Sam Marquardt joined McKnight in July 2009 as program assistant with the Environment program. In subsequent years they held similar roles with the Mississippi River and Midwest Climate & Energy programs, before moving to a program and grants associate role with the Climate team. In their current position as senior program and grants associate (since January 2023), Sam supports the Neuroscience program and McKnight’s Other Grantmaking areas and administers the McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience grantmaking database, maintaining key relationships and moving funds to support our grantee partners, all with the help of a robust spreadsheet. During their tenure, Sam has enjoyed connecting with grantees working on varied issues in diverse communities and is excited about the new directions and energy at McKnight.

Sam has dedicated their career to working with pressing social and environmental justice issues, ranging from water quality, sustainable agriculture, climate change, land sovereignty, and Native language revitalization. Prior to McKnight, Sam developed and managed an extensive FileMaker Pro database as the office manager at Organic Alliance. This database knowledge and experience led to their entry into philanthropy as grants manager at the Grotto Foundation, where they also managed materials for the American Indian Family Empowerment Program. Sam has a degree in anthropology and women’s studies from Macalester College.

During tax season Sam volunteers with Prepare + Prosper to prepare and review tax returns. Sam loves a good form. When not working, Sam enjoys gardening at their urban farmstead and community garden, cohosting informal group folk singing, and spending time with friends and family, including their wife and adorable dog.