Meet The Arabella Team

Shelley Whelpton

Senior Managing Director

Shelley Whelpton is a senior managing director in Arabella’s Washington, DC office. Shelley partners with foundations, social entrepreneurs, corporations, families, and high-net-worth individuals to catalyze change on a range of social and environmental issues. Shelley believes that social-sector actors can effect sustained change by going beyond grant making to strategically use the range of innovative tools and approaches available to them. She has helped philanthropists develop advocacy and impact investing strategies, launch and incubate new social change initiatives, convene marginalized and influential voices, and collaborate with partners across sectors. Projects she oversees include involving formerly incarcerated people in criminal justice reform efforts, advocating for state policy changes to promote children’s nutrition, and ensuring that women’s voices are equitably represented in public dialogue.

Prior to joining Arabella, Shelley was the vice president of business development and strategy at the Sheridan Group, a Washington, DC-based policy firm dedicated to public interest causes. In this role, Shelley developed the firm’s social entrepreneurship consulting practice, working with grant makers and other clients to identify creative strategies and build cross-sector collaborations for broad-scale social change. She led the team that successfully advocated for a slate of policy initiatives in the 2008 presidential election to catalyze greater cross-section collaboration and accountability in public problem solving. Shelley’s development work with the Sheridan Group spanned a wide range of issues, including new social financing mechanisms, open access, education, youth development, child welfare, and health.

Shelley is a seasoned nonprofit executive with national recognition in the field of international youth exchange. For 10 years, she managed AYUSA International, a nonprofit high school exchange program serving 2,000 high school students from 80 countries around the world. Shelley led the organization during a period of significant growth and program diversification, including a post-9/11 exchange initiative with the Middle East sponsored by the US Department of State.

Shelley is a founding board member of Running Start, a nonprofit dedicated to providing political leadership training for girls and young women. She serves on the advisory boards of the Women’s Equality Center and the Amazon Headwaters Conservation Initiative.

Shelley graduated with honors from Williams College with a BA in political science, earning the Richard Krouse Political Science Award, and completed an MA in education from Boston University. She lives in Washington, DC with her partner and two children.

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