Emily Tow (she/her/hers)

is the president of The Tow Foundation, a family foundation that envisions a society where all people have a voice in their community and the opportunity to enjoy a high quality of life. Emily joined the Foundation’s Board of Directors at its inception in 1988 and has served as the Foundation’s president since 1995.

Under Emily’s leadership, what started simply as a way for her family to give back to the community has grown into a well-established organization of 11 staff, approximately $220 million in assets and over $20 million in annual giving. In her role as president, Emily upholds the Tow legacy by advancing the strategic direction of the Foundation and engaging the next generation of family members in the work.

Emily’s commitment to the Foundation’s areas of focus extends far beyond her role as president. She is a trustee of New York Public Radio and The Marshall Project and serves on the Advisory Committee of the American Theatre Wing. She was appointed by New York’s Governor to serve on the New York State Juvenile Justice Advisory Group. Emily advances the Foundation’s justice priorities through her engagement with numerous other local, state and national committees and coalitions. Emily also formerly served as board chair of Philanthropy New York and as a 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 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
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