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

Relationship Between the Board Chair and CEO

Posted on January 9, 2019 by Vernetta Walker, Lynne J. Doblin, Katherine Lorenz, Elaine Gast Fawcett

How do board chairs and CEOs develop and maintain their partnerships? How do family foundation board chairs and CEOs build a relationship of trust and bridge the divide between physical distance, differences between staff and family member roles, and continue the work of the foundation during times of transition? Join to learn how CEOs and board chairs develop positive, productive… Read More
Voices from the Field

Standing Together: Exciting Ways Family Philanthropy Can Come Together in 2018

Posted on January 30, 2018 by Katherine Lorenz

2017 was a challenging and frustrating year for many of us who work in family philanthropy. The nation’s political climate—characterized by intense partisan polarization and accompanied by a parade of troublesome public policy changes—has undone years of hard work and placed new burdens on the nonprofits we support and the communities we serve… Read More

Trends in Family Philanthropy: A Conversation with NCFP Fellows Katherine Lorenz and Doug Bitonti Stewart

Posted on December 8, 2016 by Virginia M. Esposito, Katherine Lorenz, Doug Bitonti Stewart

This webinar features two of the field’s emerging leaders, former NCFP Fellows Katherine Lorenz & Doug Bitonti-Stewart. Doug and Katherine will reflect on a variety of issues they have explored with NCFP and will discuss important trends in the field at large. Moderated by NCFP President Ginny Esposito, their conversation highlights issues and topics of interest to all family funders,… Read More
Featured Article

It’s Time for Grantmakers to Embrace Failure

Posted on October 5, 2016 by Katherine Lorenz

Philanthropy often encourages grantees to take risks, to be innovative, to find new solutions to old problems. Indeed, many refer to philanthropy as “risk capital,” providing funding that can help society create innovative, new models for addressing the world’s most intractable social issues. But risk and innovation often bring an uncomfortable consequence: failure… Read More

2016 NCFP CEO Retreat: a Joint Retreat for Family and Non-Family CEOs

Posted on September 20, 2016 by Virginia M. Esposito, Katherine Lorenz, Doug Bitonti Stewart

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. This 3-day retreat, to be held at the family home of David and Lucile Packard,… Read More
Voices from the Field

Why We Must Stand Up for Overhead

Posted on March 3, 2016 by Katherine Lorenz

It is critical that donors invest in the long-term health and sustainability of the institutions we are asking to tackle the world’s most entrenched social problems. Starving organizations of strong strategic plans or essential technology—often viewed as overhead and therefore superfluous—actually prevents their ability to use the limited resources they do have most effectively… Read More

Planning for an Influx of Assets

Posted on September 10, 2015 by Tara Brown, Katherine Lorenz, Elaine Gast Fawcett

An influx of assets—whether sudden or expected—is a powerful transition point in your family’s philanthropy. With rising resources comes the budding potential to do more of what you’re already doing: making a difference according to your foundation’s mission. For family foundations—particularly those for whom the influx comes as a complete surprise—a change in asset size can feel downright disorienting. … Read More