A view of Boston's historic Pilot House from the harbor

Matt Conti

Building on Growth as We Enter a New Decade

Barr’s evolution continues with new colleagues, expanded giving.

The past decade has witnessed significant growth and ongoing evolution for the Barr Foundation. As we begin 2020, I have been reflecting on how much has changed even in my six years here. Since 2014, Barr has:

  • Increased grantmaking significantly from annual allocations in the low $50 million range to over $90 million of grantmaking in 2019, with $95 million planned for 2020.
  • Doubled the size of our staff from 19 to 38, with most of the additions on our program teams, thereby expanding our capacity to work with and serve our partners.
  • Invested in a deepened commitment to communications as well as learning and evaluation, addressing the mission imperatives of transparency, openness, and ongoing improvement.
  • Expanded the board from our two co-founders to seven trustees today, with a majority of them as non-family trustees. We will continue to augment the board in the years ahead.
  • Grown our office space, enabling us to convene our partners more easily and to host many more outside meetings.
  • Surpassed $2 billion in assets at the same time as we have exceeded $1 billion in total grants awarded since Barr’s inception.

These have been important steps, but what matters most is progress on the goals we and our partners focus on, particularly in our core areas of Arts and Creativity, Climate, and Education. To that end, I would commend our most recent Year In Review, published last month, which describes much of the work this expanded capacity has enabled. We remain ever grateful to the many partners and allies who share our mission of investing in potential and who, like us, push for greater aspiration.

We remain ever grateful to the many partners and allies who share our mission of investing in potential and who, like us, push for greater aspiration.

New Colleagues

We enter 2020 by welcoming several new colleagues to the team: Adrian Jones will serve in the newly-created role of Executive Assistant and Manager of Board Operations, working closely with me, Roger Nozaki, and our trustees. Adrian joins us from Signet Education, where he spent eight years in several roles focused on client coordination and management.

We also welcome Pouya Shahbodaghi as our new Enterprise Applications Manager, bringing needed capacity for our expanded information technology needs. Pouya brings extensive Salesforce and related experience as well as knowledge of the nonprofit sector, having worked in IT at both Year Up and WGBH.

In November, we also announced the appointment of Giles Li, who will join us next month as Senior Program Officer in the Arts and Creativity program.


As we welcome new colleagues, we also express our gratitude to several colleagues who have recently moved on or will this month. Jane Joyce, Trevor Pollack, Cindy Lung, and Prerna Sekhri each made valuable and important contributions during their tenures, and we are grateful for their colleagueship and friendship.

A personal note of thanks to Jane Joyce, my Executive Assistant, who this month marked her 14th anniversary at Barr. As she retires from the Foundation, we will all miss her wide-ranging intellect, ever-present graciousness, and wicked sense of humor. I am especially grateful to her for her support and counsel over the almost-six years we have worked closely together.

A New Leadership Position

In view of the significant growth at Barr in recent years, we are creating a new senior position to provide leadership and oversight for Barr’s operations, grants management, and talent development functions. To that end, we will launch a search later this month for a new Vice President for Administration, who will work closely with me and Roger, whose title will shift to Vice President for Programs and Strategy. To conduct a national search for this vital leadership role, we have retained the firm of Isaacson, Miller, and we will share more detail on this new position later in January.

Learn more and apply for this new position

With all that I have described above, we enter this decade focused on equipping the Foundation for continued growth with care and excellence. Philanthropy is fundamentally a human enterprise, and I am grateful for the talented and dedicated team at Barr who have embraced the many changes and shifts described above with enthusiasm and commitment to our mission.

And all of us at the Foundation understand that we do nothing alone at Barr; the change we seek is made real by the leaders we are privileged to support. We remain ever grateful to them for their partnership and dedication and look forward to driving progress on the many challenges and opportunities before us.

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