Gwen I. Walden, M.A.
Program: The Grantmaking School
Gwen Walden is the Principal and Founder of Walden Philanthropy Advisors, Inc. (WPA) which she launched in 2007 after a 21-year career in philanthropy. Gwen’s more than two decades of experience encompasses major programmatic, management, and executive leadership assignments at two of the largest foundations in the United States: The J. Paul Getty Trust and The California Endowment. Gwen’s distinguished career is marked both by her encyclopedic knowledge of the history and practice of philanthropy, and by her hands-on experience managing major foundation initiatives and functions.
Gwen’s consulting practice focuses on the strategic needs of Boards of Directors and senior and executive leadership in private foundations, family foundations, corporate giving entities and public agency grantmakers. She specializes in working with her clients on long-term strategic plans using various planning methodologies as well as targeted strategic issues that have ramifications for an organization's operations and programs. She is best when she can work at the nexus of strategy and operations, helping organizations understand how to effectively structure their governance, staff, and grant programs to achieve their overall goals.
Gwen has also developed a body of work related to the ways in which foundations can use non-grantmaking strategies, such as capacity building and advocacy, to partner with nonprofits for social change. Her assignments have ranged from overseeing the development of major, multi-year strategic plans to researching issues and facilitating meetings aimed at targeted, critical, and timely business decisions. In addition, Gwen specializes in assisting Boards and management staff in planning and implementing major staff and structural changes related to improving organizational effectiveness and increasing the impact of their philanthropy.
Gwen’s practice also extends to the planning, design, and development of foundation facilities that incorporate community benefit space, including conference centers, libraries, and event space. Her portfolio consists of a half-dozen building projects, including two award-winning complexes, The Getty Center and The California Endowment's Center for Healthy Communities.
Gwen has received national recognition for her numerous articles on current issues in philanthropy. She has written for all of the major trade publications including Foundation News & Commentary, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Nonprofit & Voluntary Sector Quarterly as well as in special editions of the annual State of Philanthropy and New Directions for Philanthropic Fundraising.
Gwen has been an active member of the field of philanthropy for many years serving on numerous professional boards and committees. Currently, she is one of only two outside Directors of The Surdna Foundation, a five-generation family foundation founded by John E. Andrus with $750 million dollars in assets. She is especially proud of her efforts to increase the diversity of the profession. Gwen earned a Bachelor's degree from The George Washington University and a Master's degree from The Johns Hopkins University.