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Kate Wolford


Kate Wolford is president of The McKnight Foundation, a Minnesota-based family foundation that seeks to improve the quality of life for present and future generations through grantmaking, collaboration, impact investing, and strategic policy reform. In 2016, the Foundation had assets of $2.2 billion and granted about $87 million in the following areas: arts, education and learning, Midwest climate and energy, Mississippi River water quality, the Minneapolis/St. Paul region and communities, agricultural research, and neuroscience research.

Wolford has led The McKnight Foundation since 2006. During her tenure, she has spearheaded the development of the Foundation’s climate mitigation and sustainability efforts, and its impact investing program, which further leverages the Foundation’s endowment to achieve its goals. This work has included earmarking $200 million for higher impact investments; developing a new lower carbon investment product; and promoting impact investing as a tool for learning among grantmaking staff. Wolford has also embraced enhanced transparency to share what McKnight is learning with the broader philanthropic and civic sector.

Prior to joining McKnight, Wolford spent 13 years as president of Lutheran World Relief (LWR), a global grantmaking and policy advocacy organization. From 1991 to 2006, she worked at LWR, where she was named president after two years as program director for Latin America. Previously she worked on humanitarian and community-based efforts in Latin America. Wolford has a B.A. in history from Gettysburg College, an M.A. in public policy from the University of Chicago, and an M.A. from the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. Wolford serves on the board of directors of Greater MSP, The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread, and Minnesota Comeback.