Sarah Cotton Nelson

On personal sabbatical
formerly Communities Foundation of Texas

Sarah Cotton Nelson is social impact leader with 20+ years’ experience guiding organizations to maximize their impact.  She spent the past 14 years at Communities Foundation of Texas enhancing CFT’s policies and procedures to ensure more racially, geographically and culturally inclusive and equitable grantmaking and community-responsive nonprofit capacity building in her role as Chief Philanthropy Officer. Prior to this role, she teamed with other researchers to conduct public policy research studies for the RAND Corporation; managed a youth center for teens in downtown Los Angeles; and supported nonprofits in the post-war period in El Salvador with USAID. Sarah is a 2017 Presidential Leadership Scholar, a 2016 GEO Change Leaders in Philanthropy fellow, a 2003 American Marshall Memorial Fellow; a 1997 graduate fellow in public policy and economics at Pontifícia Universidad Católica in Chile, and a graduate of UC Berkeley.

What drives you to do what you do?  “I was raised to continually ask, ‘what is God’s highest and best use for me in this moment?’  Today’ this most often involves helping others create vision and implementation road maps for social change; aligning leadership intent with action; and connecting disparate individuals and groups to each other so that they can do even more powerful work together.”