Saran White, Avery Gaddis, Jean Solomon. Not pictured: Tomas Olivo. Photo courtesy of Jake Koteen.

Four Community Leaders Join Connecticut Community Foundation’s Board of Trustees

Connecticut Community Foundation’s members have elected four community leaders with a history of service in Greater Waterbury and the Litchfield Hills to join their Board of Trustees. Avery Gaddis, Tomas Olivo, Jean Solomon and Saran D. White will join a board composed of local residents from across 21 towns in the Foundation’s service area.

The trustees lead the Foundation in its mission to create an equitable and inclusive community by inspiring generosity among area donors, supporting nonprofit organizations with grants and other resources, and cultivating and encouraging community leaders.

Kathy Taylor, chair of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees, said, “Our new trustees bring a wealth of talent and energy to the Foundation’s work. Each has walked a different path and will bring unique perspective and dimension to the board’s efforts. I am thrilled to have Avery, Jean, Saran, and Tomas join us as we strive to realize our shared vision of an equitable, inclusive, just and vibrant community in Greater Waterbury and the Litchfield Hills.”

Avery Gaddis serves at the Senate Republican Office’s Community Development and Public Affairs division. He has been advising and assisting the small business community for more than 20 years, specializing in entrepreneurship, business growth and development and strategic planning. Avery has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Central Connecticut State University and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of New Haven. His professional experience includes finance, commercial lending, asset management, internal auditing, regulatory compliance and corporate governance. Avery is a former member of the Connecticut Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission of Civil Rights, current member of Connecticut’s Minority Business Initiative Advisory Board and serves on the Commission on Racial Ethnic Disparity in the criminal justice system.

Tomas Olivo is the initiative director for the Working Cities Challenge at the RIBA Aspira Career Academy in Waterbury’s South End. Tomas graduated from UCONN Waterbury, where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts and Science, with a double major in Urban & Community Studies and Human Development & Families Studies and a minor in Psychology. Over a span of eight years, Tomas held several roles at Catholic Charities in Waterbury, serving the community through programs including Fatherhood Services, Child Removal Preventive Services, Family Education, Eviction Prevention, and a basic needs program. Currently, Tomas’ work with Riba Aspira is targeted at reducing the disproportionately high unemployment rate of the South End/River Baldwin (RIBA) by increasing the number of residents earning a livable wage. Tomas also serves on Connecticut Community Foundation’s Grassroots Grants Committee.

Jean Solomon has over 35 years of experience as a Senior Real Estate executive in large-scale property developments and in major management positions. She has been recognized for her unique combination of project management, financial and relationship management skills. Jean serves on the Board of the Gunn Memorial Library in Washington, as an Advisory Committee Member of Riverfront Revitalization in New Milford, and on Connecticut Community Foundation’s Building Equitable Opportunities Committee. Jean worked with Neighborhood Housing Services of Waterbury (NHSW) to conduct an evaluation of Parks and Recreation Space needs in Waterbury neighborhoods and also served on NHSW’s Design Challenge Committee. Previously, Jean was a Board Member of Brass City Harvest in Waterbury and volunteered her skills as St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington. Jean holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Cornell University and a Master of Science in Architecture and Urban Design from Columbia University.

Saran D. White is a mission-driven strategist with over twenty years of experience strengthening the capacity of organizations and systems that increase equity, access and justice in under-resourced communities. With a background in philanthropy, K-12 education, civic engagement and organizational effectiveness, Saran has worked with renowned nonprofits, foundations and thought leaders to effectively implement innovative strategies through collaborative projects and grantmaking. As a leader in change management and the first chief executive of the Leever Foundation—a nineteen-year-old foundation doing place-based grantmaking in Waterbury—Saran has worked to design, structure and implement a more intentional, vision-aligned, equity-driven and community-informed agenda. Saran holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wesleyan University and a Master of Public Administration degree from CUNY Baruch School of Public and International Affairs.

The Foundation’s members also re-elected Brian M. Jones of Southbury and Steve Seward of Roxbury to serve second three-year terms on the Board of Trustees.

Doug Johnson will be departing the Foundation’s board after completing six years of outstanding service, including two years as the chair.

The Foundation’s entire Board of Trustees, including their bios, can be viewed at