About Us

Our Approach

Our grant-making philosophy is supported by five grant-making pillars we’ve honed over the past 10 years. Together, they open a new approach to philanthropy that works more effectively for nonprofits and donors alike.

Listen
First

Nonprofit leaders are experts in their fields and have a unique understanding of the communities they serve. Give them the tools they're asking for and their organizations will flourish.

Focus
on Capacity

An effective nonprofit is more than its programs. Help them grow stronger from the inside to accomplish their mission with an internal structure that will make an impact well into the future.

Long-Term
Grants Only

Innovation takes time. Remain committed to funding a nonprofit’s grants for five-years so that a process can be built and perfected with enough time to tackle new challenges.

Commit to a
Community

Focus on one community at a time by listening to their cross-generational challenges. Then approach solutions from different angles to create a web of thriving services.

Collaborative
Cohorts

Nonprofits have wisdom to share. Find nonprofits with mutually supporting missions and have them meet regularly to present grant proposals to one another for tangible feedback.

The Magic Cabinet Cohorts

Explore the Cohorts – Learn more about the nonprofits that make up the 18 active Cohorts and their capacity-building journey with Magic Cabinet.
Click any nonprofit logo to visit their unique Cohort page.

Nonprofit Peers

The Magic Cabinet Cohort is made of 5 voting members: a leader from each of the 3 benefiting nonprofits, a Magic Cabinet program officer and an independent advisor from the community.

Present & Approves Grants

The benefiting nonprofit Cohort members present their grant proposals to the Cohort, and their peers approve or offer feedback on how to make the grant stronger.

Together for 5 Years

Cohorts meet quarterly for grant proposal presentations, to vote on new grants, share progress updates, and to seek advice on new challenges.

Access to a Pool of Funds

Magic Cabinet distributes $2.5m to the benefiting nonprofits through Cohort approved grants— approximately $500k available each year with unused funding rolling over to the next year.

Our Team

We have a collaborative leadership group with deep experience in philanthropy, community building and creative thinking.

Andrea Arenas

Senior Engagement Officer | Puget Sound

Andrea joins Magic Cabinet with a deep appreciation for community-led organizations and over a decade of professional nonprofit experience. Born and raised in south Florida, her passion for natural history led her to Seattle in 2009 to pursue an MA in Museology. Prior to Magic Cabinet, Andrea worked for several Seattle area nonprofits focused on arts and culture, history, and parks and public spaces.

Andrea is a co-founder of Community-Centric Fundraising, a global movement that aims to evolve how fundraising is done in the nonprofit sector in effort to create more equitable practices, reduce harm, and further social justice.
Ken Birdwell

Founder & Board Chairman

Ken has worked in telecommunications, computer simulation, and CAD prosthetics, before combining his passion for both technology and art to help start Valve, a popular video game company in 1996. Retiring after 20 years, Ken is an avid traveler and has been active in the nonprofit world since 1992 as a volunteer, board member, and donor. Through the founding of his experimental 509(a)(3) foundation in 2011 and Magic Cabinet in 2018, Ken is dedicated to finding new ways of transforming lives and accelerating the evolution of philanthropy.

Christina Engel

Chief Executive Officer

Christina has dedicated her career to developing platforms for emergent leadership, community, and creativity. As Chief Executive Officer of Magic Cabinet, she is tasked with building and overseeing a grant-making system that centers on equity, transparency, and long-term sustainability. Christina is passionate about building scalable systems that honor local leadership and self-empowerment, whether working with young performing artists or with technology leaders.

On the weekends, you might find her working in the garden, venturing to the woods in and around the Seattle area, or attempting to recreate Arizmendi’s vegan focaccia in her kitchen. (It’s never as good.) She holds degrees in Art History and Anthropology.

Myeshia Grice-Robinson

Program Director

Myeshia Grice-Robinson has been a Child Protective Worker for the City and County of San Francisco Family and Children’s Services for the past 15 years. In that role she was responsible for ensuring the safety of the children while strengthening families in which that system serves. Prior to working with families directly, she held several positions over a twelve year period with the California Youth Connection (CYC). In her many capacities Myeshia has been instrumental in assisting youth and families all across California in advocacy efforts to improve their lives as they interface with the foster care system. In addition, she has chaired and participated on countless committees, state and nationwide, that are focused on child welfare reform. 

Myeshia earned an undergraduate degree in political science from California State University at Hayward and a graduate degree in social work from San Francisco State University. In her spare time she enjoys traveling the world and trying new adventures.

Zach Grossnickle

Communications Manager

Zach leads the communications efforts at Magic Cabinet. He loves how this work requires partnership and human connection. From colleagues at Magic Cabinet, to nonprofits and philanthropists, he has the pleasure of working to build stories and strategies that inspire. 

Prior to joining Magic Cabinet, Zach has worked across many sectors with many focuses. From co-founding an EdTech startup to developing national marketing campaigns, Zach looks to activate others to become more connected to their communities and join in socially impactful solutions. Zach has Masters in Public Administration and two bachelor’s degrees; Political Science and International Affairs.

For fun, Zach is usually doing one of four things; traveling, thinking about traveling, eating hamburgers, or perfecting his corn tortilla recipe.

