Who We Are
Mission: The Andrus Family Fund seeks to foster just and sustainable change in the United States. We do this by supporting organizations that advance social justice and improve outcomes for vulnerable youth.
Vision: We envision a just society in which vulnerable youth have more than one opportunity for a good life.
History: The Surdna Foundation’s Board of Directors launched AFF in January 2000 as a next generation philanthropy to engage more than 400 extended family members between the ages of 25 and 45 in public service and organized philanthropy. While AFF is legally a fund of Surdna, it manages its own grant making program and processes.
Much of AFF’s earlier grant making was guided by the Transitions Framework and the belief that social change efforts will have a better chance for success when the emotional and psychological effects of the change process are recognized and addressed. AFF’s Board and staff adopted this framework and applied it broadly to social change in two program areas: (1) youth’s passage from foster care to independence; and (2) community reconciliation.
After an extensive review, we learned that while this framework was helpful to our grantees in managing their own internal organizational transitions, it limited our overall ability to impact change. The past 15 years also taught us the value of working closely with grantee partners and allowed us to support a myriad of organizations both large and small.
Building on the lessons learned and best practices of our previous work, in 2014 we announced a new strategic direction. One that will allow us to make a greater impact in the lives of America’s most vulnerable youth, while still continuing a “grant plus” approach that provides our grantees with connections to people and resources that can build their capacity while advancing their work.
Stephanie Andrus Cardon
C’Ardiss Gardner Gleser
Lindsey Griffith, Vice Chairperson
Megan Kelly, Secretary
Kaitlin Spensley, Treasurer
Courtney Bourne Spensley
Molly Thorpe, Chairperson
Associate Program Officer
National Urban Fellow
Leticia brings over 20 years of experience in social justice programming and philanthropy to her role at the Andrus Family Fund. She has dedicated her career to issues related to equity and justice for young people and women with the goal of building capacity in underserved and oppressed communities and the organizations that serve them. Leticia has worked at organizations throughout the Tristate area such as the Posse Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation–LFP Program, Planned Parenthood of New York City, the Door and the Adolescent AIDS Program.
She is a graduate of one of the country’s top leadership program—the National Urban Fellows. Leticia graduated with honors with a MPA from the School of Public Service at Baruch College–City University of New York and has a BA from Fordham University.
Outside of her role at AFF Leticia spends a lot of time working and thinking about the arts (dance was her first love). She helps run Areytos Performance Works—a dance theatre company working at the crossroads of African-Caribbean forms, contemporary modern dance and performance art.
Associate Program Officer
Manuela Arciniegas is the Associate Program Officer for the Andrus Family Fund, where she manages the capacity building initiative and a national community organizing portfolio.
Manuela brings over 15 years of experience in social justice, community organizing, youth development, and cultural arts education. She is a member of the New York City Youth Funders, Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy NYC Steering Committee and an advisory board member of the Funder’s Collaborative on Youth Organizing. She is currently conducting dissertation research for her PhD at the CUNY Graduate Center focusing on how Afro-Caribbean religious music creates power and cultural change. When not working at AFF Manuela directs The Legacy Women, a drum ensemble for women ages 23-55 that teaches and performs folk Afro-Caribbean music of resistance.
Manuela graduated cum laude with a Bachelors in Government from Harvard University.
Jennifer Kaizer is the Program Associate for the Andrus Family Fund team where she provides programmatic and administrative support to the team and its partners.
Over the past five years Jennifer has provided fundraising and program support through various roles in the nonprofit sector. She worked at The Posse Foundation, focusing on youth leadership development and the International Institute of New England in Boston assisting immigrants and refugees prepare and transition into American life.
While abroad in Ayacucho, Peru in 2009, Jennifer volunteered at Finca Peru, a nonprofit organization integrating women into the community’s economy.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Economics from Boston University. Jennifer is currently pursuing a Masters in Public Administration in Public & Nonprofit Management & Policy at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service & Policy.
Outside of graduate school and work, Jennifer loves Vinyasa yoga, running marathons and biking. Every now and then you can find her wandering museums in New York City or searching for new places to visit.
National Urban Fellow
Laura Lemus, a proud Mexican immigrant and passionate social justice advocate, joins the Andrus Family Fund as a National Urban Fellow. National Urban Fellows is a prestigious leadership program that offers a nine-month mentorship and culminates with a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the School of Public Service at Baruch College-City University of New York.
Prior to being selected as a National Urban Fellow, Laura worked for Long Island Wins, a non-profit communications organization that advocates for immigrants on Long Island. There, she organized and advocated for welcoming initiatives, the NY DREAM Act, language access, NY driver’s license campaign, and immigration reform. Laura also brings communications experience in radio, podcasts and social media.
Laura graduated Magna Cum Laude from SUNY Old Westbury with a Bachelor’s degree in History and Philosophy and minor in global studies. Throughout college, Laura was committed to various social justice issues, including a position at the United Nations as a Youth Representative for Soroptimist International, an NGO that empowers women and girls globally.
During her spare time, Laura enjoys running, reading, and spending time with her close-knit family.
Katrina is an experienced and respected leader with more than 15 years of experience working on a national and regional level. She has worked in the non-profit and philanthropic sector, including serving as AFF’s Program Officer. Currently, Katrina is testing how partnerships between philanthropy and government can work on behalf of our most vulnerable youth and their families as the Director of Strategic Partnerships at the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services.
Connect with Katrina on Linkedin.
Awarded each year in AFF grants
Awarded since 2001
Youth residing in juvenile detention, correctional or residential facilities*
Children ages 16-20 who exited foster care in 2015**