José Cuevas and Saida Harrigan Join the Surdna Foundation

This month the Surdna Foundation welcomed José Cuevas (he/him) as Executive Assistant for the Office of the President and Saida Harrigan (she/her) as the Writer and Editor for Communications & Engagement.  

José Cuevas works closely and actively with the president to manage schedules, communications, and event planning with internal and external stakeholders. José will also be the point person for administrative matters related to the Board of Directors.   

Before joining Surdna, José supported development initiatives for the office of the CEO at the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), a medical research foundation grounded in curing, treating, and preventing Type 1 Diabetes.  

“At Surdna, we’re expanding our circles of collaboration and using our voice, grantmaking, investments, and networks to advance racial justice. José provides vital support to help me and my office operate smoothly and strategically,” said Don Chen, president of the Surdna Foundation. 

With a background in activism that is rooted in the intersectionality of racial and LGBTQ equality, José brings a sense of community to the Surdna team. 

“I grew up in a family dedicated to racial equity and representation in the Chicano community, which inspired me to grow into my own activism for my fellow LGBT family,” said José. “I feel energized knowing I can continue this work through my new role in an organization that is guided by principles of social and racial justice, especially at a time when equity initiatives are under attack.” 

Saida Harrigan joins the Communications & Engagement team to support Surdna colleagues and grantee partners by collecting, uplifting, and crafting thoughtful, targeted stories that engage audiences and illuminate lessons learned.   

“Stories connect us to humanity, history, and the long pursuit of a society where everyone can flourish. Who tells these stories matters. Saida is a communications pro dedicated to helping staff and grantees share their ideas, experiences, impact, and lessons learned along the road to racial justice.” said Elizabeth Cahill, Vice President of Communications & Engagement. 

Saida brings over a decade of experience in media, government, and academia. Before joining Surdna, she was Assistant District Manager for Community Board 8 Manhattan. There, she served over 200,000 constituents and facilitated board committee meetings on topics ranging from landmark preservation to abortion rights. Previously, Saida conducted interviews, crafted impact pieces, and helped streamline a data-sharing platform as a Data Sharing Fellow and Researcher at Yale University. Prior, Saida worked as a Media Specialist for the Legislature of the Virgin Islands, where she was born and raised, making legislation more accessible for Virgin Islanders.   

“I feel a deep responsibility to communicate in ways that meet people where they are,” said Saida. “I’m excited to find meaningful ways for Surdna to highlight the work and voices of our partners as they create the sustainable changes we all want to see in the world,” said Saida. 

Learn more about José and Saida.