Dawn Frances Reese is a Los Angeles-based director with more than a decade of experience in the Chicago nonprofit sector. A dynamic, civic-minded philanthropic strategist, she manages a portfolio of projects supporting individual and family philanthropists in their impact work, and she is deeply involved in Arabella’s Racial Wealth Gap practice. Dawn Frances has a track record of managing complex projects, working with cross-functional teams, and creatively moving ideas from concept to actualization. Her vast career experience spans start-ups in advocacy, venture capital, higher education, and philanthropy, with a particular focus on organizational advancement and strategic investments.
Before coming to Arabella, Dawn Frances served as the advisor and director of strategy for a private family foundation focused on serving the needs of students and young professionals in the Chicagoland area. As the foundation’s first hire, she played a pivotal role in its growth, helping shepherd it from a nascent institution to a $100 million national collaborative supporting education initiatives. Prior to this, Dawn Frances advanced the causes of education, urban health, clean energy, and the environment at a variety of Chicago institutions, including time at Urban Labs at the University of Chicago, the Clean Energy Trust, and the Environmental Law and Policy Center. Before moving to Chicago in 2012, Dawn Frances led and then sold her family’s real-estate investment firm in southern Alabama.
Dawn Frances is a current board member of Congo Square Theatre, a former board member of City Year Chicago and Urban Initiatives, and a senior advisor to Project One Ten. A 2019 University of Chicago Urban League IMPACT fellow, Dawn Frances received Chicago Crain’s prestigious 40 under 40 honor in 2018 and has lived and volunteered in Cape Town, South Africa. Dawn Frances holds a BA from Auburn University, and she enjoys trying new eateries, kayaking, photography, and traveling.