Former Teach for America Executive Director Charissa L. Fernández Joins Gray Foundation

Foundation Boosts Giving during COVID-19 Crisis, Donating $7 million to NYC Emergency Relief Efforts

Grays have given more than $200 million to Support Access to Education, Healthcare and Opportunity for Low-Income Students in New York and BRCA Cancer Research

NEW YORK--()--Charissa L. Fernández, former Executive Director of Teach for America - New York (TFA-NY) joined the Gray Foundation as a Senior Advisor. The Gray Foundation, founded by Mindy and Jon Gray, Blackstone’s President and Chief Operating Officer, focuses on supporting low-income youth in New York City and BRCA-related cancer research.

Ms. Fernández will lead the organization’s Scholarship Programs, support the NYC Youth Portfolio and contribute to the Foundation’s organizational development. Previously, Fernández served as the Executive Director of Teach for America in New York City where she led strategy for the largest of the 51 TFA regions, raised over $14 million annually, and served on the national organization’s leadership team. Prior to TFA, Fernández worked as Chief Operating Officer for ExpandED Schools, a non-profit dedicated to closing the learning gap by increasing access to enriched education experiences.

Charissa’s deep experience in the non-profit sector – particularly in education – will be a powerful addition to our Foundation as we seek new ways to support low-income youth in New York City,” said Mindy and Jon Gray.

The addition of Charissa to our team will allow us to provide a differentiated level of support to our non-profit partners and scholarship recipients. We are thrilled to be able to leverage her talents and experience as we continue to support students in NYC,” said Dana Zucker, Executive Director of the Gray Foundation.

I’ve dedicated my career to expanding opportunity for NYC’s most vulnerable youth, and I’m looking forward to continuing these efforts as a member of the Gray Foundation team in collaboration with their grantees,” said Fernández. “Jon and Mindy’s bold approach to philanthropy and commitment to partnership has enabled them to have a tremendous impact, and I’m honored to help deepen that impact in the years ahead.”

In recent months, the Foundation has donated $7 million to COVID-19 emergency relief efforts and support for New York City hospitals. The Foundation has partnered with the Department of Education and the City to support summer job programs and mental health initiatives to help prepare teachers and administrators for re-opening. In addition, the Foundation has worked closely with CUNY on a number of programs supporting students and their families.

"The Grays have been staunch supporters of Hunter students, having previously established the Gray Fellowship Program for Principal Excellence, and were amongst the first to offer support in the earliest days of the COVID crisis. Their commitment to students throughout the CUNY system has been instrumental in ensuring that not only are our students’ basic needs met, but they are able to continue their studies and move on to successful careers,” said Jennifer Raab, President of Hunter College.

NYC Kids RISE, a program established by the Gray Foundation in partnership with the City in 2016 to fund college savings scholarship accounts for New York City public school students, has donated over $1 million in emergency relief to families who have been amongst the hardest hit in District 30.

About Gray Foundation

The Gray Foundation is committed to improving the lives of low-income children in New York City. The Foundation partners with leading nonprofits to provide access to education, healthcare and opportunity for children across all five boroughs. In addition, the Foundation is focused on accelerating research, improving treatment and raising awareness for individuals who have inherited BRCA mutations. Mindy and Jon Gray founded the Gray Foundation in 2014. They have given over $200 million in support of these missions.


Gray Foundation


Gray Foundation