Seasoned Grassroots Funding Champion Maria de la Cruz  Announced as NCRP’s First Vice President and Chief External Affairs Officer

Former Headwaters Foundation for Justice Executive Director to Join Staff in December


Washington, D.C.- The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) announced this week that executive leader Maria De La Cruz (she, her), will join NCRP next month in the newly created position of Vice President and Chief External Affairs Officer.

Headshot of NCRP's New Vice President and Chief External Affairs Officer Maria De La CruzA seasoned resource mobilizer and philanthropic organizer, De la Cruz will oversee NCRP’s strategic development, communications and marketing efforts. She will also serve on NCRP’s leadership team along with President and CEO Aaron Dorfman, Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Timi Gerson, and Vice President and Chief Operation Officer Burhan Razi.

“I am thrilled that Maria is joining NCRP as our first-ever chief external affairs officer,” said Dorfman. “Her deep commitment, passion and track record for moving money to grassroots movements and communities with the least wealth, opportunity, and power perfectly aligns with our efforts to make philanthropy more accountable, responsive and transparent to the communities we all serve.”

Before joining NCRP, de la Cruz worked at Headwaters Foundation for Justice (HFJ) in several roles, most recently as President. Her additional leadership roles included being a board member of the Minnesota Council on Foundations, the co-chair of the Impact Driven Philanthropy Collaborative, and a co-chair of the Giving Project Network.

Her commitment to racial justice and collective liberation includes leading HFJ’s Fund of the Sacred Circle, a community-led grant program committed to Indigenous communities in Minnesota. She also helped launched the Emergency Fund for Black Lives to support Black-led community organizing in the wake of the murders of Jamar Clark and Philando Castile, as well as served on the design and core teams of Freedom Funders, a national network working to build philanthropy dedicated to Black Freedom.

That work was built on years of experience mobilizing resources for grassroots groups, including her work at OutFront Minnesota, where she helped engage donors and advocates around their Safe Schools for All and Marriage Equality Campaigns.

“After the murder of George Floyd, Maria sprung to action organizing individual donors and institutional funders to move millions of dollars to frontline groups organizing for racial justice,” said Dorfman. “She has established a reputation for being a thoughtful partner and leader who is able to take in multiple viewpoints and be a voice on complex issues without being afraid to take up space, ask questions, and speak truth to power.”

De La Cruz is looking forward to continuing to work in and with organizations that strive to live out values of racial, gender, and social justice.

“I am so excited to be stepping into this role and having the opportunity to collaborate and learn from a fantastic team of knowledgeable and connected staff and board members,” said De la Cruz. “Societal change depends on mobilizing resources to grassroots movements by rooting relationships in collective liberation. So much of that work depends on the work that NCRP does in engaging grantmakers around issues of identity, gender, race, class, and power to create a more just and equitable world.”

De La Cruz holds a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies from Metropolitan State University, a master’s degree in nonprofit management from Hamline University School of Business, and a juris doctorate from Hamline University School of Law. She lives in Minnesota with her wife and two teenage children.


The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) has served as philanthropy’s critical friend and independent watchdog since 1976. We work with foundations, nonprofits, social justice movements and other leaders to ensure that the sector is transparent with, and accountable to, those with the least wealth, power, and opportunity in American society.

Our storytelling, advocacy and research efforts, in partnership with grantees, help funders fulfill their moral and practical duty to build, share and wield economic resources and power to serve public purposes in pursuit of justice.

Together, we can create a just and equitable world where all communities get the resources they need to thrive.