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Ify Mora: The View from the Foundation

Monday, July 29, 2013

Mora, a leader in the nonprofit sector, credits Tisch College with setting her on a path to social impact.

Tisch College board member Ify Mora

“Tisch College has been such an integral part of my life and development, both personally and professionally,” said Ify Mora, A04, one of the new members of the Tisch College Board of Advisors.  “I know what a transformative place Tisch College is, and I am thrilled for the opportunity to give back in this way.”

Mora, originally from Columbus, Ohio, studied quantitative economics and Spanish at Tufts, and was a Tisch Scholar.  She coordinated the Scholars program for several years after graduation, then went on to earn a Master in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.  At present, she is the chief of staff of the Barr Foundation, the largest independent foundation in Massachusetts.

“The scholars program helped me find where my skills, passions, and interests met, and how to draw on them for impact,” said Mora.  “My experience in the program taught me a lot about the nonprofit sector, and sparked my interest in philanthropy. I have come to care a lot about how foundations support nonprofits in their mission-driven work.”

“In the nonprofit sector, foundations can support innovative thinking, and novel approaches to persistent challenges,” said Mora. “And grant dollars are only part of the value they bring to the table.  Foundations like Barr can help bring critical players together and facilitate the formation of networks of learning and action. They can also help communicate about the best ideas and practices to new audiences, to scale the positive impacts.”

The Barr Foundation is guided by a vision for a vibrant, just, and sustainable world with hopeful futures for children. Its mission is to support gifted leaders and networked organizations working in Boston and beyond to enhance educational and economic opportunities, to achieve environmental sustainability, and to create rich cultural experiences – all with particular attention to children and families living in poverty. While its first decade was focused on Boston, since 2010, Barr has also been developing a portfolio of international grantmaking focused on improving the lives of children and families in poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, Haiti, and India.

As chief of staff, Mora is primarily concerned with maximizing the efficiency and effectiveness of the foundation’s internal processes and operations. She also works closely with foundation leadership and philanthropic partners on initiatives of priority for the foundation.  This role, she says, gives her a unique, “bird’s eye view of the social sector.”

“One of the things we always strive to do,” says Mora, “is to be a connector and bridge-builder among people whose work may benefit (and be enriched by) that of others they might not otherwise meet.  That’s one reason it is so important to have diverse voices – and networks – at the table. And that is precisely what I hope to bring with me to the board of advisors at Tisch.”