Philanthropy Northwest’s new CEO, Kiran Ahuja, has received several warm welcomes since beginning her tenure as the organization’s leader.
“For those of us who work in philanthropy in the Pacific Northwest, we are thrilled to be the beneficiaries of Kiran’s leadership, experience and commitment to equity and social justice in her new role,” said Jill Nishi, Director of Strategy, Planning and Management and Chief of Staff in the Office of the President of U.S. Program at the Bill & Melina Gates Foundation.
The first event was hosted at the Gates Foundation by the Seattle Puget Sound Chapter of Asian American Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP). In attendance were numerous respected sector leaders, including Nishi and David Bley of the Gates Foundation.
Cora Mirikitani, AAPIP President and CEO, called Ahuja a “respected leader and longstanding ally of AAPIP.”
“She is a leader advancing new research, data and policies for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders,” said Mirikitani.
Ahuja also spoke to small group of Philanthropy Northwest members during a late June reception at Seattle’s Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience.
“This is a setting that holds great personal and professional significance for me,” Ahuja said in her remarks, referring to the community-led exhibits on the complex history of Asian-Americans in the Pacific Northwest. Ahuja is the first person of color to lead Philanthropy Northwest in the organization’s 40-year history.
Ahuja helped the museum earn national designation for its historical significance by the U.S. Department of Interior’s National Park Service in her former role as executive director for the White House Initiative on Asian American and Pacific Islanders.
“Kiran helped the Wing Luke Museum find our way through the mysteries of federal government,” said Beth Takekawa, executive director. “From her leadership post in the Obama Administration, she cared about a community-based museum. She brought critical knowledge, dedication to community, and a way of being quietly effective in helping us find a path to establishing our National Park Service affiliation.”
Ahuja said that she sees philanthropy’s optimism as key to sustaining the long-term work of building resilient, equitable and inclusive communities.
“I am committed to better understanding the local context in which you work,” she said. “It’s your generous insights into philanthropy in the Northwest that will help us best serve you, Philanthropy Northwest’s network and the philanthropic community in the region and beyond.”