Marguerite Casey Foundation CEO Luz Vega-Marquis Announces Retirement

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Leaves behind legacy of building power for families of color

Marguerite Casey Foundation founding President and CEO Luz Vega-Marquis announced today she will retire in 2020 after leading the Foundation since 2001.

“Luz’s legacy is the thousands of families across the country who have, with Marguerite Casey Foundation’s support, created their own solutions for fighting poverty and building power,” said Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, chair of the Foundation’s board of directors.

Marguerite Casey Foundation nurtures a national movement of low-income families advocating for themselves to create a more just and equitable society. The success of this movement building relies on networking organizations and leaders together with a strong focus on collaboration across issues.

“Luz has been a critical partner in our work building power for immigrant families and families of color throughout the Southwest and in Arizona. She was the first philanthropic leader to commit long-term general operating support to movement building and organizing in places often overlooked by national foundations. Her impact on this field will be felt for generations to come,” said the Honorable Carlos Garcia, City of Phoenix Councilmember and founder of PUENTE Arizona.

Under Vega-Marquis, Marguerite Casey Foundation has led the philanthropic sector in advocating for a strategy where grantees are best served by multi-year general operating support funding that trusts leaders in the field.

“Women of color have changed the landscape of this country, and Luz Vega-Marquis is no exception to that legacy. Luz has invested in families of color to the tune of $450 million, and by doing so, has changed our country for the better. She has modeled how philanthropy can be more accountable to communities of color. Her legacy is pushing us to dream bigger, act more boldly, and win big for families,” said Alicia Garza, Founder of Black Futures Lab and Movement for Black Lives.

The Foundation has a strong focus on supporting people of color. More than 85 percent of Marguerite Casey Foundation grantees are organizations led by people of color and 60 percent of the staff as well as 82 percent of the board are people of color.

In addition to her work at the Foundation, Vega-Marquis has long been a champion for leaders of color. In 1983, she founded Hispanics in Philanthropy to support the careers and networks of a community traditionally excluded from the foundation world. She has recruited and continued to nurture hundreds of staff, board members, and leaders of color in philanthropy.
“From our very first meeting, Luz focused on building a relationship that would result in transformational change for the women who work in our country. She is a philanthropic trailblazer: for nearly 18 years she has committed to funding organizers with long term core funding, supporting organizations through convening and narrative change, and has been one of a handful of progressive women of color leaders in philanthropy. Her call to support organizations led by immigrants and people of color has had an extraordinary impact,” said Ai-jen Poo, Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Supermajority.

Under her leadership, the Foundation created the Patiño-Moore Legacy Award to recognize collaboration among Black and Brown communities building movements; and the Pat Schroeder Board Fellowship to provide an opportunity for a community-based youth leader to serve on the Foundation board. Additionally, she launched the Sargent Shriver Youth Warriors Against Poverty, which has to date, honored over 100 youth-leaders from across the country for their vision, passion, and dedication to improving their communities.
“Families have always been our priority,” Vega-Marquis said. “We ask and listen, and then follow their lead. They know the change their communities require. We help them create it.”

Vega-Marquis said she’s most proud of the work Marguerite Casey Foundation has done to build the infrastructure of a family-led movement; support leadership from low-income communities; and effect policy change that restores voting rights, funds education, and increases living wages.

The board of directors anticipates making a hiring announcement later in 2019. A new CEO will likely begin in 2020.

See below for additional quotes.
About Marguerite Casey Foundation
Marguerite Casey Foundation nurtures a national movement of low-income families advocating on their own behalf for change. We invest in grassroots activism that builds the power and voice of families living in poverty to create their own solutions for a more just and equitable society for all. Our grantmaking provides multi-year general support in four regions – the South, Southwest, Midwest, and West – as well as nationally.

Facebook: @MargueriteCaseyFoundation
Twitter: @CaseyGrants

Other leaders comment on Luz Vega-Marquis’ Retirement:

“I will be forever grateful for the vision and boldness of Luz during her leadership at the Marguerite Casey Foundation to invest in grassroots organizations, like the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, which are led by directly impacted individuals. Because of her support and that of the Foundation, poor and marginalized communities are being empowered to change oppressive conditions and transform their communities as well as this country,” said Desmond Meade, President, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition.

“Luz is someone I have deeply admired my entire career. As a former grantee, fellow board member and CEO and someone who now benefits from her board leadership- I can honestly say she is one of the most admirable leaders in philanthropy. She doesn’t talk about diversity and equity- she shows us how to make real change by partnering with the communities most impacted and by supporting their vision and leadership,” said Nichole Maher, CEO, Group Health Foundation.

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Silvie Snow-Thomas
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