Honoring Black Leaders in Philanthropy

In celebration of Black History Month, we recognize Black Americans who have taken leading roles in philanthropy.

Honoring Black Leaders in Philanthropy

We have the privilege of working with some of the world's most generous givers. Both as organizations and individuals who dedicate their time, resources - and maybe most importantly, their passion - to make this world a better place. These remarkable people drive to help society address big, complex issues that many find too overwhelming to even consider. We partner with these givers, of all creeds, to facilitate their mission through agile social impact.

In celebration of Black History Month, we recognize Black Americans who have taken leading roles in philanthropy and celebrate by sharing some of their stories. The stories we highlight here are of those making their mark in corporate philanthropy, building a more diverse community of impact leaders, and striving for more equitable and inclusive service to those who need it most.

Although well-established in their own right, these exceptional individuals are still paving the way. Consider that a report by the D5 Coalition in 2016 pointed out that while Black Americans make up 11% of the total management and professional workforce in the U.S., only 3.4% of foundations have a Black president or CEO, and 4.8% have Black Americans on their full-time staff. 




These impact makers lead or have led some of the largest corporate foundations in the U.S., have made history, and continue making it as we work for a better tomorrow. Looking at their career trajectories and how they came to hold these leadership positions, all were drawn to the lure of philanthropy, some early-on, some later in life. No matter where the journey began, all remained committed to finding their own purpose-driven career paths.

With these leaders as our inspiration, let’s pause and consider how we can each find our own purpose-driven path, regardless of chosen career, and take ownership in creating space for equity, inclusion, and social justice. 


Impact Makers Leading by Example


Rose Stuckey KirkRose Stuckey Kirk
Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer, Verizon

Kirk began her career as a journalist, but after a few years, she was ready to move on and quite purposefully looked for a marketing and communications position at a company that had the resources to do impactful things for society. That journey eventually took her to Verizon, where she rose through the ranks holding leadership positions in sales, customer service, wholesale operations, product development, and marketing.

Verizon’s goal is to move the world forward for everyone by expanding digital access, supporting small businesses, protecting the climate, and preparing people for the jobs of the future. Verizon employees have volunteered over 235k hours since the program's inception. Over 7.8 million dollars have been donated by Verizon employees to schools and nonprofits. In addition to the over 8.4 million raised through the Verizon matching gifts program. Learn more about Verizon's social responsibility programs.


Darren WalkerDarren Walker
President, the Ford Foundation

It seems that Walker’s entire career has been intertwined with the Ford Foundation. He attended public school in a small town in Texas and was among the first cohort of preschoolers in Head Start, a program developed through Ford Foundation funding. He attended a large land-grant university thanks to Pell grants, another Ford-funded initiative. After earning undergraduate degrees and a doctorate in jurisprudence, he landed on Wall Street where he worked for ten years in international law and corporate finance.

Over eight decades, the Ford Foundation has invested in innovative ideas, visionary individuals, and frontline institutions advancing human dignity around the world. In 2020 alone, the Ford Foundation has funded 1694 grants to 1330 grantees totaling $668,230,968. Learn more about the Ford Foundation.


Risa Lavizzo-MoureyRisa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD
PIK Professor of Health Equity and Health Policy, University of PennsylvaniaChief

With two physicians as parents, one a pediatrician, the other a surgeon, Lavizzo-Mourey grew up seeing the incredible opportunity of being a physician. From observing her parents’ practices, which served poor neighborhoods, she also learned about the tremendous need for health care among underserved populations. After completing medical school, her internship, and residency, she did postgraduate research as a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar, which was her first introduction to the philanthropy field.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is working to help achieve health equity and expand the opportunity to pursue the best health possible, through investments in four broad areas; health systems, healthy communities, healthy children and families, and leadership for better health. This past year they committed $626,487,503 across 1060 grants aligned with their focus areas. Learn more about the Ford Foundation.


Who inspires you?

We’re proud to celebrate the spirit of giving back, this month and every month, acknowledging those who devote their lives to philanthropy. Would you like to share the story of a person or team who personifies this spirit? Help us facilitate community and collaboration by highlighting those successes, challenges, and creative solutions to making an impact through corporate social responsibility programs. We would love to learn more, so please reach out to us!

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