Trustees & Staff

Our Staff

Michael J. Murray, Ph.D.
President & CEO
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Michael J. Murray, Ph.D.
President & CEO

Dr. Murray comes to AVDF from the John Templeton Foundation where he served first as Vice President of Philosophy and Theology and, since 2011, as Senior Vice President of Programs. In that capacity Dr. Murray was responsible for overseeing the growth of the Foundation’s grant making work that supports academic research and public engagement in the sciences and between the science and the humanities. During this period the Foundation’s annual grant support grew from $72M to $162M. He further managed the expansion of the Foundation’s work beyond North America and Western Europe to Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Latin America. In 2016, Dr. Murray also initiated and recently completed a re-launching of the Foundation’s departments of Communications, Public Engagement, and Strategic Alliances, including a refreshed brand, logo, and new website.

Dr. Murray began his career at Franklin and Marshall College where he was awarded the Arthur and Katherine Shadek Chair in Philosophy and the Humanities. He also held faculty positions at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, the University of Notre Dame, and Oxford University. During this period he published numerous academic articles as well as monographs and edited collections with Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, Blackwell, and Yale University Press. His research focuses on issues at the intersection of science, philosophy, and theology, as well as on seventeenth century Continental philosophy. Dr. Murray is currently a Senior Visiting Scholar at Franklin and Marshall.

Dr. Murray is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, in philosophy from Franklin and Marshall College, and his Master of Arts and Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame. He and his wife Kirsten, a Director at Creative Health Services, a large community behavioral health agency in suburban Philadelphia, have three children, Samuel, Elise, and Julia.

Annie Bryan
Senior Program Officer
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Annie Bryan
Senior Program Officer

Annie Bryan is the Foundations’ Senior Program Officer.  In this position she works across all program areas, with specific leadership of our Environmental Engagement, Stewardship and Solutions program and Palliative Care program.  Annie provides support to our grantee partners and stakeholders as we introduce our new strategic plan and develop partnerships that align with our philanthropic priorities.


Annie worked with the Foundations in 2015 as the Special Projects Manager and oversaw the series of Context Briefings that informed our trustee’s strategic planning process.  In this role she authored a compendium of information about the philanthropic opportunities across the nation and oversaw the staff’s contributions to the strategic planning process.  Prior to her work with the Foundations, Annie consulted with local foundations and nonprofits and served as the Director of Development for the Center City YMCAs in Charlotte, NC.  

Annie received her B.S. in Event Management from the University of Florida, where she was honored as the Most Outstanding Student Leader during the commencement ceremonies.  She received her J.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Law where she was the recipient of the Winston Crisp Award for Student Leadership. 

Annie serves as a member of the Women’s Board of Wolfson Children’s Hospital, as a member of the Development Council for  Wolfson Children’s Hospital,  and as a Delores Barr Weaver Fellow of the Women’s Giving Alliance

John Churchill, Ph.D.
Director of Programs
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John Churchill, Ph.D.
Director of Programs

Dr. John Churchill joined the Foundations on August 9, 2019 as Director of Programs. In this role, Dr. Churchill leads the Foundations grantmaking activity spanning the five Program Areas of Private Higher Education, Public Media, Interfaith Leadership and Religious Literacy, Palliative Care, and Environmental Engagement, Stewardship, and Solutions.

Dr. Churchill came to AVDF from the John Templeton Foundation (JTF), where he served as Director of Philosophy and Theology, a program that oversees approximately $50M in active grants to organizations spanning the globe. In that capacity, he significantly expanded JTF
s support for inter-disciplinary research, especially between scholars in the sciences, philosophy, and theology. He also successfully managed the expansion of the Foundations support for work in Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East.

After receiving his M.A in philosophy at Texas A&M University and his Ph.D. in philosophy from Indiana University, Dr. Churchill moved to the Templeton Foundation as Program Officer in Philosophy and Theology. A year later, in November 2011, he was promoted to Director. In this role, he designed a variety of grant programs supporting interdisciplinary research on topics such as free will and neuroscience, intellectual humility, and analytic theology. In 2013, his department launched a portfolio of
New Frontier grants that expanded Templeton funding in areas outside of North America and Western Europe.  By 2018, this portfolio had grown to $15M in active grants supporting academic research and public engagement throughout Latin America, East Africa, and the Middle East, most notably Turkey, Jordan, and the UAE.

