2015 Year In Review
Another Year of Working Toward Communities Guided by

Social Justice

Surdna has been investing in meaningful change for over five generations

Our key programs

Strong Local Economies

Sustainable Environments

Thriving Cultures

We seek to foster
just & sustainable communities

Grants Approved in Fiscal Year 2015

Strong Local Economies
57 Grants
Sustainable Environments
46 Grants
Thriving Cultures
69 Grants

Other Grants 70 grants totaling $8,744,000 View All Grants

Our method

Endowment Assets

We strive to use all of the tools available to us, including our endowment assets

Leverage Investments

We collaborate with other funders to leverage our investments

Emergent Leadership

We invest in emergent leadership in our fields, particularly community-based leaders

Address Systems

We address systems, not symptoms


We strive to decrease, and eventually remove barriers impeding access to opportunity

Structural Injustices

We address structural injustices that marginalize some communities


Strong Local Economies

Business Development Acceleration

Business Development & Acceleration

Accelerate the growth of local businesses that create quality jobs, and increase the number of those businesses owned by people of color, women, and immigrants.

Focus on: Providing access to capital, business support services, and promoting alternative business models.

Equitable Economic Development

Equitable Economic Development

Support economic development practices and policies that increase beneficial outcomes for people of color, women, and immigrants.

Focus on: Reforming economic development policies to ensure benefits of projects and strategies reach underserved populations.

Job Quality Career Pathways

Job Quality & Career Pathways

Improve the quality and availability of jobs for low-income people, communities of color, immigrants, and women.

Focus on: Lifting the floor of low wage work and creating pathways to emerging sectors of the economy.

Questions & Answers With

Q&A Shawn Escoffery

Shawn Escoffery,
Director, Strong Local Economies

Sustainable Environments

We invest in next generation infrastructure to support the quality of life in low-wealth communities by focusing on improving environmental quality, wealth creation, democratizing planning and decision-making.

Sustainable Transportation

Sustainable Transportation Networks & Equitable Development Patterns

Promoting accessible, sustainable transportation and transit systems - to connect people to opportunities.

Focus on: Reforms in performance and procurement standards to establish equity principles that help communities benefit from planning and investment decisions.

Energy Efficiency

Energy Efficiency in the Built Environment

Supporting efforts to help people make homes, businesses and other buildings more energy efficient.

Focus on: Policy and finance to stimulate growth in the energy efficiency field.

*New strategy will be launched in 2016.

Urban Water Management

Urban Water Management

Helping communities better manage stormwater.

Focus on: Smart green stormwater infrastructure that creates environmental, social and economic benefits and builds long lasting community assets.

Regional Food Supply

Regional Food Supply

Investing in regional infrastructure to help producers connect to new market opportunities and improve access to healthy foods within urban centers as demand increases.

Focus on: Improving supply chains and distribution to keep more dollars in the local economy.

Questions & Answers With

Q&A Helen Chin

Helen Chin,
Director, Sustainable Environments

Thriving Cultures

We believe that communities with robust arts and culture sectors are more cohesive, prosperous and benefit from the rich cultural diversity of their residents.

Teens Advancement

Teens' Artistic & Cultural Advancement

Inspiring teens to build skills and find pride through art-making so they can be better equipped to advance social change, creative practice and cultural diversity.

Focus on: Rigorous arts and life skills training for teens to exercise creativity, stimulate aspirations, and cultivate empathy for themselves and others.

Community Engaged Design

Community Engaged Design

Supporting artists, designers, and architects as resource allies and partners to low-income communities and communities of color related to issues of the built environment.

Focus on: Engaging residents in low income communities and communities of color in processes that incorporates their priorities, values, and concerns in decision-making.

Artists Economic Development

Artists & Economic Development

Supporting opportunities that enable artists to participate in local economies so that their contributions result in prosperous, culturally resilient communities.

Focus on: Strengthening business and financial skills of artists and artist-centered enterprises to create social and economic benefits.

Social Change

Artists Engaging in Social Change

Supporting artists whose work makes important contributions to the social and cultural fabric of their communities.

Focus on: Artists whose work addresses specific social issues or nurtures cultural traditions of their communities to advance social transformation.

