It was around this time in 2021 when then-president Angelique Power was stepping down from the Field Foundation of Illinois. The Chicago native was in the role for five years, centering the foundation’s funding structure on racial equity. During her tenure, the Field Foundation was credited with distributing more than $4.5 million annually in grants in the areas of art, justice, leadership investment, and media and storytelling across Chicagoland.
As of June 20, Daniel Ash will take up the mantle as the new president of the Field Foundation. Ash, a Youngstown, Ohio, native, is leaving his role as associate vice president of community impact at the Chicago Community Trust to do so. The Field Foundation’s board of directors announced the appointment after an extensive nationwide search.
With more than nine years building strategy aiming to advance equitable neighborhoods within underinvested communities through grant-making to community organizing, storytelling and resident-driven initiatives, Ashe said while he will miss the immediacy of working with colleagues at the trust daily, but he is looking forward to continued collaboration with them in the grantmaking and philanthropy world.
“From the seat of the Field Foundation, I’m going to be working with them with locked arms because it takes organizations and many others in the local community — corporate philanthropy, private philanthropy, family philanthropy, and partnerships with community leaders and political leaders — to work on these very audacious issues that we can challenge together,” Ash said. “I’m just working on a different front, but we’re working on the same battlefield, if you will.”
Ash’s resume includes stints at Chicago Public Media, where he oversaw marketing and strategic partnerships and leadership positions at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, the Chicago Department of Public Health and the Center for Family Policy and Practice. Ash is leaving just as Chicago Community Trust’s first female CEO, Dr. Helene Gayle, is exiting to serve as president of Spelman College in Atlanta. Ash said he will be helping the Trust find his successor.
“We’re really working hard to make sure that people understand that the Trust is OK and the organization’s commitment to the strategy (of closing the racial inequity wealth gap) is still there at the board level and will continue,” Ash said.
Ash laughs and says his propensity to say hi to everyone on the street has served him well during his career. He said it’s helped him build relationships and networks at the Trust. He said he’s looking forward to bringing his deep connection with Chicago’s Black and Latinx communities to the new opportunity at the Field Foundation of Illinois.
“The Field Foundation has this amazing, rich history of being a foundation that stood up for the values and principles that I’ve always aligned with,” Ash said. “Under Angelique Power’s leadership, this board made a commitment to the social justice movement, applying a racial equity lens before it was fashionable to do so. That work, the work that Angelique led endures, it’s in the DNA of the Foundation. I like the fact that the foundation is one that uses historically, its voice, its convening power to impact how we see specific challenges in our local community. And I like the fact that the foundation, as a private foundation, (has) always been very unequivocal about its commitment. ”
Ash said the Field Foundation is more than grantmaking, it’s the civic power associated with the foundation to interrogate challenges, ask good questions, bring people together to solve them, and respond to those questions. All of it made him apply for the president position at the foundation. Ash sees his transition to the new role as another opportunity to be in service to the communities that he loves.
“My hope is that people will see that I use my position — social, financial, knowledge capital, everything I have to bring to the table to build and fortify the infrastructure that we need to advance the movement toward justice,” Ash said. “What I mean by that is, the work for me is more than just the work that’s right in front of you. There are programs that need to be funded, there are leaders that need to be developed. All of that work combines to create a foundation that is built on the foundation that others laid for us to continue the journey toward (something) more racially equitable for the community. And that’s what I love about this opportunity.”
“Daniel’s breadth of experience and the respect he has earned through his work made him the ideal choice to become the next President of the Field Foundation,” said Field Foundation Board Chair Gloria Castillo in a statement. Castillo co-led the search with Board Member Lyle Logan. “Daniel deeply understands the work the Field Foundation is prioritizing because he has been doing similar work for years, and we are confident that his vision aligns with the Foundation’s goals.”
“I see the opportunity to have a leadership role at The Field Foundation as a civic responsibility,” Ash added. “I think private foundations have to demand that the community that we’re trying to impact, hold us accountable. ’m asking the community to connect with me, share with me, and share with us at the Field Foundation because ultimately if they’re not benefiting from the work that we’re doing, then we’re not doing the work right.”