Foundation professionals

23 November 2022

The foundation professional sits at the intersection of wealth and giving. As representatives of influential individuals and powerful families, they report to trustees who hold fiduciary and governance responsibilities and liaise with organisations working on society's most pressing issues. Nevertheless, as prominent figures within foundations, their presence has been eclipsed by donors, boards and grantees.

In her doctoral research, Dr Fugiel Gartner interviewed 31 family foundation CEOs in the UK examining how they experience their roles and view developments in the wider field. Drawing together a conceptual framework of the professional, drawn from the study of professions, the research highlights the entry to exit of CEO experiences.

The research showed that, in contrast to the traditional manifestations of professionals, foundation professionals appear in a nontraditional presentation through their individuation, peer group clustering and organisational crafting. Moreover, the foundation field, in which these roles are situated, reflects inconsistent formalisation, competing expertise and a professionalising context. The study contributes to an understanding of foundation professional roles, as well as offering a more thorough conceptualisation of nontraditional professional roles.

A recent paper explored the research findings as related to diversity, equity and inclusion in foundations. 'Conditions of entry: How informality and codification impact DEI efforts in UK philanthropic foundations' won the Best New Researcher Prize at the 2022 Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research (VSVR) Conference.

Dr Fugiel Gartner successfully defended her thesis at a virtual viva in July 2022. Her thesis was examined by the School of Management's Professor Lorna Stevenson and Dr Heather Carpenter of Louisiana State University.

Dr Fugiel Gartner is a St Leonard's Associate of the University of St Andrews. She is currently working as a philanthropic advisor, combining research and practice, to help individuals, couples and family foundations with their giving. She specialises in next generation and women-led giving advisory.

Michele Fugiel Gartner leans on a wall with an archway and trees in the background