LCU Fund for Women's EducationLCU Fund for Women's Education

Opening Doors Since 1858

Board of Directors

The LCU Fund for Women’s Education is chartered as a non-profit foundation under the laws of New York State. It is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors:

Current Board Executive Officers

Leslie Ehrlich, President 

Leslie EhrlichFollowing a distinguished career in the corporate world inventing products that make the financial lives of consumers simpler, easier and better, Leslie Ehrlich has devoted herself to education. She is the co-founder of Think Tank for Schools, a non-profit whose curriculum enhances college readiness by teaching high school students to think and work independently. Leslie also works to promote financial literacy. She is a founding co-chair of the financial literacy program of Dress for Success; and teaches financial literacy for that organization and others. Leslie began her career at The Boston Consulting Group and went on to lead marketing and product development organizations for Citigroup, Instinet, JPMorgan Chase, GE and Mastercard. An early advocate for the internet’s potential to transform our lives, her best-known and most widely used product is the redesigned chase.com online banking website. In addition to the LCU Fund for Women’s Education, Leslie also serves on the Advisory Board of the Association to Benefit Children, on the Alumnae Board of The Chapin School, and is the Treasurer Double Entendre Music Ensemble. Leslie holds an AB degree from Princeton University and an MBA from Stanford University. She lives in New York City with her family.

Diana Polvere, Vice President

Diana Polvere Diana Polvere is the Vice President, Annual Giving and Analytics at Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organization behind Sesame Street, which reaches 183 million children globally.  In her role at Sesame, she supports the Workshop’s mission to use the educational power of media to help children everywhere grow smarter, stronger, and kinder, through high-quality programming for all children, but especially children and families in need.  Diana has been at Sesame for over 8 years and is responsible for building and strengthening the organization’s broad base of donors and potential donors through fundraising and engagement efforts, creating and implementing an annual giving effort, and managing donor analytics and CRM efforts.  Previously, she was head of the Insights group, responsible for brand and audience measurement, market research and digital analytics. 

Prior to Sesame Workshop, Diana worked at American Express for six years as Director of Research, leading a team in their Global Marketplace Insights group, providing research to inform key business initiatives, new product development, product line strategy, brand communications, acquisition and customer satisfaction.  Her other experience includes client and supplier side positions across various industries including consumer packaged goods, travel, technology, financial services and media. Diana earned an M.B.A. from New York University’s Stern School of Business and completed her undergraduate degree in Marketing and Management at Cornell University.   She currently resides with her family in Port Washington, New York.

Carol Starmack, Treasurer & Chair - Finance Committee

Carol StarmackCarol Starmack is the Deputy Director of the American Montessori Society (AMS), where she is responsible for ensuring the strategic alignment of AMS's human, material and financial resources with the organization's mission and goals. Prior to joining AMS in 2013, in addition to consulting for nonprofit organizations, she was the Senior Vice President of The Century Foundation, a nonprofit public policy research organization, serving as its Chief Operating Officer. In that role, she was a senior advisor to the foundation’s president with senior management responsibility for strategic planning, finance, budgeting, operations, administration, human resources, cross departmental functionality and oversight, and board relations. Carol holds a BS from the City University of New York Baccalaureate Program and an MPA from Baruch College. She is a native New Yorker.

Margaret Dietsche, Secretary & Co-Chair Communications and Development Committee

Margaret Dietsche grew up on a cotton farm in the San Joaquin Valley of California. She received a B.A. in English Literature from the University of California Santa Barbara and an M.A. in English Literature from Westfield State College in Massachusetts. The mother of two daughters and a former high school teacher of English, she is a strong believer in the power of women’s education to change lives, families and communities. In 2013 Margaret moved to New York City with her husband, Andrew, a bishop of the Episcopal Church, and is happily acclimating to city life. She serves on the board of the Global Women’s Fund, a mission of the Episcopal Church dedicated to educating women in the developing world.

