Momentum Fellowship CEO: Luz Vega-Marquis

Luz Vega-Marquis, Marguerite Casey Foundation

On the job since: 2001
Foundation founded in: 2001
Geographic scope: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Tennessee & Texas
Grants made in 2015: $30.6M
Staff: 24 FTE
Percentage of staff representing communities of color: 58%

How did you come to the decision to host a Momentum Fellow?

I am a firm believer that philanthropy needs to be diversified in order to improve the craft of grantmaking. The excellent pool of potential fellows made it impossible to say no.

What has been a challenge for you and your foundation, related to diversity, equity and inclusion in philanthropy, and how are you working on it?

The challenge is centered on making a cohesive whole out of diverse perspectives on staff. But it works!

What have you and your foundation learned from hosting a Momentum Fellow?

We have learned the value of a fresh look at our work. Fellows are intelligent, engaged, strategic and have already made great contributions to our work.

Left to right: Janelle Choi, Luz Vega-Marquis and Elizabeth Posey at Marguerite Casey Foundation's office.

What would success look like for philanthropy and diversity, equity and inclusion?

In the Pacific Northwest, it would be changing the mindset that people of color need to fit a certain standard in order to be “qualified.” I would like to see all foundations try different strategies in order to diversify their boards, staff and grantees.

What advice would you give to other foundations interested in hosting a Momentum Fellow and/or integrating diversity, equity and inclusion into their work?

It is a great pipeline of talented people with great skills who can help with the process of diversifying.

What’s a resource you would recommend to funders interested in learning more about this work?

D5 Coalition and Philanthropy Northwest. They offer lots of resources, plus a cadre of individuals willing to help.

What’s one more question we should ask you, and how would you answer it?

Q. Would you do it again?
A. Yes!!

Luz Vega-Marquis is founding president and CEO of Marguerite Casey Foundation, working with Momentum Fellows Janelle Choi and Elizabeth Posey.
Learn more about our nine Momentum Fellows and five foundations supporting this fellowship in our July 2016 Virtual Roundtable.