Hugh Hogan joined North Star Fund as executive director in 2003 with a firm commitment to bringing far greater resources to the grassroots movement for social justice in New York City. His tenure has seen dynamic organizational growth on many fronts, culminating with North Star Fund's largest-ever fundraising effort, Activism's Future: Campaign for Philanthropic and Grassroots Leadership, publicly launched in 2013.
"North Star Fund exists to build a community of support and a movement of groups working together with courage and innovation to address the deep challenges of racism, sexism, homophobia, militarism, and economic injustice," Hugh says.
Toward that end, he has led efforts to increase grant amounts, get dollars out to organizers more quickly and strategically, provide increased technical assistance, and encourage collaboration among grantees on larger campaigns. He has furthered North Star Fund's founding commitment to taking risks by funding emerging grassroots groups, and he has created new funding streams for these groups as they grow in size and impact. He has also helped raise and distribute resources to larger, more established groups to learn from each other and build a movement to sustain change. During Hugh's tenure, North Star Fund's annual grantmaking has increased from $318,550 to $4.3 million.
This dramatic increase in grant funding has been made possible by an equally dramatic increase in donor commitment and generosity. "At North Star Fund," Hugh says, "we practice strategic philanthropy by engaging donors and community organizers together as partners." Hugh has worked to sustain and increase the support from longtime progressive donors, while also creating new programming and leadership opportunities for the next generation of emerging philanthropists and professionals from diverse backgrounds to support grassroots-led social change.
Also notable during Hugh's tenure are the partnership efforts he has led. In 2010, he spearheaded the creation and growth of Community Food Funders — a philanthropic organizing project to transform the regional food system to be more ecological, equitable, and economically vibrant-along with colleagues from the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, New World Foundation, Surdna Foundation, and Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund.
After Hurricane Sandy, Hugh led North Star Fund's establishment of the Grassroots Hurricane Relief Fund to direct dollars to proven grassroots groups who were on the front lines providing relief when no other efforts were in place. North Star Fund is among those leading the challenge to the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy by serving as the fiscal sponsor of Communities United for Police Reform. And, because of its connection to local grassroots groups working for change, North Star Fund was selected to distribute $8 million from the New York State Public Service Commission for the Greening Western Queens Fund.
Hugh began as executive director following the unexpected death of the foundation's previous executive director, Betty Kapetanakis. Building on the esteem and affection that North Star Fund donors and grantees held for Betty and her work, Hugh has strengthened her legacy through his steady commitment to building active relationships among donors, grantees, and the broader philanthropic community locally and nationally.
Throughout his career, Hugh's primary motivation has been building the confidence and ability of disenfranchised people to exercise their self-determination and make their voices heard, rather than being pushed to the margins. From 1999 - 2003, he directed the Open Space Equity Campaign for the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance (NYCEJA), supporting grassroots groups organizing around environmental and land use issues that disproportionately affect low-income neighborhoods and communities of color. He previously served in the Peace Corps and remained in west and southern Africa for nearly a decade, assisting rural farmers and urban communities in reversing the destructive legacy of colonialism and apartheid.
Hugh is a graduate of Boston College and Clark University, and a two-time Switzer Environmental Leadership fellow.
About the work of North Star Fund's grantees and donor activists, Hugh says, "We are all doing such essential work and together it adds up to something so much greater than the sum of its parts. We are working from a powerful, enduring vision that doesn't let us put profit before the needs of people, that doesn't leave any community out in the cold, and that doesn't sacrifice the environment for short term gains. North Star Fund exists to bring about change in service to this vision, the kind of change that transforms the lives of real people in our city's neighborhoods."
In the News
Click here to read "Sandy's Lesson: Today's Relief System Doesn't Work for the Vulnerable" in The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
Click here to read Hugh's views on climate change and the age of inequality in The Huffington Post.
Click here to read Hugh's "Donor of the Day Profile" in the Wall Street Journal.