The Andrus Family Fund (AFF) announced today that Manuela Arciniegas has been appointed director, after serving as interim director since January 2019. In her new role as director, Manuela is poised to lead AFF and champion its bold vision as the Fund approaches its 20th anniversary in 2020.
“I am excited to help strengthen AFF and Surdna’s work to more deeply center the needs of vulnerable youth in the child welfare and youth justice systems,” said Manuela. “We will continue to lean in courageously and partner with nonprofit organizations, public-sector leaders and philanthropy to fundamentally transform the way our society generally views and treats marginalized youth and communities. Our young people are innovative and brilliant, and AFF continues to engage in strategic action to promote racial equity and empowered leadership. I am happy to bring my long-standing career in youth development, education and community organizing to continue to push our society toward transformative change.”
Since 2014, Manuela has served the Andrus Family Fund in a variety of capacities. Prior to her role as interim director, she was the Fund’s program officer, launching the capacity-building initiative S.O.A.R. (Strengthening Organizations, Amplifying Resilience) and co-managing a $4 million national portfolio of more than 50 grantee partners. She was also one of the key organizers of Education Anew: Shifting Justice 2018, AFF’s co-hosted biennial convening that brings together education and youth justice organizers, advocates and funders.
“The Andrus Family Fund was launched almost 20 years ago as a next-gen ‘training’ program. Today, thanks to the vision and leadership of individuals like Manuela, AFF is a leading national social justice funder with a deep commitment to and skill in engaging partners and communities,” said Kelly Nowlin, member of the Surdna Foundation Board of Directors and Chair of the Andrus Family Philanthropy Program. “I am so excited for our family to have Manuela as AFF’s next director. She embodies the values of humility and authenticity that we so deeply care about and will continue to evolve and strengthen the important work AFF is doing in foster care and juvenile justice.”
“In her nine months as interim director, Manuela has demonstrated a keen ability to effectively combine bold, new ideas with a deep commitment to social justice values and the Andrus family legacy that guides the Andrus Family Fund,” said Lindsey Griffith, chair of the Andrus Family Fund Board. “The board looks forward to all the Fund will accomplish guided by Manuela’s strong leadership and vision.”
During her tenure as a community outreach fellow for the Lincoln Center, Manuela recruited and maintained partnerships with 12 large New York City-based nonprofits serving African-American and Latinx constituents, helping advance racial equity within the larger Lincoln Center campus. In this capacity, Manuela also designed and led the formation of a Student Advisory Council comprising 18 graduate students who informed the Lincoln Center’s public programs for youth. Immediately following the fellowship at Lincoln Center, she was selected as a New York Council on the Humanities Fellow for her activist programs addressing racism within Dominican communities.
Manuela fueled her passion for using Afro-Caribbean music as a tool for resistance as the Director of Education at the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, where she curated programs for public access television, developed a youth and community internship and volunteer program and led more than 100 teaching artists to deliver education in NYC’s public schools and community organizations. Her education and leadership continued as she served as an adjunct professor at John Jay College for Criminal Justice.
“I look forward to continuing to partner with Manuela to grow the shared impact of the Surdna Foundation and Andrus Family Fund to achieve just and sustainable change in the United States,” said Don Chen, president of the Surdna Foundation. “Her committed service, deep expertise, knowledge and passion have been indispensable in leading the Andrus Family Fund during this challenging time for vulnerable youth.”
Manuela serves on several philanthropic boards and advisory committees, including the national Funders for Justice/Neighborhood Funders Group, Youth First! State Advocacy Fund, the Youth Engagement Fund, Communities for Just Schools Fund, The Funder’s Collaborative on Youth Organizing, the New York Women’s Foundation Fund for Women and Girls of Color, Healing in Resistance and others. She is a practitioner of traditional Afro-Caribbean cultural and healing practices and brings this approach to her leadership.
Manuela graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in government from Harvard University, where she studied the intersections among democracy, social movements, gender and poverty. She is currently conducting dissertation research for her doctorate at the CUNY Graduate Center, building understanding about the role that culture and Afro-Caribbean folk religious practices play in galvanizing the power of communities of people of color.