Denver, CO —Rose Community Foundation today announced that Benilda “Benny” Samuels has been hired to serve as its vice president of programs beginning April 6. In this role Samuels will lead the Foundation’s grantmaking team at a pivotal and exciting moment of organizational evolution following the launch of its new strategic plan in January. The vice president of programs will direct the staff of the programs department in granting approximately $10 million annually in the seven-county Greater Denver area.
“We are thrilled to welcome Benny to the Rose Community Foundation team as we refocus our grantmaking on new goals around advancing equity and justice, inclusion and community engagement, and the growth of resources for regional good,” said President and CEO Lindy Eichenbaum Lent. “Benny has a strong background in and personal commitment to serving communities furthest from opportunity, and her impressive multi-sector career spans two decades of service to individuals and families in need.”
Samuels most recently served as the chief operating officer for Nurse-Family Partnership, which serves more than 36,000 young women and their babies in 41 states and 6 tribal nations in the U.S. As COO, she managed a $15M budget and led teams in developing and implementing strategic plans, expanding and scaling their programs, leveraging philanthropic partnerships and investments, and piloting feedback loops to capture the insights of their clients and drive innovation. Prior to becoming COO, she served as Nurse-Family Partnership’s Chief Marketing Officer.
Samuels’ career also includes senior roles at Mile High United Way, Denver Health and Hospital Authority and the Denver Department of Human Services spanning the issues of health, education, poverty and more. Her accomplishments in building and expanding access to services for vulnerable populations include: leading and managing Medicaid and CHP+ eligibility and enrollment programs; a successful family planning project; child care assistance awareness and enrollment campaigns; child welfare projects to recruit foster parents; programs aimed at increasing Native Americans’ participation in public health insurance; projects aimed at reducing homelessness; community screening programs for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dental sealants, etc. Active in the community, Benny has been a student mentor through Denver Kids and Lincoln High School, served on the Denver Great Kids Head Start Policy Council and was involved with The Conflict Center, Denver Latino Commission, Sesame Street in Communities Advisory Board and DC-based Feedback Labs.
“I am enthusiastic and humbled by the opportunity to create impact alongside the team and philanthropists of Rose Community Foundation,” said Samuels. “In this role, I am thrilled to lead the strong, talented and committed grantmaking team, and I will continue to work tirelessly to improve equitable access to opportunity in Denver while ensuring the viewpoints of those who we seek to serve are represented in our grantmaking processes.”
Among her first priorities once on board, Samuels will work to align the roles of Rose Community Foundation’s programs department to the new strategic plan. She will also lead the team to develop and implement integrated grantmaking frameworks, criteria and processes that reflect the Foundation’s new mission, vision, values, goals and strategies.
“Benny’s experience as a grantee of many local and national foundations will lend valuable insights to our grantmaking work to ensure we are the best partner possible, deploying our resources to nonprofits in the most efficient and effective way,” added Lent. “Most importantly, her background in serving people and communities facing inequitable access to opportunities will catalyze the ways in which our new strategic plan is animated to make the positive impacts we seek to achieve.”
Benny holds a master’s degree in mass communications from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and an undergraduate degree from the University of Denver. She is from Panama and is bilingual in English and Spanish. She was 2014 United Way Worldwide Global Resident Fellow, is an alumna of the Leadership Denver Class of 2011 and was named one of Colorado’s 2020 Top 25 Most Powerful Women by the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce.
In recognition of the important role that grantmaking has played at Rose Community Foundation since its inception, the vice president of programs role was the second position filled when Foundation was started a quarter century ago, but it has not been filled in the last 15 years.
About Rose Community Foundation
Rose Community Foundation strives to advance inclusive, engaged and equitable Greater Denver communities through values-driven philanthropy. The Foundation envisions a thriving region strengthened by its diversity and generosity, and it utilizes the varied tools at its disposal – grantmaking, advocacy and philanthropic services – to advance this aspiration. Since its founding in 1995, the Foundation has granted more than $304 million to 1,901 organizations and initiatives, including $44 million in facilitated grantmaking from donor-advised funds. The Foundation has also supported nearly 70 nonprofit organizations in creating and growing endowments to sustain their vital work into the future, currently stewarding $31 million in endowed assets. The Foundation has $307 million in total assets under management, with annual grantmaking of nearly $25 million.