Ken Birdwell | Founder & Board CHairman

Ken has worked in telecommunications, computer simulation, and CAD prosthetics, before combining his passion for both technology and art to help start Valve, a popular video game company in 1996. Retiring after 20 years, Ken is an avid traveler and has been active in the nonprofit world since 1992 as a volunteer, board member, and donor. Through the founding of his experimental 509(a)(3) foundation in 2011 and the Ken Birdwell Foundation in 2018, Ken is dedicated to finding new ways of transforming lives and accelerating the evolution of philanthropy.


Christina ENgel | Executive Director

Christina has dedicated her career to developing platforms for emergent leadership, community, and creativity. As Executive Director of KBF, she is tasked with building and overseeing a grant making system that centers on local equity, transparency, and long-term sustainability. Whether she's working with young performing artists or with technology leaders, Christina is passionate about building scalable systems that honor local leadership and self-empowerment. 

On the weekends, you might find her scooping the Alameda Antiques Fair, enjoying a local show, or relaxing in one of San Francisco's many parks. She holds degrees in Art History and Anthropology.


Tiffany Johnson | Program Officer | Bay Area

Tiffany has diverse advocacy experience by working in multiple child welfare and nonprofit settings and served on boards that focus on improving the lives of transition-age foster youth. Her life’s passions have been advocating to ensure justice, compassion, and opportunity for vulnerable youth.

She is a member of the Youth Transitions Funders Group (YTGF) a national network of funders that work together to support the well-being and economic success of vulnerable young people age 14 to 25. Tiffany is the recipient of the James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award for demonstrating the power of youth voice and improving the quality of life for California’s Foster Youth.

When not actively trying to solve the world’s problems you may find her at a Carnival celebration dancing the night away. Tiffany holds a Masters of Public Administration with a focus on organizational change.


Michele Levine | Program & Human Resources Coordinator | Bay Area

Michele Levine comes to KBF with a long history working in schools, school districts, and nonprofit organizations. She is highly regarded for her impact as a leader, trainer, mentor, program director, and visionary. Her big vision thinking has allowed her to develop new paths and programs for the organizations she been part of and create leadership opportunities for others.

Michele’s expertise comes from an ability to envision the future and optimize opportunities in the systems and organizations she’s worked in. From being a high school teacher to a small school principal, district administrator, and nonprofit program director, Michele has developed strong skills in teaching and training, management and leadership development, and strategic thinking and program implementation. 

Michele holds a BA in Sociology, and a Master’s of Education.


Jackie Schultz | Engagement Officer | Seattle

Jackie moved to eastern Washington as a child from South Korea. As a mixed-race youth immigrating to a community that didn’t provide many social service supports for families, she knew she wanted to focus her education and eventual career to give back in support of immigrant and/or youth and families in need.

Jackie’s role as Seattle Engagement Officer for KBF Foundation is complemented by nearly two decades working in nonprofit development, communications, and marketing. Jackie lives by her favorite quote on what truly drives community: "The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members." – Coretta Scott King

In her free time you’ll find Jackie entertaining at home on ‘Jdock’ with her senior cat Hammy, ‘forest bathing’ in the beautiful Pacific NW woods, volunteering with local arts or animal welfare agencies, or taking her 94 year old grandmother on adventures. Jackie holds BAs in International Studies and Political Science, and will pursue a Masters in Public Administration in 2020.


Kate Thayer | Program Director | SEattle

Kate comes to KBF after 19 years in wealth management. She brings a love for excellent client stewardship and for providing relevant services and solutions.  She helped founder Ken Birdwell start and run his first pilot foundation, Magic Cabinet Foundation.

Prior to her work as a fiduciary specialist, Kate was an activist, co-founder of a nonprofit and then a small business owner.  As an older queer woman who first came out in the early 80s, she never expected to see same sex marriage in her lifetime. This gives her hope that we can collectively end injustices and solve major societal problems.

Kate’s happy place is in the outdoors and she makes frequent pilgrimages to ‘The Mountain’. (Otherwise known as Mount Rainier.) She holds a BA in English Literature and is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®).


Gloria Upchurch | Engagement Officer | Bay Area

As the Bay Area Engagement Officer, Gloria specializes in building long-term nonprofit partnerships. Before joining the KBF team, Gloria developed and managed chronic kidney disease prevention programs around the globe. Through a proactive approach, her work improved awareness of the disease and increased high-risk communities’ access to intervention strategies. Gloria continues her global health work through her nonprofit and its work bringing clean delivery kits to rural African clinics.

Gloria is passionate about art that is deeply rooted in the chronicling of culture and everyday life. She holds a bachelor’s degree and studied Documentary & Fine Art Photography.



Members of the Board

Ken Birdwell | Board Chairman

Ken Davis | Board Secretary

Keith Vernon | Board Treasurer & Assistant Secretary

Rebecca Spadoni | Board Member

Christina Engel | ex officio