Philanthropitch Austin 2017 Judges

We are proud to have the support of eight incredible judges for Philanthropitch Austin on May 22, where seven nonprofits will pitch for human and financial capital. Get to know our judging panel.

Amber Carden

Amber Carden

Amber Carden is Senior Vice President and Private Client Advisor at U.S. Trust/Bank of America Private Wealth Management, where she has worked since joining the bank in 1983. She manages a financial team who advise clients in the area of wealth management, focusing on wealth preservation, estate and tax planning strategies, philanthropy and customized credit opportunities. She and her team are designated to cover institutional philanthropic clients and have a number of non-profit organizations and foundation clients within their portfolio of business.  Amber joined Bank of America after graduating from Baylor University in 1982 (BBA) and 1983 (MBA) with finance degrees. She currently serves on the local Bank of America Foundation selection committee and is a member of U.S. Trust Associate Advisory Board.
Amber’s past and present community board activities include Caritas of Austin, Ronald McDonald House of Central Texas, Dell Children’s Hospital Foundation Council, Les Ami de Hospice, The Junior League of Austin, National Charity League of Austin, AARO, and Leadership Austin. She has also chaired fundraising events for Dell Children’s Hospital of Central Texas, Hospice Austin, Phoenix House, I Live Here/I Give Here, Anderson High School, Breakthrough, Caritas, Con Mi Madre, Heartgift, Helping Hand Home, and Leadership Austin. Amber was a past recipient of both The Junior League of Austin’s Community Service Award and Volunteer Extraordinaire, as well as AFP’s Fundraising Volunteer of the Year, the Grant Professionals Association 2015 Giving Star Award, and a finalist for Austin Under 40’s Mentor of the Year 2015. This will Amber’s first year as a Philanthropitch Judge.

Clayton Christopher

Clayton Christopher

Based in Austin, Texas, Clayton is strategically positioned at the epicenter of a growing culture of consumer innovation. He is the Founder and former CEO of Sweet Leaf Tea, a company he started in 1998 with $12K in savings and a recipe from his grandmother. Sweet Leaf grew to a nationally recognized brand, and was sold to Nestle in 2011. Following his success at Sweet Leaf, Clayton co-founded and was Chairman of the Board of Deep Eddy Vodka. Deep Eddy became the fastest growing spirits brand in the United States and was sold to Heaven Hill Distilleries in August of 2015. He is also the Co-founder/Chairman of Rhythm Super Foods, Chairman of SKU, an incubator/accelerator for consumer brands. In 2006 he was awarded the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the year for Central Texas, and is a recipient of Austin Under 40 Austinite of the Year Award. Clayton is now a Partner at CAVU Venture Partners, a consumer-focused investment firm founded by operators to partner with operators in building high growth and disruptive businesses. Philanthropitch is excited to have Clayton back as a judge for the fifth year in a row.

Dan Graham headshot

Dan Graham

Dan Graham co-founded in 2005 and transitioned from Chief Executive Officer to Executive Chairman in early 2017. Dan also co-founded Notley in 2015 with his wife, Lisa. He is a recipient of various awards including Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2013 Central Texas Award, Austin Business Journal’s 2012 Best CEO Award, and Austin Under 40 Austinite of the Year. Dan was also named a winner in the Business and Entrepreneurship category in 2012. As a native Austinite, Dan personally gives back to the Austin community through participation on the Board of Directors for numerous philanthropic organizations including Austin Community Foundation, Glasshouse Policy, and Mission Capital among others. He also acts as a mentor to aspiring young entrepreneurs working with Capital Factory and SKU. Dan is a member of esteemed local and national organizations including University of Texas at Austin’s College of Natural Sciences Advisory Council, Young President’s Organization, Startup Games (Board Member), The Texas Lyceum, Entrepreneurs’ Organization, and the 2016 Class of Henry Crown Fellows and the Aspen Global Leadership Network at the Aspen Institute. Dan earned undergraduate degrees in computer science and philosophy from The University of Texas at Austin (2003), and a J.D. from The University of Texas at Austin School of Law (2005). As the father of three incredible daughters, Dan spends his free time with them and his wife. Dan is an avid reader and enjoys practicing yoga a few times per week. Dan has been an integral member of Philanthropitch since the beginning, we are honored to have him back once again.


