Carmen James Randolph’s life and career reflect the core qualities of a transformational leader: visionary, collaborative, challenging the status quo, and a deeply rooted sense of purpose and community.Through her parents, she learned early on about the resilience, strength, and struggles embodied by women of color who encountered constant microaggressions and racism, and about the critical role trustworthy, supportive, and devoted fathers play in raising a budding feminist. Over the course of her 25-year career in philanthropy, Carmen has made her mark by galvanizing funders, donors, policymakers, and grassroots activists to forever change lives, systems, and communities for good. She is particularly passionate about building prosperity for women and girls of color. To this day, she knows from first-hand experience the unparalleled and ineffable power a sisterhood holds to support, nurture, and amplify one another, and always makes a point of working in partnership with other women in philanthropy to inspire and guide each other.
In August 2021, Carmen was named Founding President and CEO of a ground-breaking new foundation, Women’s Foundation of the South (WFS). WFS is boldly revolutionizing gender and racial justice in the Southern U.S. and beyond by centering women and girls from the beginning, shifting philanthropic resources to womxn of color-led organizations and businesses that are often overlooked or lack proper access to funding. WFS’s inaugural year was ground-breaking and highly successful, and the Foundation is well on its way to becoming a regional tour de force in vastly improving the health, wealth, and power of women and girls of color in the South. In under two years at WFS, Carmen has raised almost $4M and provided $350k in grants to 52 women-of-color-led nonprofits. She was recently invited to join the invitation-only Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Membership; the 2023 theme for the network is ‘Rising to the Occasion’ – very fitting given the powerful work Carmen is doing at WFS for womxn and girls of color in the South.
Carmen launched her career at the Humanities Council of Washington D.C., working in 12 public housing communities to build an innovative, community-based public humanities program and bringing the budget from $30k to $750k in only 5 years, and then with the Meyer Foundation in Washington, D.C., where she served as Senior Program Officer. In her 16-year tenure there, she leveraged more than $20M in new investments from national and regional funders to support and transform marginalized communities. Most recently, she served as Vice President for Programs at the Greater New Orleans Foundation, where she significantly transformed the Foundation’s programs in the areas workforce development, environment, economic security, and disaster grantmaking. She developed the Foundation’s disaster grantmaking strategy, which centers equity and sustainability, and ultimately positioned the GNOF as a trusted national leader in disaster grantmaking during the COVID19 pandemic. Carmen helmed a team of 12 professionals and presided over $11 million in GNOF’s discretionary and donor advised grantmaking. Carmen holds a BA in American Studies with a concentration in African American Studies from American University.