Sheikh/Impact is a minority woman-owned firm that supports organizations working to serve and improve our communities. The issues that are important to our clients are also important to our team because they are ultimately what have driven each of us to do what we do.
Our staff members’ lived experience, coupled with incredible professional and educational backgrounds distinguish our firm from others in the field. This lived experience includes those who are: first-generation Americans and immigrants, survivors of domestic violence, justice-involved, first-generation college graduates — as well as prominent advocates for gender equity, equitable housing, and mental health reform.
The Sheikh/Impact team is dedicated to supporting organizations focused on justice system reform because we have personally experienced the effects of the current system.
We are tenacious in our work to build the capacity of health care organizations because we know true community wellness only happens with equitable access to quality, compassionate care.
We are committed to building the capacity of direct service organizations because we have been recipients of such services.
We are invested in ensuring the sustainability of arts service organizations because we have had our lives changed through art and connection.
We understand that clients are heavily invested in their organizations –– and the people they serve –– and we value the work we do together. The nonprofit world is one of the last frontiers of equity, and that is where we can help make change.
Amber Sheikh is the chief impact officer and owner at Sheikh/Impact (formerly Thurlow/Associates), where she and her incredible team work to raise the capacity of organizations solving the toughest issues facing California communities — focusing on fundraising, external relations and organizational development. Amber’s specific areas of expertise include capital campaigns, individual fundraising, constituent/donor relations, strategic planning and executive/board development. A proud native Angeleno and first generation American, Amber is motivated by helping nonprofit organizations maximize their positive impact on our communities.
Before forming Sheikh/Impact, Amber was the Managing Senior Associate at Thurlow/Associates, where she provided strategic counsel and assistance to nonprofit clients working in health, human services, social justice and other fields. Prior to her nine-year tenure at Thurlow/Associates, Amber managed individual donor portfolios, as well as foundation and government relations, for Marymount California University. She also served on the fund development teams of two prominent homeless service agencies — Downtown Women’s Center and Children Today.
Earlier in her career, Amber worked in Sacramento with the California State Assembly. Her international experience includes work with a United Nations women’s microfinance Non-Governmental Organization in Delhi, India, and with Women’s Edge Coalition.
Outside of her professional life, Amber is a very active community advocate. In June 2019, Amber was appointed to the LA City Harbor Area Planning Commission by Mayor Eric Garcetti. She also coordinates the Council District 15 Working Group on Homelessness. Amber serves as a board member of Social Justice Partners LA and on the advisory councils of Maternal Mental Health Now and the Assistance League of San Pedro/South Bay. She also proudly serves on the Harbor Neighborhood Relief Fund and Providence South Bay Mission and Community Health Committee, lending her expertise to support impactful grantmaking throughout South LA.
In 2019 Amber was chosen as LA City Council District 15’s Pioneer Woman of the Year for her work on homelessness and gender equity. She is also the 2019 recipient of the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce Leadership Award for her work championing solutions to end homelessness in South Los Angeles. In 2021, Amber was selected as an LA Impact Maker to Watch.
Amber is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) and holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations from the University of California, Davis with concentrations in Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies as well as Hindi/Urdu and Arabic languages. Amber is the proud daughter of immigrants from Pakistan and England. She lives in vibrant San Pedro with her two vivacious children, Allegra (6 years old) and Zayd (4 years old).
Kelly Lynn Fitzgerald is a principal at Sheikh/Impact, where she provides a broad spectrum of counsel and assistance to clients — in areas including but not limited to publications, institutional fundraising, major donor relations and public grant solicitation.
Before joining Sheikh/Impact, Kelly was with Thurlow/Associates for nine years, providing strategic fund development counsel to nonprofit agencies. Prior to that, she served as a program associate with the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, where she coordinated the annual planning and allocation process for approximately $8 million in emergency housing and assistance from federal and state sources annually. While at United Way, Kelly also monitored the fiscal and programmatic performance of grantees and ensured compliance with all applicable federal and state regulations.
Kelly holds a master of public policy degree from the University of Southern California, as well as a bachelor’s degree in public policy and management from the same institution. She is passionate about improving the quality of life for children and families in her community. Kelly is an active member of Lakewood Little League’s board of directors, and she is also involved with her son’s school as a Parent Teacher Association member.
Jessica Beckerman is a managing director at Sheikh/Impact, where she provides support to clients in areas including but not limited to strategic planning, grant solicitation, prospect research, communications and marketing.
Jessica was an associate at Thurlow/Associates for four years, where she provided fund development counsel and leveraged her expertise in communications and publications. Before joining Thurlow/Associates, Jessica worked for Children’s Tumor Foundation, which raises funds for neurofibromatosis research. During her time there, she managed the NF Walk program, significantly increasing participation and visibility, and more than tripling annual funding. Prior to that, she worked in editorial at the publishing house Simon & Schuster in New York, working with numerous renowned authors to craft and polish written materials for impact.
Jessica holds a bachelor’s degree in literature from American University. She is originally from Wellesley, Massachusetts.
