The New Leadership Network is a project of The James Irvine Foundation whose mission is to expand economic and political opportunity for families and young adults who are working but struggling with poverty. The Foundation is committed to supporting local leaders working together to improve the San Joaquin Valley.

Irvine New Leadership Network Program Team:


photo-heatherHeather Grant McLeod, Managing Director


Heather McLeod Grant is the founder and principal of McLeod-Grant Advisors, and a published author, speaker/trainer, and consultant. Her current work focuses on creating transformative leadership and social change networks. She has helped launch and run the Irvine Foundation’s New Leadership Network in her hometown of Fresno, CA. She is advises many of the leading nonprofits and foundations of our time, including Omidyar Network, Kellogg Foundation, Social Venture Partners, and others. She has prior expertise focused on scaling social impact, social innovation / entrepreneurship, nonprofit management, and organizational development. She is the co-author of the best-selling Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits, named a Top Ten Book by the Economist (2nd edition 2012); and the articles Working Wikily: Social Change with a Network Mindset, Transformer: How to Build a Network to Change a System, and Breaking New Ground: Using the Internet to Scale. Most recently worked at Monitor Institute for nearly five years, where she helped lead their nonprofit and ‘networks’ practice areas. Heather holds an MBA from Stanford and an AB from Harvard, and resides in the Bay Area with her husband and daughter.


photo-adeneAdene Sacks, Program Director and Co-Facilitator

Adene Sacks is a philanthropic advisor and social impact strategy consultant who spends her days thinking about how networks, design and strategy can amplify efforts at social change. There is usually chocolate involved.

Adene is currently a Senior Advisor at DataKind and for the Fellows Program at the Stanford d.School. She proudly serves on the board of Girls Leadership and staffs the Peleh Fund, a family fund focused on innovation in education and the arts. In a previous life, Adene served as the first senior program officer at Jim Joseph Foundation. It’s there, while stewarding a $40M grants portfolio, that she experienced how powerful networks are in transmitting the values and ideas necessary to drive social change. In 1999, Adene was the founding director of Israel Venture Network, a network of technology leaders from Israel and the US who leverage their resources, financial and otherwise, to reduce social gaps in Israel.


photo-markJohnny Manzon-Santos, PCC, Network Coach

Johnny is passionate about surfacing connections. He is co-principal of pearldiving LLC, a coaching and consulting practice committed to partnering with individuals and organizations in transition. He invites emerging and seasoned leaders to tell the truth, align head-heart-stomach, and lead from where we are—with fierceness, humor and humanity.

Since 1985 Johnny has been engaged in peace and social justice movements as an activist, organizer, and client advocate. A strategic thinker with deep experience in the nonprofit sector, he served 15 years as executive director of health/HIV agencies in New York and San Francisco. He has led through boom and bust economic times and is intimately familiar with start-up, rapid expansion, downsizing, and merger. Johnny’s earliest community work centered on crisis counseling and anti-discrimination training with young people in high-risk situations.

His leadership has been recognized by the American Foundation for AIDS Research, New York State Department of Health, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, and KQED as an Asian Pacific American Heritage Bay Area Local Hero. In 2008 he was selected to deliver the inaugural Balgopal Lecture on Asian Americans & Human Rights at the University of Illinois. Johnny is certified by the Coaches Training Institute, credentialed through the International Coach Federation, and trains and mentors coaches as a faculty member with Leadership that Works. He is an alumnus of Brown University and the Executive Program for Nonprofit Leaders at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.


photo-markMark Nicolson, Co-Facilitator

Mark Nicolson has been consulting and teaching for the last two decades on transformative leadership in organizations and individuals. His clients include corporations, partnerships, VCs, and social change visionaries. He has recently worked with BALLE (designing and facilitating the BALLE Fellowship), Humanity United, IDEO, and the Ella Baker Center, as well as with Desmond Tutu and his family foundation. His year-long Coaching Mastery leadership program begins in late February each year. Early in his career, he worked in investment banking in the UK and Hong Kong before becoming a partner in Alexander, the UK pioneer in executive coaching inspired by the Inner Game approach. He took a two year sabbatical in the late 90s to manage the garden at Esalen Institute and this inspired his life and work philosophy. He has an MBA from Stanford, and MA in Classical Literature from Oxford, and an MA in Psychology from Meridian University.


