When Samantha Giusti became the youngest woman to ever lead the Delaware Valley Legacy Fund as its new executive director, she was just 26 years old. On the job for a few weeks (the UPenn grad just turned 27), she talked to us about what changes she has planned for the organization and why we can expect to see more programs for women and younger Philadelphians.
What are some new initiatives you hope to implement at DVLF?
In the spring, we will be teaming up with TD Bank for our Distinctive Officers Program. There was a pilot version last year and we will be implementing feedback from our program surveys for an even stronger program aimed at developing the next wave of leaders in our community. We will be looking to expand programs for women through Wonder Women. We will also be changing the way we do our grant-making – stay tuned.
What’s it like being the youngest woman to ever take the helm? Can we look forward to any new events to attract younger supporters or even more women to the organization?
I remember interviewing and wondering how they would feel about hiring a 26-year-old (I’ve since turned 27), but the board of directors has been nothing but supportive – I feel very blessed. I’m the youngest executive director and the first female executive director, and there is an exciting opportunity to reach out and expand our DVLF family to include more women and younger people. As mentioned, we are looking to increase our focus to the women’s community, including young women. I would also love to get younger people engaged in the importance of philanthropy.
Given the economy, what are some of the challenges you face this year?
Well, like for most non-profits raising money in a tough economy, it can be a challenge. But I’m also curious to see how the charitable deduction fairs in the second tier of fiscal issues that Congress is tackling. Fingers crossed. Eliminating or even capping the charitable deduction could mean widespread struggles for non-profits everywhere.
What’s something you’d like the LGBT community to better understand about the organization?
I think there is still some confusion about what DVLF does. In its simplest form, the idea came about 20 years ago to start a permanent endowment for our community and today that remains our mission to grow our endowment so there is always a pool of money available to the LGBT community. DVLF grants are strategic and impactful, funding our community’s emerging needs. We conduct a needs assessment and based on that establish our funding priorities. We fund scholarships, youth programs, people of color serving organizations, HIV/AIDS programs, community centers – anything that is a need in our community.