Sheri Kersch Schultz
president & co-founder
Sheri Kersch Schultz is president of the Schultz Family Foundation, which she co-founded in 1996 with her husband, Howard Schultz, chairman emeritus of Starbucks Coffee Company.
Guided by a belief that the right opportunities at the right time can unleash human potential—and that “inequality of opportunity” is stifling America’s own potential, the Foundation invests in innovative solutions and collaborative partnerships that create new pathways to opportunity so disconnected populations can overcome barriers to success.
A passionate volunteer and long-time advocate for at-risk youth, Sheri recognized early in her work shaping the foundation how a fractured system of social supports was failing to reach people who were motivated but unable to escape homelessness or poverty, or simply to improve their lives.
Refusing to accept the status quo, Sheri, Howard, and the Foundation decided to concentrate their efforts on two communities: Opportunity Youth, the 4.6 million 16- to 24-year-olds in the country who are not in school and not working, and America’s 3.9 million Post 9/11 Veterans, heroic individuals whose valuable skills and experience are often misunderstood and undervalued when they return to civilian life.
Under Sheri’s leadership, the Foundation has launched two national initiatives:
A portfolio of programs and investments that put Opportunity Youth on a path towards skills training and employment, and an initiative which helps returning military service members and their families successfully transition into civilian jobs and professional careers. Each program actively engages the business community, bringing together leaders from the private and public sectors, whose collaboration is key to sustaining each program’s success.
Sheri grew up in Lima, Ohio and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Denver. A native of Ohio, Sheri is a longtime resident of Seattle where she and Howard raised their two children.
Recognized for his entrepreneurship and servant leadership, Howard Schultz built Starbucks Coffee Company into one of the world’s most recognized and respected businesses, a company committed to strengthening communities through human connection and social innovation.
Howard grew up in public housing and was the first in his family to graduate college. As a young entrepreneur, he set out to build a different kind of company, one that delivers business excellence through a culture of compassion. Under his leadership, Starbucks delivered approximately 18,000 percent in shareholder returns since its Initial Public Offering in 1992, while pioneering programs like comprehensive healthcare, stock ownership and free college tuition for all eligible employees. Today, Starbucks has 26,000 stores in 75 countries and ranks third on Fortune’s list of “World’s Most Admired Companies.”
Howard’s groundbreaking initiatives have extended employment and educational opportunities to hundreds of thousands of partners (Starbucks employees) as well as people outside the company. In 2014, Howard developed the Starbucks College Achievement Plan (SCAP) in alliance with Arizona State University (ASU) President Michael Crow, enabling partners to pursue their college education tuition-free through ASU Online.
For more than three decades Howard has redefined the role and responsibility of a for-profit, public company, proving that a business can exceed expectations by sharing success with its people and the communities it serves.
Howard’s Starbucks journey began in 1981 when he walked into the first Starbucks store in Seattle’s Pike Place Market and discovered a local business that was passionate about roasting the highest quality coffee. He moved from his native New York and joined Starbucks in 1982 as Director of Operations and Marketing. At the time, there were only four Starbucks stores.
One year later, on a business trip to Italy, Howard was captivated by the romance of the Italian coffee bar. He returned to Seattle with a vision of bringing the Italian coffeehouse tradition to the United States, creating a unique place for human connection and a sense of community. After leaving Starbucks for a short time to start his own II Giornale coffeehouses, he purchased six Starbucks stores and roasting facilities in 1987 with the help of local investors, beginning a global expansion that would change how the world consumed coffee.
Chairman since 2000, Howard resumed the role of president and chief executive officer in January 2008, with a renewed focus on Starbucks coffee heritage, innovation and enhanced customer experience. On April 3, 2017, Howard transitioned from ceo to executive chairman, shifting his full-time focus to social impact initiatives as well as innovation and global development of Starbucks Reserve® Roasteries and Starbucks Reserve® retail store formats. In June 2018, Howard retired from the company and assumed the role of chairman emeritus.
Along with his wife, Sheri, Howard is co-founder of the Schultz Family Foundation. He is also the best-selling author of “For Love of Country: What Our Veterans Can Teach Us About Citizenship, Heroism, and Sacrifice” (2014), “Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul” (2011), and “Pour Your Heart Into It” (1997).
Howard holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northern Michigan University. Before joining Starbucks, he worked three years in sales and marketing with Xerox Corporation and served as Vice President and General Manager of Hammarplast U.S.A. He is co-founder of Maveron LLC, a venture capital group.
