Loren Harris, a Philanthropic Leader Devoted to Challenging Racial, Gender and Economic Inequality, Joins Nathan Cummings Foundation
The Nathan Cummings Foundation today announced that Loren S. Harris, a philanthropic leader with more than 20 years experience challenging structural barriers to equality and creating economic opportunity and social inclusion, will join the Foundation as Vice President of Programs. Harris, who will begin work on May 18, will report to the Foundation’s President and CEO, Sharon Alpert.
“Loren is a visionary thinker who brings a strong racial and gender equity lens to inequality issues. He was responsible for the earliest efforts to bring philanthropy together to reframe the narrative for young men of color and to invest in innovative asset building strategies,” Alpert said. “He is deeply thoughtful, humble, and entrepreneurial, and is a great partner to colleagues and grantees. His expertise in the field, collaborative style, and passion for working across issues makes him a great fit for this position and our team.”
As Vice President of Programs, Harris will support the development of integrated program strategies, and manage a team of program directors and officers to support NCF’s efforts to address inequality and climate change.
Located in New York City, the Nathan Cummings Foundation is a national grantmaking organization that has made $425 million in grants over the past 25 years. The Foundation is rooted in the Jewish tradition, and is committed to social justice and democratic values, including fairness, diversity and community. It seeks to build a just, vibrant, sustainable and democratic society. NCF’s programs are aimed at addressing inequality and climate change, with approaches focused on arts and culture, constituency building, disruptive ideas, religious traditions and contemplative practices. NCF also supports a fellowship program that annually grants three visionaries $100,000 each to turn an inspired idea in the field of social or economic justice into a game-changing reality.
Harris is currently the Director of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Mich. Serving in this capacity since 2014, Harris manages a $25 million a year grantmaking portfolio that focuses on advancing the economic security of low-income children and families across the country by increasing employment, earnings, savings and asset ownership.
Harris has dedicated his career to empowering under-resourced communities through poverty reduction, workforce development, youth development, and related matters. He began his career as the program director of the Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center in East Harlem, where he saw firsthand the toll the absence of work has on individuals, households, and entire communities. It was here that Harris says he also witnessed the structural impediments that too often push young men from communities of color into incarceration.
Addressing structural challenges to equity and justice became the motivating factors driving Harris’s career. He founded and operated KIREN Legacy Enterprises, a social enterprise focused on improving the impact of institutional and individual philanthropy. Harris also served as a program officer granting more than $30 million for the Ford Foundation’s Asset Building and Community Development Program, and an associate program officer for the CS Mott Foundation’s Pathways Out of Poverty Program. He also leveraged philanthropic capital for a fund to advance young women’s economic empowerment, and reproductive health and rights.
Among several professional affiliations, Harris sits on the board of directors of the Levitt Foundation, a New York City-focused foundation interested in food justice as it relates to children and youth. He has a personal passion for environmental issues and creating jobs that can simultaneously address inequality and advance the sustainability of our planet.
“The opportunity to join the Nathan Cummings Foundation deeply resonates with me on a personal level. It is a smaller, family foundation with a national reputation for punching above its weight. I see my own path reflected in NCF,” Harris said. “I come from humble people of modest means and have worked hard to honor my family by achieving beyond my background. So I feel aligned with the foundation, both personally and professionally, and I feel a tremendous sense of allegiance with it.”
Harris is also eager to help NCF deepen its work on impact investing, noting, “We can change the odds for people who have been left out of the economic recovery and paint for folks a more hopeful picture of how to engage in our economy and our democracy.”
Harris earned a master’s degree in public administration from Farleigh Dickinson University and a bachelor’s degree in American history from the City University of New York, Queens College. He is currently on his way toward earning a master’s of business administration from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.