Arcus Announces Key Additions to Senior Leadership and Programming Teams

October 10, 2011
The Arcus Foundation Announces Key Additions to Senior Leadership, Social Justice and Great Apes Programming Teams
  • Bryan E. Simmons Named Vice President of Global Communications
  • Tom Kam Promoted to Vice President of Social Justice Programming
  • Social Justice and Great Apes Programs Expanded with Three Respected Thought Leaders

New York, NY, October 10, 2011 — The Arcus Foundation, a leading global foundation advancing pressing social justice and conservation issues around the world, announced today several key additions to its senior leadership, social justice and conservation programming teams. Bryan E. Simmons, a veteran international communications executive and respected LGBT advocate, was named Vice President of Global Communications. Program strategist Tom Kam, formerly deputy program director for LGBT Programs and director of the Religion and Values Program for Arcus, was promoted to Vice President of Social Justice Programming. Arcus also announced the appointment of three highly-regarded policy and grantmaking professionals with global experience and impact; Elisa P. GerontianosAntonio L. Maciel and Rebecca R. Rittgers have joined the organization’s Social Justice and Great Apes Programs as Senior Program Executives.

Arcus CEO Dr. Yvette C. Burton said, “We are extremely excited to announce the promotion and addition to our staff of five supremely talented and distinguished individuals, each of whom will contribute invaluable experience, skill and passion to advancing the Arcus mission. They are all respected in their fields as thought leaders, and are committed to Arcus’ results-oriented approach to impactful grantmaking and advocacy as we strive to catalyze change around the globe.”

“Bryan Simmons is a recognized leader in the communications field who brings to his new role an incredible wealth of professional and personal experience,” continued Dr. Burton. “His deep expertise in all areas of communication strategy and tactics will guide Arcus as we develop and implement our expanding programs.”

Burton continued, “Tom Kam has been a valued member of the Arcus family since 2007, leading our Religion and Values program to become one of the cornerstones of our work. I am confident that he will elevate our Social Justice programming to new levels of effectiveness, innovation and impact.

“Elisa Gerontianos, Antonio Maciel and Rebecca Rittgers, with their vast international experience, diverse talents and proven commitment to social justice and conservation, will be integral to our Social Justice program team in their roles as Senior Program Executives as we work to effect measurable change domestically and abroad through both grantmaking and the influence of knowledge leadership.”

Bryan Simmons has more than 20 years of global experience and deep expertise in communications, brand management and integrated marketing campaign development. Simmons formerly held a number of executive positions in Marketing and Communications at IBM, including Vice President, IBM Americas, Vice President of Global Industry Communications and Vice President of Marketing, IBM Lotus Software. He also launched the company’s first global alumni outreach program and most recently led the planning for IBM’s Centennial. Simmons holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College in Cambridge, MA.

Tom Kam, formerly Arcus’ Deputy Director, LGBT Programs/Director, Religion and Values Program, has been promoted to Vice President of Social Justice Programming. Prior to joining Arcus, he was with the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region in Washington, DC, where he served first as senior program officer and later as vice president of Community Investment. He was also regional manager for Human Services for the County of Fairfax, Virginia; senior public health analyst for the United States Public Health Service; and associate director of AIDS Services for the Whitman-Walker Clinic in Washington, DC. Mr. Kam holds a Masters of Social Work from the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC, and a Masters of Divinity from St. Patrick’s Theological Seminary in Menlo Park, Calif. He is a former Roman Catholic priest who was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of San Francisco in 1983.

Elisa P. Gerontianos, Esq. comes to Arcus with significant experience in moving public policy through advocacy in the areas of federal and state environmental rights, international human rights, and animal welfare. She is currently a member of Manhattan Community Board 4, appointed by the Speaker of the New York City Council. There, she represents the LGBT community to improve the implementation of current hate crime legislation and accompany policy changes directed at improving state and city agency responses. She is a seasoned public policy advocate who has a proven commitment to the underserved, and has successfully built coalitions that have resulted in the passage of legislation promoting sound environmental preservation initiatives in New York and Connecticut. Because of her unique background in working on both human rights and animal welfare and her policy experience, she will support policy work in both the Great Apes Program and the Social Justice Program, increasing Arcus’ policy competency as well as bridging our primary areas of work.

Antonio L. Maciel was most recently an independent consultant, providing programmatic and management services to foundations and nonprofit organizations, working on program review and evaluation; grantmaking and grant evaluation; strategic planning and program implementation; issue research and planning; financial and management development; and organizational development and capacity building. Prior to that, he spent twelve years at the Open Society Foundations, serving in a variety of roles during his tenure, including as Director of the US Justice Fund, the largest grantmaking unit within OSI’s US Programs, with a budget of $18 million per year; and as Director of the Emma Lazarus Fund, a $50 million initiative aimed at promoting immigrant rights and increasing naturalization rates. He also has significant international grantmaking experience, having worked on special projects for OSF’s global Education Support Program, as well as on philanthropic activities in Latin America, Africa and Europe. He is a graduate of Stanford Law School.

Rebecca R. Rittgers was formerly a program executive for The Atlantic Philanthropies (USA), Inc., where she worked on the US Reconciliation and Human Rights Program for seven years, working within national and international contexts directing philanthropic programs within the US, Australia, Vietnam and China. Her grantmaking resulted in alignment of Atlantic’s human rights priorities with funding approaches designed to affect policy and systemic change. While there, she also guided the development of a diverse range of social justice programs geared to disadvantaged groups, including immigrants, communities of color, ex-felons, those on death row, veterans, the LGBT community, and groups most impacted after the 9/11 attacks.

About the Arcus Foundation The Arcus Foundation is a private grantmaking foundation that supports organizations around the world working to advance lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) human rights, as well as conservation of the world’s great apesFounded in 2000 by Jon Stryker, the mission of the Arcus Foundation is to achieve social justice that is inclusive of sexual orientation, gender identity and race, and to ensure conservation and respect of the great apes. The Foundation works globally and has offices in Kalamazoo, MI, New York City and Cambridge, UK.