Questions & Answers With

Q&A Judilee Reed

Judilee Reed,
Director, Thriving Cultures

Office Of Grants Management

Our Office of Grants Management is crucial to how we work. It’s where operations meets program. We provide systems and guidance for grantees and foundation staff to enable effective grantmaking and learning in support of mission.

Service Grantees

In the Service of Our Grantees

We understand and are responsive to grantees’ challenges.

Focus on: Streamlining processes to reduce grantees’ administrative burden when seeking our funding and reporting on grants.

Available Tools

Utilizing all available tools

We help grantees use all tools available to them, including lobbying where appropriate.

Focus on: Maximizing impact so that every grant realizes its full potential.

Transparency Flexibility

Transparency & Flexibility

We listen, educate, and strive for honesty, and transparency with our grantees and peers.

Focus on: Finding solutions whenever possible to help our grantees achieve their goals.

Program Related Investments

Providing investment capital to fund innovative ideas that create economic and social value.

Program Related Investments

Program Related Investments

Focus on: Our program-related investments are a tool for advancing program goals. Using loans and equity investments, the foundation tests approaches that spark and scale social change. We partner with other investors and aim to demonstrate the strength of impact investment vehicles.

Board & Staff

Committed Changemakers
The people who help make it possible for our grantees to do their important work.

Directors & Officers

Bruce Abernethy Bruce Abernethy Board Member
Judy Belk Judy Belk Board Member
Peter B. Benedict II Peter B. Benedict II Vice Chairperson
Caitlin Boger-Hawkins Caitlin Boger-Hawkins Board Member
Carra Cote-Ackah Carra Cote-Ackah Board Member
Jocelyn Downie Jocelyn Downie Chairperson
Lawrence S.C. Griffith, M.D. Lawrence S.C. Griffith, M.D. Secretary & Treasurer
Kelly D. Nowlin Kelly D. Nowlin Board Member
Tracy Palandjian Tracy Palandjian Board Member
Michael S. Spensley, D.V.M. Michael S. Spensley, D.V.M. Vice Chairperson
Peter Voorhees Peter Voorhees Board Member
Gwen Walden Gwen Walden Board Member


Rommi Ahmed Rommi Ahmed Accounts Payable Coordinator
Helen Chin Helen Chin Program Director, Sustainable Environments
William Cordery William Cordery Program Officer, Strong Local Economies
Alison Corwin Alison Corwin Program Officer, Sustainable Environments
Marc de Venoge Marc de Venoge Vice President, Finance and Administration
Ben Dunn Ben Dunn Administrative Assistant
Tatianna Echevarria Tatianna Echevarria Senior Program Associate, Sustainable Environments
Shawn Escoffery Shawn Escoffery Program Director, Strong Local Economies
Betsy Fader Betsy Fader Vice President, Programs
Traci Freeman Traci Freeman Program Associate, Programs & Strategic Initiatives
Jose García José García Program Officer, Strong Local Economies
Jessica Garz Jessica Garz Program Officer, Thriving Cultures
Jonathan Goldberg Jonathan Goldberg Director of Grants Management, Learning & Information Systems
Jasmin Guerra-Castillo Jasmin Guerra-Castillo Executive Assistant to the President
Phillip Henderson Phillip Henderson President
Beth Herz Beth Herz Program Officer, Strategy & Planning
Adriana Jiménez Adriana Jiménez Grants Manager
Neema Mbonela Neema Mbonela Human Resources & Administrative Manager
Elizabeth Mendez Berry Elizabeth Mendez Berry Program Officer, Thriving Cultures
Shin Otake Shin Otake Program Associate, Thriving Cultures
Alexandria Prather Alexandria Prather Program Associate, Strong Local Economies
Judilee Reed Judilee Reed Program Director, Thriving Cultures
George Soule George Soule Director of Communications
Kellie Terry Kellie Terry Program Officer, Sustainable Environments
Julia Tockar Julia Tockar Administrative Assistant
Matthew Walegir Matthew Walegir Controller

Endowment Performance


Annualized return on endowment over the last 5 years

Another year of working toward communities guided by

Social Justice