Supporting Howard and Sheri’s desire to focus and increase the impact of their philanthropic giving, Daniel led the creation of two portfolios: Veterans Initiative, which supports Post 9/11 Veterans as they transition back into civilian life; and Opportunity Youth, which helps young people who are out of school and not working, find pathways to work and self-sufficiency.
Under his leadership, the Foundation launched two ground-breaking initiatives – The 100,000 Opportunities Initiative and Onward to Opportunity – both of which are aimed at engaging the private sector in the training, recruitment, and retention of young people and veterans. Schultz Family Foundation has played a unique role in galvanizing the efforts of leaders in business, government, and nonprofits to ensure that these programs are sustainable and scalable.
Daniel has worked in the social services field for more than twenty years. Prior to joining Schultz Family Foundation, he was a senior program officer and special assistant to the Director of Post-Secondary Education at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In this capacity, he focused on creating national, systemic change by increasing the number of low-income and minority youth who graduate from high school college-ready, as well as expanding access to post-secondary education.
Daniel’s career began at the Department of Adolescent Medicine, Risk Reduction Program at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles. He subsequently served as manager of clinical services for Larkin Street Youth Center in San Francisco and in 1997, was recruited to Portland, Oregon where he developed New Avenues for Youth, a program for at-risk youth that helps young people gain the skills they need to be self-sufficient.
Daniel holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree from Boston University in Business Administration and a Masters of Social Work from University of California at Berkeley. He lives on Bainbridge Island, WA with his wife and three sons.
chief operations officer
Alison is the Foundation’s chief operations officer, overseeing Foundation operations and special projects as well as driving organizational efficiencies. In this role, Alison works closely with internal and external stakeholders to ensure Foundation goals and objectives are achieved.
With nearly two decades of experience in both the private and non-profit sectors, Alison brings knowledge of managing teams, designing and building philanthropic and operational funding processes and strategic planning to this position. Before joining the foundation, Alison served as Vice President, Research Operations at The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research where she served as a foundation leader driving programmatic funding, organizational culture, grant administration, funding evaluation and strategic management. She also ran grassroots fundraising events and served as a Team Fox mentor. Throughout her career, Alison has also held roles in the corporate sector running the philanthropic giving department at glassybaby LLC, and negotiating national media campaigns for global clients at Zenith Media.
Alison holds a Master’s in Public Administration focused on public and non-profit management from NYU’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Tufts University. Alison lives in Seattle, WA with her husband and two daughters.
senior program officer, Opportunity Youth Initiative
Ellen is a senior program officer at the Schultz Family Foundation, created by Sheri and Howard Schultz, executive chairman of Starbucks Coffee Company.
As the Foundation’s first youth-focused program officer, Ellen worked with the executive director and trustees to launch the Foundation’s Opportunity Youth portfolio in 2015. The portfolio focuses on creating opportunities for young people who are out of school and not working. Ellen manages investments that connect these talented young adults to employment and that support them along their journeys.
Prior to joining the Foundation, Ellen worked in a variety of education-focused organizations including Teach For America, the California Charter Schools Association, and ICEF Public Schools. A recovering politico, Ellen was an account executive at GMMB, a political and communications consulting firm in Washington, D.C., where she served a wide range of political and nonprofit clients.
Ellen graduated from Pomona College in Claremont, California with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Public Policy. She earned a Masters of Public Administration and Certificate in Nonprofit Management at the University of Southern California. After years away, Ellen is thrilled to be back in her hometown of Seattle, WA, where she lives with her husband and two children.
senior program officer, Veterans Initiative
John works on the Foundation’s Veterans portfolio, which supports veterans and military families in their transition back to civilian life. The Veterans portfolio includes comprehensive training and skills-matching programs that lead to better economic opportunities, opportunities for continued service in the form of civic engagement and facilitated access to helpful services.
John’s career spans nearly two decades of defense, diplomatic and commercial experience. John served five years on active duty in the U.S. Army, including a combat tour in Anbar, Iraq in 2003. After leaving the military, John managed programs at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for several years, and also wrote for the Wall Street Journal from their Washington, DC bureau.
In 2010, John was posted to Port-au-Prince, Haiti as a Foreign Service Officer, working in the U.S. embassy there as the country experienced presidential elections as well as the outbreak of cholera. John has also worked as a defense and policy consultant on a number of projects including big data visualization and defense policy reform.
