Chinook Fund supports community organizations working on issues of racial, social and economic justice in the state of Colorado.

Chinook Fund has given out over $2.85 million in grants since 1987. Chinook Fund pools money from Colorado’s progressive community and distributes it back to grassroots groups working on a wide range of social change issues.

Chinook funding supports the most strategic work unfolding at the local level to address globalization, poverty, war, racism and environmental destruction. Chinook Fund’s grassroots grantmaking is unique. We recruit our board and grantmaking committee members from the communities we serve throughout Colorado. With the direct knowledge these grantmakers bring, we are able to respond to new ideas and fresh thinking. Chinook Fund makes grants that other foundations may view as “risky” but are often funding years later.

Using our grassroots grantmaking process, we have been an early funder on key issues including HIV/AIDS, sexual violence, immigration, and globalization.

Our Staff


Nora Bashir

Executive Director

Nora Bashir joined the Chinook Fund family in 2004 as a volunteer in the Grantmaking Committee for three years before she joined the collective leadership team in September 2010. She currently serves as the Executive Director since January 2013.

For the past 17 years, Nora has leveraged the voices of women, immigrant communities, and low-wage workers by means of community organizing, advocacy, and securing resources for marginalized communities. As an immigrant Muslim from Malaysia, Nora was driven to organize services to vulnerable populations including survivors of gender-based violence at Apna Ghar, a safehouse for women and children. Her Bachelors training in both Communications and Women’s Studies has been broadened and deepened with a Masters in Multicultural Communication at DePaul University in Chicago to hone her commitment to strengthen movements for social change.

In addition, as the Outreach Director for US Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky in the most diverse district in Chicago, she gained a broad knowledge in developing and utilizing effective working relationships with all sectors of the public, including elected officials, key stakeholders and social justice groups to make large dents in public consciousness.

Her most recent position was at FRESC, where she designed and launched their Civic Leadership Institute, a civic education program on Economic Development, Immigration and Healthcare. Moreover, she has overseen organizational growth and development, including implementing large-scale special events that have taken their individual giving capacity to a new level.


Jessica Nelson

Administrative Manager & Grantmaking Coordinator

Jessica was born in Hong Kong and raised in Western Pennsylvania. She moved to California and then Colorado in 2011 to commit two years of her life to public service through AmeriCorps NCCC and City Year Denver. Before AmeriCorps shifted the trajectory of her life, Jessica graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Neuroscience from Allegheny College.

Now she is a part-time math & sciences tutor and a part-time Physics B.S. student at MSU Denver in addition to supporting Chinook Fund in every way she can. Jessica is thankful to be a part of the Chinook Fund team, learning every day about the depths of injustice, being inspired by the unique community solutions Chinook funds, and feeling empowered in making change from the administrative and support level for this work.

photo for website

S. Juliette Lee

Program Director

Juliette grew up 3 miles from the CIA. The daughter of orphaned war survivors, she is dedicated to assisting minority, displaced, or disadvantaged communities. She earned a BA and Masters in Teaching from the University of Virginia before working for the Public Interest Research Groups (PIRG) as a canvass director and campus organizer, mobilizing college students around environmental, consumer rights, and democracy initiatives. She opened a field office for US PIRG in New Orleans before attending the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where she earned an Advanced Feminist Studies Certificate and an MFA in Poetry. She taught for the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate Program and at the College of Art Media and Design at the University of the Arts. After completing her qualifying exams for a PhD in English from Temple University, Juliette left higher education to work more directly for marginalized and oppressed people.

Juliette strongly supports the arts as a vehicle for social transformation. In 2005, she founded Corollary Press, a series dedicated to multi-ethnic innovative writing, which she ran for ten years. Though the series ended, Corollary Press is held at the Poetry Center at ASU, SUNY Buffalo, Poet’s House in NYC, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. She helped coordinate the 2014 National Asian American Theater Conference and Festival, and continues to publish essays on race and culture; new articles are on deck for the Smithsonian Institute and Oxford University Press. A video artist and author, Juliette was a 2013 Pew Fellow in the Arts for Literature, and has held residencies in video art, poetry, and dance at Kunstnarhuset Messen (Norway), Hafnarborg (Iceland), Casa Libre en la Solana (Arizona), and the UCross Foundation (Wyoming). She occasionally teaches writing workshops at Lighthouse Writers Workshop.

Juliette most recently worked at The Gathering Place, where she coordinated fundraising events, and is happy to make Denver her new home.


Chelsea Manley

Special Event Manager

Chelsea is currently a senior at Metropolitan State University, where she studies environmental journalism and public relations. After working with Health First Colorado for over 5 years, she decided it was time to pursue an internship more closely related to her field of study. Being born and raised in Denver, she feels a deep connection to Colorado and her community, and is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with a local leader in social change by assisting Chinook Fund with the planning and preparation of their 30th anniversary event. In her free time, Chelsea enjoys hiking with her Labrador, spending time with friends, snowboarding, and creative writing.