Stephanie Ellis-Smith is a leader with 20 years of experience in the philanthropic sector. She has held every seat at the social sector’s table: non-profit CEO, social enterprise COO, trustee, mentor, and civic activist. Stephanie has held leadership roles that showcase her vision, dedication and expertise at a variety of organizations, foundations, government agencies and companies.

Stephanie is a Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy (CAP®) and a Certified 21/64 Advisor in multi-generational family philanthropy. She is the founder and former Executive Director of the Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas (CD Forum), an organization that presents and produces lectures, readings, and performing arts events rooted in African-American culture.  Prior to the CD Forum, she worked with the Jacob Lawrence Catalogue Raisonné Project, a prestigious endeavor that located, catalogued, re-photographed, and published the entire 1,100 work oeuvre of the artist in a two-volume publication.

She has served on numerous boards and commissions including the Washington State Arts Commission, appointed by Governor Gary Locke; the Seattle Arts Commission, appointed by Mayor Greg Nickels; and the Central Waterfront Committee, appointed by Mayor Ed Murray. She is on the board of the International Association of Advisors in Philanthropy, YWCA King/Snohomish County, the outgoing Board Chair of Artist Trust, and an Advisor to the University of Washington Press and She has been a trustee for KUOW Public Radio, Leadership Tomorrow, and City Club. She lives in Seattle with her husband, a teenager, and a Doberman.


  • The Creative Catalyst Award, Artist Trust

  • City of Seattle Proclamation “Stephanie Ellis-Smith Day” October 21, 2009

  • Community Hero Award, The Microsoft Corporation

  • Best Expander of Cultural Boundaries, Seattle Weekly

  • 40 Under 40 Award, Puget Sound Business Journal

  • Talented Tenth Award, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

  • The Evergreen Award for Non-Profit Leadership

Lauren Janus is a philanthropic researcher, writer, and advisor with a passion for translating the business of giving into clear, actionable guidance for engaged donors. She has spent more than 15 years in the non-profit sector working in fundraising, advocacy, and supporter engagement for non-profits including AARP, The Alliance for Climate Protection, Oxfam, and the United Way. She has a Master of Arts degree in International Affairs from George Washington University, and an MBA from the University of California, Davis. Her in-depth and thoughtful research is central to helping global families and institutions understand how their generosity can best impact the causes they care about.


Voices from the Field

Connecting Family Philanthropists Across Generations

Posted on February 10, 2020 by Stephanie Ellis-Smith and Lauren Janus

A large group of people standing on the beach, silhouetted by the sunset
Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Phīla Engaged Giving’s website and appears with permission. There’s a danger in making generalizations about any group of people, however, this blog post aims to share trends within the “Millennial” or “NextGen” demographic and to offer some tips on how to bridge the generation gap between the old(er) and young around philanthropic giving… Read More