By Martha Cecilia Ovadia, Senior Program Associate, Equity and Communications

Who are the funders that make up the Funders’ Network? Know Your Network is an occasional Q&A series featuring our members. This month, we chat informally with Patrice Green, the Surdna Foundation’s new program officer for Strong Local Economies. Patrice is currently a member of the Older Industrial Cities working group. 

1. We know you are new to Surdna as a program officer for Strong Local Economies — how has your transition been and what would you describe as your own personal learning style?

I would describe my transition as an exciting whirlwind. I was on the road travelling by week two or three and preparing to be a one-woman team by month three. I consider myself an experiential learner, which worked well with the rapid pace by which I needed to pick-up this programmatic work.

2. You are also new to philanthropy — you previously worked at HUD! What has surprised you about the philanthropic sector?

I am new to national philanthropy, but I spent some time running a consensus-based community grantmaking process for Bread & Roses Community Fund in Philadelphia. I think the evolution of the philanthropic sector in the ten years since I was last a grantmaker is pleasantly surprising. Ten years ago the work that was happening at Bread & Roses in supporting racial justice work was really concentrated at the sister funds of The Funding Exchange. Now, major national funders from Surdna to Annie E. Casey and Rockefeller are working through embedding and funding equity.

3. You travel a lot for work. Any favorite site visit that stands out so far?

It has been wonderful to travel to a number of places I have never visited and to meet partners doing tremendous work. One of my favorite site visits was to Memphis for the MLK50 Commemoration. Being able to be a part of the historic commemoration, while being very interrogative of the current state of economic justice or injustice in Memphis with our grantee partners, members of our staff, and board members was truly profound.

4. As a local, where is your favorite lunch spot in the Big Apple? What is that secret place you wish everyone knew about?

My co-workers would probably answer in concert for me in regards to my favorite lunch spot: Tina’s, hands down. It’s a little Cuban restaurant with delicious pernil and portions for two-days’ worth of lunch. Everyone should know about Pollo de Oro in Brooklyn, the pisco punch is delicious, the service is great and the food never disappoints.

A regular feature on Patrice’s desk: mood-lifting fresh flowers.

5. What is something you do as a practice of self-care, especially in 2018 when this work can be stressful.

I try to use my commute to do meditation or reflections. I think it’s also important to stay connected to friends and family and to stay grounded in the joy of human connection. When I am not traveling, I try to keep fresh flowers on my desk. It has become a habit not just of self care but of encouragement to my colleagues.

6. What is something you think would surprise people about New York?

The commute times. Invest in a book, podcast, or something!

7. Tell me about your hometown — what makes it special? Is there a special business or shop you would say is a “can’t miss”?

I am an army brat who moved around quite a bit before we settled in the DMV (DC-Maryland-Virginia), but I have been a Philadelphian for the past 17 years. I think walking around Old Town Alexandria is a great opportunity to discover some gems in the DMV. In Philly, it is all about the food. You must visit Reading Terminal and if you want a great weekend brunch spot, my favorite West Philly BYOB is Aksum.

About the Author

Martha Cecilia Ovadia is TFN’s senior program associate for equity and communications. Contact her at

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