The Surdna Foundation in New York City has announced the appointment of Don Chen as its next president. Chen will succeed Phillip Henderson, who has served as Surdna's president since 2007.
Chen currently leads the Just Cities and Regions team for the Ford Foundation, where he transformed the foundation's approach to urban development strategies aimed at reducing poverty, expanding economic opportunities, and advancing sustainability in the United States and countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Prior to joining the Ford Foundation, Chen was the founder and CEO of Smart Growth America, where he led efforts to create the National Vacant Properties Campaign (now known as the Center for Community Progress) and Transportation for America.
Chen earned a master's degree from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and a bachelor's degree from Yale University. A founding member of Funders for Housing & Opportunity and a former board member of the Funders' Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities, Chen has authored many pieces on land use, transportation, social equity, and environmental justice. He will be the foundation's third president since 1989, when it moved to a full-time, professional staff model.
"Don's appointment reflects Surdna's values of social justice and represents a significant achievement for diversity in philanthropy," said Tracy Palandjian, chair of the foundation's investment committee. "As a fellow Chinese American, I'm thrilled that Don will be among the first Chinese Americans to lead a major national foundation."
"The U.S. is facing unique socioeconomic, cultural, and political challenges that require a mission-driven institution like Surdna to lead with bold ideas, strong actions, and fierce urgency," said Chen. "While we know the path to social justice is long, I am honored and humbled to take the helm of an organization — and join forces with a family — that has such a long-standing commitment to the cause. Working with Surdna's outstanding staff and board, I am eager to build on the substantial legacy of the foundation and the Andrus family."