The Equity Advisor

Marcelo Bonta

Job:Philanthropy Northwest Momentum Fellow
Reps:Portland, OR
Marcelo Bonta

Green cred: Originally trained as a conservation biologist, Bonta decided to dedicate his career to diversity, equity, and inclusion after finding himself the sole person of color at a national wildlife organization. He founded the Center for Diversity and the Environment and ran it for a decade, providing transformational trainings for hundreds of leaders and dozens of organizations.

In 2015, he shifted his focus to philanthropy. Embarking on a two-year fellowship with the Portland, Ore.–based Meyer Memorial Trust, he will help develop a new environmental funding strategy with equity at its core.

What to expect in 2016: Bonta is eager to learn about his new field and to usher in change both within the Trust and beyond. Though grantmaking might seem removed from urgent social-justice challenges, he says the choices foundations make can dictate the fate of communities of color and will shape the evolution of the current environmental movement. This truth, says Bonta, makes it critical for foundations to fully embrace and support diversity, equity, and inclusion.

You gotta have heart: Bonta brings emotion to the table, and urges others to do the same. “The environmental space is heady — it’s full of data, numbers, and acres saved,” he says. “But change can only happen when you engage the head and the heart.”

Zest for zombies: The Walking Dead is one of Bonta’s favorite indulgences, followed closely by meta-hit Talking Dead.