Staff Spotlight: Nathan Kuerschner

Staff Spotlight: Nathan Kuerschner

SVCF is reviving an occasional series in which we present Q&A-style profiles of some of our staff members. In this edition, we feature Nathan (Nate) Kuerschner, senior operations manager.

How long have you been at SVCF? What led you to this work?

I just passed my seven-year anniversary at SVCF, though before joining the foundation full-time, I worked as a temporary staff member for six months. I came to SVCF by happenstance; I was looking for work in the social sector, found the foundation, and became interested in its mission and ability to connect philanthropists with interesting causes. I started in an entry-level position. As I found my footing here, I grew to love the breadth of what the foundation could do, its complexity and its mission. That’s what has fueled me for seven years here: supporting that vision.

With the implementation of the new strategic plan in 2020, how has your role evolved?

Nate with his cat

I was very involved in operationalizing the new strategic plan: thinking about our business model, our cost model, how we’re spending our time, and how that related to our structure and our business processes. One of the outcomes of the strategic plan is that we realized the need to formalize my role as a broad function for the foundation.

My role has since been enhanced by rolling out the new strategic plan. I work on the operations side of the foundation — I see myself as the glue between a lot of our different departments. I’m also really connected with the data management team: understanding how best to report on our activities, and how to understand and gain insight from all that information.

What excites you most about SVCF’s new direction?

I think the biggest hope – the holy grail of what we’re trying to achieve – is to connect our community-facing work with our donor services side of the house. As we have better connected our special projects, strategic initiatives and community action work with our donors’ resources and engagement, we’ve tapped into our potential to build a foundation that will continue to be a trusted and enduring organization for our community. We are unlocking potential for real and meaningful social change.

Personally, I’m excited to find a way to use the data we’re getting from our donors in a way that can help the philanthropy sector at large. Our donors make more than 15,000 grant recommendations every year. That is a huge resource that we could use to dissect trends in the field and analyze how folks are approaching their philanthropy. We are just beginning to tap into this area and find ways to drive insights that can help our donors be more thoughtful and strategic with their giving. I hope that will be a big piece of what we can offer.

What do you like most about working with the Data Management and Operations team at the foundation?

The team is small but mighty – for now, we are a team of three. I’m an operational-minded person, and what I really enjoy is creative problem-solving. I think the team is poised to do that work well. Our questions are always: What are we trying to accomplish? How can we do this better?

I utilize my creativity through operations. I think a lot of times people see operations as a really dry, number-crunching kind of role, but I see it as a creative outlet.

What are your biggest hopes and dreams for the future of Silicon Valley?

I have two hopes:

  1. I want Silicon Valley to be a place where a wider range of people with a wider range of backgrounds can have fulfilling lives. Race, gender, etc. should not be factors that inhibit one’s ability to thrive.
  2. With the rising costs of living, many people are excluded from the full range of benefits of our region. I hope that every member of our communities can have a greater say in shaping the direction of Silicon Valley.

What do you most like to do outside of work?

I’m pretty much a nerd. I enjoy video games, movies, art, reading and playing board games with friends. I’m an avid Dungeons and Dragons player.

If you were to donate to one charity or cause, what would it be, and why?

I would give to a workers’ rights or labor cause, or a union-organizing effort That aspect of power-building is a critical component of improving multiple sectors of society. If community members have a more fulfilling and respected work life, it can lead to better living outcomes. This is relatively undervalued compared to other areas in philanthropy.

What is something people are surprised to learn about you?

In a previous role I worked for a labor union on our boycott team. This position required me to be a bit boisterous and confrontational with some of the companies we were boycotting. I think people are surprised to learn this, because I’m a mild-mannered person, but I am passionate!. SVCF also brings out this passion in me, but in different ways.

Would you like to join the SVCF team? Check out our current job opportunities.

Curious about other staff members?
Check out our last
Q&A with Avo Makdessian,
vice president of Community Partnerships and Learning.