Person

Anna Lefer Kuhn

Occupation:

Executive Director, Arca Foundation

Former Program Officer, Open Society Foundations

Former Consultant, Democracy Alliance

Anna Lefer Kuhn is the executive director of the Arca Foundation, which funds left-wing causes in the U.S. and abroad. Previously, she worked for the Open Society Foundations, the advocacy philanthropy of left-of-center billionaire George Soros, as a program officer. Kuhn also previously served on the boards of several left-wing organizations.

Early Life

Anna Lefer Kuhn was born and raised in New York. Starting in 1989, she attended the Bank Street School for Children, an educational institution that specializes in teaching about liberal social policy and other left-wing views. Among the program’s alumni are various left-wing activists, teachers, and students preparing for college. [1]

“At Bank Street, you learn by doing,” said Kuhn said at a Bank Street alumni event in 2016. “You have to work collaboratively with people and that requires the ability to listen and engage a diverse set of folks. I think that’s an incredible skill and you realize further in life that not everyone has it.” [2]

Kuhn attended Wesleyan University. [3]

Open Society Foundations

Kuhn went to work for the Open Society Foundations as a program officer. A press release issued by Arca described her work at Open Society as “[working] to centralize the role of young people in social change movements.” Arca also praised her for implementing “a multi-year, multi-million dollar grantmaking initiative that … raised the visibility of the progressive youth movement and helped to leverage significant resources for youth activism, youth organizing and youth media sectors.” [4]

In addition, she did some work as an independent consultant for the left-of-center donor collective Democracy Alliance. The press release described her work as “an independent consultant coordinating two funds developed by the Democracy Alliance that support youth voting efforts in the 2008 election cycle.” [5]

Arca Foundation

Kuhn joined Arca and became its executive director in 2008. After she took over the foundation, she began to shift its focus towards economic issues. Many of the grants it made began targeting the financial industry, seeking tighter government regulations. [6]

Under Kuhn, Arca has funded the Institute for Policy Studies, the Economic Policy Institute, the Roosevelt Institute, the Illinois Grassroots Collaborative, and Color of Change. It has funneled some of those grants through the Tides Foundation, Proteus Fund, and the New Venture Fund. [7]

In addition to working on financial and economic issues, Arca under Kuhn has expanded its work on racial issues. She tied it into Arca’s work on financial issues stating that minority communities are impacted harder during the 2008 economic downturn. [8]

Kuhn described her work as trying to create a populist movement that would target corporate and financial interests. Arca has been funding organizations that combine policy work and work to harness the energy of grassroots supporters. “If you look at the politics of the moment, and the rise of a populist movement, we can have a movement to unrig the rules of the economy that’s not about blaming those most impacted.” Kuhn said. [9]

Other Associations

Kuhn has served on the board of numerous left-wing organizations. Among the organizations she has worked with are Generation Change, the White House Project, the Center for Working Families, the Urban Justice Center, and the League of Young Voters Education Fund. She has also served on the advisory committee for the Funders Committee for Civic Participation. [10]

References

  1. “SFC Alumni Detail Their Journeys At Bank Street And Beyond In Panel Discussion”. 2016. Bank Street College Of Education. https://www.bankstreet.edu/news-events/news/sfc-alumni-detail-their-journeys-at-bank-street-and-beyond-in-panel-discussion/.
  2. “SFC Alumni Detail Their Journeys At Bank Street And Beyond In Panel Discussion”. 2016. Bank Street College Of Education. https://www.bankstreet.edu/news-events/news/sfc-alumni-detail-their-journeys-at-bank-street-and-beyond-in-panel-discussion/.
  3. “Board & Staff”. 2019. The Arca Foundation. Accessed April 29. https://www.arcafoundation.org/about-us/board-staff/.
  4. Vadum, Matthew. 2011. “The Arca Foundation”. Capital Research Center. https://capitalresearch.org/article/the-arca-foundation/.
  5. Vadum, Matthew. 2011. “The Arca Foundation”. Capital Research Center. https://capitalresearch.org/article/the-arca-foundation/.
  6. Rojc, Philip. 2017. “Unrigging The Rules: How This Funder Is Taking On Inequality”. Inside Philanthropy. https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2017/11/28/unrigging-the-rules-arca-foundation-structural-inequality-grants.
  7. Rojc, Philip. 2017. “Unrigging The Rules: How This Funder Is Taking On Inequality”. Inside Philanthropy. https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2017/11/28/unrigging-the-rules-arca-foundation-structural-inequality-grants.
  8. Rojc, Philip. 2017. “Unrigging The Rules: How This Funder Is Taking On Inequality”. Inside Philanthropy. https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2017/11/28/unrigging-the-rules-arca-foundation-structural-inequality-grants.
  9. Rojc, Philip. 2017. “Unrigging The Rules: How This Funder Is Taking On Inequality”. Inside Philanthropy. https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2017/11/28/unrigging-the-rules-arca-foundation-structural-inequality-grants.
  10. “Board & Staff”. 2019. The Arca Foundation. Accessed April 29. https://www.arcafoundation.org/about-us/board-staff/.
  See an error? Let us know!