Person

Carra Cote-Ackah

Location:

Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Occupation:

Foundation Executive

Carra Cote-Ackah is chair of the Surdna Foundation, a senior fellow at the Center for High Impact Philanthropy, and executive director of community stewardship for Vanguard, a major commercial investment firm.

The Surdna Foundation is one of the oldest and largest family foundations in the United States, established in 1917 by John Emory Andrus. [1] Cote-Ackah is a fifth generation Andrus. [2] The foundation initially focused on education and medicine. In 2014, after Cote-Ackah joined the board, the foundation moved to a focus on left-of-center social policy, with some of the foundation’s largest grants going to left-of-center organizations. [3] [4] The Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania provides knowledge and education to donors focused on social impact philanthropy. [5]

In 2016, Vanguard created a position bringing together all global philanthropic and volunteer programs, and Cote-Ackah became the executive director of this newly created Community Stewardship program. [6]

Background and Education

Carra Cote-Ackah earned a Bachelor of Science from Vanderbilt University in 1999, a Master of Science in Public Policy from Duke University in 2002, and a Master of Business Administration from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 2006. [7] [8]

Cote-Ackah was married in 2008. [9] She and her husband live in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, with their three children. [10]

Career

Early Career

From 2006 to 2011 Cote-Ackah was a program officer for the Robertson Foundation, a private foundation established in 1996 by Julian Robertson and his family. [11] It targets its grants to education, environment, and medical research. [12] Cote-Ackah led a portfolio that included youth development, education, and environment. [13]

Cote-Ackah was director of partnerships and strategic initiatives at the Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania from 2011 to 2016 and became a senior fellow in 2016. [14] The Center for High Impact Philanthropy is a university-based center that provides knowledge resources and education to donors focused on social impact philanthropy. [15] It is funded by several left-of-center organizations including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Democracy Fund, the Ford Foundation, and the National Philanthropic Trust. [16]

Surdna Foundation

In 2011 Cote-Ackah joined the board of the Surdna Foundation as vice chairperson for four years. She then became chairperson. [17] The Surdna Foundation is one of the oldest and largest family foundations in the United States, established in 1917 by John Emory Andrus. [18] The foundation initially focused its giving on education and medicine. In 2014, after Cote-Ackah joined the board, the foundation moved to a focus on left-of-center social policy. [19] The Surdna Foundation’s main programs are “Inclusive Economies” that supports the advancement of people of color, “Sustainable Environments” that supports allowing people of color and low wealth to make decisions on their communities and environment, and “Thriving Cultures” that invests in artists and communities of color to advance racial justice. [20]

Inside Philanthropy referred to Cote-Ackah as a “Steward,” an heir who is “carrying on a tradition of multi-generational family philanthropy.” She is a fifth generation Andrus. [21]

Other Work

In 2016 Cote-Ackah became executive director of Vanguard’s Community Stewardship. [22] This was a newly created position bringing together Vanguard’s philanthropic and volunteer programs. [23] Vanguard is an investment management company with over $8 trillion in total assets under management as of September 30, 2021. [24]

Publications and Presentations

Cote-Ackah co-authored a paper entitled “Program-Related Investments: Is There a Bigger Opportunity for Mission Investing By Private Foundations?” for the Center for High Impact Philanthropy. [25] The paper describes program related investments and mission related investments as they relate to social impact philanthropy. [26]

On April 22, 2021, she was a speaker at the National Center for Family Philanthropy with a presentation on how to fund racial equity, based on her experience with the Surdna Foundation’s increased focus on racial equity. [27]

