Veteran Nonprofit leader selected as new Vice President for Programs at the Boston Foundation

April 4, 2016

Orlando Watkins, Executive Vice President of Match Education, brings 20-plus years of experience leading community-based organizations

BOSTON – The Boston Foundation (TBF) announced Friday that Orlando Watkins, a former foundation senior director and current executive vice president for Match Education, will rejoin TBF as Vice President for Programs.

In his new role, Watkins will oversee a discretionary grants fund of roughly $16 million and lead a Program Department staff of two dozen people who work across five core grant-making impact areas – Education, Health and Wellness, Jobs and Economic Development, Neighborhoods and Housing, and Arts and Culture – and two crosscutting strategy areas, Nonprofit Effectiveness and Grassroots.

“Orlando has over 20 years of experience in developing and strengthening community-based organizations in Boston and in urban areas across the nation,” said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “His leadership roles have spanned the nonprofit, philanthropy and government sectors and include senior positions at two community foundations, including the Boston Foundation. We are thrilled to have Orlando rejoin TBF and are looking forward to his leadership as we take on our second century of serving the Greater Boston community.”

“I would also like to extend my deepest gratitude to Jennifer Aronson for her willingness to assume the Interim Vice President role and for providing strong and thoughtful leadership during this transition period,” Grogan added.

Prior to joining Match, Watkins held the position of Senior Director at the Boston Foundation, responsible for developing philanthropic partnerships with like-minded foundations and donors interested in strengthening communities through data driven, high impact initiatives. Before joining the Boston Foundation, he served as Chief Development Officer for BELL, a leading national education organization. And prior to BELL, he spent several years as Vice President of Programs for the Greater New Orleans Foundation, including the years immediately following Hurricane Katrina.

“Having helped guide some amazing and effective initiatives at Match, I am excited about the opportunity to rejoin the Boston Foundation and lead an incredible team that’s already in place,” Watkins said. “And while guiding Program strategies and discretionary grant-making are at the heart of my job, my goal is to lift more voices in our community and bring more people to the table to help us understand how to serve most inclusively and most effectively.”

Bob Giannino, CEO of uAspire, which helps students find affordable ways to and through postsecondary education, said that Watkins has a unique ability to get people to open up about their needs and ideas for improving their situations and that of the community at large.

“As long as I’ve known and worked with Orlando, he has demonstrated not only a love for Greater Boston but an acute understanding of the goals and aspirations of our region’s young people and working families,” Giannino said. “He will be a great addition to the Boston Foundation’s leadership team and will ensure that all voices are heard and weighed in the foundation’s ongoing mission help this region grow and evolve.”

Orlando began his career as a social entrepreneur in Atlanta, GA where he co-founded FreeForm Academy, a private school for young children and served as founding Director of the NASA funded Inspiring Careers in Engineering Mathematics and Science at Morehouse College. Orlando has served on numerous boards including the Urban League of Greater New Orleans, New Schools for New Orleans, City Year Louisiana, the Institute for the Study of Race and Poverty at Tulane University, the International Center for Nonprofit Leadership at the University of New Orleans, Associated Grant Makers and MATCH Education/Charter Schools.

A graduate of Morehouse College and recipient of the prestigious Echoing Green fellowship, Watkins will assume his new role at TBF no later than June 1. 

Aronson, who has served as Interim Vice President for Programs since October, will continue in that role until Watkins’s start and will then return to her role overseeing Program and Nonprofit Effectiveness.


The Boston Foundation, Greater Boston’s community foundation, is one of the largest community foundations in the nation, with net assets of some $1 billion. In 2015, the Foundation and its donors made more than $110 million in grants to nonprofit organizations and received gifts of approximately $120 million. In celebration of its centennial in 2015, the Boston Foundation launched the Campaign for Boston to strengthen the Permanent Fund for Boston, Greater Boston’s only endowment fund supporting organizations focused on the most pressing needs of Greater Boston.  The Foundation is proud to be a partner in philanthropy, with nearly 1,000 separate charitable funds established by donors either for the general benefit of the community or for special purposes.

The Boston Foundation also serves as a major civic leader, provider of information, convener and sponsor of special initiatives that address the region’s most serious challenges. The Philanthropic Initiative (TPI), an operating unit of the Foundation, designs and implements customized philanthropic strategies for families, foundations and corporations around the globe. For more information about the Boston Foundation and TPI, visit or call 617-338-1700.