Event Update: Moving Towards Social Justice Philanthropy: One Family Foundation's Journey, Challenges, and Lessons Rescheduled to June 30

Event has been rescheduled to June 30 as a virtual event.
June 30, 2020
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Virtual Event
Moving Towards Social Justice Philanthropy -- One Family Foundation's Journey, Challenges, and Lessons -- The Social Innovation Forum in Collaboration with Philanthropy MA

The Social Innovation Forum (SIF) and Philanthropy Massachusetts invites you to join us on Tuesday, June 30 at 2:00 pm for an intimate and honest dialogue. 

Please note this session is intended for foundation staff, donors, trustees, and advisors. A Zoom link will be sent out to everyone who has registered prior to the event.

Five generations after being established, the Surdna Foundation has been intentional about honoring founding vision and legacy, while remaining relevant to current needs and issues in society. In 2009, the family trustees took a bold step in naming social justice in its mission statement and have continued to evolve by explicitly centering racial equity in the Foundation’s current strategy. The result has been an ongoing transformation in the operations, governance, and culture of the institution; a refinement of next-gen philanthropy programs that now explore power, privilege, and equity; and a public controversy within the family around donor intent.

In a candid look at multi-generational family philanthropy, you’ll hear directly from two family members from the 5th and 6th generations of the Andrus family about the lessons and challenges in honoring legacy while embracing a commitment to social justice. Kelly Nowlin, 5th generation Surdna Board member, and Sam Downes, 6th generation family member and participant in Surdna’s next-gen programs, will share their personal and collective stories to engage the audience in an interactive session to explore common challenges, concerns and reasons for making progress towards justice and equity.

Kelly Nowlin, Principal, KDN Philanthropy Consulting; Trustee & Chair of Andrus Family Program, Surdna Foundation 


Kelly Nowlin is a fifth-generation Andrus family member who has been actively engaged in her family’s philanthropy for nearly 20 years. She serves on the board of the Surdna Foundation, a family-led social justice foundation started by her great, great grandfather, John Emory Andrus over 100 years ago. Kelly chairs the Andrus Family Program Committee, which is responsible for outreach to, and engagement of, nearly 500 Andrus family members and works closely with staff to help guide the Foundation’s program, investment, and communications strategies.

Prior to her years at Surdna, Kelly was a founding board member of the Andrus Family Fund (AFF), a program launched by Surdna in 2000 as a grantmaking fund for fifth-generation family members. She, along with seven cousins, developed program areas, governance policies, bylaws, mission, strategic vision, and committees of the board of this $4MM fund. Kelly served as Vice-Chair, then Co-Chair for four of her seven-year term.

Kelly develops strategies for family foundations and nonprofits and speaks regularly around the country on topics in philanthropy, including next-generation engagement, social justice, and racial equity, power and privilege, impact and evaluation, foundation culture, and strategic communications. She currently serves on the boards of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations (GEO) and the National Center for Family Philanthropy (NCFP) and was recently named to the 2020 Class of Fellows for NCFP where she is focusing her efforts on advancing conversations and practice around racial equity in the field of family philanthropy.

Sam Downes, Environmental Engineer, Tighe & Bond; 6th generation member of the Andrus Family ​ 


Sam graduated from St. Lawrence University in 2017 with a Bachelor’s in Mathematics and a minor in Chemistry. In May of 2019, Sam completed his Master’s in Environmental Engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Sam balanced academics and research with a newfound hobby of joining the Division One Track and Field team, where he threw Javelin. As a research assistant, Sam had the opportunity to investigate emerging wastewater treatment and nutrient recovery processes. This past September, he started a position as a water environmental engineer at Tighe & Bond, an engineering consulting firm in Westwood, Massachusetts. Sam resides in Brighton, where he enjoys running and exploring the city.