Emily Tow

President, The Tow Foundation

Emily Tow (she/her/hers) is president of The Tow Foundation. She joined the Foundation’s Board of Directors at its inception in 1988 and has been leading the foundation since 1995.

An innovator and changemaker, Emily leads with the Foundation with a highly collaborative approach. Under Emily’s leadership, the Foundation has developed and advanced its vision of a society where all people have the opportunity to enjoy a high quality of life and have a voice in their community. Emily oversees the strategic direction of the Foundation through cultivating its collaborative efforts, shaping major initiatives, and setting long-term objectives. 

Emily is currently a trustee of New York Public Radio. She was appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo to the New York State Juvenile Justice Advisory Group and also serves on the Advisory Committee of the American Theatre Wing. Emily advances the Foundation’s priorities through her engagement with numerous local, state and national committees and coalitions. She is also an active member of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations and Exponent Philanthropy, former chair of Philanthropy New York, and a former trustee of Barnard College. 

Emily speaks nationally and internationally about the Foundation’s work, its commitment to advocacy as a key to achieving social change, and the value of family philanthropy. She has received numerous honors and awards, including Connecticut Council for Philanthropy’s John H. Filer Award for leadership in promoting private action for the public good. 

Emily earned her B.A. in history from Barnard College. She received an honorary Doctor of Criminal Justice degree from University of New Haven in 2017. 


2021 Trustee Education Institute

Posted on March 9, 2021 by Dorothy Gardner, Regan Pritzker, Jessyca Dudley, Kevin M. Barry, Will Cordery, Eboo Patel, Erinn Andrews, Betsy Erickson, Shirley McLaughlin, Shaady Salehi

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
Voices from the Field

Can a Small Organization Have a Big Impact?

Posted on April 15, 2013 by Emily Tow

I get asked this question often.  How can a small foundation with few staff really catalyze large scale social change?  In fact, how can a foundation of any size play this role?  At The Tow Foundation, we have attempted to play a significant role in juvenile justice reform, an issue that seems like an intractable problem and not easily tackled… Read More

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