New Social Innovation Fund Director

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It is my honor to announce an exciting addition to the leadership team at the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).

Next week, Damian Thorman will join our agency as the Director of the Social Innovation Fund (SIF). This selection of a recognized leader in the philanthropic world underscores President Obama’s strong commitment to this ground-breaking program.

The SIF mobilizes private and public resources to grow community-based nonprofits. These programs must provide rigorous evidence of results in the focus areas of economic opportunity, healthy futures, and youth development.  In just five years, the SIF and its private-sector partners have invested more than half a billion dollars in compelling community solutions. As a result of $229 million in federal grants and more than $516 million in non-federal match commitments, the SIF has made grants to 35 grantmaking institutions and 189 nonprofits working in 37 states and the District of Columbia.

Damian brings the necessary experience and expertise to build on this momentum. He is a recognized leader in the world of innovation, philanthropy, and public-private partnerships.

Damian most recently served as the Founder and CEO of True North Philanthropic Advisors, a national firm providing strategic and tactical counsel to foundations, nonprofits, and governments to increase impact either individually or collectively.   

Previously, as the program director at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, he developed a $40 million Tech for Engagement initiative that united technologists with social entrepreneurs and civic leaders to enable citizens to provide ideas that improve life in our cities.  At the Knight Foundation, Damian was also the Chair of the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, a SIF grantee.  Under his leadership, the fund grew from $100 to $200 million, has provided career development services to nearly 55,000 people and served nearly 4,700 employers, and has been highlighted in the Grantmakers for Effective Organizations Stories of Impact to promote grantmaking strategies and practices that contribute to SIF grantee success.

Before joining the Knight Foundation, Damian led efforts to transform the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation from charitable to outcome-based grantmaking.   He trained professional grantmakers on the uses of effective policy and systematic approaches and managed multi-million dollar initiatives for education reform and youth development.  Previously, Damian was an attorney for the Jackson County Missouri prosecutor’s office and served on the staff of the U.S. House Education & Labor Committee.  He has taught several college courses on public policy and holds a J.D. from the University of Missouri and an MBA from Rockhurst University.

As we welcome Damian to the CNCS leadership team, I also want to recognize Lois Nembhard, who has served as acting director of the SIF and has done a great job leading the SIF movement. Damian is fortunate to join Lois and the amazing SIF staff. 

Working together, we will continue to find solutions that work, and make them work for more people. 

Warmest Regards,

Wendy Spencer, CEO
Corporation for National and Community Service