Doreen A. Gross
Chief Operating Officer
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Doreen A. Gross
Chief Operating Officer

Doreen Gross has served The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations for over 20 years, first as a grants administrator, then as Vice President for Administration. In 2014, she was appointed Chief Operating Officer. She contributes to the development of AVDF business and operational practices and goals, and manages the recurring activities of the Foundations as they relate to operational activities. Doreen serves as the primary point of contact concerning Board of Trustee relations and activities. In all these roles, she provides senior level administrative support to the President concerning all internal affairs and external relations. Doreen also serves as Secretary to the Board and is responsible for planning board meetings, contact development and management, on-site management of board activities, and post-board meeting functions. She is a member of the program staff overseeing the Public Educational Media and Local Philanthropy programs.

Doreen brings her leadership skills to other non-profits as a leader and board member. She serves on the board of Family Foundations of Northeast Florida, a non-profit serving low income families. She is a founding member of the Jacksonville Asian American Alliance and has served on the boards of several Filipino-American non-profits in the greater Jacksonville area.

Doreen holds a B.A. from the Lyceum of the Philippines. She has completed the SECF Hull Fellows program and other leadership development programs for nonprofit leaders. Doreen also has participated in a professional development program at Harvard University Extension School.

 

Dale Thomas Knobel, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow in Higher Education
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Dale Thomas Knobel, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow in Higher Education

Dr. Knobel currently serves as the Senior Fellow in Higher Education, and as the Senior Fellow in Interfaith. Knobel retired as president of Denison University having led the liberal arts institution from 1998 to 2013. He previously served as Provost and Dean of the Faculty of Southwestern University in Texas and earlier held academic leadership positions at Texas A&M University. In recognition of his achievements at Denison and in American higher education leadership, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education presented him the Chief Executive Leadership Award in 2012.

Knobel earned a B.A., cum laude from Yale University and a Ph.D. from Northwestern University. A historian of the United States, Knobel is a widely published scholar on the subjects of immigration and ethnic and race relations in North America. He is the author or co-author of books dealing with ethnic stereotypes and anti-immigrant hostility published by Wesleyan University Press, Simon & Schuster, and Harvard University Press and has contributed to scholarly journals published in both the US and the UK. Currently, Knobel serves as a Director of the Sherman Fairchild Foundation, a philanthropic supporter of higher education and the fine arts in the United States.

Tim Michel
Chief Financial Officer
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Tim Michel
Chief Financial Officer

Tim Michel serves as the Chief Financial Officer for the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations. In this position he brings a seasoned perspective to the Foundations’ business planning, accounting, budgeting, compliance, financial reporting and analysis, and contributes to the Foundations’ strategic goals. Tim works closely with the AVDF President on all matters of financial and accounting work and provides leadership to short and long-term planning activities of the Foundations. 


Prior to joining the Foundations, Tim spent over thirty-two years in various financial management positions at The Ohio State University, including Director of Investment Operations/Endowment CFO where he established policies and procedures for the office that managed the $3.6 billion endowment fund; Assistant Treasurer, Cash Management and Investments; and Assistant Treasurer for Administrative Operations. 

Tim is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a native of Ohio. He earned a BSBA, summa cum laude from The Ohio State University’s Honors Accounting Program.

Our Board of Trustees

Mrs. Serena Davis Hall
Chair
Mrs. Serena Davis Hall
Chair
Mr. James Coté
Mr. James Coté
Ms. Amanda Davis
Ms. Amanda Davis
Dr. Christopher V. Davis
Dr. Christopher V. Davis
Dr. Eric Davis
Dr. Eric Davis
Dr. Jonathan P. Davis
Dr. Jonathan P. Davis
Ms. Sarah Davis
Ms. Sarah Davis
Ms. Dorothy Davis Kee
Ms. Dorothy Davis Kee
Mr. John L. Kee III
Mr. John L. Kee III
Mr. J.H. Dow Davis
Chairman Emeritus
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Mr. J.H. Dow Davis
Chairman Emeritus

 

The Bank of New York Mellon (as Corporate Trustee for Foundation No. 2)
The Bank of New York Mellon (as Corporate Trustee for Foundation No. 2)
SunTrust Banks, Inc. (as Corporate Trustee for Foundation No. 3)
SunTrust Banks, Inc. (as Corporate Trustee for Foundation No. 3)

Our Trustees Emeriti

Mr. Holbrook Davis
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(904) 359-0675
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