Hull Fellows Highlight: Susan Aspinwall
Susan Aspinwall’s email signature says she’s the executive director of The Sara Giles Moore Foundation – what it doesn’t mention is that she’s also a program officer, grants manager and office manager.
Like many family foundations in SECF, The Sara Giles Moore Foundation employs a staff of one. Susan, however, doesn’t feel alone in her work. Being a member of the 2019-20 Hull Fellows Class, she says, has opened her up to the broader world of philanthropy.
“It can be challenging to be the only staff person – it can feel like there is no one to bounce ideas off of and you miss having a trusted colleague to go to for advice,” she said. “Being a part of the Hull Fellows program allows me to, in a way, expand my ‘office’ to include a diverse group of professionals that are committed to supporting one another.”
The connections Susan has made are all the more helpful, since she was new to philanthropy when she applied to the Hull program last year.
“After many years working on the nonprofit side, I hoped the Hull Fellows program would support my success in this new role through learning opportunities as well as help me create a close network of colleagues that I could turn to for advice and guidance in the future,” she said. “Being a part of the Hull Fellows program helped me make connections that resulted in deep conversations and offered learning opportunities that connected me to experts in the field with different perspectives.”
Susan’s network includes her Hull Mentor, Pat Lummus of The Sartain Lanier Family Foundation – another Atlanta-based family foundation with only one person on staff.
“The opportunity to be connected to a mentor is one of the most impactful aspects of the program. SECF does an excellent job matching fellows with a mentor who is on a similar path, thinking about similar issues, and has significant experience to share,” Susan said. “I have benefited greatly from Pat’s mentorship. She has been generous with her time and I have enjoyed our thoughtful conversations.”
Susan’s entry into philanthropy has come during an eventful time. Like many funders, The Sara Giles Moore Foundation has targeted its grantmaking toward helping nonprofits cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. It has also looked to SECF as it works to incorporate racial equity into its work.
“The foundation is informed by SECF’s Equity Framework and is committed to supporting organizations that both reflect and support Atlanta’s diverse community,” Susan said. “We are focused on support for organizations who are both providing emergency support at this time as well as those who face immense challenges serving our community during a pandemic.”
Before joining the foundation, Susan worked in the nonprofit sector with fundraising roles at Habitat for Humanity International and the High Museum of Art. She graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a bachelor’s degree in Management and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public administration at Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies.