Whether writing a book, giving a speech at a philanthropy forum, sitting down for a national radio or television interview, connecting with people through social media outlets or sharing their philanthropic story with investors, employees, grantees or volunteers, these Top 20 Women Executives, Thinkers and Experts are some of the philanthropic sector’s most influential leaders.

There were more than 400 nominees for Top 20 Women in the philanthropic community, which is a little more than we expected.

Although they are highly visible and have built national (even international) platforms, these women were selected for their philanthropic impact through the art of collaboration and their ability to facilitate, to the highest degree, the free flow of information and innovation across sector networks to advance social change.

In addition, these women are not only thought leaders, they are LOVE LEADERS with compassion for the people they serve. Philanthropy without love has ZERO social impact. Money and endowment assets have nothing to do with our list, it is ALL about social impact, advancing the overall philanthropic sector (not just your own organization) with strategy and thought-leadership.


  1. Kathleen McLaughlin, President, Walmart Foundation & SVP, Walmart Sustainability
  2. Sue Desmond Hellmann, President, Gates Foundation
  3. Oprah Winfrey, Founder, Oprah Angel Network
  4. Melissa Berman, CEO and President, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors
  5. Diana Aviv, CEO and President, Independent Sector
  6. Bette Midler, Singer, Actress and Humanitarian
  7. Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, CEO and President, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  8. Marissa Manlove, Board Chair, Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers
  9. Wendy Guillies, President, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
  10. Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, Founder, Giving 2.0
  11. Anna Cunningham, Senior Manager, Global Responsibility, Starbucks Coffee Company
  12. Carol Larson, CEO and President, The David & Lucile Packard Foundation
  13. Jane Wales, President, Global Philanthropy Forum
  14. Vikki Spruill, CEO and President, Council on Foundations
  15. Hilary Pennington, Vice President, Ford Foundation
  16. Mari Ellen Reynolds Loijens, Chief Business, Development & Brand
    Officer, Silicon Valley Community Foundations
  17. Carol Coletta, Vice President, Community & National Initiatives, Knight
  18. Janine Lee, President, Southeastern Council of Foundations
  19. Trista Harris, President, Minnesota Council on Foundations
  20. Lisa Philp, Vice President, Strategic Philanthropy, Foundation Center


Known as “The Philanthropy Connector,” Michael Chatman is one of the most listened-to voices in philanthropy and social innovation with 327,000 followers on Twitter; provides market strategy for America’s leading thought leaders in philanthropy and social innovation, and positions their message to achieve greater social impact.

Three-time Social Media Influencer of the year in philanthropy; Mr. Chatman, founder of Philanthropy Speakers Agency and host of #WHYiGIVE, is credited with building one of the most popular brands in the philanthropic sector. Follow Michael’s Twitter feed.

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