Surdna Foundation appoints Sophy Yem as Program Officer, Philanthropy

The Surdna Foundation announced today that Sophy Yem has been appointed Program Officer for Philanthropy. Prior to her appointment, she served as the Foundation’s grants manager since 2017.

“I’m thrilled to that Sophy will serve the foundation as its first-ever program officer focused on building capacity and supporting collaboration in the social justice philanthropy field,” said Don Chen, President of the Surdna Foundation. “Sophy is deeply committed to Surdna’s mission to advance social justice and racial equity, and our efforts to promote just and sustainable communities in the United States. She is coming into the role with a great deal of experience and relationships in the sector.”

In her new role, Sophy will be responsible for shaping and managing Surdna’s grantmaking, engagement, and relationships with philanthropy-serving organizations, donor collaboratives, and other funders, especially family foundations. She will also oversee the Andrus Family Philanthropy Program, a nineteen-year-old experiential learning program launched by Surdna to engage younger generations of Andrus family members in philanthropy and civic engagement within a social justice framework.

With a career spanning more than a decade across the philanthropic, nonprofit, and corporate sectors, Sophy brings expertise in building vital partnerships through strong outreach and effective engagement through a lens trained on equity and inclusion.

“This is an exciting moment for Surdna and for the Andrus Family Philanthropy Program.” states Kelly Nowlin, member of the Surdna Board of Directors and Chair of Andrus Family Philanthropy Program. “To have a full-time partner in this work with the depth of experience Sophy has, will take our family engagement efforts to the next level, and further advance our mission for social justice in the next gen space in family philanthropy. I am thrilled to work with Sophy to refine our efforts, share lessons learned, and ultimately inspire future generations around principles of social justice.”

Prior to joining Surdna, Sophy served as the manager of corporate responsibility at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. There, she advised a broad portfolio of corporate clients – including LinkedIn, Yahoo, and StubHub – on philanthropic strategies, corporate engagement, and grantmaking programs. As the on-site employee-giving counselor at the Yahoo Employee Foundation, she oversaw grantmaking of $15 million in funds to promote focus areas in education, community, environment, and animal welfare while engaging employees in the process through a new quarterly grant program that allowed them to vote on grant recipients. Sophy started her career as the Program Coordinator at Asian American LEAD, where she developed and implemented after-school programming for at-risk immigrant and refugee youth.

“I am excited to take on this new role as we grow our commitment to next-generation social justice family philanthropy and building partnerships with our peers in the funder community,” said Sophy. “I am eager to provide equity-centered support to Surdna’s work of the Foundation and our grantees at this important moment.”

Sophy earned a Bachelor of Arts in politics and sociology from Brandeis University and a Master’s in social work from the University of Pennsylvania. In her free time, she cheers on Boston sports teams, volunteers with animal rescue organizations, and follows her passion for travel.