Board of Trustees


C. Diane Christensen (President & Secretary)

Diane is the elder daughter of Christensen Fund’s founders and has been actively involved with the foundation since initially becoming a Trustee in the early 1970s, serving as its Executive Director (1989-2002) and as board chair till the early-mid 2000s. During the 1990s, she directed the foundation’s transformation from an operating foundation loaning extensive art collections to museums in the U.S. and Australia to a private foundation making grants. She oversaw the transfer of its extensive collections to a number of U.S. and overseas museums and universities in the 1990s and early 2000s, and transitioned the foundation to a self-governing board of trustees no longer controlled by the founder’s family. Diane did an undergrad degree at Stanford, grad study in African and Latin American History at Columbia., conducted dissertation research on 19th C Angolan history, and taught African history at Tufts while also serving as an Assistant Academic Dean.  Between 1981 and 1989 she served as co-founder and the first executive director of the Christensen Research Institute, a biological research facility in Papua New Guinea focused on conservation-related research. She currently lives in Palo Alto, CA and serves on several nonprofit boards including the Wildlife Conservation Society and the California College of Arts.

Christine Smith-Martin

Christine Smith-Martin is the First Nations Community Advisor for the Skeena Wild Conservation Trust, a regional initiative working to make the Skeena watershed in NW British Columbia — one of the last remaining wild salmon ecosystems in the world — a global model of ecological and economic sustainability. She previously served as the Executive Director of the Vancouver Aboriginal Transformative Justice Services Society, a non-profit agency that provides outreach services to Aboriginal people within the Metro-Vancouver area. Christine has a rich Aboriginal lineage to both Tsimshian and Haida communities and grew up in a small North coast village called Lax kw’alaams. Her upbringing was focused on teaching her the “cultural ways” from both sides of her lineage, and she grew up salmon fishing with her dad. Carrying a jar of traditionally-preserved salmon, Christine recently crashed a media event of the Canadian government to bring the message of her people, challenging the government’s authority to approve a large natural gas project on the ancestral lands of her people without the consent of the traditional title holders of Lelu Island.

Nicole Pierret

Nicole Pierret is the granddaughter of the founders of The Christensen Fund. She spent her early childhood in Papua New Guinea, attended an international high school in Arizona, and graduated from California College of the Arts, majoring in painting. She and her husband are artists and live in Berkeley, CA. Currently she works for local ceramic artist Bean Finneran.

Julia I. Lopez (Chair)

A widely respected leader with broad and deep experience in philanthropy and government, Julia I. Lopez served as the president and CEO of College Futures Foundation (then known as College Access Foundation of California) from 2008 until her retirement in June 2017.

Before joining College Futures Foundation, Julia served as senior vice president of the Rockefeller Foundation. In that leadership role, she provided oversight, management and evaluation of the foundation’s strategic program grant making around the world. In her earlier work for Rockefeller, she served as director of the foundation’s Working Communities program, addressing urban poverty and education in the United States.

Julia currently serves as a board member of KQED, a Northern California public media outlet, and two organizations, California Competes and One Future Coachella Valley, dedicated to improving educational outcomes to meet state and regional economic development workforce needs.

She is a graduate of Newton College of the Sacred Heart (now Boston College) and holds a master’s degree in public policy from the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. In June 2018, California State University, San Bernardino awarded her an honorary doctorate in humane letters in recognition of her work on student success in underserved communities, especially the Inland Empire.

Aletha Leong Coleman

Aletha Leong Coleman is a retired tax attorney and CPA who has spent the last 30 years specializing in board governance and bringing charitable organizations through transitions and into maturity.

She has served on the boards and executive committees of the Peninsula French-American School, Verde Valley School, Self-Help for the Elderly, Mid-Peninsula High School, and Friends of the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo, helping to guide all of them through periods of significant growth. At Friends of the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo, she helped the organization moved from being a small group of “friends” raising money for pet projects into a fully functioning board of 17 which has raised over $25 million. She has also served on the board of Avenidas, which coordinates and manages Palo Alto’s and other cities’ senior services on the Peninsula.

Additionally, Aletha has extensive fundraising experience, working on the French-American School’s Garden Party, with Avenidas’ on their yearly fundraising event, and with Mid-Peninsula High School on their multi-million-dollar Menlo Park campus and scholarship endowment campaigns.

A graduate of the University of Hawaii (1978, Medieval Studies) and Hastings College of the Law (University of California), Aletha and her husband reside on the Peninsula. They have three adult children and one grandchild.

Phillippe Wallace (Treasurer)

Phillipe Wallace is the Chief Financial Officer of the College Futures Foundation, which works to ensure that more students who reflect California’s diversity complete a B.A. and access the opportunity for a better life. He oversees the Foundation’s $500 million investment portfolio as well as finance, accounting, information technology, facilities, and non-grantmaking operations. He has served in the CFO and COO roles in philanthropy for almost 20 years. Earlier in his career he focused on investment management, technology investment banking, and private equity.

Phillippe has an M.B.A. in Strategy and Finance from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, where he was a Fellow in the Consortium for Graduate Studies in Management. He received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard College and has a Chartered Financial Analyst designation from the CFA Institute. He is active in the sector, serving on the boards of the Foundation Financial Officers Group (FFOG), the member organization of financial and investment officers of large private foundations, and of Community Initiatives, a fiscal sponsor of projects for the benefit of communities in service to social change. He has also served as director and treasurer for Hispanics in Philanthropy, and as a member of the Alumni Diversity Council at the Haas School of Business.

Phillippe resides in Berkeley where he and his family can be found roaming the city’s hill paths.

Vilas Dhar

Vilas Dhar is a recognized cross-sector leader focused on creating equitable, transformational social and economic opportunities through the application of policy and technology.  As a private sector technologist, entrepreneur, and lawyer, Vilas supports global socially focused businesses as an investor, board director, and mentor.  He currently serves as Trustee of the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation addressing equity, justice, and inclusiveness in an increasingly digital world, as a Senior Fellow of the Berggruen Institute in its noted Transformations of the Human Program, and as a board director of New England International Donors.

He has served as the Gleitsman Fellow on Social Change at Harvard University, Practitioner Resident on Artificial Intelligence at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Lake Como, Italy, and Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the University of Illinois. He holds a J.D. from NYU School of Law, an M.P.A. from the Harvard Kennedy School, and dual Bachelor’s degrees in Biomedical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Illinois.

Lisa Hendrickson

Lisa Hendrickson is a community leader and businesswoman with broad-based experience in the not for profit and corporate sectors. She was President & CEO of Avenidas, a Palo Alto based not-for-profit senior services agency supporting older adults who are aging in place throughout the Mid-Peninsula. During her tenure she successfully led two major capital projects, resulting in the construction of a new building to house a major program, the complete renovation and expansion of the organization’s historic community center and the fundraising to enable both. Lisa has a breadth of board governance experience having served in leadership positions on the boards of several not for profit agencies providing safety net and educational services.  She also had twenty years of commercial banking experience culminating as Senior Vice President and Manager, Regional Commercial Banking, Wells Fargo Bank, Palo Alto. She continues to serve on the Board of Directors of Avidbank, an independent commercial bank serving businesses and individuals primarily in Northern California. Her community work currently includes mentoring nonprofit Executive Directors, volunteering as a CASA advocate and engagement with other ALF Senior Fellows in support of her community.

Lisa is a graduate of Smith College where she received a B.S. in Economics. She and her husband have two adult sons and live in Menlo Park.

Michael Christensen-Calvin

Bio coming soon!