Ellen Rudolph

On national and local levels, Ellen has provided organizational, program and philanthropy leadership in the fields of education, the arts and design. Her work features increasing access to opportunities for disadvantaged communities and strengthening the impact of mission-related choices. She has demonstrated the ability to strategically move projects from conception to implementation and sustainable success – exhibiting patience and focus to develop the human, financial and policy resources necessary.

For 18 years, beginning in 1994, Ellen worked for The Surdna Foundation, a national family foundation based in NYC – first as a consultant, then as its founding Arts Program Director, and subsequently as director of the Arts Program’s transformation into the Thriving Cultures Program. Working with board and staff, she deepened the portfolio from one primarily supporting the artistic growth of teens, to also embrace cultural work in community driven design and artists engaging in social change. During her tenure, she directed more than $75M in grants. To extend the grants’ impact, she further analyzed field needs through research that featured practitioners’ working groups, resulting in the creation of a number of important national initiatives. They included the Talented Students in the Arts Initiative (TSAI); the Surdna Arts Teachers Fellowships (SATF); and the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP).

Prior to joining Surdna, Ellen served as an advisor to cultural institutions, foundations, schools, and cultural policy agencies. This work followed her tenure as Executive Director of the Cultural Education Collaborative (MA); Executive Director of ART/NY (formerly Off Off Broadway Alliance); Theatre Program Specialist, New York State Council on the Arts; and high school and college teacher of Theatre and inter-disciplinary courses.

Ellen now works independently as an advisor, facilitator, and project director. In addition to a continued focus on teens’ artistic advancement, she has helped support the growing field of community driven design. She has collaborated with community leaders, foundations, community development corporations, university architecture and planning departments, design schools, public interest design collaboratives, and others aiming to create vibrant public spaces.

Most recently, Ellen has helped develop and facilitate board strategic planning retreats, with an approach aimed at moving from discussion to action. An initial focus on cultural organizations in Baltimore included The Contemporary and The Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance. She also worked with nonprofits such as Chicago’s Goodman Theatre, helping board and staff take a fresh look at, and better articulate, the structure, impact and value of current programs.