Lyell Sakaue

Partner, San Francisco

Lyell Sakaue is a partner in Bridgespan’s San Francisco office and philanthropy practice. He works with high wealth families and their staff to define their goals, clarify the types of work they seek to support, design sourcing and selection processes, support portfolio organizations, and continually improve their giving over time. Lyell also works with philanthropic collaboratives and intermediaries to clarify their strategies and operating models – including the 1954 Project, the Asian American Foundation, the Audacious Project, and the California Black Freedom Fund.

In addition, Lyell studies and writes about effective and equitable practices in philanthropy, including collaborative efforts with Echoing Green, PolicyLink, and Liberation Ventures.He is a co-author of “Philanthropic Sourcing, Diligence, and Decision Making: An Equity-Oriented Approach,” (, 2022), “Moving from Intention to Impact: Funding Racial Equity to Win,” (, 2021), “Overcoming the Racial Bias in Philanthropic Funding,” (Stanford Social Innovation Review, 2020), and “What Ambitious Donors Can Learn From The Atlantic Philanthropies’ Experience Making Big Bets” (, 2016).

Lyell is a yonsei Japanese American and grew up in rural Northern California. He previously served as board chair of the Vesper Society, a healthcare conversion foundation focused on closing health disparities in California. He holds an MPP from the Harvard Kennedy School and a BA from the University of California, Berkeley.

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