Tiffany Johnson

Chief Strategy Officer

Tiffany serves as the Chief Strategy Officer. Prior to joining Magic Cabinet, Tiffany’s career included diverse advocacy experience by working in multiple child welfare and nonprofit settings, and she has served on boards that focus on improving the lives of transition-age foster youth. Her life’s passions have been advocating to ensure justice, compassion, and opportunity for vulnerable youth.

Tiffany is a former member of the Youth Transitions Funders Group (YTGF) a national network of funders that work together to support the well-being and economic success of vulnerable young people age 14 to 25. She is the recipient of the James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award for demonstrating the power of youth voice and improving the quality of life for California’s Foster Youth.

In her free time you may find her at a Carnival celebration dancing the night away. Tiffany is also a trained Doula and serves as a community mediator. Tiffany holds a Masters of Public Administration with a focus on organizational change.

Maya Procel Farrar

Events and Marketing Manager

Maya believes in the power of curiosity and asking really good questions. Through her experience working in museums and higher education, she developed a fascination with how people learn and how new ideas can transform our work.

An avowed introvert, Maya loves events because they remind her of family and community parties during her childhood in Mexico. She is excited to explore how gathering in new ways can support communities and the nonprofit organizations that make them stronger.

Outside of work, Maya’s favorite activity is learning about the world alongside her two children through experiments, crafting, and long walks in the woods.

Jessalyn Pinneo Randelman

Grants Manager

Jessalyn is committed to using her career to support people, programs, and organizations dedicated to making a positive difference in the world, and she is thrilled to now be doing so as part of the Magic Cabinet team. Her role as Grants Manager draws on more than a decade of experience in nonprofit development across a range of issue areas, at organizations in Washington, DC, Sydney, Australia, and Seattle.

Jessalyn holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs and French Language & Literature from The George Washington University, and a dual Master of Human Science/Master of Arts in Translation & Interpreting and International Relations from Macquarie University. You can often find her walking or running near the water with her husband Jon, hiking in forests or mountains, practicing or teaching yoga, or playing piano with her dog Ollie at her feet.

Mary Rennekamp

Director of Philanthropic Strategies

Mary believes in the power of community and has worked as a nonprofit professional to reimagine how philanthropy can partner with community-led organizations to create deep and lasting impact. For almost 20 years, Mary has built an extensive and successful background in developing diverse and sustainable plans to scale and expand programs and change narratives. She is excited to work with Magic Cabinet to expand this powerful model of community driven investment.

Mary lives in Seattle, Washington with her dog, Zelda Fetchgerald, and volunteers her time by serving on the Board of Directors of Friends of the Children – Tacoma, and as an advisor for The Adopted Life. In her free time, Mary loves to travel the world and immerse herself in other cultures and experiences.

Jackie Schultz

Operations Director

Jackie moved to eastern Washington as a child from South Korea. As a mixed-race youth emigrating to a community that did not provide many social services for families like hers, she knew she wanted to focus her education and eventual career to give back in support of immigrants, youth, and families in need.

Jackie’s role as Operations Director for Magic Cabinet is complemented by nearly two decades working in nonprofit development and communications. 

In her free time, you’ll find Jackie ‘forest bathing’ in the beautiful Pacific NW woods, swimming in LK WA, volunteering as a member with the Asian Pacific Directors Coalition (APDC), and also as a member of the Seattle Human Rights Commission. Jackie holds undergraduate degrees in international studies and political science, and a Masters degree in Public Administration.

Karen Toering

Puget Sound Program Director

Karen’s background includes work as a grassroots organizer, cultural worker and consultant for non-profit arts and social justice organizations. Named by Seattle Magazine as one of Seattle’s Most Influential People of 2019, her work focuses on equity, Black liberation and wealth redistribution. 

Most days, you can find Karen in her backyard, gardening, cussing at squirrels and waiting patiently for the next video call from her grandchildren.

Gloria Upchurch

Senior Engagement Officer | Bay Area

As the Bay Area Engagement Officer, Gloria specializes in building long-term nonprofit partnerships. Before joining the Magic Cabinet team, Gloria developed and managed chronic kidney disease prevention programs around the globe. Through a proactive approach, her work improved awareness of the disease and increased high-risk communities’ access to intervention strategies. Gloria continues her global health work through her nonprofit and its work bringing clean delivery kits to rural African clinics.

Gloria is passionate about art that is deeply rooted in the chronicling of culture and everyday life. She holds a bachelor’s degree and studied Documentary & Fine Art Photography.

Jordan Wilson

Administrative Coordinator

Jordan serves as the Administrative Coordinator at Magic Cabinet. Prior to his current role, Jordan taught science at Roosevelt and Franklin High. He spent much time developing school-wide systems, and developing racial equity teams.

Jordan spends his free time taking care of his plants, starting hand embroidery projects (and somehow never finishing them), and playing with his puppy named Pico. He has a Bachelors in Biology and a Masters in Teaching.

Our Board
Ken Birdwell

Founder & Board Chairman

Ken Davis

Board Secretary

Keith Vernon

Board Treasurer & Assistant Secretary

Rebecca Spadoni

Board Member

Christina Engel

Ex Officio

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