The Surdna Foundation today announced the appointment of Thanu Yakupitiyage as Program Officer, Sustainable Environments, starting April 24, 2023.
Thanu will manage a $9.2 million grant portfolio that advances the Foundation’s social justice mission with a focus on environmental, climate, and land justice.
Bringing a deep commitment to movement- and power-building for racial justice, Thanu will guide grantmaking and partnerships that advance solutions by and for communities of color and low-wealth communities disproportionately impacted by climate inequity.
She will listen to, learn from, and invest in grassroots partners that are leading the way in environmental justice and building the capacity of communities to self-determine the ownership, control, and stewardship of land and infrastructure assets.
Previously, Thanu served as the U.S. Communications Digital Director and interim U.S. Program Lead at 350.org, a global organization working to build an equitable world safe from the effects of the climate crisis. In this role, she worked to shift narratives around climate and fossil fuels through storytelling, uplift marginalized voices, and support BIPOC communities and youth at the intersection of climate and racial justice, migrant rights, and Indigenous sovereignty. During her tenure, she collaborated with frontline-led organizations stopping fossil fuel infrastructure, helped organize the largest climate marches in history, and took direct actions at international climate talks.
“After years working within the climate justice movement, I am eager to shift resources to organizations and creative solutions led by the communities first and worst impacted by environmental and climate inequity,” said Thanu. “In close collaboration with Surdna grantee partners, we can build a more regenerative and just world for all.”
“Thanu’s extensive experience on the frontlines of climate, environmental, migrant, and racial justice is an invaluable addition to our Sustainable Environments program and the Surdna Foundation as a whole,” said Don Chen, President. “We are thrilled to have her carry forward the program’s legacy of impactful grantmaking.”
“Thanu already knows many of our grantee partners and brings a strong track record of centering historically marginalized communities in her work,” said Patrice R. Green, Director of the Inclusive Economies Program. “We’re all looking forward to working and learning alongside her.”
Learn more about Thanu’s work.