Who We Are
Mission: The Andrus Family Fund supports the self-determination, power and liberation of Black, Brown, AAPI and Indigenous youth impacted by youth justice, child welfare and other disruptive systems.
Vision: We envision a just society in which Black, Brown, AAPI, Indigenous, LGBTQIA, disabled and undocumented youth are thriving in empowered and supportive communities, free from state violence and family separation.
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.
Read our Strategy Refresh to learn how we are building on the knowledge, experience and lessons learned through our work together as funders, movement partners and the broader field.
C'Ardiss Gardner Gleser
Senior Program Associate
Mishi (she/her) is the Director of AFF. She oversees a $4 million grantmaking portfolio advancing AFF’s mission to support the self-determination, power, and liberation of Black, Brown, AAPI, and Indigenous youth impacted by youth incarceration, child welfare and other disruptive systems.
In close collaboration with AFF’s board and staff, Mishi directs funding to organizations focusing on youth-led organizing and power-building to abolish youth incarceration and foster care and to build community-driven approaches to help youth flourish at home with their families, in school, in their communities, and in life.
As a recognized leader, advocate, and organizer in youth justice, Mishi has helped bring significant advances to youth justice and criminal justice policy throughout her career.
Most recently, Mishi served as president of Youth First Initiative, an AFF grantee partner and national campaign to end youth incarceration and invest in community-based supports, services, and opportunities for youth. In this role, she supported state-based juvenile justice campaigns and secured widespread policy changes. Previously, Mishi worked as the juvenile justice policy strategist with the ACLU, the director of the Women in Prison Project and the Juvenile Justice Project with the Correctional Association of New York, the director of youth justice programs at the Children’s Defense Fund-NY, and as a senior advisor to the Commissioner at the New York City Department of Probation. She currently serves on the board of Community Connections for Youth, a nonprofit organization in the South Bronx.
Mishi received her bachelor’s from Swarthmore College and holds graduate degrees from Oxford University and the New School for Social Research.
Senior Program Associate
Zaira (she/her) serves as the Senior Program Associate at the Andrus Family Fund. She provides programmatic and administrative assistance to further AFF’s strategy, supporting the self-determination, power, and liberation of Black, Brown, AAPI, and Indigenous youth impacted by the youth justice, child welfare and other disruptive systems. In coordination with the AFF team and grantee partners, Zaira helps to arrange convenings and webinars, organizes collaborative meetings and serves as a liaison to the AFF Board of Directors. Zaira joined AFF as Administrative Assistant in April 2019 before moving into her current role.
Prior to the Andrus Family Fund, Zaira worked for Technical Traffic Consultants, where she managed auditing, generated reports and coordinated new client account setups. Though she satisfied her analytical side while working in accounting, Zaira always longed for a career that felt rewarding and fulfilling. The shift to philanthropy was a welcomed change. Through philanthropy and in connection with AFF’s grantees, Zaira continues to learn how to best support movements toward racial and social justice and liberation.
Outside of work, Zaira is an avid crocheter and, as she likes to put it, “an artist with a small a.” She enjoys traveling, cooking meals, exploring new cuisines, hiking and absorbing nature. She lives in Rockland County, NY with her three wonderful children and two cats.
Lincoln (he/him) is the Program Officer of the Andrus Family Fund. Lincoln helps guide a $4 million grantmaking portfolio supporting the self-determination, power, and liberation of Black, Brown, AAPI, and Indigenous youth impacted by youth incarceration, child welfare and other disruptive systems. He joined AFF in August 2023.
In this role, Lincoln manages field leadership and learning agendas alongside the AFF team, board and Movement Partner Advisory Council to implement AFF’s strategy to advance the abolition of disruptive juvenile systems. Instead, AFF focuses on community-driven alternatives for youth well-being, safety, and justice.
With deep and interdisciplinary expertise in youth activism, LGBTQ+ health and rights, reproductive justice, and narratives, Lincoln leverages his creativity to connect movements, inspire participation, and, ultimately, seed new worlds.
He began his career supporting a range of justice-focused clients across external affairs, strategy, and design at the political affairs firm BerlinRosen—including the Youth First Initiative, an AFF grantee partner and national campaign to end youth incarceration and invest in community-based supports, services, and opportunities for youth.
Lincoln went on to lead strategy for Advocates for Youth, a reproductive health organization anchored by a cohort of 150+ youth activists. At Advocates for Youth, Lincoln directed a YouTube series for LGBTQ+ youth of color, trained youth activists as storytellers, and managed the organization’s external brand and relationships.
Outside of these positions, Lincoln created two short films with the national public health organization Truth Initiative, exploring the origins and impact of the tobacco industry and how it shaped the Black experience in America. He is a recognized expert in messaging and programs tailored to younger audiences, with his work and commentary appearing in CBS News, The Daily Show, Teen Vogue, PAPER, NowThis, Healthline, and more.
As a self-proclaimed lover of “pretty things,” Lincoln is design-obsessed, and Apartment Therapy and Dwell Magazine have featured his curation. A native Texan, Lincoln graduated from The George Washington University and proudly serves on the Board of Directors of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington.
Awarded each year in AFF GRANTS
Awarded since 2001
Youth residing in juvenile detention, correctional and/or residential facilities in the U.S.*
Children ages 16-20 who exited foster care in 2018**
*As of 2017. Figure provided by Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
**Figure provided by KIDS COUNT data center.