Surdna Foundation President Don Chen Named Co-Chair of Presidents’ Council on Impact Investing
November 30, 2020
Chen to serve alongside Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation
NEW YORK, Nov. 30, 2020 — Today the Presidents’ Council on Impact Investing announced the appointment of Don Chen, President of the Surdna Foundation, as its new Co-Chair. The Presidents’ Council is a philanthropic leadership group facilitated by the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance with members collectively holding more than $80 billion in combined assets.
Chen will serve as Co-Chair alongside Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation. The Presidents’ Council was founded by Julia Stasch, former President of the MacArthur Foundation, and Walker in 2015, and the pair led the group until Stasch’s retirement in 2019.
The Presidents’ Council has been an advocate for policies and standards that would help drive increased investment in communities and other areas of need. For example, in April 2020 the Presidents’ Council published a joint letter calling on regulators to protect the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) from crippling reforms during the pandemic and recession so that banks could continue to support the low-and moderate-income neighborhoods that the CRA is designed to serve. Earlier in the year, the Presidents’ Council also worked to incubate and launch the Tipping Point Fund on Impact Investing, a donor collaborative aimed at supporting the growth of the impact investing field through strategic grantmaking.
Don Chen, President of the Surdna Foundation and Co-Chair of the Presidents’ Council on Impact Investing: “I’m honored to join Darren as Co-Chair of the Presidents’ Council and look forward to continuing to work alongside the Council’s members to deepen shared philanthropic learning, coordination, and support for impact investing. This moment requires foundations to come together with all of our resources—our voice, vision, grantmaking, impact investments, and endowments—to push for more equitable and sustainable outcomes. The growing impact investing movement shows the promise of innovative, market-based approaches to address systemic inequities while generating social, environmental and financial returns. The Presidents’ Council is a powerful platform for foundations to collectively help transform that promise into reality.”
Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation and Co-Chair of the Presidents’ Council on Impact Investing: “Don is a visionary leader in the field of philanthropy and a powerful voice in helping shape the future of impact investing. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Don over several years and am excited to see him take on this new leadership role with the Presidents’ Council. I look forward to collaborating with him and other members of the Presidents’ Council to raise the collective voice of foundations committing to building a more inclusive and sustainable society.”
Chen became the third president of the Surdna Foundation in November 2018, taking over responsibility for leading the 103-year-old family foundation and pursuing its mission of “fostering sustainable communities in the United States — communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, inclusive economies, and thriving cultures.” In 2017, Surdna launched a $100 million commitment to impact investing that works alongside its grantmaking in support of its mission.
Before joining Surdna, Chen was the Director of the Just Cities and Regions program at the Ford Foundation, where his work supported urban development initiatives to make housing more affordable, promote more equitable land use practices, and empower communities to have a powerful decision-making voice in American cities and in developing countries. He also led a multi-program team to support the strengthening of social justice organizations and networks in targeted U.S. states.
Prior to the Ford Foundation, Chen was the founder and CEO of Smart Growth America, where he led efforts to create the National Vacant Properties Campaign (which later became the Center for Community Progress) and Transportation for America. He currently serves on the boards of Living Cities, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy, and Philanthropy New York.
About the Presidents’ Council on Impact Investing The Presidents’ Council on Impact Investing comprises the heads of 19 leading U.S. foundations with a shared commitment to practicing and promoting impact investing. Together, they hold more than $80 billion in combined assets. The Presidents’ Council is co-chaired by Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, and Don Chen, President of the Surdna Foundation. The U.S. Impact Investing Alliance convenes the Presidents’ Council regularly to pursue shared learning, deepen commitments to impact investing and foster opportunities to pool investment and grant capital to catalyze the field. For more information, please visit www.impinvalliance.org/partners.
About the U.S. Impact Investing Alliance The U.S. Impact Investing Alliance (“Alliance”) is a field building organization committed to raising awareness of impact investing in the United States, fostering deployment of impact capital and working with stakeholders, including government, to help build the impact investing ecosystem. The Alliance seeks to lift up the thousands of individual and institutional investors committed to achieving measurable social and environmental impact alongside financial performance. For more information, please visit www.impinvalliance.org.