Common Counsel Foundation Staff
Laura Livoti started her term as CEO of Common Counsel Foundation in 2013. While leading the organization on a path of moderate growth, Common Counsel provides philanthropic services to a select set of values aligned clients. Under Laura’s leadership, Common Counsel has grown its client services to a combination of five family foundations, eight donor advised funds, and four philanthropic projects with annual grantmaking in the range of $3 million. She co-designed a grantmaking initiative called Native Voices Rising, one of the few community-driven Native-led grantmaking programs in the country.
Prior to joining Common Counsel, Laura served as Senior Program Officer at French American Charitable Trust (FACT), which disbursed up to $5 million annually in support of 40 community-based organizations in California and the US South. In that role she designed and launched a comprehensive strengthening organizations program for grassroots organizations. One element of that capacity building program was spun off as a part of FACT’s legacy and is known today as Roadmap. Roadmap, continues to provide consulting services to grassroots groups as fiscally-sponsored project housed at Common Counsel Foundation. Throughout her time at Common Counsel and FACT, Laura has brought strong leadership to the philanthropic community through her involvement in Environmental Grantmakers, Neighborhood Funders Group, and Funders Committee on Civic Participation – among others.
Before working in the philanthropic sector, Laura served as Acting Executive Director & Managing Director at the National Radio Project, which had public-interest radio programs airing across the U.S. and in some countries overseas. In a volunteer capacity, Laura serves on the YBCA Board and the Neighborhood Funders Group Board. She has also served on the board or steering committees of many other organizations, including the Center for Economic Justice, Media Alliance, and the Women's Action Coalition. She founded Justice in Nigeria Now (JINN), which focuses on human rights, environmental protection, and community livelihood. Laura also spent a decade in the healthcare industry, which has enabled her to apply strong organizational principles and practices to the philanthropic and nonprofit organizations she has led. She currently splits her time between three cities where her work is centered and her soul is nourished: Oakland, CA, New York, NY, and New Orleans, LA.
Alex oversees Common Counsel Foundation’s programs, including strategic advising, research, and grantmaking for family foundations and donor-advised funds, as well as strategic re-granting initiatives. His issue knowledge and grantmaking experience includes environmental justice, immigrant, worker, and Native rights, housing and land use, criminal justice, and impact investing. Prior to Common Counsel Foundation, Alex worked at the San Francisco Foundation, where he notably seeded community-driven coalitions of environmental groups that leveraged California’s groundbreaking climate change law to promote sustainable communities with good clean energy jobs, access to public transportation, open space, and affordable housing.
Before joining philanthropy, Alex spent nearly 15 years as an organizer, community lawyer, and policy advocate. His work includes co-managing a citywide post-9/11 relief and recovery program at the Asian American Federation of NY, grassroots organizing with the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York and the New York City AIDS Housing Network (now known as VOCAL-NY), and policy advocacy at the Urban Justice Center. As a community lawyer, he served as New Jersey director for the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, where he oversaw its human rights legal docket and organizing campaigns for immigrant rights in the state.
Alex has also worked in government, serving as counsel with New Jersey’s Office of the Public Defender, and as chief of staff to Councilman-at-Large Rolando R. Lavarro, Jr. in Jersey City. Alex is a proud recipient of a public education – he received his business degree from the State University of New York at Albany and his law degree from Rutgers Law School – Newark.
Allistair joined Common Counsel Foundation in April 2016. He most recently served in two roles. In the role of Associated Director of Programs and Services at Associated Grant Makers, he coordinated funder affinity groups, directed programs to increase fundraising capacity within nonprofits, and leveraged relationships to bridge the nonprofit and funding community. Additionally, as Executive Director for Asian American Resource Workshop, he set up systems and processes, built up sizable reserves, and tripled the organization’s budget during his tenure. Allistair previously also worked in fundraising for United South End Settlements, a multi-service nonprofit located in the heart of Boston. Allistair has served on various grant making boards, including Access Strategies Fund, Haymarket People’s Fund, and the New England Foundation for the Arts. He is also active both in supporting local community organizing efforts and developing the next generation of community leaders. He is a trainer for a leadership development program for Asian Americans (Activist Training Institute), serves on the Steering Committee for Saffron Circle and Resilient Cities-Boston, and is a board member of Chinatown Cultural Center and Bikes Not Bombs. He originally hails from Towson, MD, and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Community Health and Biology from Tufts University.
Cynthia Mitchell has worked in the nonprofit community in the greater Bay Area for over 15 years and brings a wealth of experience and connections from her previous positions with non-profit organizations that specialize in providing educational services, workforce programs, and community development. Cynthia has helped non-profits reach their financial objectives and has played an instrumental role in strengthening internal structures by developing processes, promoting transparency, and ensuring internal accountability. After obtaining a bachelor of science in accounting from Cal State East Bay, Cynthia entered the accounting field in government, before spending a few years in the private sector, and ultimately transitioning to the non-profit arena, where she found a passion for ensuring that the organizations that help underserved, disenfranchised communities are strong. Working in the nonprofit sector inspired her to seek a master of science in nonprofit administration at the University of San Francisco. Cynthia believes in continuous personal growth and is now completing her doctoral degree in organizational leadership at the University of San Francisco with her husband. Cynthia was born and raised in Oakland, has two beautiful children, and has many interests including family activities, traveling, cooking, and gardening.
Layla Cooper manages accounting operations for Common Counsel Foundation, including its private foundation clients, donor-advised funds, grantmaking initiatives and fiscally-sponsored projects. She works closely with Common Counsel’s CEO and Finance Committee on the production of financial statements, budget, cash flow documents, audit and annual tax return. Layla brings over 15 years of finance and accounting experience to her work at CCF, which provides grant support to community-led organizations advancing equity and environmental health. In addition to serving as Finance Manager for the Common Counsel Foundation, she is also CFO at the Institute for Public Accuracy in Oakland. Before joining CCF, she worked with a woman owned and operated community outreach firm, and as Staff Accountant at the corporate headquarters of Peet’s Coffee & Tea. Layla was born in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where she lived for six years before moving to the United States with her family. Layla focused her education on media studies and social change at San Francisco State University. She has also studied copyediting, financial management for nonprofits, and Spanish language. Layla is a musician and enjoys traveling in her spare time.
Board of Trustees
Special thanks to former Common Counsel Foundation Board Chair George Wells for taking staff portraits. Board member organizations listed for identification purpose only.