Education Luncheon: Funders Panel

The Funders Perspective: An Inside Scoop!

Institutional grants are getting harder to secure as funders establish rigorous guidelines with clear funding metrics, as building good working relationships with funders is also becoming more difficult.

During the panel discussion, we will explore trends in philanthropy including the expectations of grant-makers and the importance of maintaining the integrity of program delivery. We will discuss how to work effectively with funders during all stages of the grant-making cycle, discussing hot topics including collaborative partnerships, data-driven measures, and sharing key metrics used by grantmakers.

Finally, the panel will field questions on the do’s and don’ts of grant applications, grant funding and the expectations of grant recipients during the funding cycle.


Our Presenters:

Kelly Giordano – Panelist, Managing Director, Philanthropy at Webster Bank

Kelly Giordano has nearly 25 years of experience in the philanthropy, nonprofit sectors, and finance/corporate sectors with comprehensive experience in foundations, corporate philanthropy, employee engagement, community outreach, strategy and program development, and organizational/budget/project management.

Kelly started in June 2023 as the Managing Director, Philanthropy for Webster Bank directing Webster’s philanthropic funding strategy and programming.   Most recently as Managing Director at Newman’s Own Foundation, Kelly was responsible for leading the grants team, which included developing, evolving, and implementing the Foundation’s grantmaking strategy, focus areas, philanthropic programs, and processes/procedures.  Kelly directed a $25-$30 million annual global grants budget, totaling over $250 million during her 10-year tenure, in addition to managing a $2 million annual foundation operating budget.  Kelly started her career at Goldman Sachs as a controller in both the currency/commodities and private wealth management divisions, before leaving the firm to pursue a career in the nonprofit sector and corporate philanthropy.  After Goldman Sachs, she interned at Channel Thirteen in New York City, and spent two years at The Metropolitan Museum of Art where she managed the museum’s Corporate Patron Program.  Prior to Newman’s Own, Kelly spent five years at Lehman Brothers as a Vice President in the Corporate Philanthropy group and Assistant Treasurer of The Lehman Brothers Foundation. Kelly developed and managed the firm’s Employee Giving Campaign and Nonprofit Board Placement program, in addition to managing the Foundation’s financials, annual audit, and tax filing.

Kelly received her bachelor’s degree in economics/finance and Spanish from Bucknell University. Kelly is a former Vice Chair of Norwalk Education Foundation and Board Member of the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy.   When not working, Kelly loves spending time with her two teenagers and dog Cosmo, playing tennis, seeing live music, and traveling.   She is also the very proud Bucknell mom ’27.

Katie Cubina – Panelist, Senior Vice President for Mission Programs at Mystic Aquarium

Katie Cubina oversees the mission-based initiatives at Mystic Aquarium, bringing together STEM and environmental education, youth development, research, exhibits, and ocean policy under the banner of conservation. With more than 25 years in the not-for-profit sector and 17 years of aquarium-related experience, Cubina is committed to creating a more inclusive and sustainable future where wildlife, ecosystems, and people thrive together.

Adept at building strategic public-private partnerships and securing funds to advance the Aquarium’s mission, Cubina serves as the project director on multiple federal grants and contracts, including a $2.5-million STEM mentoring initiative that engages thousands of vulnerable youth in over 60 communities nationwide.

Cubina ensures that the Aquarium’s conservation-focused research activities inform management and policy decisions at the local, regional, and national levels. She currently co-chairs the Aquarium Conservation Partnership, a coalition of 27 accredited aquariums working to conserve marine and freshwater ecosystems and committed to just and sustainable practices.

Cubina holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Oberlin College and a M.Ed. in Science and Environmental Education from the University of Maine.

Al Carbone – Panelist, Director, Community Relations at AVANGRID (United Illuminating, Connecticut Natural Gas, Southern Connecticut Gas)

Al Carbone serves as the Director, Community Relations where he leads a team of 10 individuals and represent AVANGRID/UIL’s three Connecticut-based operating utility companies (The United Illuminating Company, Southern Connecticut Gas and Connecticut Natural Gas) at the state and local levels, providing guidance, expertise, community funding and solutions for major customers and stakeholders.

