Lyell Sakaue


What I care about: Mobilizing resources in support of equity and justice, especially for efforts that center the voices of those most proximate to the work. In my experience, people from marginalized communities (including Black, Latinx, and indigenous people, among others) have powerful visions for social change and the strength necessary to achieve them – financial resources and capacity-building can accelerate this work when offered in service of those visions.

What I bring to this work: As a mixed, queer person who lives “in-between” identities, I prioritize understanding context and nuance in social change work. I combine a passion for rigorous analysis (including data science!) with reflection on shared values as the basis for collaboration with others, especially when there are difficult choices to make.

My favorite projects: I have found tremendous joy working at the intersection between funders and change-makers – at their best, these relationships can enable fulfillment and learning for funders and mobilize significant resources in service of social justice. In recent years, I have supported TED to realize the Audacious Project, worked with high net-worth individuals to address US economic mobility, and conducted research on ways to advance racial equity in US philanthropy.

My expertise: Philanthropic strategy, sourcing & due diligence, US economic mobility

What I do outside the office: Read speculative fiction and begrudgingly embrace millennial stereotypes (e.g., pursuit of avocado toast, group exercise classes).

Education: I have an MPP from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and a BA from the University of California, Berkeley.

Publications: “What Ambitious Donors Can Learn From The Atlantic Philanthropies’ Experience Making Big Bets"