Meet Anna Guarneri

Posted on June 14, 2018

Anna brings more than a decade of experience working with philanthropies and community-based organizations to help children and families reach their full potential. Prior to moving to Seattle, she served in a dual role at the William Penn Foundation in Philadelphia, aligning the foundation's strategies and operations for effective grantmaking, and managing advocacy and research grants designed to build support for equity in school funding. She also served on the board of Philanthropy Network, the Philanthropy Northwest equivalent for Greater Philadelphia, and on the selection advisory council of the Greenlight Fund, an organization designed to "greenlight" evidence-based programs seeking expansion.  

Prior to 2011, Anna worked with nonprofits as development and strategic planning consultant, both independently and with Philadelphia firm Fairmount Ventures. She served as a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs in Pittsburgh, ran youth programs at an interfaith organization in Philadelphia, and was an AmeriCorps VISTA through a post-graduate leadership development program.  Anna was born and raised in Oakland, California.

Anna is excited to call Seattle home and work collaboratively with King County's diverse communities to make a meaningful impact on the education system. She has spent the past seven months getting to know the region's cultural sector through Gage Academy's Studio Arts Intensive, which included artist studio, gallery, and museum visits along with classroom instruction.  In addition to the visual arts, she is a Latin and hip-hop dance enthusiast.  You can find her salsa dancing on Alki Beach this summer.


How did you develop an interest in education equity?

Growing up, I went to all kinds of schools – public, parochial, and private. But, the message was always the same - ‘that if you work hard, you will succeed.’  The challenges students faced, however, were vastly different. As a result, poverty and privilege were the best predictors of success at my schools and across the country.  I came to believe that to give all students an equal shot at success we need to change their circumstances by investing meaningfully in schools, families, and communities. 

What’s your approach as a program officer?

I believe in staying open and listening. I try to be as transparent as possible. When I ask for something, I try to explain why it’s important and to be respectful of people’s time. I have worked in small organizations, where sweat equity was keeping the doors open and the programs running. I know how the pressure to secure funding and meet funders’ expectations can distract from the work on the ground. I try to stay aware of that and express gratitude for what nonprofits achieve every day. 

What are you looking forward to most in your work with the foundation?

I can’t wait to meet our grantees!  There are so many wonderful organizations working to change the lives of young people in King County. I’m also excited by SFF’s commitment to working collaboratively with community groups. I think that the most effective grantmaking strategies are informed by practitioners and designed to support community-led approaches.