Michele Lord

With a 25-year record of service and leadership in social justice philanthropy, Michele commands an unparalleled expertise in developing philanthropic opportunities that help donors fulfill their highest ambitions and grantees receive the resources they need to create real change.

During the past 20 years, she has led NEO Philanthropy through a period of dramatic growth in its program offerings and reach, all while staying true to its values of dignity, justice, equality, innovation, accountability and excellence.

From 2016 to 2018 alone, NEO increased revenue from $19.5M to $83.7M; fiscal sponsorship partners from 16 to 53; and donor services and special projects from 3 to 23 as Michele led efforts to expand NEO’s programmatic and donor-related offerings.

Through Michele’s guidance, NEO has embraced and redefined the role of a philanthropic intermediary. Her vision for NEO is that it be a forward-looking incubator for leadership and social movements and a problem solver for multi-faceted and sometimes controversial projects. Today NEO is a nimble and responsive philanthropic change agent, able to meet the multifaceted needs of the organizations and projects under NEO’s wing, all while working in an ever-evolving and frequently threatening political landscape that demands new solutions to complex challenges.

Michele has prioritized capacity building for grantees; invested in intersectional work and alliance building; educated funders about the importance of multi-year as well as rapid response support; and created a unique philanthropic space where donors can find their way into a variety of issues through numerous platforms, including collaborative funds, fiscal sponsorships, and donor advised funds.

Prior to joining NEO Philanthropy, Michele served as Director of the Norman Foundation, from 1993 to 1999, and has served as Chair of the Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation.

She is sought out as a consultant by national funders and has overseen program evaluations on behalf of the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Open Society Institute. Prior to entering the philanthropic sector, Michele worked in city and national government. From 1990 to 1993, she was Deputy Director of Health and Human Services in the New York City Mayor’s Office of Operations under Mayor David Dinkins.

Michele served in the U.S. Congress from 1984 to 1988 as Director of the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues.

Michele began her career as a legal services lawyer in Houston, specializing in immigration and welfare law. She holds an undergraduate degree from Brown University and a law degree from the University of Florida.

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