Stephanie Ellis-Smith

Founder and Principal, Phila Engaged Giving

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 silly Doberman named Heidi.


Voices from the Field

Tough Talk

Posted on November 17, 2021 by Stephanie Ellis-Smith

This article was originally published by Phila Engaged Giving and is re-posted here with permission. Having tough conversations are often a necessary part of social change — both in funding it and in carrying it out. But how do we have a tough discussion that gets our point across without it coming across as a personal affront? I was recently asked to present… Read More