References

  1. “Our History.” Surdna Foundation – About. Accessed February 19, 2022. https://surdna.org/our-organization/our-history/ ^
  2. “The Most Powerful Heirs in Philanthropy.” Inside Philanthropy. January 19, 2022. Accessed February 19, 2022. https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2022/1/19/the-most-powerful-heirs-in-philanthropy ^
  3. “Our History.” Surdna Foundation – About. Accessed February 18, 2022. https://surdna.org/our-organization/our-history/ ^
  4. Surdna Foundation. Return of Private Foundation. (Form 990-PF – Part XV). 2019. ^
  5. “Who We Are.” The Center for High Impact Philanthropy. Accessed February 20, 2022. https://www.impact.upenn.edu/who-we-are/ ^
  6. “Vanguard Appoints Carra Cote-Ackah To Lead Vanguard Gives Back And The Vanguard Capital For Kids Program.” Philadelphia City Biz List. August 15, 2016. Accessed February 18, 2022. https://philadelphia.citybizlist.com/article/370672/vanguard-appoints-carra-cote-ackah-to-lead-vanguard-gives-back-and-the-vanguard-capital-for-kids-program ^
  7. LinkedIn – Carra Cote-Ackah. Accessed February 18, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/carra-cote-ackah-5839aa/ ^
  8. “About – Work and Education.” Facebook – Carra Cote-Ackah. Accessed February 18, 2022. https://www.facebook.com/carra.coteackah/about_work_and_education ^
  9. Facebook – Carra Cote-Ackah. Accessed February 18, 2022. https://www.facebook.com/carra.coteackah ^
  10. “Carra Cote-Ackah.” Surdna Foundation – About – Our Team. Accessed February 18, 2022. https://surdna.org/team/carra-cote-ackah/ ^
  11. LinkedIn – Carra Cote-Ackah. Accessed February 18, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/carra-cote-ackah-5839aa/ ^
  12. Robertson Foundation. Accessed February 19, 2022. https://robertsonfoundation.org/ ^
  13. LinkedIn – Carra Cote-Ackah. Accessed February 18, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/carra-cote-ackah-5839aa/ ^
  14. LinkedIn – Carra Cote-Ackah. Accessed February 18, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/carra-cote-ackah-5839aa/ ^
  15. “Who We Are.” The Center for High Impact Philanthropy. Accessed February 20, 2022. https://www.impact.upenn.edu/who-we-are/ ^
  16. “Funders and Partners.” The Center for High Impact Philanthropy. Accessed February 20, 2022. https://www.impact.upenn.edu/funders-and-partners/ ^
  17. “People in the News (11/22/2020): appointments, promotions, obituaries.” Philanthropy News Digest. November 22, 2020. Accessed February 18, 2022. https://philanthropynewsdigest.org/news/people-in-the-news-11-22-2020-appointments-promotions-obituaries ^
  18. “Our History.” Surdna Foundation – About. Accessed February 19, 2022. https://surdna.org/our-organization/our-history/ ^
  19. [1] “Our History.” Surdna Foundation – About. Accessed February 18, 2022. https://surdna.org/our-organization/our-history/ ^
  20. [1] “Programs.” Surdna Foundation. Accessed February 19, 2022. https://surdna.org/programs/ ^
  21. “The Most Powerful Heirs in Philanthropy.” Inside Philanthropy. January 19, 2022. Accessed February 19, 2022. https://www.insidephilanthropy.com/home/2022/1/19/the-most-powerful-heirs-in-philanthropy ^
  22. LinkedIn – Carra Cote-Ackah. Accessed February 18, 2022. https://www.linkedin.com/in/carra-cote-ackah-5839aa/ ^
  23. “Vanguard Appoints Carra Cote-Ackah To Lead Vanguard Gives Back And The Vanguard Capital For Kids Program.” Philadelphia City Biz List. August 15, 2016. Accessed February 18, 2022. https://philadelphia.citybizlist.com/article/370672/vanguard-appoints-carra-cote-ackah-to-lead-vanguard-gives-back-and-the-vanguard-capital-for-kids-program ^
  24. “Vanguard at a Glance.” Vanguard – Who We Are. Accessed February 19, 2022. https://corporate.vanguard.com/content/corporatesite/us/en/corp/who-we-are/sets-us-apart/facts-and-figures.html ^
  25. “Who We Are.” The Center for High Impact Philanthropy. Accessed February 19, 2022. https://www.impact.upenn.edu/people/carra_cote-ackah/ ^
  26. [1] “Program-Related Investments: Is There a Bigger Opportunity for Mission Investing by Private Foundations?” The Center for High Impact Philanthropy. Accessed February 19, 2022. https://www.impact.upenn.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/160415PRIFINALAH-print.pdf ^
  27. “Leaning into Racial Justice with the Surdna Foundation and Andrus Family Fund.” National Center for Family Philanthropy. April 2, 2021. Accessed February 19, 2022. https://www.ncfp.org/event/leaning-into-racial-justice-with-the-surdna-foundation-and-andrus-family-fund/ ^
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