SVCF is thrilled to have two new executives on our team!
Vice President, Corporate Responsibility
In late March, Stuart Burden took on the role of vice president of our corporate responsibility department. At the same time, Michael Chertok began serving as our vice president of donor experience and engagement.
Both have impressive backgrounds in philanthropy, as outlined on their bio pages (see links at right), and we wanted to get to know them better. Read our Q&A with them below to learn what’s surprised them about SVCF, what drives them, what they hope to focus on moving forward, and more!
Q&A with Stuart and Michael
SVCF: Welcome to the team! How have the first few days been?
Stuart Burden: In a word, hectic — but in a good way. I like a fast-paced environment, so we can check the box on that. When not learning about technology platforms that are new to me, it’s been very interesting to discover more about all of SVCF’s good work. Most of all, I’ve enjoyed meeting my team. I like working alongside others passionate about leveraging philanthropy for positive change. Double check!
Michael Chertok: It’s terrific to be here! And wonderful to meet so many very special people who work at the foundation.
SVCF: Has there been anything new or surprising you've learned about SVCF so far?
SB: SVCF’s geographic reach surprised me. I had no idea SVCF made grants in over 60 countries! Earlier in my career, I worked for private foundations with foreign offices and a global perspective. Coming to SVCF, I thought I was leaving international grantmaking behind. Turns out, I’m not!
MC: I’m so impressed with the range of different activities the foundation engages in to create impact — and the diversity of people who work here. In one moment we may be supporting a donor to make an unusual grant; in the next we are sharing how we advocate for policy change. Previously I worked with colleagues in Cambodia and Kenya; now every day I work with people from more different parts of the world, right here in our office!
SVCF: Why were you drawn to this position and our institution?
SB: I like the mix of work we do in the corporate responsibility department. Already, I’ve had conversations related to strategy, board placement, program assessment, employee volunteering and, yes, international grantmaking. I know this is just the tip of the iceberg. As a person who likes to tackle a variety of issues, it’s already clear that I will get to engage on a broad, very interesting mix of issues and tasks.
MC: I love the vision of a global community foundation. The Bay Area is my home and I care deeply about making a difference here. And, for many years, I’ve seen how the know-how and resources of Silicon Valley can improve the lives of people around the world. I’m grateful to work with a team that supports grantmaking across such a breadth of important causes.
SVCF: Your backgrounds and expertise will help us improve our services to donors and corporate partners. Can you share an example of an achievement or initiative from your background that will help you bring something special to your work at SVCF?
SB: For the last year, I was “in the trenches” with Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA). Talk about an organization where a lot is happening all the time! It was another lesson in persevering during adversity — and staying mission-focused.
As the organization was turning 100 years old responding to PR attacks and intense public scrutiny, the COO (a former client) asked me to help with the organization’s strategy. It was both challenging and fun to assist in the development of plan which would guide the organization for the beginning of its next 100 years. I’m happy to report that the strategy is written and serving as roadmap, helping the organization navigate and deliver on its brand promise: Care. No Matter What.
MC: In all my work, I’ve tried to bring an entrepreneurial approach to ensure that philanthropic resources are used most effectively. SVCF is essentially a social business, much like Digital Divide Data, the organization I helped start and grew over 15 years. The foundation already operates very professionally. I hope my fresh eyes and experience can help SVCF and our donors accomplish even more with the precious resources entrusted in us.
SVCF: What are some areas you hope to focus on, once you've settled in a bit more?
SB: With so much good work already being done in the CR department, I see one of my goals as helping SVCF break out of the crowd of peer organizations and become recognized as the leader on corporate responsibility issues. How will we do this? One way is to lift up our signature initiatives and separate ourselves from others. In other words, I want to distinguish our offerings and elevate SVCF’s corporate responsibility brand.
MC: The foundation is doing impressive and important work to support economic security, education, housing and immigration here in the Bay Area. While the assets we manage have grown significantly, the resources we have to support this work are modest compared to the need. I will be working with my colleagues to call greater attention to the innovative ways that SVCF is addressing local issues.
SVCF: How can people connect with you?
SB: For the first few months, most of my days will be spent in the office. I invite people to drop by. Let’s go for coffee (Peets!) or have a walking meeting. (I’m so glad that’s a thing at SVCF!) Also, colleagues are welcome to connect with me on Twitter @Stuart_SF, LinkedIn or Strava (I’m a cyclist).
MC: Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect on LinkedIn. To our donors: Please let me or your Philanthropy Advisor know if you’re coming by the office and would like to say hello. It’d be great to meet you in person!