Fayruz Benyousef

Fayruz Benyousef

Fayruz Benyousef is a seasoned certified fundraising professional who has helped numerous organizations and their leadership achieve success. She is a philanthropy advisor and expert working with nonprofit executives for 23 years. Fayruz has an extensive background, serving as the CEO of an international NGO, a Partner a national consulting firm, where she was the youngest in the firm to make Partner, a Development Director with Ballet Austin, and the Associate Director of Annual Giving at her alma mater, Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

She served two terms as Board President for AFP – Austin where she helped to shape and implement the organization’s strategic goals, leveraging the fundraising profession and ethical philanthropic practice in the Austin community. She has been awarded the Outstanding Fundraising Professional of the Year award by AFP Austinthe Con Mi MADRE 2017 Corazon Award and has been named a Woman of the Year Candidate for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Fayruz is civically engaged with organizations including the Boards of the Sustainable Food Center, Trinity Episcopal School, The Texas Lyceum and is a founding Board member of Libyan Hearts.  She is also a member of the Central Texas Women’s Fund Steering Committee at the Austin Community Foundation. Fayruz is a member of AARO, The Austin Area Research Organization and was a 2014 McBee Fellow. We are excited to welcome Fayruz to the Philanthropitch judging panel for the first time.

Joe Ross_CSID, a part of Experian

Joe Ross

With more than 15 years of experience in managing and directing corporate operations on an international level, Joe is responsible for all aspects of global operations, sales, marketing and client services at CSID. Widely recognized as an identity protection industry leader, Joe is a frequent speaker and contributor for industry events and publications. This will be Joe’s first year as a Philanthropitch judge.

Kelly Hopping

Kelly Hopping

Kelly Hopping is an experienced brand director and marketing strategist who is passionate about defining and implementing a brand promise for a company, product or service. Significant brand strategy experience in high tech and consumer packaged goods. Believe that in the absence of product knowledge or expertise, brands are a surrogate for quality…they come to life every time we interact with a customer, partner, employee, or analyst through marketing, sales, and support. Every decision we make as a company or individual affects our brand in some way. Philanthropitch is excited to have Kelly as a judge for the first time.

Mellie Price Headshot

Mellie Price

Mellie Price, a 25 year Austinite, is the inaugural Executive Director of Technology Innovation at the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin. She is an experienced investor, executive, fund manager, technologist, and eight-time entrepreneur with a range of business experience from small private sector to a large publicly traded organization.

Mellie is a co-founder and Managing Director of the nationally recognized startup accelerator program and entrepreneurial hub, Capital Factory, as well as a General Partner to its investment fund. She is also the co-founder of SoftMatch, a service company that connects Fortune 1000 enterprises with the highly fragmented global startup ecosystem. Ms. Price was also the Founder & CEO of Austin’s own Front Gate Solutions and Front Gate Tickets, one of the largest privately held ticketing companies in the US/Canada from 2002 to 2015 when it was sold to Live Nation.

A frequent presenter and keynote speaker, Ms. Price is an active member of the Texas entrepreneurship community and a winner of the prestigious Austin Business Journal’s 2015 Profiles in Power Award as well as the 2014 Tech Titan Award. She is a proud member of the Board of Directors for Leadership Austin and the Sustainable Food Center. She is also a founding Advisor to Texas Competes and currently serves on the Social Innovation Council and the Technology Advisory Committee for Austin Mayor Steve Adler. This will be Mellie’s first year on the Philanthropitch judging panel.

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Manish Patel

Manish Patel is Co-Owner and President of Nutrabolt Life Sciences. Nutrabolt is a leading nutritional life sciences company focused on sports nutrition and lifestyle wellness products. Manish recently co-founded SeedSumo, a mentor-driven seed fund accelerator that helps startup companies achieve Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and raise follow-on financing. Seed Sumo is focused on mobile first technologies and niche based consumer product companies.

Before joining Nutrabolt, Manish served as a consultant, educator, and investor within the residential and commercial sectors of the real estate industry. He has significant financial modeling and due diligence experience, with over $5 billion in real estate acquisition, development, and portfolio assignments completed since 2005. Manish is currently developing a mixed-use project in downtown Austin stacked with retail, office, co-working, and residential uses. The focus of the development is to provide a destination for entrepreneurs and freelancers to collaborate, create, and receive funding. This will Manish’s first year as a Philanthropitch judge.