By Tom Woiwode, Chairperson, Funders’ Network Board of Directors

For the past several months, our executive search committee has undertaken an exciting yet formidable task: determining who will lead this robust, thriving network of passionate funders and dedicated staff as we move toward the future.

We are delighted to announce today that Patricia Smith, a senior policy advisor at the Reinvestment Fund with decades of leadership experience in the philanthropic, government and nonprofit sectors, will be the new president and CEO of the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities (TFN).

Patricia comes to TFN with an impressive background in developing and implementing policy, programs and strategies that have engaged funders and mobilized diverse coalitions to help create more prosperous and livable communities.

Above all, she is an innovative, enthusiastic and effective problem-solver and team-builder who appreciates the important role TFN plays in supporting and connecting a network of more than 170 community, regional and national foundations across the U.S. and Canada, in addition to our successful Partners for Placesmatching grants program and PLACES Fellowship.

Building on a Strong Foundation

“I’m thrilled at the opportunity to work with such a dynamic team and lead an organization with such a stellar reputation,” said Patricia. “This is a network built on dedicated, highly engaged funders with the support of an exemplary TFN team. As the network approaches its 20th anniversary, we can build on this impressive foundation and truly become a hub of innovation and collaboration exploring the important intersections between equity work, environmental sustainability and inclusive economic development.”

She is currently senior policy advisor at the Reinvestment Fund, a national leader working to rebuild economically-distressed communities through the innovative use of capital, data and partnerships. Patricia has led the Reinvestment Fund’s efforts to improve access to healthier foods in underserved urban and rural communities and is a well-regarded advisor on healthy food financing programs across the country. Patricia was instrumental in launching the Healthy Food Financing Initiative (HFFI) to increase awareness about inequitable access to healthy foods and the need for federal action. (To date, the initiative has yielded more than $243 million in federal grants and encouraged the establishment of similar financing programs in a dozen states and cities.)

A Focus on Collaboration

Patricia, who joined the Reinvestment Fund in 2005 as director of special initiatives, has managed several collaborative projects: William Penn Foundation Targeted Neighborhoods Initiative; Ford Foundation Camden Regional Demonstration Project; and Rockefeller Foundation Creativity and Neighborhood Development Project. Prior to joining the Reinvestment Fund, Patricia directed Philadelphia’s Neighborhood Transformation Initiative (NTI), a $295 million public-private partnership that sought to address decades of urban blight and stimulate new investment in the city’s neighborhoods.

Among her other professional achievements: She launched the Human Capital Development Initiative, an $8 million national leadership development and grantmaking program funded by the National Community Development Initiative (now known as Living Cities); worked extensively with community development corporations as a program manager with The Philadelphia Foundation; and supervised the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority’s housing division as a deputy executive director.

She began her career in the field of law, serving as legal counsel to grassroots organizations and litigating housing and consumer rights cases as a Community Legal Services attorney, and later served as a deputy chief of staff attorney for the Philadelphia City Council.

A native of Philadelphia, Patricia — who prefers to be called Pat — holds a bachelor’s degree from Mount Holyoke College, a juris doctorate from George Washington University Law Center, and was a 2002 Fannie Mae Foundation Fellow. She sits on the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and was appointed by the president of the Philadelphia City Council to serve as his representative on the Philadelphia Museum of Art Board of Trustees.

She has authored or contributed to many publications and scholarly works, and in 2006 appeared in the PBS documentary Edens Lost and Found: How Ordinary Citizens Are Restoring Our Great American Cities.

Looking to the Future

Patricia will officially join TFN on July 2, although she will be working closely with Interim President and CEO Maureen Lawless and the rest of the leadership team to ensure a smooth transition. Maureen will then resume her duties as vice president and director of member services full time. I’d like to thank Maureen and the rest of the TFN team of directors, program associates and contractors for their hard work and dedication over the past several months. I also want to acknowledge appreciation not only for the members of the executive search committee, but the many individuals who expressed an interest in this position. We vetted nearly a hundred qualified applicants, a testament to the high regard professionals within the field of philanthropy and other sectors hold TFN.

Patricia will commute for the time-being between her hometown, where she lives with her partner, Elbert Sampson, and TFN’s headquarters in Miami. (We suspect she will have good reason to feel at home in her new city, which faces Biscayne Bay: The couple are avid sailors and proud owners of a 1967 Alberg 35 sailboat, Pearl, named after Pat’s maternal grandmother and Elbert’s paternal grandmother.)

On behalf of the TFN community, I hope you’ll join me in wishing Pat a warm welcome as she takes on this key role at such a pivotal and promising time in the network’s history.

About the Author

Tom Woiwode

Chairperson, TFN Board of Directors

Tom Woiwode was elected in March as the chairperson of the  Funders’ Network Board of Directors. He is a director at the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, where among his duties he oversees the GreenWays Initiative.