Prior to being named Director, he served as Manager of State Government and Community Relations (2016-2022), Government Relations Specialist (2011-2016) and Senior Communications Specialist (2001-2011).

He currently serves on several boards, including Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce, Bridgeport Regional Business Council, Bridgeport Economic Development Corporation and Trumbull Business and Education Initiative.

Carbone earned his B.A in political science from Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., and received his Master of Business Administration from the University of New Haven.  He has served as an adjunct professor in the College of Business at the University of New Haven.

Prior to joining UI, Carbone worked in collegiate athletics administration at four institutions (Trinity College, Boston College, Boston University and Quinnipiac University).

He resides in Trumbull with his wife and three children.

Lucy Ball – Panelist, Founding Executive Director at Lone Pine Foundation

Lucy Ball became the Founding Executive Director of Lone Pine Foundation in 2002. Lucy has been a leader in the nonprofit sector for 40 years. Prior to joining the Foundation, she was Executive Director of Starlight Children’s Foundation (now known as Encourage Kids Foundation) where she remains on the Advisory Board.

Lucy has served on numerous local boards of directors over the years. She is a founding board member of Impact Fairfield County, a women’s giving circle helping to leverage individual giving to achieve greater impact. She  currently chairs the Board of Community Mindfulness Project and sits on the advisory board of Fairfield County’s Community Foundation’s Fund for Women & Girls. In 2013, the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy awarded Lucy its Martha Newman Award recognizing her integrity and dedication to philanthropy. In 2018, Lucy received the Greenwich YWCA Brava Award, acknowledging her leadership in her field, for mentoring others and her commitment to both philanthropy and community involvement.

Our Moderator:

Chinedum (Chin) Nnodum, Facilitator, Director, Community Strategies, Fairfield County’s Community Foundation

Chinedum (Chin) Nnodum joined the Foundation in 2023 as Director, Community Strategies. In this role, Chin will support the development of and implement FCCF’s community engagement strategies to build commitment and support for FCCF’s efforts to advance race equity in income, education, health, and housing across the foundation’s diverse stakeholders.

Prior to joining the Community Foundation, Chin worked for FaithActs for Education where he spent the last few years as their Community Organizer. During his time there he was responsible for leading organizing campaigns, developing members into leaders, and maintaining relationships with partner community organizations.

An alumnus of Cornell University, Ithaca College, Sacred Heart University and the University of Bridgeport, Chin’s experiences informed his perspective regarding systematic change and education equity. He is dedicated to improving the conditions for students throughout Connecticut and has worked in education in both the public and non-profit sector. Outside of work, you can find Chin volunteering and organizing locally.


Thank you to Our Sponsor:




CironeFriedberg is a leading regional CPA firm serving middle market, closely held and family-owned businesses, high-net-worth individuals, and not-for-profit organizations. The firm provides a full range of tax, audit and accounting, and business advisory services from three offices in Bethel, Shelton, and Darien, Connecticut. Learn more at

CironeFriedberg is a member of CPAmerica. CPAmerica is a member of Crowe Global, providing our firm access to a top-10 global accounting network with over 200 independent accounting and advisory firms in more than 130 countries.

Patrick T. Dunleavey, CPA, Principal
CironeFriedberg, LLP
6 Research Drive, Suite 450
Shelton, CT 06484
Office: 203.366.5876 x319


Date: Thursday, February 15, 2024
11:30 AM Registration and Networking
12:00-1:30 PM Lunch and Program
Location: Pinstripes (At the top of the SoNo Collection Mall), 100 North Water Street, Suite 3300, Norwalk, CT 06854

Note: Parking is $1/hour payable at a kiosk near the entrance to Pinstripes. Parking is on the roof level near Pinstripes. Before the event, we will send an email with detailed parking information.

Luncheon Fee

*GUEST of AFP Member – $50

A BENEFIT for all AFP-Fairfield County Chapter Members! We encourage you to invite a prospective member to an AFP educational program at a special rate of $45.
*Reservations can be made online by the guest, but the Member must attend the event. Walk-in guests will not qualify for special rate. Guests may only receive a special guest rate one time.


CFRE Credits:

You earn 1.5 CFRE credits toward certification for this event.
For more information about CFRE certification, please visit