 

Current Board Members

Ligia Cravo, Chair - Grants Committee

Ligia Cravo Ligia Cravo is a Senior Program Officer at the William Randolph Hearst Foundations, where her leading responsibilities include making funding recommendations within the Foundations’ major areas of interest—education, health, arts and culture, and social services. Prior to joining the Hearst Foundations in 1996, Ligia worked with such nonprofit and philanthropic institutions as Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the American Express Foundation. She has also served on several nonprofit boards over the years, including Hispanics in Philanthropy and the Brooklyn Philharmonic. Presently, she is a trustee of the Center for Rural Strategies and a member of the Leadership Council of the New York Foundation for the Arts. Ligia received a Master of Science in Social Work Administration from Columbia University in 1991, and a Bachelor of Arts from Mills College in 1986.

 

Christine Evangelides Donovan

Christine Donovan

 

Holly Hughes, Co-Chair - Communications and Development Committee

Holly HughesHolly Hughes is a writer and editor based in Manhattan. A former executive editor of Fodor’s Travel Guides, she founded and still edits the popular the Best Food Writing annual anthology, and has written many travel guides for Frommer’s, including 500 Places to See Before They Disappear and 500 Places to Take the Kids Before They Grow Up. A native Hoosier, she earned a B.A. in English from Mount Holyoke College and an Honours B.A./M.A. from Oxford University, then made the Big Move to New York City to work at Scholastic Magazines; for months she hopped from couch-crashing to sublet to apartment share, trying to find a safe place to live on a junior editor’s modest salary. She and her husband, Robert Ward, have three children, all currently enrolled in college and graduate school, plus a rescue dog and cat. For more information, visit her website at hollyahughes.net.

 

Kathy Legg

Kathy LeggKathy Legg retired from her role as Executive Director of Spence-Chapin Services to Families and Children in the spring of 2011. Ms. Legg had been the director of this child welfare and adoption agency for 21 years. Prior to this position she held several government jobs with the City of New York, including serving as the deputy executive commissioner with the City’s Human Resources Administration and as the City’s first Coordinator of Homeless Services. A graduate of Connecticut College, she received her MBA from NYU in 1978 and earned a Master of Library Science in 2002. She is an honorary board member of Search and Care, a small nonprofit serving the homebound elderly and is on the board of the Buck Hill Conservation Foundation in Buck Hill Falls, Pennsylvania. Since retirement,  Kathy has been a volunteer literacy tutor and pro bono consultant.

 

Kimiko Lupfer

Kimiko LupferKimiko Lupfer joined the LCU Board in 2015, bringing 20 years of experience as an language educator, serving both public and private school systems in Maryland, Illinois and Oregon. Managing educational programs, building curriculums and teaching in school systems across the country has formed her understanding of the needs of youth as well as the challenges the schools face to provide effective support for students. Kimiko finds great joy in supporting future generations in a constantly changing world in a way that empowers women's rights and build global citizens. Kimiko also serves on the Boards of the Global Women's Fund and The Cathedral Guild of The Cathedral Church of Saint John The Divine. She is married to William B. Lupfer Jr., who is Rector of Trinity Church Wall Street and is actively involved in Trinity's ministry, locally and internationally. Kimiko grew up in Tokyo and has a BA from University of Sacred Heart in Tokyo and a MA from Fairfield University in Connecticut.

 

Colleen Minde

Colleen MindeColleen Minde is a Senior Account Executive at Yardi Systems, a real estate software solution provider. In her role at Yardi, she advises commercial real estate owners and investors on how to leverage technology to effectively achieve their business objectives. Prior to joining Yardi, she was an Associate at SL Green Realty Corp in New York City. Born and raised in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, she began her career in real estate as an Associate Broker with Newmark Grubb Knight Frank/Frederick Ross Company. She strongly believes the empowerment of women begins with access to quality education. It is vital to providing women genuine possibilities to become everything they wish for. An art enthusiast, she is consistently captivated by the dedication and talent of the many grantees preparing for careers in the arts. Colleen holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Kansas.

