Q&A with Angela Lewis, Senior Associate, Consulting and Management Services; the fourth piece in a SVCF staff spotlight series. Read other spotlights from our Corporate Responsibility, Community Impact and Philanthropic Services teams.
Senior Associate, Consulting and Management Services
Q: How long have you been at SVCF? Why did you want to work here? Tell us a bit about your career path
A: In 2016, three days after graduating from college, I moved out to the Bay Area and began working at Silicon Valley Community Foundation. My interest in philanthropy began in college. I completed my undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan, 40 miles west of Detroit. Throughout college I witnessed how impactful philanthropy was—and still is—in revitalizing a struggling city, and I sought out opportunities to engage with the sector. The University of Michigan has an award-winning internship program that places undergrads in development offices across the university and nonprofits throughout Ann Arbor. Through that program, I was introduced to the development profession. SVCF is in such a unique position, bridging the vast wealth of Silicon Valley with complex community needs, and I found the opportunity to take part in that exciting.
Q: Tell us about your role within the organization and your team. What does an average day or week look like?
A: I’m a member of our Consulting and Management Services department, which is responsible for developing and overseeing SVCF’s strategic consulting engagements. I work on a small team that’s fairly new within the foundation, so I’m involved in many different aspects of our work. I oversee operations and sit on SVCF’s organization-wide operations team; I’m the data analyst; and I work with a number of clients to develop strategic consulting engagements to help them be more effective in their philanthropy.
Q: What do you like most about working at SVCF? What are the challenges? Any favorite memories or successes?
A: SVCF is situated in one of the most innovative regions in the country and I’ve found that the philanthropists here reflect that. Our donors and clients go beyond traditional grantmaking, engaging deeply with the causes they care about, and finding innovative ways to make change. I love how creative our donors are; it challenges me to think outside the box and find equally creative ways to support their work. I also value how collaborative my role is. My team works with individuals from across the organization to execute these contracts and working with such smart and dedicated people is so rewarding.
Q: What projects (past/present/future) are you most excited about?
A: Right now, my team is developing an impact model for our consulting work. We strive to provide services that enable our donors and clients to be more effective in their philanthropy but to be certain our activities align with that goal we are developing a framework that allows us to look at our activities and outputs to see how they compare to our intended impact. I’ve been conducting research and gaining insight from my team to build out a model that accurately demonstrates the impact our work has. It’s really interesting to see the various approaches and figure out how they can apply to our work.
Q: Can you share a favorite example of SVCF's community impact work?
A: It’s difficult to pick just one of our strategic initiatives because they’re all so interconnected, though housing and transportation might resonate with me the most. Everyone in this region is affected by it to some degree and Bay Area residents feel the impacts of it daily. I used to take the train to work every day from San Francisco (specifically I took two buses, a train and then walked for 15 minutes). In all, it took me 1.5-2 hours each way. I moved in 2017 to save some money on rent, but now I drive to work because the train is inaccessible. I have a comfortable living situation and my commute pales in comparison to some, so I consider myself quite lucky.
Early on in my time at SVCF, I helped Gina Dalma, SVCF Senior Vice President of Public Policy, fundraise to replace a number of lost books from the San Jose Public Library and clear corresponding fines on youths’ accounts. We also worked with the Mayor’s office to restructure the library fine policies that restored library access for 40,000 children and young adults, most of whom were from underserved communities and relied heavily on the public library system. Under the new policies, children who are unable to repay fines can do so through after school and summer reading time at the library. Not only was it exciting to be part of such meaningful community change early on in my career, but it was also rewarding to work collaboratively with Gina, the City of San Jose and other funders like the Packard Foundation.
Q: What do you like to do outside the office?
A: Outside of work, I like to stay active. I box most days before work and I enjoy playing tennis on the weekends. I really love to cook and am known around our San Mateo office for bringing lavish salads for lunch. One of my many childhood dreams was to own my own restaurant.
Q: Are you involved with any local nonprofits? How do you stay connected to the community?
A: I’m still very involved with my university. Every summer I mentor current students who are doing some sort of internship, providing guidance on how to navigate their first professional experience. This year I volunteered to read scholarship applications for one of SVCF’s donor involved scholarship funds. This scholarship in particular is designated for “late bloomers” or students who struggled early on but managed to improve significantly. Most of these students don’t qualify for standard scholarships because of their low GPA, so this scholarship serves a specific need. It’s truly inspiring what these students endure.