It is with a mix of deep appreciation and sadness we share that after nearly seven years with the organization, SIF’s Deputy Director Katie Steffen is stepping down from her role at Seattle International Foundation to begin her next professional chapter. We cannot begin to thank Katie enough for all that she has given to SIF, and for the countless ways the organization is better because of her leadership. She will stay on through February to ensure a smooth and thoughtful transition process.
As SIF’s Deputy Director, Katie worked hand in hand with the Executive Director and Board of Directors to execute SIF’s strategic vision. She oversaw the Foundation’s grants portfolio, programs, operations and staff, all of which grew larger, more diverse and more impactful during her tenure thanks, in large part, to her steady leadership.
When Katie joined the team in 2014 to support SIF’s partnership with the Office of Global Women’s Issues at the U.S. Department of State to provide networks and training to Central American & Caribbean women leaders working on prevention of gender-based violence, she was only the fifth staff member of a solely Seattle-based staff. As she ends her time at SIF, she is overseeing a team of 18 employees located in five different countries.
Together with the previous Executive Director Arturo Aguilar, she led the team through a strategic framework overhaul to refocus SIF’s efforts to create equitable, peaceful and prosperous societies in Central America through support for organizations and initiatives that strengthen good governance and rule of law, promote equity, and reduce displacement and forced migration in the region. SIF has supported the Central American region since its founding in 2008, but also managed a second element to its investment portfolio focused on strengthening the Washington-based international nonprofit community. Katie supported the successful sunsetting of SIF’s prior local-to-global portfolio of work in favor of a more focused strategy on one region.
Katie developed and led key multi-year corporate social responsibility (CSR) partnerships and projects with local partners such as Expedia, Nordstrom, Tableau Foundation, Starbucks Foundation, and the Seattle Sounders FC. Through her creative and innovative design, SIF successfully collaborated with these Seattle-based companies and organizations to increase and enhance international philanthropy and social impact originating from the Pacific Northwest.
Perhaps most notably under her leadership, SIF’s flagship annual conference The Central America Donors Forum (CADF) evolved in size, structure and sustainability. Through her knack for alliance-building and eye for curatorship, she led the growth of what was once a one day event funded entirely by SIF for mainly U.S. donors to what has become a four day, multi-sector international development conference that is now supported and cofunded by committed donors and actors in the region.
Whether it was designing and leading a donor delegation, providing mentorship to a fellow staff member, or crunching numbers in a budget, Katie exhibited a commitment to excellence that SIF will benefit from for years to come. SIF’s Board President and Seattle Foundation CEO Tony Mestres shared, “Over the past several years, Katie has become an invaluable member of the SIF team, helping to shape our strategy and deepen our impact in Central America. She has always approached her work at SIF with compassion, heart, and humility. Katie has played a key role in growing SIF’s presence and staff across Central America and Mexico – building new partnerships, launching impactful programs, and evolving the Central America Donors Forum into the premiere event it is today. We are grateful for Katie’s leadership and unwavering commitment to SIF’s mission; she will be missed.”
As SIF continues the search for its next executive leaders, we will benefit from an experienced manager at the helm during this transition period. Effective Jan 4, Peter Bloch Garcia will assume the role of Interim Executive Director. He will manage the team through the hiring of the next Executive Director.
Peter is a Principal Consultant at PBG Partners. He has worked at the City of Seattle in support of capacity building and strategic planning with neighborhood nonprofit organizations. He was founder, past President, and served as Executive Director of Latino Community Fund of Washington. He worked as a program officer with the Marguerite Casey Foundation managing a nonprofit investment portfolio in the Southwest region of the US that supported community organizing, grassroots leadership development, policy advocacy and collective impact through network building. Prior to joining the Foundation, he served as Associate Program Officer in the research and evaluation department of the education division of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He is a board member of Sustainable Seattle and Seattle Foundation Community Grants Committee. He is recipient of the Billy Frank Jr. Award for Race and Social Justice from the Evergreen Chapter – American Society for Public Administration and Finalist for Red Wheelbarrow annual prize by San Jose Poetry Center. Read Peter’s biography to learn more.
While we will miss Katie deeply at SIF – and her creative energy, thoughtful vision, dedication, and skill – we thank her and wish her well. Katie and Peter are working together on the transition plan for SIF as it continues to champion good governance and equity in Central America through rule of law and a robust civil society. The Board of Directors is committed to moving expeditiously to identify and hire a new Executive Director for the Foundation – someone with deep roots and lived experience in Central America. We will continue to emphasize our priority strategic areas of work in Central America for the foreseeable future.