New York Foundation Celebrates Our New Executive Director


May 27 2021

by the Staff and Board of the New York Foundation

Headshot of Rickke MananzalaSix months ago, Maria Mottola shared that she would be leaving the role of Executive Director of the New York Foundation with the intention to make space for new leadership in philanthropy. With recognition of the profound transformations taking place across the country, Maria and the Board of Trustees initiated a recruitment process that was grounded in the foundation’s longtime commitment to being collaborative, self-reflective, catalytic, and responsive to what New Yorkers need to build community power. After engaging in an extensive search to identify a leader who will chart a path forward for the foundation from the standpoint of possibility and creative reimagining, we are pleased to announce our new Executive Director: Rickke Mananzala.

Rickke has been a champion of gender, racial, and economic justice for more than two decades, which includes work on police accountability, gentrification, and urban human rights. As a former grantee of the New York Foundation, we have followed his work closely and with great excitement as he moved from grassroots organizing and advocacy to social justice philanthropy—all the while maintaining a focus on mobilizing resources in ways that support people of color and LGBTQ+ people on the frontlines of the most critical and vibrant movements of our time. Rickke comes to this role from Borealis Philanthropy, where he helped build and oversaw $25 million in annual grantmaking through 10 collaborative funds as the Vice President of Programs and Strategy. He has also served on the boards of the New York Foundation, Third Wave Fund, and Funders for LGBTQ Issues, where he is currently the Board Chair.

“This is outstanding news for the foundation and for the field. Rickke brings energy, bold thinking, and most importantly, the perspective of someone with lived experience and a commitment to equity and social justice. I have partnered with him in this work for decades, going back to his days as a young organizer centering racial justice in the emerging trans rights movement. I am thrilled to partner with him now as he works with the Trustees to shape the foundation’s work into the future.”

Holly Delany Cole, NYF Board Member

With deep ties to the communities at the center of our grantmaking, Rickke embodies the courageous leadership that philanthropy needs to not just meet the moment that’s before us today, but also to adopt and adapt practices that will serve movements for justice led by people of color for the long haul. At the heart of our approach is providing multiyear, general operating and seed funding and grantee-defined capacity building to emerging and established organizations, which reflects our belief that philanthropy should not dictate what it looks like to build durable movements. We remain steadfast in our role to resource grassroots organizations as they identify and define problems and organize for solutions that center those most harmed by inequities.

As we move into the next phase of our foundation’s more than 100-year history of supporting new ideas and community leaders, we do so on solid ground and with purpose and moral clarity on who should be re-envisioning and rebuilding the systems and practices that govern philanthropy. In her departure announcement, Maria wrote, “Shifts in what philanthropic leadership looks like can only happen when more of us make pathways for entry and recognize that by leaving, we open our organizations to the new experiences and creative thinking a new leader will bring to the work.”

As a transgender person of color, Rickke brings important lived experience to the foundation that is grounded in accountability to the communities and movements he comes from. Yet, we know that changing who is in the room isn’t enough to change the room itself, and we believe there is value in challenging the history of exclusion and structural racism that is prevalent in philanthropy. As a gender and racial justice funder, the New York Foundation has a responsibility to practice our core values about how change is achieved. This includes acknowledging the present moment of reckoning in philanthropy and choosing to be an active voice amid the growing momentum for the deeply needed transformation in our sector.

“All of us in New York and beyond will be the beneficiaries of a New York Foundation guided by Rickke’s principled and generous stewardship. I have been routinely grateful for the multitude of gifts Rickke has offered everyone with whom he works: clarity of thought, an authentic generosity of spirit, consistently encouraging and supportive relationships with everyone, a masterful skill at forging consensus, a bearing that is at once gentle and grounded, and brilliance in his strategic vision, thinking, and pursuit of social justice.”

Jason McGill, Board member of Funders for LGBTQ Issues and Philanthropy New York

The New York Foundation will continue our faithful commitment to gender and racial justice movements, and we will continue to do so in trust-based and accountable relationships with the communities that have long been the focus of our grantmaking. Beginning on July 19th, it’s our honor to welcome Rickke Mananzala to lead our team and to represent the foundation in the field of philanthropy.

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