Matt Cherry (he/him) | Director of Philanthropy
During three decades building movements for social change, Matt Cherry learned the power of philanthropy to multiply the impact of all the talent, passion, and hard work within civil society.
Matt spent 13 years as an executive director in the humanist movement and served three terms as president of the United Nations NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief. In 2013, Matt moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to become executive director of Death Penalty Focus. There, he raised more than $7 million for a ballot initiative to abolish the death penalty in California.
While working at the UN to protect the fundamental right to communicate, Matt’s twin daughters were diagnosed with Autism. His work for Ability Central helps provide the practical support that many people, including his daughters, need to realize their right to express themselves.
Matt has spoken at hundreds of meetings; interviewed extensively for print, radio, and TV; and his writings have appeared all over the world, including in The Guardian, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and Washington Post. He is the co-author of four books, including an Amazon bestseller.
Jessie Galloway (she/her) | Program Officer
Jessie Galloway is a published poet and educator with over 15 years of nonprofit development and program management experience. As a person with disabilities that has a sister with disabilities, she is passionate about working in philanthropy to direct funds supporting communication access for the community. Jessie believes that self-expression is vital. She believes her life’s work is to ensure more people have the opportunity to express themselves.
She facilitates creative writing classes with elders to tell their own stories through Litquake Foundation and writes grants and fosters community partnerships to ensure more multi-marginalized LGBTQ+ writers are uplifted as Development Director of the award-winning LGBTQ+ literary press, Foglifter.
She holds a B.S. in Psychology, an M.A. in English, and an M.F.A. in Writing. She came to Ability Central in 2017, following her work as a Research Grants Administrator for the Neuroscience Institute at UC Berkeley and as a Communications Project Manager working on video ethnographies with end-of-life patients at Kaiser Permanente. She currently serves as the Program Officer for Ability Central Philanthropy where she manages the grantmaking activities including reviewing grant applications, fostering and maintaining relationships with grantees, and evaluating grant projects for impact. Also, on behalf of Ability Central, she co-hosts the Exponent Philanthropy Disability Funders Peer Circle with Ryan Easterly of the WITH Foundation.
Grant Barringer (he/him) | Communications Manager
Grant Barringer is the Communications Manager for Ability Central. He leads brand development and general communications for the organization, providing direction and support in key areas including marketing, public outreach, design, and accessibility standards throughout Ability Central’s various initiatives.
Most recently serving as the Creative Manager for the Bar Association of San Francisco and the Justice and Diversity Center, Grant has extensive experience with nonprofit organizations, working on everything from national wildlife conservation to local business advocacy.
Alyah Thomas (she/her) | Accessibility and Engagement Specialist
Alyah [ah-lee-yuh] Thomas is a dedicated philanthropy professional with a strong background in accessibility and inclusion and a passion for creating meaningful change in diverse communities. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Deaf Studies from California State University, Northridge, an Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Fund Development from the University of Notre Dame, and is an accredited Certified Professional in Accessibility Core Competencies through the International Association of Accessibility Professionals. Alyah has been engaging with disabled communities and working to improve access to communication and information in various capacities for more than a decade.
With a keen eye for detail and an interest in fostering inclusive environments, Alyah actively contributes to the community as a Board Member at Peninsula Endowment, where she plays a pivotal role in supporting initiatives for persons with visual disabilities. Additionally, her involvement as a Young Professionals Board Member at the San Jose Sharks Foundation exemplifies her dedication to advocating for disability rights, as evidenced by her efforts in raising awareness and promoting accessibility within the professional sports community.
Her current role at Ability Central as the Accessibility and Engagement Specialist reflects her commitment to empowering others through diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies. She supports the organization by bridging gaps between programs, facilitating community engagement, serving as a subject matter expert, and sharing information with others on their accessibility journey.
Maggie May (they/she) | Content Coordinator
Maggie May is the Content Coordinator for Ability Central. Their work includes creating, editing, and curating content that elevates the profile of Ability Central programs and projects.
As an established writer and journalist within the nonprofit sector, Maggie brings more than six years of communications experience to Ability Central. Her award-winning research and reporting work can be found in literary journals, on multiple foundation blogs and websites, and in the online feminist giving magazine, Philanthropy Women. Maggie holds a B.A. in Creative Writing & English from the George Washington University, where they were a Lannan Literature Fellow.