Tammy Khan is the vice president of operations at Sheikh/Impact where she oversees daily operations and special projects. She also provides client support in areas such as communications, community engagement, government relations and DEI training (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion).
Licensed as a Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) Qualified Administrator, Tammy is able to administer the IDI assessment to organizations trying to build their team’s intercultural competence to achieve diversity and inclusion goals and outcomes.
Before joining the Sheikh/Impact team, Tammy spent 15 years serving as the public information officer for the Torrance Unified School District (TUSD). While leading the communications department, she developed and implemented a comprehensive public information, community engagement and media relations program for TUSD. Prior to her tenure with TUSD, Tammy worked as a field representative in the California State Legislature, where she managed community outreach and constituent relations for Senator Debra Bowen and Assemblymember Ted Lieu.
Tammy earned her master’s degree in negotiations, peacebuilding and conflict resolution (NCRP) from California State University, Dominguez Hills. She received her bachelor’s degree in liberal studies with an English minor from Loyola Marymount University. Tammy has served on the board (and as past president) of the Torrance Cultural Arts Foundation for 15 years.
Will Simcoe is a senior associate at Sheikh/Impact, where he provides support to clients in areas including but not limited to institutional and public funding solicitation, strategic planning, impact analysis and communications.
Before joining Sheikh/Impact, Will provided fund development consulting to nonprofit clients in the education, health and human services sectors. Will previously designed curricula for the Heller School for Social Policy and Management and ran a private tutoring company. Will has extensive experience finding technological solutions for nonprofits: He helped create a database and data visualization dashboard for Entrepreneurship for All to aid in their expansion; while working at Thabyay Education Foundation, he developed a comprehensive online eLearning platform — a platform that continues to help hundreds of social workers in Myanmar, Laos and Thailand each year.
Will holds an MBA in social impact and a master’s degree in sustainable international development from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, as well as a bachelor’s degree in ecotourism from Westminster College.
Susanna Aiga is a senior associate at Sheikh/Impact, where she provides support to clients in areas including but not limited to public funding solicitation, prospect research, data analysis and communications.
Before joining Sheikh/Impact, Susanna worked for the leading U.S. Business Immigration law firm, Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP as a paralegal/caseworker. In this capacity, she successfully processed a high volume of complex petitions and applications supporting foreign nationals seeking U.S. visa classification and immigration benefits for permanent residency. Her prior experience includes working with nonprofit organizations in the education and geriatric service fields. While at University of California, San Diego (UCSD), she wrote, edited and managed the public health column for UCSD’s medical literature society and worked with the Saltman, a quarterly UCSD publication featuring undergraduate biomedical research findings.
Susanna holds a bachelor’s degree in human developmental sciences — an interdisciplinary field focusing on the intersectionality of socio-cultural, cognitive and biological domains in affecting environmental, biological and behavioral growth/changes over the course of the human lifespan — from UCSD.
Joelle Marie Nourse is an associate at Sheikh/Impact, where she provides logistical, communication and research support, as well as expertise in the areas of program development and implementation and mental health and related policy.
Prior to Sheikh/Impact, Joelle Marie was an area housing coordinator in Los Angeles County, providing support to individuals, providers and organizations through the coordinated entry system — to link those in need with housing, funding, employment, healthcare and other services. Joelle Marie has previously provided consulting services to several national mental health and peer support organizations, including National Alliance on Mental Illness, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance and National Association of Peer Supporters, contributing to program management, execution and messaging.
Joelle Marie is active in advocacy and outreach, including in research, healthcare and policy engagement: As part of the Senior Strength Initiative, she helped shape a Community Peer Worker role to assist bridging geriatric primary care patients to mental health providers; she was a CalVoices ACCESS Ambassador to inform stakeholders and increase their engagement in local and state policy; and recently, she was involved in a research and stakeholder convening with the University of Kentucky — producing recommendations for Institutional Review Boards -or ethic committees- to follow when considering research participant experiences.
Joelle Marie is a member of the Council District 15 Working Group on Homelessness and Chair of the American Association of Suicidology Disability and Access Committee.
Lauren Nikkel is an associate at Sheikh/Impact, where she brings her expertise to provide support to clients in the areas of public funding solicitation, program research and development, and strategic communications.
Before joining Sheikh/Impact, Lauren worked as a proposal writer and grants project coordinator at the Fresno Regional Workforce Development Board , where she helped secure approximately $19M in new funding for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) programs and multiregional special projects. She has 15 years of strategic communications experience, mainly in the nonprofit and higher education sectors. Lauren is adept at stakeholder convening and enjoys facilitating interdisciplinary coalitions working on innovative projects and programs.
Lauren is forever hungry to learn more about people and the places they come from, and especially passionate about history, literature, and Lindy Hop swing dance. When not dancing, reading, or writing, you can find Lauren exploring local landmarks and adventuring with her spouse and two daughters. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Fresno Pacific University.
Kristina Wallace is an associate with Sheikh/Impact, where she provides client support in areas including, but not limited to public and institutional funding solicitation, strategic planning, and communications.
