Skloot to Join Sanford as Director of New Center for Strategic Philanthropy

DURHAM, N.C. – Edward Skloot, a pioneer in the field of social entrepreneurship and former president of the Surdna Foundation, will join Duke University’s Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy this spring as the first director of a new Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society.

The new center’s goals are to enhance the decision-making and impact of America’s foundations, as well as to develop philanthropic and governmental strategies to remedy critical problems in areas such as global health, energy and the environment. The center will be supported by grants from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, as well as endowment gifts and operating fund grants from other philanthropies and individuals.

Skloot’s responsibilities will include defining and leading the research and education efforts of the new center, as well as teaching courses as a visiting professor of the practice.

“We are absolutely delighted to have Ed join us in this important effort,” said Bruce Kuniholm, Sanford Institute director. “American foundations invest more than $41 billion every year in domestic and international philanthropic endeavors, so their influence is huge. The center will seek to improve the effectiveness of this burgeoning sector of the world economy, and under Ed’s leadership we expect to have a real impact on the philanthropic community.”

By the fall of 2009, Skloot plans to launch an executive education program targeted at foundation CEOs and wealthy individuals who are considering launching philanthropic efforts. In addition, Skloot will oversee research initiatives and a seminar series conducted by the existing Duke Foundation Research Program, now led by law and public policy professor Joel Fleishman, who will serve as the center’s faculty chair.

“Duke is exceptionally fortunate to be able to attract Ed Skloot to its faculty to take over the activities of the Foundation Research Program, and raise it to a higher level while also extending its reach with new initiatives that will be made possible by the establishment of the Center for Strategic Philanthropy and Civil Society,” Fleishman said.

The center will partner with the existing Sanford Institute program on global health led by Dr. Anthony So, as well as the Duke Global Health Institute, the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, the Fuqua School of Business and the Pratt School of Engineering.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to come to Duke and to work with the best people in philanthropy and public policy,” Skloot said. “I see this role as embracing and enhancing the public role of philanthropy as well as helping to build academic study and research about what works, and why. There’s much to be done, and the Sanford Institute is the place to do it.”

From 1989, when he was appointed as the first non-family staff professional, until his retirement in June 2007, Skloot led the Surdna Foundation, a family foundation headquartered in New York City. Its assets exceed $950 million, and annual giving now totals $35 million.

Skloot also has experience as president and founder of New Ventures, a nonprofit consulting firm that assisted other NGOs to earn income as a complement to fund raising, and as a senior government official in New York City and New York State.

Skloot serves on the board of directors of Independent Sector (similar to a trade association), and is a member of its Panel on the Nonprofit Sector. He also serves as a board member of Venture Philanthropy Partners, a group of venture capitalists helping youth-serving organizations in the Washington, D.C., region, and The National Council for Palliative Care. He is a member of the advisory boards of The Bridgespan Group, a nonprofit consulting firm, and the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society of Stanford University.

Skloot has written and spoken extensively on the work of the nonprofit sector, the most recent contribution being a compilation of his speeches, Beyond the Money (Surdna Foundation, 2007).