After twelve years of leadership and service, Seattle International Foundation (SIF) co-founders Bill and Paula Clapp retired from the Board of Directors this month. Seattle Foundation CEO and SIF Board Secretary, Tony Mestres, will succeed Bill as President of the Board.

Bill and Paula founded SIF as a supporting organization to Seattle Foundation in 2008 with a vision to increase the impact of international philanthropy from the Pacific Northwest, with a strategic focus on Central America. For more than a decade, the Clapp’s efforts have united thousands of leaders to promote global development, supported grassroots youth movements, lifted up the voices of women leaders, and strengthened independent journalism to hold governments accountable.

The Clapp’s journey into international development began on a trip to El Salvador in 1992 when they learned about the power of microfinance. Bill and Paula witnessed first-hand how a small infusion of capital could impact the lives of Salvadoran women, their families, and their communities. This realization ignited a desire to do more, and so the Clapps traveled around the world—from Washington, D.C., to Bangladesh and back to El Salvador—researching successful microcredit programs and laying the foundation for what would eventually become Global Partnerships. Having successfully stewarded and launched that organization, they started SIF.

Twelve years since its founding, SIF continues to strengthen communities by championing good governance and equity in Central America through support for the rule of law and a robust civil society. Under Bill’s leadership as Board President, SIF has supported 243 organizations in 81 countries and has contributed to the growth of hundreds of civil society leaders.

SIF remains as committed as ever to Central America and sees great opportunity for prosperity in the region. SIF’s ongoing efforts to fight for equity, promote rule of law, foster leadership of women and youth, and support civil society will be a testament to the enduring Clapp legacy. We look forward to continuing to work in partnership with our numerous allies in the U.S. and Central America for years to come.

“Paula and I are grateful for the years we have spent working toward just, peaceful, and prosperous societies in Central America. We have learned a great deal from our partners in the region and have built meaningful relationships that will last a lifetime. As we look back, we are proud of what the team has accomplished; and looking forward, we are confident that as the new Board Chair Tony will bring fresh ideas and direction to build on this important work that we were blessed enough to start 12 years ago,” Bill remarks on their retirement.

Tony Mestres, President and CEO of Seattle Foundation and SIF Board Member, will succeed Bill as Board President. “SIF has been a trusted philanthropic partner to the Seattle community and the Central America region alike for over a decade. It’s an honor to build on the positive momentum catalyzed by the Clapps and achieved in partnership with a committed team and board of directors. Together with Arturo, Katie and the entire SIF staff, I look forward to continuing this critically important work, in partnership with allies across the US and Central America. I am proud to serve on the SIF Board, working towards just, peaceful, and prosperous societies in Central America.”

Vicky Guzmán, founder of the Salvadoran Association for Rural Health (ASAPROSAR) and close partner to SIF and the Clapps, shared, “The Clapp family has meant hope in the region for many women leaders who long to grow, to innovate and, ultimately, to sustain themselves. The Clapps have shown a genuine commitment to creating a more just region in which all can live with dignity; they have opened pathways to justice, and through their example, have taught key leaders and decision makers the importance of building a more equitable region.”

SIF celebrates Bill and Paula’s impact on the international philanthropic sector in the Pacific Northwest, and is profoundly grateful for their committed generosity and direction over the years. The Clapps’ departure from the Board leaves behind a legacy of leadership and dedication to drive gender equality, bolster economic development and eliminate extreme poverty around the world.

Thank you for your service and steadfast commitment, Bill and Paula. We honor and celebrate your impact. Thank you.

Questions regarding this transition can be directed to Arturo Aguilar, Executive Director of SIF.


About Seattle International Foundation

Seattle International Foundation (SIF) champions good governance and equity in Central America through support for rule of law and the strengthening of civil society.
Over the past ten years, SIF has supported 243 organizations in 81 countries and has contributed to the growth of 650 high-impact social change leaders. In addition to its grants portfolio, SIF implements key initiatives in the region, including the Central America Donors Forum, the Central America and Mexico Youth Fund, Centroamérica Adelante and the Independent Journalism Fund.