Who We Are


Elizabeth Gaines

Founder and director, elizabeth@childrensfundingproject.org

Elizabeth founded the Children’s Funding Project in 2018 to help local leaders find, align, generate, and evaluate funding to improve kid outcomes, including creating new local, dedicated funding streams. Her skills in and passion for these topics comes from her lifelong career as a direct service provider, an advocate, and a policy analyst. Most recently Elizabeth identified innovations around the country and shared those policy solutions with other local, state and national organizations while overseeing the Forum for Youth Investment’s state and local policy efforts. From this unique vantage point she helped policy leaders develop tools and techniques to improve their use of data, increase their policy alignment, and more efficiently apply resources toward greater impact.

When she joined the Forum in 2005, Elizabeth had already built a youth advocacy career; her commitment began with seven years leading after-school and community-based youth programs at the Atwood Community Center in Madison, Wis. She later served as youth policy analyst for Citizens for Missouri’s Children, where she lobbied state lawmakers, convened a youth development network, and led the “Invest in Missouri’s Children” campaign to secure tobacco settlement dollars for child and youth development activities. Since 2005 she has led the Children’s Cabinet Network and is the nation’s leading expert on children’s cabinets and councils.

Her publications include: The Adding It Up Guide to Mapping Public Resources for Children, Youth and Families; the Forum papers on state children’s cabinets and councils; and How Public Policy Can Support Collective Impact, co-authored with FSG. A native of St. Louis, Mo., she attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Raegan Williams

OPERATIONS MANAGER, Raegan@ChildrensFundingProject.org

Raegan joined The Children’s Funding Project in December, 2018 as the organization’s Operations Manager.  Prior to that, she was in the Non-Profit world for over ten years as an Executive Assistant at The Forum for Youth Investment in Washington, DC. There she provided support to both the President &Vice President of the organization, along with the State & Local Policy and Operations departments.

Raegan has over 20 years of administrative experience which include being an Assistant to five Department Managers (at once!) in the Safeway Corporate headquarters. Prior to that she held positions as the Specialty Leasing Assistant and Operations Assistant in the Mall Management Office at The Mall at Prince Georges. She graduated from Mount Washington College in Manchester, NH with her Associate’s Degree in 2000.

Raegan originally is from New Bedford, Massachusetts and has been in the DC area since 2002. She is a sports fan to all Boston teams and the biggest fan to her son, Desmond, aka “Lucky Lefty” who plays basketball at the collegiate level.


Olivia Allen

Project manager, olivia@childrensfundingproject.org

In 2018 Olivia joined the Children’s Funding Project as its first employee. In this role Olivia divides her time between working directly with communities on strategic financing for children and youth and translating innovations and best practices into tools, briefs, infographics, and papers for the field.

Olivia brings to the Children’s Funding Project her experience working with Elizabeth at the Forum for Youth Investment, where she supported the efforts of children’s cabinets to start-up, strengthen, and sustain, and worked with localities to identify and implement feasible improvements to their investments in children and youth. Prior to her time at the Forum, Olivia spent two years at the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice (NCMHJJ) at Policy Research Associates where she assisted with the provision of technical assistance to states and tribal nations. At NCMHJJ her TA work focused primarily on assisting with the strategic planning and implementation of policy reform in the areas of juvenile justice diversion, youth violence prevention, the school responder model, connection to behavioral health services, and trauma-informed care.

Her publications include: Disrupting School-Justice Pathways for Youth with Behavioral Health Needs and Building a School Responder Model.

Originally from Charlottesville, Virginia, Olivia received her B.A. in psychology from Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont, where she also became a Vermont-certified volunteer victim crisis counselor.

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Amelia Vaughn


Amelia joined the Children’s Funding Project as a Project Manager in the beginning of 2019. Amelia’s scope includes the ‘Find’ and ‘Align’ levers of CFP’s approach, early childhood, working with national networks and coalitions, and assisting the organization with research, writing and grant writing.

Prior to this role, Amelia consulted with CFP on projects related to fiscal mapping for early childhood strategic financing. Amelia also brings her experience working with state governments to CFP. She has worked for the Virginia Governor’s Children’s Cabinet, where she completed a fiscal map of supports and services for children and youth ages 0-18, and for Virginia’s Department of Medical Assistance Services where she was a policy advisor. Amelia has always been passionate about improving equitable access to quality prenatal and early childhood services. She began her career as a bilingual parent educator for the early childhood home visiting program CHIP and as a birth doula. When she is not working on creative and empathetic solutions to providing more equitable and quality services to our youngest generation, she waterskis across the world with her husband.

A native of Baltimore, Amelia holds a Bachelor’s degree in Public Health Studies from Johns Hopkins University and a Master’s of Public Health degree from Virginia Commonwealth University.

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Shane Linden


Shane Linden joined the Children's Funding Project in 2019 as a Policy and Communications Associate. In this role, he builds the tools and resources communities need to find and obtain funding for their children's programs. He also oversees the Children's Funding Project's online presence.

