Founded in 1951, The Community Fund of Darien is a highly respected, professional nonprofit that plays a significant role in addressing health and human service needs in Darien, Norwalk, and Stamford through strategic leadership and grantmaking. Our mission is to enhance the capacity of the community to care for one another by:
- assisting the community to identify and prioritize its needs;
- keeping the community informed about efforts to meet those needs;
- providing cost effective fundraising;
- distributing funds to meet identified community needs;
- assuring accountability of grant recipients;
- fostering coordinated and cooperative efforts to deliver services
The Community Fund of Darien was founded almost 70 years ago and since that time, we have distributed over $20 million to local nonprofit organizations and community initiatives. In 1977, we became the Darien United Way & Community Council. In 2006 we successfully withdrew from the United Way system and returned to our local roots where we continue to serve as the safety net for our community.
Meet Our Team
Meet the people who execute the vision of the Community Fund of Darien every day.
Prior to joining the Community Fund of Darien, Janet was the former DirectorREAD MORE
of Volunteers at Person-to-Person where she recruited, trained and organized more than 4,000 volunteers; working alongside clients, corporate teams and community groups. She has experience in program and special event management, employee training, marketing, and fundraising from a variety of companies including Western Athletic Clubs, Brooks Brothers, Esprit de Corp, and May Company. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University and has volunteered with Tokeneke Parents Teacher Association, Saint Luke’s Parish, Darien Junior Sailing Team, Darien Youth Soccer, Stamford Hospital and Chi Omega alumnae. Janet lives in Darien with her husband and two sons.
Lisa Haas began working at The Community Fund of Darien in 2013 as the Director ofREAD MORE
Development and subsequently moved into the role of Grants Director in 2016. Prior to working at The Community Fund, she served on The Community Fund’s Board of Directors and participated in our grant review panels for six years. Lisa worked in finance as a research analyst for Soundview and Schroders. She has a B.A. from Duke University and has an M.B.A. from Northwestern’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management. She has three children and lives in Darien.
Director of Development
Laurie Orem joined The Community Fund of Darien in February 2018 as the Director ofREAD MORE
Development. She previously served on The Community Fund’s Board of Directors for six years, most recently as the Vice President of Development. Laurie has been an active volunteer in town for many years including the public schools, her church, and other nonprofit boards, often in leadership positions. Prior to raising her children, Laurie was a Management Consultant in Strategic Planning for KPMG Peat Marwick. She has a BS in civil engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and an MBA in finance/marketing from Columbia University. Laurie resides in Darien with her husband and three daughters.
Barbara joined The Community Fund of Darien as bookkeeper in 2015. Barbara is a CPA with aREAD MORE
background in public accounting and has been doing bookkeeping for small businesses since 1996. Barbara graduated from Darien High School and received a B.S.B.A. from Villanova University. She currently lives in Darien with her husband and three children.
Crowdfunding Project Director
Susan Serven joined The Community Fund of Darien in 2016 as Project Director to helpREAD MORE
launch our latest community initiative, a crowdfunding platform to help nonprofits fundraise online. Susan brings her corporate and nonprofit experience in marketing, technology and finance to her current roles in the community. Susan was co-founder of EPM Channel and the nonprofit Chinese Language School of Connecticut, and has previously worked as Special Events Director at the American Cancer Society, as Global Marketing Project Manager at Save the Children, and at Lever Bros., Inc. and Nielsen Marketing Research. She has a B.B.A. from Pace University and an M.B.A. in Finance and International Business from Fairfield University. Susan lives in New Canaan with her husband and two daughters.
Board of Directors
The 2017-2018 Board of Directors of the Community Fund of Darien includes Cindy Banks, Holley Cavanna, Marla Chandler, Ryan Duffy, Allegra Erickson, Millyn Gaaserud, Shedd Glassmeyer, Chris Gugelman, Kirstie Howard, Jake Hennemuth, Frank Huck, Kevin MacGuire, Debi McGahren, Kristine Miller, Ginger Morgan, Bryan Murphy, Jamie Murray, Mara Neafsey, Warren Pullen, Heather Raker, Doug Ryder, Margaret Smith, and Steve Ward.
The 2017-2018 Executive Committee includes:
- Steve Ward, President
- Heather Raker, Vice President of Development
- Mara Neafsey, Vice President of Governance
- Cindy Banks, Vice President of Grants
- Jake Hennemuth, Treasurer
- Frank Huck, Secretary
The 2017-2018 Advisory Board of the Community Fund of Darien includes Dan Anderson, Joan Barksdale, Dave Campbell, Meredith Edwards, Gigi Garnett, Lisa Joyce, Susan Okie, Patty Reis, Ray Hodil, John Straus, Doug Traver, Peter Tombros, Robin Woods, Susan Wyper.