Meet The PENN Creative Strategy Team
Strategy & Planning
About Molly Penn
As a consultant to mission-based organizations for two decades, Molly has deep experience with organizations and foundations of all sizes and a broad range of missions. She has worked with more than one hundred organizations to help them become stronger and have a greater impact. She is particularly interested in how effective strategy helps organizations disrupt and rebalance systems of power, privilege and access – whether through cultural reflection, direct service, philanthropy or advocacy.
Molly began her professional life as the Assistant Director of Development and Government Relations for Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, followed by senior Development roles at smaller organizations. She has an MBA in Management from Fordham University, a Masters in Arts Management from Columbia University and a BA in dance from Bard College. She is certified in Lean Process and Hogan Personality Inventory, and trained in Appreciative Inquiry and as a professional coach. Molly serves on the board of the Alliance for Nonprofit Management and Nonprofit New York’s selection committee for the Nonprofit Excellence Awards.
About Marissa Lewis
Marissa is experienced in non-profit management as both grantmaker and grantseeker, including fundraising, strategy, grant/grantee management, and board development in staff, consultant, and volunteer/Board capacities. She is a strong administrator with a talent for building and strengthening organizational culture, along with the necessary systems and frameworks. Her 20-year career has been anchored in ensuring individuals, communities, and organizations have access to all the tools they need to succeed. Marissa is a graduate of Binghamton University in New York and did graduate work at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
Ayesha M. Acquah
Theory of change
Focus groups & stakeholder interviews
About Ayesha Acquah
As a talented facilitator and rising Organizational Development professional, Ayesha’s human-centered approach to problem-solving is fueled by her desire to strengthen the capacity of the individuals who drive forward the missions that enrich our society. Prior to joining PENN as Project Manager in 2019, she spent a decade optimizing operations as well as designing and executing immersive brand experiences at the intersections of arts and technology. As a production manager for an AI-based sync licensing firm, she nurtured relationships with clients, pitched funders, and curated independent music catalogs for commercials, films, video games, and TV placement, later transitioning to live event coordination.
Having lived across three continents, Ayesha is infused with global perspectives and a zeal for cultural immersion, the creative arts, and technology. Uniquely positioned to guide organizations through complex challenges, she believes that infusing emerging technologies into the design process can be critical to making the strategic process more efficient and effective.
Ayesha contributes her skills and knowledge in service of independent music rights advocacy, youth literacy, and the culinary arts, with the hope of being a model for what’s possible while advancing opportunities for marginalized groups navigating those spaces. Ayesha is a member of The Alliance for Nonprofit Management and the Organizational Development Network and previously served in volunteer leadership roles with Women in Music (WIM), Beyond the Book, NAACP Youth Council, and Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). She holds a BS in Communications Studies: Public Relations from Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, where she graduated with honors. Often found (or lost) trekking across the globe, she feels lucky to call Westchester home.
Janice L. Shapiro
About Janice Shapiro
Janice believes that people thrive when they are empowered and engaged. Those of us drawn to work with nonprofit organizations are drawn to missions but retained by healthy cultures. With this grounding principle in mind, she has served as Executive Director of Doug Varone and Dancers and Moving for Life, Managing Director for the Brooklyn Arts Council, Director of Development and Planning for La MaMa, Director of Development for the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, Program Associate in Culture for The Pew Charitable Trusts, and Managing Officer of Awards and Creative Development for the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA). As a planning and fundraising consultant and coach, her clients have included the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, Creative Capital, Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation, Association of Hispanic Arts, Foundation for Jewish Culture, Support Center for Nonprofit Management, and the Harlem School of the Arts.
Janice is a recent graduate of the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching and a graduate of the James P. Shannon Leadership Institute for Nonprofit Executives. She is a certified Program Developer and Facilitator in Peer Coaching Groups through Authenticity Consulting and certified in Principles and Practices of Organizational Development from Teachers College at Columbia University. She earned a BA in Dance from Grand Valley State University in Michigan. Janice is a volunteer for Companion Animal Placement in Hoboken and recently served as a Lifeline Counselor for The Trevor Project.
Policy & Practices
About Sofiya Cheyenne
Sofiya Cheyenne is an associate consultant with a focus on inclusion and equity at Penn Creative Strategy. With over 20 years of personal advocacy experience, Sofiya has been a facilitator, public speaker and panelist at many schools, venues and conferences across the country to speak on issues of access and inclusion. As an actor and disability advocate, Sofiya invests herself and creates initiatives to open the minds of our society and see that people with disabilities should have an active seat at the table. Sofiya is a leader of the PENN Creative Strategy IDEA practice and has designed and led trainings in this area for arts organization staff and volunteers. She is a part of National Network of Consultants to Grant makers (NNCG)'s Disability Working Group as well as Inclusion Director of Little People of America and ARTY NY's Access Council. She received her BFA & BA in Psychology from CUNY Brooklyn College.
Strategy & Planning
About Ashley Hulsey
Ashley is an experienced frontline fundraising executive and a consultant who has led strategy on more than a dozen capital campaigns ranging from $2 million to $1 billion. Results-driven, Ashley enjoys helping organizations exceed their goals, working closely with boards and senior staff. Comfortable in large and established institutions and community-based organizations alike, she has a knack for keeping projects on track while building confidence and capacity in the teams she supports.
She affiliated with PCS after 20+ years working in-house, most recently as Chief of Staff of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) Foundation. Her favorite campaign to date was a $25 million initiative to build the new Tacoma (Washington) Art Museum and the most rewarding campaign feasibility study was for the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (British Columbia). A generalist who has raised money for the arts, social services, global health, community development, pediatric health, Ashley has master’s degrees from Bryn Mawr College in Social Services and Law & Social Policy and holds an undergraduate degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Eleanor Webster Shakin
Campaign Feasibility Studies
Strategic Fundraising Plans
About Eleanor Webster Shakin
Eleanor brings 40 years of fund-raising experience to her work with not-for-profit arts, human service, public interest, and educational organizations. Whether providing strategic advice to board and executive staff, engaging in campaign feasibility and planning assignments, coaching staff and boards to be confident ambassadors for their organization, or guiding the day-to-day work of the development team, Eleanor’s consulting practice focuses on building organizational capacity and producing results. Clients have included diverse organizations such as Roundabout Theatre Company, The Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Henry Street Settlement, the National Dance Institute, ArtsConnection, the Flea Theater, the Museum of the Moving Image, Irondale Ensemble, Bronx Legal Services, and the Florence Academy of Art.