The Samuel S. Fels Fund board of directors has named Sarah Martinez-Helfman as its next president. Martinez-Helfman, who just passed her 20-year anniversary as executive director of the Eagles Youth Partnership, will begin her presidency of the private foundation on October 1.
“Sarah’s background in foundations and nonprofits makes her an exceptional fit for this role. She impressed us as an innovator and an outstanding leader and manager,” said Valerie Clayton, Samuel Fels Fund board chair. “She is knowledgeable, thoughtful and passionate about improving the lives of Philadelphians through philanthropy. Our board is confident that her leadership will allow the Fels Fund to continue to make a positive impact on our city.”
“I’m honored to join this dynamic and smart organization, which is respected for its long-standing commitment to the city’s nonprofit sector and for making a difference in the quality of life for so many. There is so much we can do to make life better for disadvantaged Philadelphians,” Martinez-Helfman said. “I can’t wait to get started.”
Martinez-Helfman will take over from Helen Cunningham, who announced her retirement from the foundation in January, after 23 years at the helm.
“Helen leaves behind an institution that is even more focused in pursuit of its mission,” Clayton said. “Thanks to Helen, we’re well-positioned for a new generation of accomplishment, and Sarah is the ideal leader to guide us into that future.”
As the founding Executive Director of Eagles Youth Partnership since 1995, Martinez-Helfman oversaw the development and mission of the charitable wing of the Philadelphia Eagles, an internationally recognized, award-winning model in the field of sports philanthropy that has served more than one million during the past 20 years. Martinez-Helfman was also responsible for launching an initiative to improve access to children’s vision care, which has served more than 68,000 children to date. The Eagles Eye Mobile program is recognized as a national model that has been replicated in other cities.
“Sarah is a member of the Philanthropy Network board and has been a powerful leader and advocate for advancing equity, diversity and inclusion amongst the region’s philanthropy,” Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia Executive Director Maari Porter said. “Her knowledge of the field of philanthropy is deep, and she also truly understands the needs in the region. The Fels Fund will benefit greatly from her expertise and energy.”
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Prior to joining the Eagles Youth Partnership, Martinez-Helfman was assistant director for service at the National Civilian Community Corps, an AmeriCorps program of the Corporation for National Service.
Her foundation work has included serving as a program director with Atlantic Philanthropies in England, Ireland and Russia. She has also served as the deputy director of research and development for City Year, as the chief clinician of a residential treatment center for adolescent males in the juvenile justice system, and as the lead advocate of a rape crisis center.
At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Martinez-Helfman earned a B.A. in English Literature and an M.S. degree in Counseling Psychology. She also holds certificates as a trainer of diversity, conflict resolution and perceptual processing.
Image via Fels Fund-30-
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