Staff News: IFF hires Townsend and Walker Johnson as new VPs April 24, 2018

IFF recently hired two new members of its senior management team: Dr. Tara Townsend, Vice President of Research and Evaluation, and Debra Walker Johnson, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Resource Development.

Dr. Tara Townsend, Vice President of Research and Evaluation

Dr. Townsend provides broad oversight of IFF’s research and evaluation practice, which informs and guides strategic planning and the investment of resources in order to maximize the transformational impact on low-income and disabled communities.

Dr. Townsend brings more than 20 years of applied research and evaluation experience in the nonprofit and public spheres within a number of sectors, including criminal justice, public health, and education.  Most recently, she served as the Chief Impact Strategy Officer for ArtsWave, the Greater Cincinnati region’s local arts agency and the nation’s first and largest community campaign for the arts, and as a housing policy analyst with the City of New Orleans in the key years following Hurricane Katrina.

Townsend holds a bachelor’s degree from Emory University and a Ph.D. in social and organizational psychology from Temple University.


Debra Walker Johnson, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Resource Development

Debra Walker Johnson is responsible for leading and managing IFF’s resource development efforts, overseeing strategic communications, and establishing strategic community partnerships to advance IFF’s mission of change.

With more than 20 years experience in nonprofit fundraising, marketing, communications, advocacy, and coalition building, Ms. Walker Johnson has successfully designed and implemented programs to improve underserved communities.

Prior to IFF, she served as the Director of Development for the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, where she oversaw the organization’s fundraising and communication initiatives. Her career also includes service with National Able Network, Women Employed, and Southwest Women Working Together.

Debra currently serves on the Board of Chicago Women in Philanthropy and as co-chair the Women’s Leadership Mentoring Program. She is also a member of the 1998 class of Leadership Illinois. She received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Roosevelt University and a Certificate from John Marshall Law School’s Community Law Program for Social Workers.