Our People

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.

Emily Koons Jae

Executive Director

Emily Koons Jae serves as executive 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.

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

Associate Director

As the Associate Director for the Fund for Academic Renewal, Rebecca Richards provides 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. Before joining ACTA, she 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.

Emily Burden Rees

Program Coordinator

Emily Burden Rees is the Program Coordinator for the Fund for Academic Renewal (FAR), working with FAR’s Director and Program Manager to help higher education donors craft gifts with enduring impact. She supports the department with research and communications, managing FAR’s social media and digital presence, and producing The College Donor Quarterly. Emily is passionate about democracy and the role of education in creating a citizenry capable of democratic governance. She earned a B.M. in flute performance from Brigham Young University and has worked as a youth camp counselor, substitute teacher, livestreaming technician, and religious volunteer. Outside of work, she enjoys reading, languages, music, traveling and longboarding with her husband, and being active in her church. 

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.