Susan Bass Roberts, vice president, executive director, Pohlad Family Foundation

 

Susan Bass Roberts is working to help the Pohlad Family Foundation set priorities after joining the organization as its vice president and executive director.

Bass Roberts’ responsibilities include leading a strategic planning process with the foundation’s board, brothers Bill, Bob and Jim Pohlad. Their parents, Carl and Eloise Pohlad, started the foundation in 1993.

“That will determine where we’re going to go for the next five to 10 years,” Bass Roberts said. “The board and I are taking a look at where can we make the most impact and what needs does the community have that maybe aren’t being served right now that we could serve.”

The foundation’s efforts have included youth employment and other programs and it has focused on Minneapolis’ North Side. That resonated with Bass Roberts’ experience growing up in an underserved area of Columbus, Ohio, with a single mother.

“I grew up in a community much like north Minneapolis,” Bass Roberts said. “I put myself through college and began to serve the community in volunteer roles right after college and in all the jobs that I have been in.”

Bass Roberts previously was executive director of the Best Buy Foundation. Her experience also includes owning a boutique foundation management, community outreach and communications strategy agency and working as vice president of communications and community relations for the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL. She has a journalism degree from Ohio State University.

Q: What is the Pohlad Family Foundation’s mission?

A: The mission is to improve the quality of life in the Twin Cities. That’s a broad mission but it allowed them to take risks and to react to community need when necessary. They have done a lot of quiet giving, really substantial giving. They want to impact people who need help in our community.

 

Q: What appealed to you about the opportunity to join the Pohlad Family Foundation?

A: I have known about the Pohlads’ reputation of trying to improve this community whether it was through their business interests or their foundation. Once I met them and learned about the fact that they have a genuine heart and a love for this community and making it better, that sealed the deal for me.

 

Q: How is your experience in corporate philanthropy helping you at the foundation?

A: Starting off my career in corporate grant making serves me well in this role because it taught me how to think about what you’re looking for in community partners and how to be strategic in your grant making and how to hold people accountable for results.