Vanessa Camarena-Arredondo (she/her) is a program officer with Akonadi Foundation where she manages the education justice portfolio and cultural partnerships and investments. Vanessa has deepened her practice and commitment to racial justice grantmaking through her work at the Foundation, whose mission is to support the development of powerful social change movements to eliminate structural racism.
In 2006, Vanessa began her work in philanthropy at the San Francisco Foundation, a foundation dedicated to racial equity, where she managed a $1.5 million arts and culture grantmaking portfolio and leveraged an additional $1.3 million investment to support cultural institutions in the Bay Area. Most recently, she brokered a relationship with the City of Oakland Cultural Affairs and East Bay Community Foundation and secured over $1.2 million to design and launch the Belonging in Oakland, A Just City Cultural Fund funded by Surdna Foundation and Akonadi Foundation. Vanessa also initiated a partnership with Akonadi Foundation, The California Endowment, and the San Francisco Foundation to align and leverage support for educational justice work to decriminalize students of color in the Bay Area and Statewide.
Before joining Akonadi, Vanessa was the Executive Director of Studio Grand, an Oakland-based multidisciplinary art and cultural institution centering diverse communities and artists. In her creative practice, Vanessa spent nine years performing Bomba, an Afro-Puerto Rican traditional music and dance form, in an ensemble of nine women. She brings her experience as a performing artist, arts administrator, and community organizer to build a trust-based and community-anchored practice in grantmaking. Vanessa is passionate about creating alignment among institutional and individual funders and communities leading profoundly transformative work that includes individual artists, cultural organizations, and social changemakers. Vanessa holds a BA in Latin American Studies from California State University at Los Angeles.