Alexa Cortes Culwell

Alexa Cortes Culwell

Co-founder, Open Impact

Alexa Cortes Culwell has decades of experience building, managing, and advising philanthropic initiatives, as both a foundation CEO and a partner to donors shaping their strategy, implementation, learning, and legacy. As Co-founder and CEO of Open Impact, she leads an innovative team with a distinctive and holistic approach to working alongside clients at every step in their giving journey.

Alexa’s prior leadership roles include serving as the founding CEO of the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation, a position she held for 13 years, and as CEO of the Stupski Foundation. Alexa served as a visiting practitioner at Stanford University’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society and as an Instructor for Stanford Continuing Studies’ highly rated course on nonprofit governance. She is a contributor to Stanford Social Innovation Review and co-authored the groundbreaking report, The Giving Code: Silicon Valley Nonprofits and Philanthropy.

Alexa is active in key organizations that are shaping the national ecosystem of philanthropy-serving organizations, including serving as a board member of the Center for Effective Philanthropy during its formative years, chairing one of the first national conferences for Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, and advising organizations such as the National Center for Family Philanthropy and Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund (SV2). She is also a Senior Fellow of the American Leadership Forum Silicon Valley and a member of the Leap Ambassadors Community, a national leadership network focused on promoting high performance in the nonprofit sector.


2023 Family Philanthropy Leadership Retreat

Posted on April 19, 2023 by Susan Stamerjohn, Michelle Tremillo, Alejandro Foung, Dr. Jason Franklin, Jonathan Brack, Sandra Fluke, Tonya Allen, Diego Zegarra, Sue Banerjee, Catherine Maddox Walton

Save the Date 2023 Family Philanthropy Leadership Retreat
Thank you so much for your interest in the Leadership Retreat. The event is sold out, and we are no longer accepting names for the waitlist, due to the unlikelihood of accommodating everyone on it already. We are delighted by the response, and we regret that we have to turn anyone away. Please keep an eye on our Programs and… Read More

2021 Trustee Education Institute

Posted on March 9, 2021 by Isabel Nogueira, Alyson Wise, Jumi Falusi, Milton Speid, Emily Kaiser, Adrian Ruiz, Lisa Jackson, Priscilla Enriquez, Dorothy Gardner, Regan Pritzker

NCFP’s Trustee Education Institute provides a comprehensive overview of the important legal, investment, ethical, grantmaking, and family dynamics issues facing family foundation board members and CEOs. Featuring the perspectives of innovative donors and a faculty made up of donors, board members, and highly respected philanthropy experts, this virtual seminar covers: Translating values and goals into action Connecting family legacy and… Read More

Family Foundation CEO Retreat

Posted on February 12, 2021 by Betsy Erickson, Janine Mason, Michael Smith, Tina Runyan, Mayor Eric Garcetti, Bari Katz, Rob Reich, Shaady Salehi, Carmen Rojas, Diana Scearce

The role of a family foundation CEO is unique, often bridging generations of family members, community leaders, staff, advisors, and partners. Expectations can be challenging to meet and boundaries are sometimes vague and ever-changing. Success in this role requires a cadre of specialized leadership skills, particularly in these divisive and dynamic times. This 3-day virtual retreat, designed for both new… Read More

Scaling for Success

Posted on December 8, 2020 by Carolyn Wall Sakata, Kate Seng, Alexa Cortes Culwell

four plants at different stages of growth - scaling up, professionalizing
The success of family philanthropy is largely dependent on the operations and management of the people and processes that underpin the goals and activities of the effort. Giving families often reach an inflection point where they must consider bringing in outside professionals to manage their philanthropy for greater impact; however, it is often challenging to understand the practices that promote… Read More

Consensus and Complexity: A Retreat for New Family Foundation CEOs

Posted on October 11, 2019 by Alexa Cortes Culwell, Nicholas A. Tedesco, Virginia M. Esposito, Ambassador James A. Joseph, Stephen Treat, June L. Wilson, David Weitnauer, Jim Parsons

SOLD OUT! Contact NCFP at (202) 293-3424 to add your name to the wait list. Serving in the leadership staffing role for a family foundation can be one of the best jobs you’ll ever have, but it is not without challenges and complications. This first-of-its-kind NCFP peer retreat provides a unique opportunity for new family foundation CEOs to reflect on… Read More