Introducing Emma B. Penick

Director of Estate and Gift Planning

“I love gift planning because it entails thoughtful and
personal gifts that represent the legacy people want to leave behind.”

Recently joining the Boston Foundation as Director of Estate and Gift Planning is Emma B. Penick. Her strong background in business is matched by a deep understanding of the nonprofit sphere, in particular education and the arts. She worked for a strategy consulting firm, helping corporations with mergers, acquisitions and bankruptcy reorganizations, and more recently managed fundraising operations at two universities and two major arts organizations—including the inaugural Sing For Hope street pianos project, bringing 60 pianos to public spaces in New York City, which, she recalls, “felt like a Herculean feat, but changed the tenor of the city, making it feel more like a community.”

Emma Penick

Besides business chops gained through these professional achievements and an M.B.A. from Harvard, Emma has a notable skill in humanizing a field where the lingo can be off-putting or obscure. Along with her intellectual and analytic horsepower she brings a frank sincerity and cheerful pragmatism. Emma comes to the Foundation from Boston University, where she served as a leadership gifts officer for the Questrom School of Business. “I was attracted to the Boston Foundation by its progressive positions and projects, and also because it is a think tank and civic leader,” she says. Emma is particularly excited about her role at the Foundation because it brings together many elements of her past training.

At Princeton, she earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology, drawn to the subject by her concern for people and fascination with human systems. “But I also have a proclivity for business,” she says. “And working on estate and gift planning at the Boston Foundation really brings these two sides together.” Talking about tax consequences and financial modeling may be second nature, but it is made more meaningful by the privilege of working closely with individuals on what matters to them. Emma explains, “I love gift planning because it entails thoughtful and personal gifts that represent the legacy people want to leave behind. It is also wonderful that people not typically considered wealthy can make a substantial impact through smart gift planning.”

The Nova Scotia native went to high school and graduate school near Boston; she has worked in Halifax and New York, with stints in Los Angeles and elsewhere, but couldn’t stay away. “I moved to Boston in 2014 because it is my favorite city and I wanted to spend the rest of my life—and raise my identical twin daughters—here,” she says. “What better way to be involved in the fabric of the place than through the Boston Foundation, which has been making a positive impact on the city I love through the arts, health and education for more than 100 years.” 


Sometimes people include the Boston Foundation in a will or estate plan with minimal fanfare. We respect that. We also love to know! If you plan to or have named the Foundation in a bequest or would like to know more about this kind of estate planning, please contact Emma Penick at 617-338-2340 or