Shaping the future of cultural philanthropy

Our Team


Sean MCManus

Sean McManus regularly advises companies in the areas of strategic communications, conferences, digital media and thought leadership. He was the original managing director of QuartzLive, the conferences and live events division of Quartz and director of programs at The Economist, leading content development for Economist Events in the Americas, including sponsored content and related digital media. Previously, he was a magazine editor; his work has appeared in the New York Times, New York magazine, Worth and Details. Sean has a master’s degree in US history and was a teaching assistant for Archbishop Desmond Tutu.


Brett Dobbs

Brett Dobbs has worked at the intersection of media, policy, technology, and law for the past decade. Prior to becoming an attorney, Brett worked for “Charlie Rose” on PBS and later at where he produced interviews with global leaders ranging from tech founders to heads of state. He has consulted for the World Economic Forum, BBDO, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the African Center for Economic Transformation, the Global Philanthropy Forum, the Salesforce Foundation, Ergo, and NewsDeeply - developing online and offline platforms for engagement among influentials. He also led development of the US-Africa Business Forum in Washington D.C. in 2014 and 2016 in New York for Bloomberg and the Commerce Department. He is a member of the Illinois and Wisconsin Bar Associations.

Maria BW.jpg

Maria Demopoulos

Maria is the founder of Athé Advisors where she leads engagements with foundations, family offices, and nonprofit partners. Maria has led projects and teams across the health, education, human services, arts, environment and clean energy sectors. She has in-country experience across sub-saharan Africa, southeast Asia and Latin America. Prior to founding Athé, Maria was responsible for building the evaluation and strategic learning framework at Crown Family Philanthropies, and she worked on the Democracy and Environment portfolios at the Joyce Foundation. She is the board chair of the Wabash Lights, a community working to create Chicago’s largest interactive public art platform. Maria co-founded the Chicagoland Evaluation Community of Practice, a peer-network of 31 foundations working to increase capacity for impact measurement regionally. She is and advisor to the First Women’s Bank of Chicago where she focuses on gender, diversity and financial inclusion. Maria is  a runner and hiker who likes to tinker, travel, make mischief and read.

akash goel headshot_BW.jpg

Akash Goel

Akash Goel is a physician and writer passionate about leveraging both the arts and philanthropy towards creating social impact.  He is a graduate of Harvard College and University of Michigan Medical School, and is currently an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical Center.  He was named a New Leader by the Carnegie Council and a World Economic Forum Global Shaper. He is a fellow of the Nantucket Project and an Asia 21 Fellow of the Asia Society. In 2015, Akash was awarded a Cannes Lion and recognized by the United Nations for his work in human rights advocacy.

Spring BW.jpg

Spring McManus

Spring McManus is an independent art advisor specializing in modern and contemporary art. Combining a deep expertise in the global art market with an established network of collectors, galleries and art advisors, Spring provides a full spectrum of advisory services, including acquisitions, sales, appraisals, and collection management, customized to each individual client.

Spring started her art-world career at Christie’s, initially working in the private sales department, and then helping launch Christie’s first private gallery in New York, Haunch of Venison. She has organized important exhibitions by Frank Stella, Tom Wesselmann, León Ferrari, Jesús Rafael Soto, Günther Uecker, and Enrico Castellani, among others. 

Subsequently, she was the Miami based director of Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art, New York, focused on modern and contemporary masters, and specializing in sales and exhibition programming.

Spring has a master’s degree in art history, connoisseurship, and a history of the art market from Christie’s Education and a bachelor’s degree in visual art and art history from the University of Florida. 


Melissa Cowley Wolf

Melissa is the founder of MCW Projects LLC, a consulting firm dedicated to expanding the next generation of cultural philanthropists, collectors and audiences. MCW Projects advises cultural organizations on advancement strategies and partners with the financial and philanthropic sectors to help clients create enduring legacy and impact in the arts.

Melissa has over 15 years of experience in philanthropy and programming for cultural institutions across the United States. Collaborators include museums, corporations, universities, foundations, financial institutions, nonprofits, galleries, artists, design firms, performers, art fairs, and auction houses and cultural proponents throughout the world.