2016 - 2017Years in Review

Supporting Communities,
Guided by Principles of Social Justice

Surdna has been investing in meaningful change for over 5 generations

Our key programs

Strong Local Economies

Sustainable Environments

Thriving Cultures

We seek to foster
just & sustainable communities

Grants Approved in Fiscal Year 2017

Strong Local Economies
38 Grants
Sustainable Environments
42 Grants
Thriving Cultures
59 Grants

Other Grants 20 grants totaling $7,571,835 2016 Grants 2017 Grants

Our method

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

We collaborate with other funders to leverage our investments

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

We address systems, not symptoms

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

We address structural injustices that marginalize some communities


Strong Local Economies

We support the development of robust and sustainable economies that include a diversity of businesses and quality jobs. We work to spur the growth of local businesses, encourage equitable economic development, and improve the quality and availability of jobs for low-income people, communities of color, immigrants, and women.

Business Development & Acceleration

Accelerate the growth of local businesses to 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 skills, and promoting alternative business models.

Equitable Economic Development

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

Focus on: Ensuring that the benefits of economic development are shared equally.

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.

Sustainable Environments

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

Sustainable Transportation Networks & Equitable Development Patterns

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

Focus on: Reforms in procurement standards to help communities inform and benefit from planning and investment decisions.

Just Energy

Building power in low-wealth communities and communities of color to determine their own energy systems futures.

Focus on: Democratizing decision-making around the source, distribution, cost, and ownership structure of energy systems.

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

Investing in regional producers to help them 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.

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' Artistic & Cultural Advancement

Inspiring teens to find value and pride through art - and to become leaders who promote cultural diversity, creativity, and innovation.

Focus on: Using rigorous arts and life skills training to stimulate teens’ aspirations and cultivate empathy for themselves and others.

Community Engaged Design

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

Focus on: Engaging designers as partners with communities to incorporate local priorities, values, and concerns.

Artists & Economic Development

Supporting opportunities that enable artists to participate in robust economies so that they may contribute to prosperous, culturally resilient communities.

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

Artists Engaging in Social Change

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

Focus on: Supporting artists whose work nurtures the art forms and cultural traditions of their communities and advances social transformation.

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.

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.

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

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

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 Benedict II Chairperson
Caitlin Boger-Hawkins Caitlin Boger-Hawkins Board Member
Carra Cote-Ackah Carra Cote-Ackah Vice Chairperson
Jocelyn Downie Jocelyn Downie Board Member
Cameron Griffith Cameron Griffith Board Member
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. Board Member
Tim Thorpe Tim Thorpe Board Member
Peter Voorhees Peter Voorhees Secretary & Treasurer
Gwen Walden Gwen Walden Board Member


Rommi Ahmed Rommi Ahmed Accounts Payable Coordinator
Jasmin Castillo Jasmin Castillo Executive Assistant to the President
Helen Chin Helen Chin Program Director, Sustainable Environments
Gabriela Cinquegrana Gabriela Cinquegrana Program Associate, Sustainable Environments
Alison Corwin Alison Corwin Senior Program Officer, Sustainable Environments
Marc de Venoge Marc de Venoge Vice President, Finance and Administration
Ben Dunn Ben Dunn Administrative Assistant
Shawn Escoffery Shawn Escoffery Program Director, Strong Local Economies
Betsy Fader Betsy Fader Vice President, Programs
Traci Freeman Traci Freeman Senior Program Associate, Programs & Strategic Initiatives
Jessica Garz Jessica Garz Senior Program Officer, Thriving Cultures
Jonathan Goldberg Jonathan Goldberg Director of Learning & Grant Operations
 Patrice Green Patrice Green Program Officer, Strong Local Economies
Phillip Henderson Phillip Henderson President
Sinéad Lopez Sinéad López Program Associate, Thriving Cultures
Shuaib Siddiqui Shuaib Siddiqui Director, Impact Investing
Kellie Terry Kellie Terry Program Officer, Sustainable Environments
Julia Tockar Julia Tockar Office Administrator
F. Javier Torres F. Javier Torres Program Director, Thriving Cultures
Matthew Walegir Matthew Walegir Controller
Sophy Yem Sophy Yem Grants Manager
2017 Financials

Endowment Performance


Annualized return on endowment over the last 5 years (Preliminary)
2016 - 2017
Supporting Communities, Guided by Principles of Social Justice