Michele Kumi Baer
A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Michele is an advocate for social justice working in philanthropy and the larger nonprofit sector. At Race Forward, Michele is building out the organization’s strategy and portfolio of work advancing racial equity and racial justice in philanthropy. As Philanthropy Project Director, Michele works nationally with foundations, philanthropy-serving organizations, donor collaboratives, and affinity groups to strengthen philanthropy’s ability to normalize, operationalize, and organize for racial equity, both within individual institutions and throughout the sector. She is frequently on the road speaking and facilitating trainings.
In her previous role at The New York Community Trust, Michele organized grantmaking and convening activities in the arts, community development, and the environment. While at The Trust, she devoted herself to advancing racial equity at the foundation and in the larger sector through funder collaboratives and affinity groups.
Throughout her career, Michele has worked in programming, advocacy, research, capacity building, and communications roles to advance racial justice, gender justice, and disability justice at and through nonprofits large and small. Previous posts include work at Columbia University, Dance/NYC, and the Global Fund for Women. Michele is skilled at conducting research and building consensus with diverse stakeholders to promote dialogue and action, propel new program development, and strategically enable nonprofits, collectives, and corporations to create and embody more equitable and just practices.
Michele is also a trained dancer in African diasporic traditions from Brazil, Haiti, and West Africa (Guinea and Mali). Her dance practice is core to her social justice work. Michele identifies as "hapa" (of mixed Asian descent) and is a proud Yonsei (fourth generation Japanese American). Michele has a Bachelors from Brown University and a Masters from Columbia University.