Katherine Lorenz

Senior Advisor, NCFP; President The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation; NCFP Fellow (2015-2018)

Katherine Lorenz is the president of the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation, a grantmaking foundation focusing on environmental sustainability in Texas. She served as the foundation’s president from 2011 to late 2020. She is the Leader of the Next Gen Giving Pledge, and Forbes named Katherine “Ones to Watch,” an up-and-coming face in philanthropy in 2012.

She is also a senior advisor to the National Center for Family Philanthropy.

Previously, she served as Deputy Director for the Institute for Philanthropy, whose mission is to increase effective philanthropy in the UK and internationally. Prior to that, Katherine lived in Oaxaca, Mexico for nearly six years where she co-founded Puente a la Salud Comunitaria, a non-profit organization working to advance food sovereignty in rural Oaxaca through the integration of amaranth into the diet. She continues to be involved with Puente’s work as an active board member.

Before founding Puente, she spent two summers living in rural villages in Latin America with the volunteer program Amigos de las Américas and later served on their program committee and as a trustee of the Foundation for Amigos de las Americas. Additionally, she currently serves on the boards of directors of Environmental Defense Fund (vice-chair), The Philanthropy Workshop (vice-chair), the Endowment for Regional Sustainability Science, and the National Center for Family Philanthropy (chair), and formerly was a Fellow at the National Center for Family Philanthropy, a Board Member of Exponent Philanthropy, Resource Generation, the Amaranth Institute, and a member of the National Academies’ Roundtable of Science and Technology for Sustainability.

Katherine is a member of the Global Philanthropists Circle of the Synergos Institute and serves on the Leadership Council of the Greater Houston Community Foundation and the national advisory committee of USC’s Irene Hirano Inouye Philanthropic Leadership Fund. She holds a B.A. in Economics and Spanish from Davidson College.

Contributions

Scaling for Impact: The Needs of Growing Philanthropies

Posted on May 17, 2022 by Renee Karibi-Whyte, Greg Ratliff, Peter Laugharn, Katherine Lorenz

The process of scaling can be a pivotal moment—it offers an opportunity to revisit the past and reinvent what is possible for the future. What are the special challenges facing family philanthropies that are preparing for—or in the midst of—a significant scale up in philanthropic assets? As your philanthropy reaches a certain size, increasingly robust practices and approaches may be… Read More
Voices from the Field

Family Philanthropy Versus Climate Change: An Opportunity of a Lifetime and Beyond

Posted on January 5, 2022 by Katherine Lorenz

At the United Nations’ COP26 conference in November 2021, President Biden said climate change is “an existential threat to human existence as we know it.” And qualitative and quantitative data support this claim. Climate hazards—driven by global greenhouse gas emissions—will continue to affect and amplify socioeconomic challenges in nearly all areas for decades to come. And the climate crisis is at… Read More

Reflecting on Your Origin Story: Understanding Wealth, Legacy, and Equity

Posted on December 7, 2021 by Holley Fowler Martens, David Roswell, Katherine Lorenz

old photographs on table; genealogy; family tree
The criticism of wealth is longstanding and brings to the fore a conversation on justice that is important to reflect upon in the pursuit of effective family philanthropy. Though necessary, this type of reflection often raises a number of difficult questions that require philanthropic families to interrogate their history and reconcile the actions of their ancestors. Join us for a… Read More

Emerging Family Leaders in Philanthropy

Posted on September 19, 2021 by Megha Desai, Sharmila Rao Thakkar, Katherine Lorenz

Join Megha Desai, President of the Desai Foundation, in conversation with Katherine Lorenz, Senior Advisor at NCFP and Board Chair of The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation. This discussion will provide an opportunity for current and emerging family leaders between the ages of 21-45 to hear from our speakers and to exchange ideas, experiences, and challenges with peers. In addition to… Read More

Board Chair Peer Network: Finding Peers in Transition

Posted on August 11, 2021 by Jaimie Mayer, Nicholas A. Tedesco, Gilbert Miller, Katherine Lorenz

Managing transitions is challenging, but support and insight from peers can help as you navigate times of change. Join Nick Tedesco for opening comments about working through transitions together. Then, spend time in small groups with others who are going through similar shifts including changes to mission, changing program and program strategy areas, geographic family dispersion, and influx of assets… 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

Board Chair Peer Network: Inaugural Meeting

Posted on February 12, 2021 by Jaimie Mayer, Gilbert Miller, Katherine Lorenz

For family foundations of any shape or size, the chair position can be one of great possibility, joy, and sometimes consternation! Come together for community, learning, and to share challenges and inspiration. In the inaugural meeting of this Peer Network, we will spend time connecting with peers in small breakouts, discussing joys, solutions, and challenges in large group discussion, 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
Voices from the Field

Four Ways Values Inspire and Ground Our Grantmaking

Posted on January 5, 2021 by Katherine Lorenz

Courtesy of the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation One reason many families create foundations is to pass down philanthropic values through the generations. My grandparents founded the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation to support the issues they cared most deeply about and also to ensure that the specific values they championed throughout their lifetimes would continue to live on when… Read More

Defining and Translating Motivations and Values

Posted on December 7, 2020 by Jaimie Mayer, Nicholas A. Tedesco, Katherine Lorenz

stack of blocks with arrows pointing upward - direction, mission, plan
Clearly defined motivations and values are the underpinning of an effective family philanthropy strategy—they articulate a purpose, provide direction, and serve as a measure of accountability. They are also a dynamic and ever-evolving tool to guide donors and their family through the lifecycle of their philanthropic effort. Yet many families engage in social impact strategies without intentionally identifying aims and… Read More