Before joining Sheikh/Impact, Kristina worked for nonprofit organizations specializing in youth development and homeless services. Her previous roles included senior grant writer at JWCH Institute, where she secured funding to open the Center for Community Health on Skid Row. She was also previously the development director and chief financial officer for Camp del Corazon, where she grew the organization’s reserves fivefold and secured corporate and community partnerships to expand programming and organizational capacity. In addition, she has served on the LAUSD Family and Community Engagement Committee, as well as the Los Angeles County Equity in County Contracting Working Group, which focused on reforming and improving the way more than $4 billion in annual funding makes its way to area nonprofits by directive of the Board of Supervisors.
Kristina currently sits on the board of directors for North Valley Caring Services, where she secured its first sizable funding contract, effectively doubling its scope. Kristina earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Los Angeles, in communications, and holds a master of public administration degree from California State University, Long Beach.
Molly Hunt is an associate at Sheikh/Impact, where she provides grant solicitation, funding research, communications, and other support to clients.
Before joining Sheikh/Impact, Molly worked at YWCA San Gabriel Valley and Homeboy Industries as a fund development/communications specialist and grant writer, respectively. During her time at Homeboy, she wrote grant proposals for at least 30 foundations, which resulted in over $600,000 in annual giving. She also helped establish Homeboy’s housing program, which helps find safe and secure housing for vulnerable individuals and families. As part of a research team at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Molly also previously supported the Office of Youth and Community Restoration to create standards of care for young people moving into county-run programs in California after the closure of the statewide juvenile prison system.
Molly holds a master of public policy degree from UCLA, as well as a bachelor’s degree from Boston College in sociology and theology. At both institutions, she worked as a peer writing tutor. Upon her return from Boston, she served as Jesuit Volunteer and now provides support to current volunteers in Boyle Heights. A proud South Bay native, Molly loves to swim in the ocean and hike the many gorgeous trails in the Los Angeles region.
Marissa Galardi is an associate at Sheikh/Impact, where she provides support to clients in the areas of public and institutional funding solicitation, program research and development, strategic communications and more.
Before joining Sheikh/Impact, Marissa worked at Nebraska Family Planning as the director of resource development and a women’s health care strategist. In her time there, she helped secure Title X funding for the state of Nebraska, as well as a $3.5 million grant for sexual and reproductive health services. Marissa also supported organizational communications and outreach, including the launch of a youth-driven statewide telehealth campaign. Additionally, she partnered with Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and stand-alone clinics to address access and equity barriers in the state’s public health safety net.
Born and raised in rural Nebraska, Marissa holds a bachelor's degree from Creighton University in journalism, with specializations in theater and women and gender studies. At Creighton University, Marissa provided event and communications support to the Violence Intervention and Prevention Center to raise awareness about sexual assault and domestic violence on campus. She served in multiple positions with the student newspaper, The Creightonian, as both an arts and culture editor and social media editor. After graduation, she worked with a local arts nonprofit, facilitating the organization’s first-ever virtual arts festival at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When Marissa is not at the beach with her two dogs, she is exploring all that California has to offer. Marissa has a passion for volunteering with local sexual health and reproductive justice nonprofits and tending to her extensive array of houseplants.
Nikki Ramsy is an administrative associate at Sheikh/Impact, where she provides administrative, operational, and research support.
Before joining Sheikh/Impact, Nikki worked in various communications roles within the nonprofit and public sectors. Her experience includes working with the UC Berkeley Labor Center, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Human Impact Partners, and the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR).
Nikki earned both her Bachelor’s degree in history and her Master’s degree in public policy from the University of Southern California (USC). At USC, she worked as a course assistant and served as a copy editor at Palaver Arts Magazine.
Born and raised in Centerville, Ohio, Nikki is proud of her Midwestern roots, but has called Orange County, California home for the past 12 years. She enjoys rock climbing, watching docuseries, and discovering new dessert spots.
Claudio Vazquez provides administrative support to Sheikh/Impact and provides office management and technical support for the firm's daily operations. He is bilingual in English and Spanish and is an experienced translator. He is also an accomplished photographer, whose work has been exhibited in galleries in North and South America.
Victoria Thurlow provides assistance and counsel to Sheikh/Impact, as needed. Victoria has extensive experience as a leader in fund development and communications. After working directly with respected organizations in the social sector, she founded Thurlow/Associates. Through her decades of experience as principal of Thurlow/Associates, Victoria used her unique expertise to help nonprofits throughout the region achieve lasting impact.
Salim J. Sheikh, Esq. provides legal assistance and counsel to Sheikh/Impact, as needed. He also provides client support in the area of justice-reform. He currently practices law in Cook County, Il.
Prior to getting his law degree, Salim served in the US Army and then was
the director of the penal law project at CSU Chico, where he provided programming in several CA State prisons including, Pelican Bay, San Quentin, Stockton Woman’s Facility, Susanville and Folsom State Prison.
Salim’s justice system involvement in his youth helped inform his decision to pursue a career in law and represent the interests of those who historically have been underserved by the legal community. For his work, he was named a Super Lawyer Rising Star Illinois in 2015, 2016 and 2017.