Press Release


JustFund Announces Expansion of Senior Leadership Team Signaling Increased Demand for Equity-Centered Solutions to Grantmaking

JustFund, the first and only nonprofit grantmaking solution created by funders and organizers of color, is pleased to announce the hiring of three new senior leadership roles: Katie Branch as JustFund’s Director of Customer Experience, Preeti Shukla as JustFund’s Head of Product and Engineering, and Marci Ovadia as JustFund’s Director of Marketing and Communications. These hires are in addition to the promotion of Melody Lee as JustFund’s new Chief Operating Officer. Lee has served as a critical leader for the organization over the last four years and moves into the COO position to oversee operations during this stage of growth.

“This new set of senior hires reflects just how hungry the philanthropic sector is for an equitable grantmaking solution that puts their values of trust and equity into practice. With Melody Lee moving into the COO role and our new leadership team in place, JustFund is poised to support the growing movement to reset philanthropy for good .” said Iara Peng, Founder and CEO of JustFund.

This announcement follows the hiring of Afi Tengue as the organization’s Director of Donor Engagement and JustFund’s celebration of its fifth anniversary with the release of its inaugural Impact Report.

“With the addition of Katie, Preeti, and Marci to the JustFund team, we are well positioned to lead, grow, and scale our impact. I’m thrilled to move into the COO role and help provide critical leadership to JustFund. I’m excited for us to be moving into this next phase of our growth. We’ll continue to uphold our deep commitment to funding grassroots organizations that are on the ground fighting for their communities. In this next phase, we will be pushing forward more innovative strategies that save grantseekers time and continue to uplift their work, their stories, and their impact, all while increasing their opportunities to apply to and receive funding both from foundations and from new donors. ” said Melody Lee, Chief Operating Officer.

Branch comes to JustFund from Resilia, where she served as the Senior Customer Success Manager, partnering with foundations focused on sharing capacity building resources for growing organizations, and Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, where she served as Director of Development, leading fundraising efforts in the deep south for her home state of Louisiana. In her role as Director of Customer Experience, Branch will work directly with existing funding partners who run their grant cycles on JustFund using the common app, a solution that has already saved applicants over 28 years of time once spent on grant applications, which they can apply toward mission-advancing work.

“JustFund takes a human-centered approach to grantmaking, recognizing the systemic barriers that exist in traditional philanthropy and leads with a values-aligned, equitable approach that is centered on trust,” said Branch. “The opportunity to join a movement that puts people first is exciting. I look forward to ensuring our partners and our grantseekers have a positive experience seeking and distributing funding, simplifying the grantmaking experience for all involved.”

Shukla joins JustFund with an extensive background in B2B SaaS Financial Management products, having held software development leadership positions in Workday, and Oracle. Shukla also co-founded a B2C platform in the home niche and led the online platform as the Chief Technology Officer prior to joining JustFund. In her role as Head of Product and Engineering, Shukla will lead product development through JustFund’s SaaS platform, while scaling JustFund’s ability to redistribute money to movements in a quick and effective way.

“The influence of technology at this moment in history is unprecedented. The power that technology holds affects every component of the human experience and plays a primary role in how organizations are advancing social change and justice within their communities,” said Shukla. “I recognize the responsibility that JustFund holds in the growth of its platform to sustain its commitment to its values, mission, and vision, and am excited to lead the journey.”

“JustFund is gearing up to bring one hundred funds to the platform and is on track to move $100 million annually given our rate of growth and increased investment in technology. This next phase ushers in a focused strategy on product development and technological innovation that gives our partners confidence to move more money to movements,” added Peng.

Ovadia comes to JustFund with a career deeply rooted in justice and liberation across multiple sectors including philanthropy, local government, economic development, academia, and publishing. In addition to building a consultancy grounded in the decolonization of the philanthropic sector through storytelling, language, and philanthropic collaborations, Ovadia previously worked at the Equitable Evaluation Initiative and The Funders Network, leading communications and engagement strategies with a focus on racial equity.

“Stories shape how we understand the world. Challenging how we frame social issues, naming systems of oppression, as well as platforming and learning from intentionally marginalized voices are core values that I am committed to advancing with the team,” said Ovadia. “Working to counter narratives that oppress and diminish people of color and other historically excluded communities is critical to the advancement of justice and liberation and I am eager to lead JustFund’s communications and storytelling strategy, as it is a responsibility we collectively bear in this world.”

With its investment in these key leadership roles, JustFund continues to expand access to funding opportunities for chronically underfunded communities and organizations. Through its unprecedented technology focused on equitable grantmaking solutions – including their common app – JustFund is already a trusted partner to nearly 1,000 funders – including national foundations, donor networks, giving circles, family foundations, collaborative funds, and community foundations. JustFund plans to increase its membership and service offerings to individual donors and philanthropic advisors to multiply its impact.

For more information about JustFund, visit

About JustFund

JustFund – the only nonprofit grantmaking platform created by funders and organizers of color – streamlines the grantmaking process and makes the ability to seek and distribute funds simple, easy, and equitable. By building unprecedented technology focused on grantmaking solutions that center equity and trust at their core – including their common app – they seek to reset philanthropy for good.

Since 2017, JustFund has partnered with thousands of funds and funders to move almost $200 million to organizations working across dozens of social justice issues. If you are a grantmaker looking to center equity in your grantmaking, we invite you to request a live demo with our Founder and CEO.

Iara Duarte Peng

Iara Duarte Peng

Iara Duarte Peng is the Founder and CEO of JustFund.

Related Articles

February 29, 2024

Introducing JustFund Search – Designed with You in Mind

When we started JustFund in 2017, I was eager to build a simple way to share different funding needs with members of the donor network…

Read More
January 19, 2024

Welcome 2023 JustFund Partners

In 2023, JustFund welcomed over 20 new partners committed to centering equity in their grantmaking and working together to #resetphilanthopy for good. Values-aligned funders including:…

Read More
January 16, 2024

Meet the People Behind the Platform | Joseph Mercurio

Welcome to JustFund’s People Behind the Platform series, where we introduce our incredible team! Today, we are thrilled to introduce Joseph Mercurio, Senior Product Manager….

Read More
January 4, 2024

Celebrating our collective power to #resetphilanthropy, for good

Dear JustFund Community, Thank you for being a valued partner as we work together to change the way we give, so that communities can thrive….

Read More
November 27, 2023

Meet the People Behind the Platform | Maisha Billingsley

Welcome to JustFund’s People Behind the Platform series, where we introduce our incredible team! Today, we are thrilled to introduce Maisha Billingsley, Client Operations Manager….

Read More
November 1, 2023

Let’s Keep Building Together

Dear JustFund Community, Our hearts continue to break with the injustices we are experiencing daily around the country and around the world. At JustFund, we…

Read More
October 31, 2023

Meet the People Behind the Platform | Preeti Shukla

Welcome to JustFund’s People Behind the Platform series, where we introduce our incredible team! Today, we are thrilled to introduce Preeti Shukla, Head of Product…

Read More
September 26, 2023

The Power and Lessons from Rest and Renewal

Dear JustFund Community, It took me a long time to realize the importance of rest and renewal, not just as a form of self-care, but…

Read More
September 19, 2023

Meet the People Behind the Platform | Rachel Haytt

Welcome to JustFund’s People Behind the Platform series, where we introduce our incredible team! Today, we are thrilled to introduce Rachel Haytt, Customer Engagement Manager….

Read More
August 29, 2023

Updates to the JustFund Common Application™

Dear JustFund Community, After five years building and refining the JustFund Common ApplicationTM JustFund is launching an even more streamlined common application process to make sure you have…

Read More