The Firestarter Group

Philanthropy Evolved

Firestarter believes in reversing the model of top-down charity.  Sophisticated philanthropy requires that we overcome barriers of us and them.

Philanthropy must broaden our definition of community. By recognizing fluid boundaries, we extend mission-driven work to a larger audience, capable of realizing greater change.

Modern philanthropy acknowledges potential for both risk and return. We believe that more accurate valuations of these potentials is required to capture social alpha.

About Us

Founded in 2012 by idealistic money managers, The Firestarter Group represents a new model for directing channels of charitable giving to areas of need.  Our strategists offer active management of giving portfolios for individuals, foundations, and corporations, while investing in an internal social impact portfolio of our own.  We believe in breaking boundaries that keep charitable giving insulated from risk and innovation, recognizing that an active approach to fueling social change is the only way to capture social alpha. Use the form below to join us in a conversation we love to have.  

Our Philosophy

Social Alpha mimics a concept in financial services that describes a manager's ability to produce specialized above average returns. For us, it represents an ability to amplify the (S)ROI of a charitable contribution through ongoing community inquiry and active project management.  

Client Services

The faces of donors continue to change.  We believe in building new tools for them to have at their disposal.  Our clients come to us for help with impact tracking, project planning, and start up implementation. We believe in providing custom options for donors of all backgrounds.  

Impact Portfolio

Our Social Impact Portfolio focuses on sustainable investment in the productive capabilities of unrecognized communities across the globe. We believe in helping consumers at the bottom of the pyramid claim their rights through private enterprise and the recognition of common purchasing power.  

Executive Partners

Yan Digilov

Chief Strategist

Yan is the Chief Local Advisor at Firestarter.  He graduated from Rice University with B.A. degrees in Mathematics and Economics. Yan helped found Firestarter while working in money management, recognizing the need to bridge the gap between practices in the private sector and the world of charitable giving.  He specializes in projects focused on minority community development and technology implementation.

Alex Goldfarb

Impact Portfolio Strategist

As a college student, Alex helped launch Amir, a nonprofit organization that recruits and trains young adults to run farm-based educational programming at summer camps and year-round educational institutions. Following two years as a management consultant, Alex joined Firestarter to focus on developing the organization's impact portfolio in Somaliland. Alex is a graduate of the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business.

Board of Directors

Jay Resh

Board Member

Jay Resh Holds a Ph.D. and M.S. in Physics from the University of Houston. A Graduate of Princeton University with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, he conducted thesis research at Rice University.  Jay spent seven years working internationally as a petrophysical engineer at Shell Oil.  He now manages Advantage Testing of Houston.  In his spare time he can be found on his road bike, riding as far as the road will take him.  

Joana Videgain

Board Member

Joana believes that social entrepreneurship has the power to counterbalance social, economic, and environmental injustices. After accumulating financial acumen in leading engineering and energy companies, Joana now serves as a finance and business consultant to social entrepreneurs. In 2014, she raised the single largest investment of capital for one of the ventures under Agora Partnerships’ portfolio, an accelerator serving impact entrepreneurs in Latin America

Sacha Lazarre

Board Member

Sacha Lazarre is the Senior Director of Human Resources for Neighborhood Centers Inc., a Houston based organization ranked in the top 1% of nonprofits in the nation. Sacha enjoys developing creative solutions for social and organizational challenges. In her spare time, she integrates her passion for community transformation and culture into contemporary fine art paintings that can be seen hanging on the walls of Neighborhood Centers across Houston.

Leonard Wood

Board Member

Leonard is a member of Vinson & Elkins’ Mergers & Acquisitions and Capital Markets group where his practice focuses on mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance and strategic investor relations for public companies. Leonard is an active member of V&E’s Shareholder Activism practice and has extensive experience advising companies responding to proxy contests and corporate governance activism.

Haley Bash

Board Member

Haley Bash is a software engineer at Optimizely in the Bay Area. Previously, she worked in investment banking at Lazard in New York. Haley has worked in a variety of international development and public service roles, including microfinance program developer in Honduras, nursery school teacher in Tanzania, and broker-dealer analyst at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Bob Fleming

Board Member

Bob Fleming's 40 years of experience managing nonprofits contributes a valuable perspective to our board.  Having run refugee resettlement programs at YMCA International and Catholic Charities, Bob maintains a commitment to serving vulnerable populations through public programming.  He lectures at The University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work and continues serving on boards  with missions close to his heart.  

Get In Touch

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©2016 The Firestarter Group