This post is part of a special series by Rosetta Thurman entitled “28 Days of Black Nonprofit Leaders.” In honor of Black History Month, Rosetta will be “highlighting 28 Black nonprofit leaders who have done or are doing their part to make our world a bit better, a bit more hopeful for the generations that will come.”

In her introduction to the series on her blog, Rosetta writes, “I love Black History Month because it reminds me of how far we still have to go in this country in terms of race relations and giving everyone a fair chance to take part in the “American Dream.” How far we still have to go before Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream of social justice and economic opportunity for everyone will be realized. Fortunately, there are countless leaders out there who are continuing to address so many aspects of social change.” The SSIR is proud to publish some of their stories.


Dr. Emmett Carson is the founding CEO and president of Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

From the Silicon Valley Community Foundation website:

Hired in 2006 to establish a new, regional community foundation from the unprecedented merger of Peninsula Community Foundation and Community Foundation Silicon Valley, Emmett is responsible for providing the vision for one of the largest community foundations in the United States with assets of $1.7 billion.

Before coming to Silicon Valley, Emmett served as president and CEO of The Minneapolis Foundation for 12 years. During his tenure, the foundation received national recognition for its grantmaking in the areas of housing, immigration and education.

An inspiring public speaker, Emmett has devoted his career to being a catalyst for positive social change and has authored more than 100 works on philanthropy and social justice. He served as the first manager of the Ford Foundation’s worldwide grantmaking program on philanthropy and the nonprofit sector and his seminal work on African American giving and volunteering at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies is widely seen as helping to spark broad public interest in ethnic philanthropy studies.

In addition to serving on numerous nonprofit boards, he has conducted workshops on endowment building for nongovernmental organizations in southern Africa and participated in international efforts to develop best practices within the field of philanthropy. He has received numerous awards, including honorary degrees from Indiana University, Morehouse College and The National Hispanic University.

A native of Chicago, Emmett received both his master’s and Ph.D. degrees in public and international affairs from Princeton University and his bachelor’s degree in economics, Phi Beta Kappa, from Morehouse College. He is married to Jacqueline Copeland-Carson, Ph.D.

See also: Emmett’s 2007 Interview with the Stanford Social Innovation Review

See also: Emmett’s 2006 Interview with the Foundation Center

Photo credit: Silicon Valley Community Foundation