Our Leadership

FAR’s staff and advisors have the expertise and experience needed to ensure that your gifts meet your philanthropic aspirations.

Michael B. Poliakoff, Ph.D.

ACTA President

Dr. Poliakoff became part of the ACTA team in March 2010 as the Vice President of Policy, and became ACTA's third president on July 1, 2016. He previously served as Vice President for Academic Affairs and research at the University of Colorado and in senior roles at the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Council on Teacher Quality, the American Academy for Liberal Education, and the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

He has taught at Georgetown University, George Washington University, Hillsdale College, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Wellesley College. He received his B.A. magna cum laude from Yale University and went on to study at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and the University of Michigan, where he earned a Ph.D. in classical studies. He has been a junior fellow at the Center for Hellenic Studies, and his research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst, and the Alexander Von Humboldt Stiftung. He is the author of numerous books and journal articles in classical studies and education policy and has received the American Philological Association's Excellence in Teaching Award and the Pennsylvania Department of Education's Distinguished Service to Education Award.

Ali Eskandarian, Ph.D.

Executive Director

Ali Eskandarian is the Executive Director of the Fund for Academic Renewal. He has a lifetime of experience initiating, overseeing, and expanding high-quality innovative academic programs. Before joining FAR, he held positions at the George Washington University (GW) as Dean of the Virginia Science and Technology Campus, Dean of the College of Professional Studies, and co-director of the Center for Quantum Computing, Information, Logic, and Topology. During his career, Dr. Eskandarian­ has held technical and management positions in the aerospace and telecommunications industries, served at the National Research Council, and held the Distinguished Oliver Professorship and Virginia Eminent Scholar position at James Madison University. Dr. Eskandarian’s scientific research interests focus on the foundations of quantum theory, quantum computing/information, and astrophysics. He holds a B.S. in physics and a Ph.D. in theoretical nuclear physics from GW.  He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and a Fellow of the Washington Academy of Sciences.

Emily Koons Jae

Associate Director

Emily Koons Jae serves as associate director for the Fund for Academic Renewal, a program of ACTA that works closely with higher education donors to design, monitor, and evaluate transformative gifts that meet their philanthropic objectives. In this role, Emily works closely with FAR’s executive director and program officer to identify philanthropists who would benefit from FAR’s services and build strategic partnerships that further our mission.

Prior to joining ACTA, Emily served as the director of entrepreneur engagement at the Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives in southeastern Pennsylvania. Before that, she worked for the Jack Miller Center, serving in a progression of roles on the organization’s academic programs, communications, and development teams. Emily holds a B.A. in history from Davidson College. After spending a decade in Philadelphia, she and her husband now live in Washington, DC, and enjoy exploring their new city. Emily is an avid reader and spends her time cheering on the Wildcats (both Davidson and Villanova) in college basketball. 

Rebecca Richards

Program Associate

As the Program Associate for the Fund for Academic Renewal, Rebecca Richards works closely with FAR’s Executive Director and Associate Director. She provides general support, research, and content to help higher education donors reach their philanthropic goals. Born and raised in Maine, Rebecca graduated from Baylor University in 2018 with a University Scholar’s Degree, concentrating in philosophy. She participated in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core honors program and spent her junior year at Oxford. During college, she worked as a research assistant on the Federalist Papers, in state policy research, and as an archivist. After graduation, Rebecca was a John Jay Fellow with the John Jay Institute in Philadelphia. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling, and adding to her collection of Agatha Christie novels.

Andras Kosaras, Esq.

Legal Advisor

Andras Kosaras, a counsel with Arnold & Porter, is the Fund for Academic Renewal’s legal advisor. In this capacity, Mr. Kosaras counsels donors on properly structuring their charitable gifts to ensure that their intent is honored and protected.

At Arnold & Porter, Mr. Kosaras represents individual and corporate donors on charitable giving matters and has extensive experience representing domestic and international tax-exempt organizations, including public charities, private foundations, medical research organizations, donor advised funds, supporting organizations, community foundations, and fiscal sponsors.

Before joining Arnold & Porter, Mr. Kosaras was an in-house attorney at the Washington, DC-based Council on Foundations and director of a multiyear grant project implementing the Council’s program on governance and accountability practices for grantmakers. He also served for two years as a research assistant at Harvard University’s Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations. Mr. Kosaras earned his J.D. magna cum laude from the New England School of Law and his B.A. summa cum laude from the University of Massachusetts–Amherst. He is a board member and governance committee member of the BBB Wise Giving Alliance.

“It has probably never been more difficult to donate prudently to higher education than it is today, when so many basic assumptions about the aims of higher education and the norms of scholarship are in dispute. ACTA’s Fund for Academic Renewal is an invaluable asset to any donor who wishes to make informed decisions.”

Truman Anderson

Executive Director, The Stuart Family Foundation

The Fund for Academic Renewal is a program of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization as defined by Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All contributions to FAR are fully tax-deductible to the maximum extent provided by law.