Shane has a multicultural background from living and working in hotels and education in southwest China. He took that love for service to multiple government agencies, promoting civil rights with positions in the Wisconsin State Legislature, the City of Madison Department of Civil Rights, and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Prior to the Children's Funding Project, Shane worked at a boutique media relations firm in San Francisco, helping small health and education companies take on big corporations.

A native of Wisconsin, Shane graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Madison, where he created the university's largest online community in between attending Badger games.

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Kylie Wheeler


Kylie joined the Children’s Funding Project in 2019 as a Policy Associate, where she helps support and expand the organization’s policy research and analysis capacity. She specializes in applying data and geospatial analysis in an authentic, person-centered, and actionable manner.

Prior to starting at the Children’s Funding Project, Kylie worked as a Research Analyst for a nonprofit orphanage foundation in Hinche, Haiti, where she conducted interviews with vulnerable youth in the community and produced a report on their subjective well-being. She recently completed a report on the status of public health in the Greater Williamsburg area for a nonprofit foundation in Williamsburg, Virginia. Outside of policy, Kylie spent more than five years working as a Search Engine Marketing Manager for a small marketing firm in Chesapeake, Virginia.

Kylie graduated in May 2019 with a Master of Public Policy from the College of William & Mary, where she served as Vice President of the Graduate Policy Association and Editor-in-Chief of the William & Mary Policy Review. While in graduate school, she created and facilitated a one-hour, in-classroom civics enrichment program for fifth graders in Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools called “Citizenship Activate!”—teaching kids about the value of and responsibilities involved with being a good citizen.

Kylie is committed to improving outcomes and reducing opportunity inequalities for young people.


Todd Patterson

PARTNER CONSULTANT, Patterson@publicprogress.org

Todd is a partner consultant with the Children’s Funding Project. His work in national electoral and legislative arenas has generated $980 million for programs that support children and youth in over 50 communities. Additionally, he has worked closely with the Office of Adolescent Health on Capitol Hill and established the congressional staff roundtable to explore social impact bond policies. 

Patterson has been at the helm of Public Progress since 2004 with the exception of a four-year hiatus during which he served as Chief of Staff for Congressman Russ Carnahan (D-MO). In the House, he developed new tools for franking purposes that have since been universally adopted by congressional offices. Before founding Public Progress, he worked in electoral politics in Missouri, Florida, Indiana and Kentucky where he created and managed several political action committees. Earlier, he worked for Chairman Dale Bumpers of Arkansas on the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business. There he was part of the team that reformed Section 8(a)  programs following their abuse in the Wedtech scandal.

As a student at Brown University, Todd Patterson was active in causes promoting housing rights and health care protections in Rhode Island. He concluded his college tenure as a research assistant at the Brookings Institution in compiling The New Urban Reality.

Patterson currently serves on  commissions governing property tax policies and city pension reforms. He resides in Washington and Kansas City. He and his partner (and their two dogs) are avid Royals fans.

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Alicia Wilson-Ahlstrom


Alicia is a partner consultant with the Children's Funding Project, a national non-profit founded to help communities close equity and opportunity gaps for children and youth by effectively leveraging existing funding, generating new revenue, and developing collaborative infrastructure to administer funds in a coordinated fashion. She brings twenty years of experience in working with community partnerships, philanthropic partners, and policy bodies that provide essential supports to children, youth, families and communities and seven years’ experience leading fiscal mapping projects in cities including Denver, Detroit, New Orleans and Baltimore, and Hennepin County (Minneapolis) as well as the states of North Carolina, Illinois, and Massachusetts. 

Alicia has also provided fiscal mapping technical assistance to a cohort of communities receiving Promise Zone, Promise Neighborhood, or Performance Partnership Pilot federal grants. She has served as the principal investigator for the Use of Research Evidence Learning Cohort Design project and primary consultant to the Democratizing Evidence curation project in partnership with the William T. Grant Foundation to advance evidence-based practice and policymaking and research-practice partnerships in the child- and youth-serving fields. Alicia brings wide-ranging expertise in youth development practice and policy, and is the author of numerous publications including Funding Brighter Futures: How Local Governments are Enhancing Investments in Kids, From Soft Skills to Hard Data: Measuring Youth Program Outcomes, and Research Practice Partnerships, an online curation project developed in partnership with the William T. Grant Foundation. Alicia holds master's degrees in Social Work and Public Policy from the University of Michigan. She resides in Chicago with her family of eight, spanning four generations.

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Vikki Frank

PARTNER CONSULTANT, vikki@lanierplace.com

Vikki (www.linkedin.com/in/vikki-frank-lpc) is a social entrepreneur and business strategist working to transform practice for a better world. She offers a fresh perspective and strategic thinking in business/strategic planning, brand positioning, resource development, success measures, leadership and partnership building to help mission-driven businesses and nonprofits unleash their full potential to create more income and impact. Vikki was the founding executive director of Credit Builders Alliance, an innovative non-profit social enterprise, creating solutions for financial service non-profits and the financially underserved families and communities they serve throughout the U.S. Vikki has over 25 years experience creating wealth building and anti-poverty solutions including her work at the Department of the Treasury's Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund and the Latino Economic Development Corporation. Vikki earned her undergraduate degree at McGill University and masters from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.