John holds a Master’s degree in International Security from the Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He lives in Gig Harbor, WA, with his wife and two children.
program officer, Opportunity Youth Initiative
Paul is a program officer at the Schultz Family Foundation, focused on improving the lives of youth experiencing homelessness, and Opportunity Youth disconnected from work and education. Paul manages investments focused on stabilizing youth experiencing housing crisis and providing meaningful training and employment opportunities.
Before joining the Foundation, Paul was a social impact consultant in Seattle, providing project management, strategy development, and campaign research to various organizations focused on global health, plastic pollution and local policy change. Paul also served as the Homelessness Program Lead at Paul G. Allen Philanthropies, which invested in innovative housing solutions, youth homelessness prevention and increasing the capacity of shelters in King County. Paul previously worked as one of the founding members of the Paul G. Allen Ebola Program, a $100M program that aimed to address the 2014 West Africa Ebola outbreak through rapid response and health systems grants.
Prior to his work on Ebola, Paul worked on a variety of portfolios at Paul G. Allen Philanthropies, including elephant conservation, community development in Sub-Saharan Africa and environmental issues. Paul sits on the Board of Directors of Compass Housing Alliance, KUOW Public Radio, and the J Red Peach Foundation.
Paul graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations and French. He earned a Master’s in International Public Policy and Diplomacy from the Institute of World Politics in Washington, D.C. He lives in Seattle, WA with his husband and dog.
director of Foundation Programs
Marie Groark is the director of Foundation Programs for the Schultz Family Foundation. In this role, she leads the foundation’s grantmaking that supports reconnecting Opportunity Youth to employment and Post 9/11 Veterans and their families transitioning from military service to civilian life.
Prior to joining the Foundation, Marie was the founding executive director of Get Schooled, a non-profit organization that inspires young Americans to get engaged in their education and connects with them using the tools, motivation and recognition they need to succeed. Get Schooled has engaged with more than five million young people since its launch in fall 2010, and has had a meaningful impact on critical indicators like school attendance and FAFSA completion rates.
Marie also served as a senior program officer with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, leading its efforts to improve educational outcomes through advocacy and communication work. In that position, she worked closely with media, government and non-profit partners to shine the spotlight on America’s dropout crisis. She also spent five years as a management consultant specializing in strategy development with PwC Consulting, advising public and private sector clients. She began her career as a social studies teacher at John F. Kennedy High School in the Bronx.
Marie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from New York University, a Master’s in Teaching from Teacher’s College at Columbia University and a Master’s of Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. In addition, she serves on the board of the Student Press Law Center. She previously served on the board of directors of the Education Writer’s Association, a national organization dedicated to improving the quality of education journalism, and is active in her local Boy Scout Troop. Marie lives in Seattle, WA, with her husband and three children.
David Fleit serves as grant manager for the Schultz Family Foundation, working across the Foundation’s portfolio. In this role, he partners with the Foundation team and critical grantee partners to streamline the funding process, and assess and report on impact.
David began his professional career in music licensing before moving into the non-profit and public sectors. He has worked in several non-profit organizations, including in program management for Social Impact Exchange, a non-profit organization that generated visibility and scaling opportunities for high-performing non-profit organizations. Most recently, David worked in grant management at the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, managing a range of Parkinson’s disease research projects. While working across research portfolios, David developed a passion for measuring overall grantmaking efficiency and reporting on investment impact.
David received a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, Politics and Law from Binghamton University in New York and a Master’s in Public Administration from Baruch College in New York City, with a concentration in Non-profit Management. He and his wife live in Seattle, WA.
executive assistant and office manager
Josh Beerman is the executive assistant to Daniel Pitasky, executive director, and office manager for the Schultz Family Foundation. Prior to joining the Foundation, his career has been in non-profit arts and mission-driven organizations. Josh tends to work behind the scenes, but his experience, passion and competencies are critical to the daily operation of the Foundation. Locally he has worked with Seattle Repertory Theatre, The Village Theatre, ACT Theatre, the Capitol Hill Arts Center (now closed), and The University of Washington, where he held a number of roles from writing, casting and producing to office management.
Before moving to Seattle, Josh lived in New York and worked in a management staff role for The Brooklyn Academy of Music, supporting artists from all over the world who came to the Academy to present their work. He then joined On-Ramps, a recruiting firm that finds leaders for key mission-driven organizations in the U.S.
In addition to his Foundation role, Josh is an award-winning playwright and accomplished screenwriter with a Master of Fine Arts in Dramatic Writing from The New School for Drama. Josh lives in Seattle, WA with his wife and two sons.