Joy Vermillion Heinsohn


August 29, 1976




Assistant Director, Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation

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Joy Vermillion Heinsohn is a political activist and assistant director at the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, a major financial supporter for left-of-center organizations based in North Carolina.

Early Life and Career

Heinsohn received a bachelor’s degree in Politics from Wake Forest University, as well as a Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. During her time at the Kennedy School, Heinsohn was named a Lucius N. Littauer Fellow. 1

Following graduation, Heinsohn worked as an intern in the North Carolina Governor’s Office and in President Bill Clinton’s administration. In 1998, Heinsohn joined the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, where she has since become assistant director. 2

Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation

Heinsohn directs the All for NC Fellowship, which gives a stipend of $75,000 to entrepreneurs and “change makers” between ages 21 and 35 to pursue left-progressive social impact projects. The Fellowship prioritizes women, people of color, and LGBT individuals for stipend opportunities. Most recently, the Fellowship has funded left-of-center projects including a cannabis legalization initiative, an immigration legal clinic, and an advocacy group that promotes gun control and environmentalist policies. 3

Heinsohn also manages the Foundation’s Exploratory, Visionary Ideas Strategy, including the Inclusive Public Art Initiative which invests up to $50,000 per year in 10 public arts projects completed by artists from ethnic minority backgrounds. 4 Recent grants have included funding civil war sculptures for the Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington, NC5 and external murals for the Haliwa-Saponi Native American tribe. 6

Heinsohn also manages the Foundation’s Community Progress Fund, an annual grant program which awards up to $30,000 to North Carolina nonprofits, schools, and government organizations. 7 8  The Fund gives priority to organizations that target and are run by people of color. The Fund’s most recent grant recipient is the Green Rural Redevelopment Organization (GRRO), an environmentalist organization which provides unemployed people with construction jobs restoring abandoned homes and converting vacant lots into community farms. 9


Heinsohn has sat on the board of trustees and board of visitors of the NC Equal Access to Justice Commission, the board of the Environmental Grantmakers Association, and the steering committee of the Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation. Heinsohn was also a founding member of the boards of the of the NC Network of Grantmakers, NC Center for Afterschool Programs, and NC Civic Education Consortium. 10

On February 22, 2019, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper (D) appointed Heinsohn as member-at-large for the Microelectronics Center of North Carolina, a technology nonprofit associated with the state government that provides broadband infrastructure to public institutions. 11


  1. “Joy Vermillion Heinsohn,”,, accessed July 11, 2020.
  2. “Joy Vermillion Heinsohn,”,, accessed July 11, 2020.
  3. “Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation launches innovation fellowship initiative,” Triad Business Journal,, accessed October 13, 2020.
  4. “Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation announces launch of its inclusive public art initiative,” Yes! Weekly,, accessed October 14, 2020.
  5. Hanc, John. “Where Civil War Soldiers Will March Again,” New York Times,, accessed October 14, 2020.
  6. “2019 ZSR Inclusive Public Art Initiative,”,, accessed October 14, 2020.
  7. “Reynolds Foundation awards $65,000 to Surry County Schools,” The Mount Airy News,, accessed October 14, 2020.
  8. “Community Progress Fund,”,,state%20with%20limited%20philanthropic%20resources. Accessed October 14, 2020.
  9. “Reynolds Foundation awards $65,000 to Surry County Schools,” The Mount Airy News,, accessed October 14, 2020.
  10. “About: Joy Vermillion Heihsohn, “Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation,”, accessed April 13, 2020.
  11. “What We Do,” MCNC,, accessed April 14, 2020.
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