Twitter: @miss_lord

Hi. I’m Heather Lord.

I’ve been in the philanthropic and social enterprise sector for over 25 years at a the Stanford University Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, a Rockefeller Foundation new media startup, the Whitney family’s foundation forwarding diplomacy and social justice, founder of V&H Social Impact, and served on various boards for international human rights, arts, NextGen youth social entrepreneurship initiatives and the Global Philanthropy Committee of the Council on Foundations. For 7 years I was also the main research geek for hire for Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve where as a trendspotter I “brailled the culture” for broad tectonic shifts and patterns in global consumer psychology.

I’m currently a Senior Fellow at the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society’s Effective Philanthropy lab, where I focus on bringing the center’s research on donor behavior and best (and worst) practices in philanthropy to funders, advisors, family offices, and nonprofit leaders around the world. I develop resources (online and print toolkits, books, etc), facilitate convenings and teach workshops, and generally speaking feel very lucky to be earning my keep as a social impact nerd. My own research focuses on the past, present and future of shifting trends and comparative traditions of philanthropy in US and around the globe. (You can read a bit more about me in this interview for Stanford’s Re:Think publication.)

I was educated at St. Timothy’s School, the University of Chicago, Reed College and I finished my Master of Public Policy at Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs. While in graduate school I took a critical look at the intersections between domestic and international philanthropy, policy, national security and development issues.

I’m interested in:

  • How individuals, families and communities across time and cultures dream of better things and mobilize resources to create social change
  • Cross cultural philanthropy and the potential and limitations of various philanthropic paradigms and “thought cultures.”

Philanthropy matters because it is the shifting civic terrain where ideas about civil society and the relationship between the individual, community, state and globe are played out.

There’s the world we’ve been given, and the world we want to see; I work with people to step into the gap between these worlds, and move us forward.

I believe we need to evolve the theory and practice of philanthropy by going beyond contemporary dominant models — and engaging transitional philanthropy, liberatory philanthropy, hybridized social impact models — and others.  New (and ancient) forms and frameworks of regionally-sourced “indigenous” philanthropy are shifting in China, India, the Middle East and Africa. Hopefully these new developments will serve to challenge and improve the experience of philanthropy for everyone involved.

Ultimately my interest is in the choices we can all make to move resources ways to improve the human condition — whether that is financial, social, political, and intellectual capital moved via institutional philanthropy, impact investing, volunteerism, diaspora giving, mutual aid, emergent tech, ancient traditions, etc.

I’ll be using this forum to informally share some thoughts and questions about how charitable ideas and models are moving and evolving across cultures.

Thanks for stopping by.

Email:  Miss Lord [at] gmail.com

Feel free to ask me about any of my current corporate and philanthropic boards:

  • Jump/Scale: intercultural, trauma-informed social impact investing and advising (I’m especially excited about the new Resilience Circles, an entrepreneurship accelerator for Alaska Native businesses based on Indigenous economic and cultural practices)
  • HumanityInAction: international human rights programs for college students and recent graduates
  • Terreform(ONE): building future worlds through socio-ecological design at the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s NewLab
  • RNR Foundation: a spend-down family foundation
View Heather Lord's profile on LinkedIn

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