Sharon Alpert was named the fourth President and first female leader of the Nathan Cummings Foundation in the fall of 2015. Based 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 committed to democratic values and social justice, including fairness, diversity and community. It seeks to build a socially and economically just society that values nature and protects the ecological balance for future generations; promotes equitable health care and fosters arts and culture that enriches communities.
Sharon has more than 20 years of experience in the philanthropic, environmental and community development fields as well as the private sector. Her decades of work at the intersection of inequality and environmental issues make her a natural fit to lead the Nathan Cummings Foundation’s efforts to build a socially and economically just society.
Throughout her career, Sharon has worked across sectors to foster collaboration among diverse stakeholders and build new, interdisciplinary fields of work. She joins the Nathan Cummings Foundation from the Surdna Foundation where she served as the Vice President for Programs and Strategic Initiatives. At Surdna, her work to promote innovative grantmaking and governance strengthened board and family engagement, established a culture of learning, and built new initiatives such as mission-related investing.
While at Surdna, Sharon collaborated with the White House to develop Recovery through Retrofit, an innovative strategy that became a signature initiative of the President Obama’s stimulus to increase the energy efficiency of homes and create green jobs. She also helped launch and build the Urban Sustainability Directors Network to accelerate the progress of cities in meeting their climate change targets, now recognized as a national model of effective peer-to-peer programs. During her tenure at Surdna, she oversaw grants supporting the work of many of the Nathan Cummings Foundation’s existing grantees, including Ceres, LAANE, Good Jobs First and the Center for Working Families.
Sharon began her career in Philanthropy at the Ford Foundation, where she implemented a cross-portfolio initiative to address inequality in housing, employment and environment opportunities in Camden, New Jersey. She also reshaped Ford’s environmental justice portfolio to focus on next generation leadership from communities of color and the intersection of help and the environment.
Prior to joining Ford, Sharon spent eight years in the nonprofit and private sector where she secured millions of dollars of public and private investments for the Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation to support affordable housing, energy efficiency and environmental health programs. She also worked on Wall Street as the director of marketing for a financial software firm that provided technology solutions to international banks and energy companies.
Sharon earned a Master’s in Public Administration and a B.S. in Agricultural, Resource and Managerial Economics, both from Cornell University. She serves as a Trustee for the Funders Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities and as the Chair of the Green Economy Working Group. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and two children.