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.  Cote-Ackah is a fifth generation Andrus.  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.   The Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania provides knowledge and education to donors focused on social impact philanthropy. 
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. 
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.  
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.  It targets its grants to education, environment, and medical research.  Cote-Ackah led a portfolio that included youth development, education, and environment. 
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.  The Center for High Impact Philanthropy is a university-based center that provides knowledge resources and education to donors focused on social impact philanthropy.  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. 
In 2011 Cote-Ackah joined the board of the Surdna Foundation as vice chairperson for four years. She then became chairperson.  The Surdna Foundation is one of the oldest and largest family foundations in the United States, established in 1917 by John Emory Andrus.  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.  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. 
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. 
In 2016 Cote-Ackah became executive director of Vanguard’s Community Stewardship.  This was a newly created position bringing together Vanguard’s philanthropic and volunteer programs.  Vanguard is an investment management company with over $8 trillion in total assets under management as of September 30, 2021. 
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.  The paper describes program related investments and mission related investments as they relate to social impact philanthropy. 
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.