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Harriet Sanford

Secretary, DC Jazz Festival - Former President and Chief Executive Officer, The NEA Foundation

Harriet Sanford is Secretary of the DC Jazz Festival. After 14 years leading the NEA Foundation, Harriet Sanford is taking a gap year to reflect on life, focus on fitness, engage in her favorite past times, be of service in the education, arts and urban farming worlds and prepare for her third chapter. As the former President and CEO of the NEA Foundation. Harriet led the work of the Foundation from 2005 until 2019. The NEA Foundation’s mission is to advance student achievement by investing in public education. Its programs raise the voice, experience, and expertise of educators in a variety of settings: as individuals, as collaborative teams, and as union leaders. Harriet began her career as a public school classroom teacher, which led to a senior executive career that spans more than 35 years, with 30 years as the President and Chief Executive Officer of nonprofit/public organizations including the Arts and Science Council in Charlotte, NC, and the Fulton County Arts Council in GA. Her career is bound together by an unwavering commitment to strengthening community by building on the skills, talents, and aspirations of each of its members. During her 14 year tenure at the NEA Foundation, Harriet transformed the depth and breadth of its programs by investing in educators to improve their instructional practice so they are better equipped to meet the needs of changing student populations. Harriet has managed annual budgets of more than $18 million and capital funds of $200 million. A recognized specialist in the field of charitable fundraising, Harriet has led initiatives that have raised more than $80 million to support the mission of various nonprofit organizations. She has also served as a member of the Board of Directors of some 15 nonprofit organizations, having contributed her vision and managerial expertise to institutions including a merger of The National Association of Local Arts Agencies and The American Council for the Arts that created the major arts advocacy organization, Americans for The Arts. Harriet holds a BA in Education from New England College, a MPA from the University of Connecticut, and was awarded the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education in 2015.


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