Atiba Mbiwan

Executive Director, The Zeist Foundation

In October 2006, Atiba Mbiwan joined the staff of The Zeist Foundation, a family foundation based in Atlanta, as the Associate Director to fortify their traditional grantmaking in the areas of Education, Arts & Culture and Health & Human Services, and to support the Foundation’s “place-based philanthropy” in the Edgewood neighborhood of Atlanta, which began in 1994 with a foundation investment in a school based pediatric clinic model and has since evolved into a multifaceted education, health, and affordable housing initiative.

After 13 years of service as Associate Director, Atiba was promoted to Executive Director in spring 2020, just in time to help lead the Foundation’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and complete the 25th Anniversary report “Place Based Philanthropy in Atlanta.”

Prior to joining The Zeist Foundation, Atiba served as the Program Officer responsible for Education and Fostering Understanding grantmaking at the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation from 2001-2005.  In this capacity, he managed an extensive portfolio of nonprofits (ranging between 100–125 organizations annually) based in Boston, New York City, Los Angeles, Phoenix, coastal South Carolina, and the state of Georgia.

Before joining the philanthropic world, Atiba worked in the nonprofit field with a range of organizations that touched on youth development – serving homeless families across Georgia, supporting young social entrepreneurs in the southeast region, and building quality after school programs around Atlanta.  He was instrumental in creating and sustaining AmeriCorps Programs in Georgia throughout the 1990s and has been a consultant with the Corporation for National and Community Service, Southern Community Partners, and Echoing Green Foundation.

In addition to beginning his career as a high school Math teacher-counselor in the 1980s and eventually serving as a middle school Math teacher-advisor in Rhode Island, Atiba has been involved with public school innovation models, ranging from a pilot site based management model at Flynn Elementary in Providence, RI to charter schools in Georgia.  During his tenure as a high school teacher, Atiba was chosen to be a National Endowment of the Humanities Summer Fellow at the City University of New York Graduate Center.

For almost three decades, Atiba has served as Coach & Coordinator of the BRAG (Bike Ride Across Georgia) Dream Team and he currently serves on the governing board of two Atlanta nonprofits – Community Farmers Markets and Park Pride, and he is the Vice Chair of the East Coast Greenway Alliance Board of Trustees.  In a professional capacity, Atiba has served on the Steering Committee for the Georgia Grantmakers Alliance (2014-2020) and as the arts funder representative on Governor Deal’s Arts Learning Task Force (2014-15), but he currently serves on the PARTNERS for Equity in Child and Adolescent Health (supports school based health centers) Advisory Council and the Georgia Funders Network for Racial Equity Steering Committee .

Atiba is married to Tiffany Friesen and they are parents of three adult children (graduates of Spelman & Georgia Tech, University of Georgia, Cornell University and Syracuse University), and eleven grandchildren.  He earned his B.A. in Economics & Urban Studies at Brown University (’82) and he spent a semester at the University of Lagos in Nigeria (Fall 1980).


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