A BIG Welcome to our New Board Members

At Charities Review Council, we love partnering with nonprofits to help them build and showcase their internal strength. A nonprofit’s Board of Directors plays a huge part in that review process, helping to build strong, trustworthy, and accountable nonprofits from the inside-out. That’s why so many of our Accountability Standards® are focused on board roles and responsibilities because when the Board of Directors is at its best, the nonprofit and the community being served by the nonprofit’s mission, benefit!

Board members support organizational culture, set strategic direction for the nonprofit, and ensure financial sustainability. Outside of the board room, board members serve as important community ambassadors and advocates for the nonprofit’s mission. Therefore, building a board of diverse voices, skills, backgrounds, experiences, and expertise is vital.

Please join us in welcoming Jessica Birken, Melvin Clark, and Garnetta Lowman to the Charities Review Council Board of Directors!

In-line with our Governance Accountability Standards®, Charities Review Council’s Board of Directors has voted in three new board members who we feel are uniquely equipped to help us achieve our 2018-2021 Strategic Plan work and help set the course for the future. Read on for an overview of our new board members’ skills and expertise.


Jessica Birken

Jess Birken is the owner of Birken Law Office, a law firm that focuses on building and growing strong nonprofits through its unique subscription program, Mission Guardian. Jess helps nonprofits solve problems so they can quit worrying about the paperwork and get back to what matters most – their missions. Before opening Birken Law, Jess was the CEO and Managing Partner of a boutique firm that specialized in serving the nonprofit community. She also spent four years doing federal grants management and administration inside Pheasants Forever. When Jess isn’t helping nonprofits thrive, she enjoys pretending to be a foodie, science fiction, dance music, and helping other lawyers improve their practices through her Hack Your Practice project.

Melvin Clark

Melvin Clark is an experienced technology executive who drives organizations to surpass expectations, easily navigating both the IT and business worlds, becoming the integral bridge between the two. As the Vice President of IT for Allianz Investment Management, Melvin provides the overall leadership and vision for the company’s technical strategy and Cloud infrastructure to support Allianz’s business objectives as both a steward to standards and the chief change agent. Prior to Allianz, Melvin was a Senior IT Executive at both Delta Airlines and Best Buy. Melvin has a B.A. in Business Management and is a certified Scrum Master. Outside of work, Melvin has served as a mentor and career day speaker for the last three years.

Garnetta Lowman

Garnetta Lowman is an eager community member dedicated to social justice and racial disparities for people of color through education and productive conversations. As an active member of the Facilitating Racial Equity Collaborative (FREC), Garnetta is a volunteer coordinator and sponsorship committee member assisting in the annual production of the Overcoming Racism Conference held each Fall by FREC. Garnetta also enjoys facilitating for the Brandlab on the Fearless Leadership Team by leading exciting workshops around the metro area that address racial inequities within the marketing industry with an open dialogue for participants. Garnetta currently works as an Account Supervisor at Russell Herder where she builds strong relationships as a liaison between the client and the agency. Garnetta has achieved certifications from the University of Minnesota in Project Management as well as Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Garnetta has also completed the Nonprofit Organizational Leadership mini MBA and Business Administration degree program at the University of St. Thomas.

Guided by our Board Orientation & Assessment Accountability Standard® these board members took part in a new board member orientation earlier this year and are ready to jump in at our first board meeting of the year, taking place in February. Please join us in welcoming them to Charities Review Council’s Board of Directors! You can send a note of welcome to info@smartgivers.org.

>> To view our full Board of Directors, click here. 

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Our mission is building donor and nonprofit relationships for strong, vibrant and just communities. We envision healthy communities for all, benefiting from effective and trustworthy nonprofits that are supported by a well-informed public’s generosity.

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