Michele Kumi Baer

Philanthropy Project Director


A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Michele Kumi Baer is an advocate for racial justice working in philanthropy and the larger nonprofit sector. As Race Forward’s new Philanthropy Project Director, she works nationally with foundations, donor collaboratives, and affinity groups to strengthen philanthropy’s ability to advance racial equity, both within individual institutions and throughout the sector. Michele is skilled at conducting research and building consensus with diverse stakeholders to extend thought leadership, propel new program development, and strategically enable nonprofits, collectives, and corporations to create and embody more equitable practices.

Michele was previously at The New York Community Trust, where she was instrumental in the foundation’s internal work on racial equity. She provided a racial equity perspective in proposal review processes; initiated two internal racial equity committees; helped organize two staff retreats on racial equity; and conducted the first-ever assessment of The Trust’s grantmaking with regards to race, based on the demographics of grantees’ staff, board, and communities served.

Michele is also a trained dancer in African disaporic traditions from Brazil, Haiti, and West Africa (Guinea and Mali), and her dance practice is core to her social justice work. Michele is a proud Yonsei (fourth generation Japanese American). She has a Bachelors from Brown University and a Masters from Columbia University.