 

Valeta Prendergast

Valeta PrendergastValeta L. Prendergast was born on the sunny island of Jamaica and immigrated to the United States with her parents when she was three years old. Growing up in the Northeast Bronx with her close-knit and extended family, Valeta learned the value of hard work, dedication and compassion. It’s these life lessons that continue to drive her each day. She received a BA with a double major in English and World History from Hunter College. In 2004 she won the highly competitive Clark Fellowship Award through NYU Wagner School while simultaneously obtaining a Master’s degree in Urban Affairs and Planning and working full-time for the American Jewish World Service. Her focal point has been nonprofit management which directly correlates with her vast experience wearing many “hats” at start-up nonprofit organizations. In 2016 Valeta was promoted to Administrative Services Manager in which she oversees the work of two support staff in the management of contracts, safety and security travel preparedness for staff including the implementation of a travel management system and vendor recruitment and management. On her downtime, Valeta enjoys spending quality time with her husband and family, volunteering for her favorite charities, traveling, reading mystery novels, watching horror movies and writing poetry.

Katherine Schmitt

Katherine SchmittKatherine Schmitt is a Senior Consultant in the People Advisory Services practice at Ernst & Young (EY). She specializes in organizational design and change management, specifically helping Fortune 500 companies navigate large-scale transformations. Katherine graduated from Cornell University in 2015 with a B.S. in Industrial & Labor Relations. As a native of New York City and a current resident, Katherine understands first-hand how outstanding educational opportunities in NYC are often accompanied by unaffordable housing. She is delighted that she is able to use her knowledge and experience to help underprivileged female students find safe and affordable housing. In addition to the LCU, Katherine volunteers for the New York City Mentoring Program, the Cornell Alumni Admissions Ambassador Network and various outreach programs at the Church of the Heavenly Rest.

Linda J. Wright, Chair- Board Governance and Audit Oversight Committee

Linda WrightLinda J. Wright migrated to NYC in 1970 from a small, rural town (pop. less than 1,000) in Massachusetts. Graduating from Wagner College, Staten Island, with a dual B.A. in English Literature and Religion/Philosophy, she saw a future in lifting up others while exploring the world. Her first stop was west London, where she taught for two years in a struggling secondary girls’ school composed in equal thirds of working-class whites and recently settled immigrants from India and the Caribbean. When her visa expired, she returned to NYC to pursue an M.A. in TESOL, expecting to be back overseas soon. To pay for her studies she took a clerical position in the development office at Teachers College, Columbia University. This decision led to a professional sea change: Linda now saw the non-profit sector--focusing on institutional development, fundraising, and management--as an even more effective, inclusive way to reach people in need. As her multi-decade career at Teachers College and Spence-Chapin Services to Families and Children wound down and she looked to supplement past volunteer/board commitments, Linda embraced the LCU Fund for Women’s Education. Heartfelt testimonials from supported students reinforce how much the LCU Fund’s housing grants have contributed to their success and remind Linda that many of us share a dream: “To be the first in our families to go to college; to have a meaningful, successful career; and to remember to make giving back to others a priority.”

 

Sara Espinosa - Executive Director

Sara EspinosaSara Espinosa is an experienced organizational leader with a passion for serving the community. Throughout her extensive career, she has worked in both the public and private non-profit sectors in a variety of leadership roles. She brings with her a wealth of expertise, knowledge and most importantly, commitment to improving the lives of women as the Executive Director of the LCU Fund for Women's Education. Prior to joining the LCU, Ms. Espinosa served as the Executive Director of AfterSchool Works! New York, a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the quality of the afterschool and youth development workforce. She also established the Department of Children, Youth and Family Services for the City of Newburgh, New York. Before moving to New York in 2005 she worked with the Seattle School District for nearly a decade in a variety of management roles where she was instrumental in shaping district wide policy and practice in how schools partner with families and the community. Born and raised on the west coast, Ms. Espinosa is a proud graduate of the University of Oregon where she earned a BA in Sociology. She also holds a certificate in Non-Profit Leadership from the University of Washington’s Graduate School of Social Work. Sara lives in the Hudson Valley with her husband Gilbert where they are actively involved in animal rescue efforts and the local music scene.