Giving is a way of life for Susan Bass Roberts.

She was recently named president of the Pohlad Family Foundation in Minneapolis, making her the first non-family member to serve in that role.

The job involves working daily with community groups and organizations to support and solve some of the greatest issues affecting people in the Twin Cities.

"If you really care about making the world a better place, then it's the best job ever," Bass Roberts said.

Bass Roberts said volunteerism is a priority for her — as is supporting research and treatment for breast cancer, of which she is a survivor. Another nonprofit close to her heart? Northside Achievement Zone, a Minneapolis group that helps children of color achieve a college education.

"That's important to me," she said. "I've always had this belief that if it's to be, it's up to me. It's not enough to look at things and say 'That's terrible,' and then not do something about it."

Philanthropy wasn't her initial career plan. The Ohio native studied communication and public relations at Ohio State University. After stints in communication roles, she entered the realm of philanthropy with The Limited, the retail brand once headquartered in Columbus, Ohio. That led to community relations roles with the NFL's Atlanta Falcons and, later, Richfield-based Best Buy.

In 2016, Bass Roberts joined the Pohlad Family Foundation, which was founded in 1994 by the Pohlads, who own the Minnesota Twins and other businesses in Minnesota.

She recently spoke with the Star Tribune in an interview that has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: What trends are you seeing in how people give ?

A: For so long, there's been this attitude in philanthropy of, "Well, we hold the money, we hold the cards, so you do what we say. We give you money and we want you to do X,Y and Z." And that's caused harm to many communities and many folks over many years. There's been this awakening in philanthropy that communities must be at the table to help define the problem and create the solutions. Most of the time, people know what they need. They don't always have the resources and the tools to solve the problems that they have, but they know what they need. If you believe that, then you have to consult them and you have to work with community, not just give to community ... We have a racial justice grants committee that we brought on in 2021. (Note: The Pohlads committed $25 million toward racial justice following the murder of George Floyd).

Q: If a person or family wants to give, but doesn't know how, where do they start?

A: We looked at the intersection of what the Pohlad family cared about and what were the biggest needs in community. Where those two intersected is where we found our sweet spot. The first thing is to look at yourself and what's meaningful to you. It was clear to me that [the Pohlads] wanted to help those most in need get to a better place in life.

I also think it's really important we look at society's ills. If you only give to issues that you've personally have been touched by, then we're never going to solve some of the other issues in our community.

Q: Is there something special about the Twin Cities when it comes to giving?

A: Well, it is one of the most generous communities across the country. We have so many generous Fortune 500 companies here that do tremendous work not only in the Twin Cities, but across the country and across the world, quite frankly. We also have this very generous spirit among individual philanthropists, family foundations and family philanthropists. Sometimes people talk about it being the land of 10,000 nonprofits. I've lived in a couple of other places and I've not seen [such a generous spirit] until I got here.

Q: What was your reaction to being named president of the Pohlad Family Foundation and becoming the first non-family member to serve that role?

A: I was extremely grateful. I've lived my life from a place of gratitude and this was no different. Just very grateful that the family chose to acknowledge me and my work in this way. It's really a testament to the work that our whole team does, because we have some amazing people who work here and we're all aligned with what our goals are and what we're trying to accomplish. Then, I thought about my mom. She was a single mother and we lived in a community much like north Minneapolis when I was growing up. It was just the two of us. She's deceased and I immediately thought, I hope she's proud.