photo-markBelma González, Network Coach

Belma González has been providing assets-based, culturally aware coaching to nonprofit and social justice activists since 2004. She has worked with 400+ diverse, multi-generational clients throughout the United States on leadership enhancement, change management, work/life transitions, balance and fulfillment. She has been a member of coaching “pools” for various leadership development programs including Rockwood Leadership Institute, HealthForce Center at UCSF’s leadership programs, and CompassPoint Nonprofit Services’ Next Generation Leaders of Color, Strong Field Institute and the Arc Towards Justice Leadership and Solidary Program.

Belma is on faculty with Leadership that Works, a national coach training organization. LTW is an innovator in the coaching field and was a lead partner with the Coaching and Philanthropy Project (CAP), created to assess and advance coaching as a strategy for building effective nonprofit organizations. As the first faculty member of LTW in the Bay Area, Belma has been instrumental in recruiting faculty and growing the Leadership that Works programs on the West Coast, as well as other communities in the country.

Prior to becoming a coach, Belma worked in nonprofits for twenty-six years, including a community-based clinic and a leadership development program. She holds a Professional Certified Coach credential through the International Coach Federation and a Bachelor of Arts from San Francisco State University in Social Sciences.

Thomas BothThomas Both, Design Coach

Thomas Both is Director of the Designing for Social Systems program at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford (the!). In this program, he leads a fellowship for accomplished professionals to learn and apply human-centered design to complex social challenges, and facilitates workshops for social impact leaders to develop a more human and strategic practice.

At the since 2009, the core of his work has been to design immersive hands-on learning experiences that provoke students, fellows, and professionals to try on new tools and behaviors, and develop their innovation practice. In a previous role, he created and facilitated the’s workshops for executives, including the highly praised Design Thinking Bootcamp Executive workshop. To teach Stanford graduate students, Thomas has designed and led many iterations of the quarter-long fundamentals course, Design Thinking Studio. He has also codified the methodology and designs resources, such as the Bootcamp Bootleg and the Design Project Guide, that are offered free to the public. Thomas holds a Master degree in Design from Stanford, achieved after a prior career as a mechanical engineer.


photo-markCaty Perez, Network Weaver, New Leadership Network: Fresno

Caty Perez is the Intern Associate Vice President for Development at California State University, Fresno.  She has served Fresno State in various development roles across campus for 16 years where her goal is to create an environment of philanthropy and service both on campus and in the community.  She engages with alumni, friends, corporations and foundations through strategic partnerships and raise private support.  She is a thought leader and strategic collaborator across the university and community.

She also serves as the Network Weaver for the James Irvine New Leadership Network in Fresno, CA and was a member of the first cohort of the NLN.

Caty is a valley native and received a BA in Applied Mathematics from Fresno Pacific University and MA in Education Leadership from California State University, Fresno.


Community Partner:


photo-markStanislaus Community Foundation

Stanislaus Community Foundation (SCF) is a place-based funder that has served the residents of Stanislaus County since 2002. SCF strongly believes that Stanislaus County is a community of choice where people can live, work, and thrive. To support this vision, SCF nurtures partnerships and grows charitable resources to advance the common good in Stanislaus County.

To create prosperity for all who live in the region, Stanislaus Community Foundation has been evolving into a strong, trusted civic voice for the region. SCF has been the lead convener and provide backbone support for the Stanislaus READS! grade-level reading initiative, launched in 2015. In 2016, SCF launched the Stanislaus Futures scholarship campaign in partnership with the College Futures Foundation. In addition, the organization has hosted the sell-out Connecting for Good event, focused on building collaborative leadership skills from 2014 to 2016.