Marguerite Casey Foundation founding President and CEO Luz Vega-Marquis announced she will retire in 2020 after leading the foundation since 2001.
“Luz’s legacy is the thousands of families across the country who have, with Marguerite Casey Foundation’s support, created their own solutions for fighting poverty and building power,” said Freeman A. Hrabowski, III, chair of the Foundation’s board of directors. The board of directors anticipates making a hiring announcement later in 2019. A new chief executive will likely begin in 2020.
“Luz has been a critical partner in our work building power for immigrant families and families of color throughout the Southwest and in Arizona. She was the first philanthropic leader to commit long-term general operating support to movement building and organizing in places often overlooked by national foundations. Her impact on this field will be felt for generations to come,” said the Carlos Garcia, a member of the Phoenix, Ariz., city council and founder of PUENTE Arizona.
Under Vega-Marquis, Marguerite Casey Foundation has led the philanthropic sector in advocating for a strategy where grantees are best served by multi-year general operating support funding that trusts leaders in the field.
“Women of color have changed the landscape of this country, and Luz Vega-Marquis is no exception to that legacy. Luz has invested in families of color to the tune of $450 million, and by doing so, has changed our country for the better. She has modeled how philanthropy can be more accountable to communities of color. Her legacy is pushing us to dream bigger, act more boldly, and win big for families,” said Alicia Garza, founder of Black Futures Lab and Movement for Black Lives.
More than 85 percent of Marguerite Casey Foundation grantees are organizations led by people of color and 60 percent of the staff as well as 82 percent of the board are people of color.
In addition to her work at the foundation, Vega-Marquis has long been a champion for leaders of color. In 1983, she founded Hispanics in Philanthropy to support the careers and networks of a community traditionally excluded from the foundation world. She has recruited and continued to nurture hundreds of staff, board members, and leaders of color in philanthropy.
She was selected three times — 2011, 2012 and 2018 — to the annual The NonProfit Times Power & Influence Top 50.
Under her leadership, the foundation created the Patiño-Moore Legacy Award to recognize collaboration among Black and Brown communities building movements; and the Pat Schroeder Board Fellowship to provide an opportunity for a community-based youth leader to serve on the Foundation board. Additionally, she launched the Sargent Shriver Youth Warriors Against Poverty, which has to date, honored more than 100 youth-leaders from across the country for their vision, passion, and dedication to improving their communities.
“Families have always been our priority,” Vega-Marquis said. “We ask and listen, and then follow their lead. They know the change their communities require. We help them create it.”
Vega-Marquis said she’s most proud of the work Marguerite Casey Foundation has done to build the infrastructure of a family-led movement; support leadership from low-income communities; and effect policy change that restores voting rights, funds education, and increases living wages.