Ana Marie Argilagos on Social Change Diaries

Philanthropy By, For, and About Latino Communities

Note: this podcast was originally posted on The Wakeman Agency as an episode of The Social Change Diaries with Vanessa Wakeman. Click here to see the original post.

About This Episode

There are an estimated 55 million Hispanic people in the United States, comprising over 17% of the population and Ana Marie Argilagos is working to usher in a new generation of philanthropy that is for, by, and about the Latino community. Looking to fill the gap unmet by institutional philanthropy, Ana talks candidly about what philanthropy looks like for Latinos and the exciting opportunities that lie ahead.


Ana Marie Argilagos joined Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP) as their new President on January 1, 2018. She is guiding HIP with a bold vision: to usher in a new generation of philanthropy that is for, by, and about the Latino community. Previously, Ana Marie was a senior advisor at the Ford Foundation as part of the Equitable Development team. Her work has focused on urban development strategies to reduce poverty, expand economic opportunity, and advance sustainability in cities and regions across the world. Before becoming a senior adviser at the foundation in 2014, she served as Deputy Chief of Staff and Deputy Assistant Secretary at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). While there, she created the Office for International and Philanthropic Innovation (IPI) to deepen and scale collaboration between public and philanthropic sectors. The IPI model of sourcing innovation and leveraging partnerships from broad global networks is now being successfully replicated at other federal cabinet agencies and in cities across the US. Previous to rejoining HUD, she spent eight years as a senior program officer at the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore, where she spearheaded the foundation’s work in rural areas, indigenous communities, and the US-Mexico border region. Until recently, Ana Marie was an adjunct professor of international urban planning at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service. She has a successful track record working within both the public and the nonprofit sectors in a range of capacities—from educational programs manager at the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, to the director of the New Workplace for Women Project at the National Council of La Raza, to the deputy director of Ayuda, a community-based legal clinic serving immigrants in Washington, DC—and has proved herself to be an entrepreneurial thinker bridging diverse agendas and achieving results. Ana Marie received her master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard University and her Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations from American University.

In her words…

“Right now there’s a lot of really well-meaning work that’s happening, but we are not able to have long-term, sustainable work. When you’re just working with foundations, strategic plans change, funding interests change, lines of work change, theories of change are altered, and what I’m trying to figure out is how we develop other ways. HIP has been doing this for a while, through our funding collaborative and through our crowdfunding sites, where Latinos, who are such generous givers, are able to invest in their own community infrastructure and institutions. And when I say ‘by our community, for our community, about our community,’ it’s taking that into consideration, if we’re able to harness just a fraction of the Latino community’s buying power, which is 1.4 trillion dollars, and we’re able to invest that into our communities, we can really start closing some of these inequality gaps impacting the community.” “For me, philanthropy is much brighter than foundations. It’s giving and it’s getting, one person to another, with no expectation back. And, as such, it can be used as an instrument towards dismantling inequality, towards dismantling poverty and racism. And I think it’s a way to be audacious and take risks. Philanthropy is the way to really address problems that feel persistent and enduring, and that have no hope. If you look at the words of Nelson Mandela, he said, ‘It always seems impossible until it’s done.’ That’s how we can use philanthropy as a way to address issues that feel like they’re impossible and they’re daunting— we can get it done through philanthropy, by working together and by giving broadly.” “One of the things I’m doubling down on is leadership. I find that we’re all talking about diversity, equity and inclusion, intersectional, racial equity, these kind of things. I think that this needs to start at the top, and so one of the things I’m thinking about is how do we diversify trustees? It has to start at the very top. We have a fantastic network Latino CEOs, and I know from many years in philanthropy that there are also a good number of Latinos as Program Officers and Directors. But until we have enough CEOs, who are the ones that are providing the strategic direction and governance, we’re going to be hitting our heads against the ceiling. So I’m focusing on trustees, because it’s frustrating that we have such view. I think it’s between 2% and 3% is the last report that I saw. And that’s not acceptable. The gap is too large.”

Questions Answered on this Episode

  • How do you define philanthropy?
  • The Hispanic and Latino population represents the second largest ethnic group in the country. As we think about philanthropy, what is the potential impact on creating sustainable change for this growing group? Today, do you think there are enough resources allocated to address the needs of it?
  • There are a lot of conversations taking place now about the census. Are there any connections between philanthropy and the census that we need to be thinking about?
  • What do you find most frustrating in philanthropy?
  • How do we develop more leaders of color in the nonprofit sector?
  • What impact has the current political climate had on your work?
  • The model for philanthropy looks different for different communities. What does philanthropy typically look like in Hispanic communities?
  • What is your vision for the HIP?
  • You’ve been in your role for less than six months, what have you learned so far?
  • How do we create more opportunities for people of color in philanthropy?