Catalyst Announces New President & CEO

For immediate release


SAN DIEGO, Calif., May 4, 2021 – Catalyst of San Diego & Imperial Counties (“Catalyst”), a nonprofit network of funding organizations and impact investors in the region, today announced that Megan Thomas has been named as president and chief executive officer. Thomas, who has been serving as interim president for the last six months, succeeds Debbie McKeon who stepped down last October. 

Thomas brings more than 20 years of nonprofit and philanthropy experience to the role, including previously serving as executive director of San Diego Coastkeeper where she built partnerships among the nonprofit, business, and public sectors to advance environmental goals across San Diego County. Thomas has spent the last five years leading Catalyst’s (formerly San Diego Grantmakers) collaborative grantmaking portfolio and strategic partnerships. 

“Megan is the right leader for Catalyst,” said Warren Ruis, director of regional public affairs for SDG&E and current board chair at Catalyst. “Megan’s extensive experience building trusting relationships with a broad swath of our region’s social change ecosystem – from grassroots organizations, to the nonprofit community, to corporations and funders of all types – has proven to not just move Catalyst programs, but its members towards equitable solutions for our region.”  

The board assembled a CEO search committee and retained a consultant for an organizational assessment on the best path forward. For search committee member and incoming Catalyst board chair Jeremy Pearl, executive vice president and chief financial officer for the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego, that assessment further solidified that Thomas was not just the most qualified candidate, but the best culture fit for the organization. 

“Megan brings a passion and dedication to this work that serves as a strong motivator for her team and for us as board members,” Pearl commented. “In particular, her demonstrated commitment to racial equity has helped guide Catalyst as an organization to where it is today. We are motivated to see where she takes our organization next,” Pearl added.

“I am thrilled to transition from interim president to president & CEO and I am a steadfast believer in the power and purpose of what Catalyst can do for our region,” said Megan. “But Catalyst is nothing without the dedicated people that make up its network, and the community advocates and activists we work hand in hand with,” she reflected. “I have the honor of working alongside an incredibly talented team, a committed board, and more than 150 active and passionate members who believe that our region is stronger when we work together.” 

As head of collaboratives and special initiatives, Thomas influenced nearly $7 million in funding for our region across myriad issue areas, including leading equity driven COVID-19 relief funding efforts for small businesses, nearing nearly $2 million in support to micro businesses in our region.  

Megan holds a BS in Business Administration from Georgetown University and an MBA from Yale School of Management. She serves on the racial equity committee for the United Philanthropy Forum and the steering committee for the City of San Diego’s Promise Zone. She has served on the long-term vision advisory committee for Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, the board of directors of Hope Horse Ranch and of United Way of San Diego County, as well as the advisory council for The San Diego Foundation’s Center for Civic Engagement, and the Port of San Diego Environmental Advisory Committee. 




About Catalyst of San Diego & Imperial Counties

Catalyst of San Diego & Imperial Counties (formerly San Diego Grantmakers) connects and activates an active community of funders to learn, lead, and invest in our region. Together, we work across sectors, aisles, and industries to increase equity-driven solutions to our region’s most pressing problems. Learn more about our more than 100 member organizations and individuals at



Katie Janowiak
Vice President of Communications & Impact
[email protected]