific goals, and monitor results to maximize the impact of their philanthropic funding. The goal of pfc financial is to make this real-time information available to a broad range of individuals to allow their philanthropic giving to create real change.


favorite things

Relaxing with my family, cooking new recipes for friends.


current obsession

Finding new ways to use my corporate and life experiences to create lasting change.



  • Developed a new approach to philanthropic giving that was recognized by
    Bloomberg Business' Businessweek as one of the seven new analytic approaches
    to philanthropy

  • Designed and implemented a new strategy for the Wealth Management business
    of RSM McGladrey which resulted in consistent year over year improvement in both client growth and net income

  • Created an e-commerce marketing program between UnitedHealthcare and American Express

  • Key member of the executive management team of American Express Property Casualty Company – a start-up that grew from less than 500 to over 70,000 policies
    in four years

  • Started a marketing joint venture program between American Express Financial Advisors and communities banks and credit unions and created over 100 partnerships


what others say about jim

“Jim is an incredibly seasoned, strategic, and entrepreneurial individual. He is nothing short of brilliant at building new lines of business, establishing strategic alliances, and

creating new markets.”

k. sujata
senior fellow

Sujata holds a Ph.D. in Materials Science from Northwestern University and an MBA from the Stuart School at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Most recently, Sujata served as the CEO of Chicago Foundation for Women. She has more than 15 years of experience in philanthropy, program development and organizational management.

areas of expertise

  • Project management and strategic planning

  • Fundraising and grant management

  • Program evaluation

  • Accounting

  • Mentorship 

core belief

We can make people and places better than we found them. Sometimes it is easy and often it is not; that is why we need persistence if we are to make that change happen. Collaborations between different stakeholders are important and provide a well-rounded approach to resolving the many wicked problems needing actions for change. 


favorite things

Early morning lakeside sunrise. Watching young women step up and come into their own. Indian food. Traveling to new places.


current obsession

Learning Deliberate Leadership to address wicked problems.



  • Led and managed the merger between the Eleanor Foundation and Chicago Foundation for Women, considered innovative among nonprofits.

  • Led an area-wide 100% Project to elevate the lives of women and girls in the Chicago metropolitan region, the first of its kind in the region.

  • Successfully turned around nonprofits from having deficits to building reserves.

  • Managed and coordinated several research and evaluation projects in collaboration with Asian American organizations, on issues of health, language access and leadership.

sombo chunda

Senior Fellow


Sombo is a trained accountant and fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). She holds an MBA from Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh Business School. Currently she is studying for her Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration in the
L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University.  Sombo has more than 15 years of experience as development practitioner and accountant. 


core belief

We can make people and places better than we found them. Sometimes it is easy and often it is not; that is why we need persistence if we are to make that change happen. Collaborations between different stakeholders are important and provide a well-rounded approach to resolving the many wicked problems needing actions for change.


  • Project management and strategic planning

  • Fundraising and grant management

  • Program evaluation

  • Accounting

  • Mentorship 

favorite things

My daughters—they are in different development stages of their lives and getting to navigate the two spaces offers me inspiration and sometimes a challenge; each day is a learning experience. I love giraffes and I collect miniatures from all over the world made from different materials including wood and Coca-Cola bottle tops (Africa), Steel (Americas), and coconut fibre (India). Giraffes inspire me to see things from the top with clarity and the materials from which my collection is made; that we are diverse and should embrace that. 


current obsession

Studying for my Ph.D. 



  • Successfully led and managed the transition of a country office, part of a global organization, that was undergoing change that could have resulted in closure of operations

  • As country representative, raised funding for Diakonia Sweden to continue operations of its Zambia country office

  • As an accountant, I have contributed to prudent financial management of all organizations I have worked for and never had a qualified audit.

  • Won several awards including the American Society for Public Administration’s international young scholar award to India, Mandela Washington Fellowship and is alumni of the Oxford Social Impact Investing Programme


what others say about Sombo

“Sombo is wickedly smart—her practical experience in nonprofit management, accounting and public policy sets her apart as a great resource”

abbey and cody

Senior Managing Pets


Abbey and Cody hold advanced degrees from K-9 U. Both have more than 21 years of experience (in dog years) in tail wagging, barking, and fetching. 


core belief

Everything is possible working in partnership with our team leaders.


favorite things

Bone chewing, snacking on treats from Chuck and Dave’s, and taking very long swims in the Mississippi River, Lake Michigan, the Atlantic Ocean.


current obsession

Chasing squirrels at the park



•   Heeling on lead

•   Having fun at the dog park

•   Getting hair on Hilda’s black clothes


what others say about Abbey and Cody

“They are mellow for being huge.” 



sudarsana kundu is an independent development consultant based in India with over 12 years of experience across public and private sectors. Most recently she headed the government relations arm of the Center for Executive Education at the Indian School of Business, designing and delivering customized learning solutions for senior officials in the government and the nonprofit sector. She has also worked with UN WOMEN where she led the organization's work on gender responsive governance in post conflict countries. Prior to joining UN Women she worked with Unilever India in human resources and organizational development, initiating several pioneering programs for salesforce development.  She is an expert on gender ssues, contributing her expertise to enhance programmatic outcomes, policy development, communication, and advocacy.

robert mayfield yawson is an Assistant Professor in the Healthcare Management and Organizational Leadership department at Quinnipiac University. Robert has a BS in Chemistry and MPhil in Biochemistry, University of Ghana; Post Graduate Certificate in Food Management, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; MS in Science,

Technology, and Environmental Policy, Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota; and PhD in Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development, University of Minnesota. Robert worked with a team of consultants from Deloitte, LLC on the Destination 2025 project: a state-wide 20-year visioning initiative and road map to

help give clarity to the nature and timing of investments that are needed for Minnesota to sustain a long-term competitive position in the biosciences industry. Robert serves on the Editorial Board of the International Journal of Business and Systems Research. His current research is on using the "wicked problem construct" for leading organizational development and change; and also using a systems approach to human resource development for emerging technologies. Robert lives with his wife and two sons.

    Life must be lived forward, but it can only 
be understood backward.


                 — Søren Kierkegaard

    Walker, there is no path;

           the path is made by walking.


                 — Antonio Machado

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There is a sense of greatness

     we feel when something we

thought impossible is achieved


                 — Sombo Chunda

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