Gates Family Foundation Expands Staff Capacity

Staff additions and advancements will support impact in focus areas of public education, natural resources, and community development.

The Gates Family Foundation has added four new staff members and promoted two others in recent months, completing an organizational reconfiguration aimed at increasing the Foundation’s capacity to engage in and impact its priority areas of statewide K-12 education, natural resources and community development.

  • Laia Mitchell (Program Officer, Community Development) was promoted to this newly created position in November 2016, after serving as a program associate for the Foundation since April 2015. Laia’s work focuses on economic opportunity, community planning and development in urban and rural areas. Laia brings more than 12 years of experience in urban and regional planning and social enterprises, including work at the Mile High Business Alliance, the Piton Foundation/Gary Community Investments, Mile High Connects, and the City and County of Denver Public Works. As a Fulbright scholar, she spent three years working with organic farmers and teaching English in northern Spain. She is bilingual in Spanish and English.
  • Abigail Schaller (Program Officer, Education) was promoted to this newly created position in November 2016, after serving as a graduate fellow for the Foundation since September of 2015. Abby supports the Foundation’s initiated work in statewide K-12 education by identifying and assessing new partner relationships and grant opportunities, and monitoring and evaluating the impact of existing grants. Previously Abby has held research and program administration roles at the CU Denver School of Public Affairs, the Jefferson County School District, and Klein Buendel, a public health research firm.


  • Russell Schnitzer (Program Officer, Natural Resources) joined the Foundation in November 2016 to support work in water resources management and land conservation. Russ's career in nonprofit conservation has carried him from organizational development and strategic planning to large-scale project management, major gifts fundraising, and public policy. He spent a decade with Trout Unlimited, six years with The Nature Conservancy and is a former U.S. Forest Service smokejumper. Russ is a recipient of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Achievement Award, and has co-authored a number of publications pertaining to the intersection of social values and the environment.
  • Anna Snow (Senior Accountant) joined Gates in April 2017 to support the Vice President for Finance and Administration as she expands the Foundation’s focus on financial management, Program Related Investments and mission-related investments. Anna is a CPA with more than seven years of accounting experience in both the public and private sectors. Previously, Anna worked as a senior accountant for an IT firm and a senior services nonprofit, and spent a year volunteering at a youth services center in Ecuador.
  • Melissa Milios Davis (Vice President, Strategic Communications) joined the Foundation in May 2017 to help bring greater visibility to the work of grantees and partners, facilitate knowledge sharing, and amplify the quality of life issues and ideas of greatest concern to the Foundation and Coloradans. Melissa brings two decades of experience in communications, journalism, public relations, event planning and fundraising. She has held director-level roles at education and community development nonprofits in Texas and at the Los Angeles Unified School District, and reporting and news production roles at newspapers, public radio stations and websites in Texas, Florida and Los Angeles.
  • Ana Soler (Senior Program Officer, Education) joined Gates in June 2017, filling a vacancy in that role. Her primary focus is to engage with communities in Colorado’s rural and urban areas to increase equity and achievement for low-income students. Ana brings more than 25 years of experience in the nonprofit and government arenas, including work with Denver Partners, Urban Peak, and the Denver District Attorney’s Office Juvenile Diversion program. She has held director-level roles at The Civic Canopy and the Denver District Attorney’s Office-Victim Services Network, and brings experience working with complex projects in education, health and community building in a variety of cultures and contexts. She is bilingual in Spanish and English.


In addition, the Foundation’s existing team of professionals continue in their roles:

Complete biographies for all staff members can be viewed here.

Gates Family Foundation