Of Quechua heritage from Peru, Lourdes Inga was born in Lima and has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for many years. A career in philanthropy culminated in her joining the board of International Funders for Indigenous Peoples (IFIP). She now serves as Executive Director.
Foundation: Please give us an overview of IFIP.
Lourdes: We are the only global network that focuses on Indigenous peoples worldwide. Our mission is to foster solutions and partnerships among Indigenous peoples from funders around the globe. We do this in a variety of ways. One is convening our members and funders at global and regional conferences and donor meetings, as well as publishing written reports of ways in which funders can improve their practices when funding Indigenous peoples. Also, we publish reports around trends and lessons of funders working in the space of funding Indigenous peoples.
Foundation: How did you get interested in this line of work?
Lourdes: Early in my career, I worked for a women’s organization that really informed the way philanthropy should be supporting grassroots efforts. I then went to work for The Christensen Fund, where I spent quite a few years working alongside Indigenous colleagues. I really wanted to make sure that the foundation valued and supported Indigenous peoples’ knowledge and voices and the way they have for centuries lived in harmony with the environment. My background has really informed how I like to lead IFIP.
Foundation: What about your mission are you most passionate about?
Lourdes: I’m excited every day because our role is not just to educate funders, but more so influencing philanthropy and influencing the funding community. That means that we get to have conversations with funders about the importance of changing the practice of investing in Indigenous organizations. At the same time, I’ve also been having conversations with Indigenous people and Indigenous organizations that are working to advance their rights. Bringing this message of the importance of supporting these people is one that I’m excited about.
Foundation: How have Grand Circle Foundation and the Lewis Family Foundation supported you?
Lourdes: Grand Circle Foundation has been a wonderful member. The conversation started with our former board chair, and it continues to evolve because Grand Circle is at the start of really wanting to support Indigenous organizations in a way that is more effective. Grand Circle Foundation, through the Lewis Family, was very generous in offering Alnoba to IFIP to host our 2019 Learning Institute. Another way that we have collaborated with Alnoba and Grand Circle Foundation is through the nomination of the first International Indigenous Leadership Award. The recipient was Francinara Soares Martins Baré of Brazil, who is one of the people IFIP nominated. We were very excited to learn that they were awarded the prize.
Foundation: What do you see as the future for your organization?
Lourdes: Going forward, what I can see is providing a learning space for members where they can collaborate with each other, exchange lessons learned, and strategize around co-funding an organization or a community. We also would like to continue to bring this dialog about the importance of funding Indigenous people to philanthropic spaces where it has not yet been, both domestically and internationally.
Foundation: What do you like to do when you’re not working?
Lourdes: When I’m not working, spending time with my husband and my girls is something I really look forward to. I have two young daughters, so that can take many different forms, depending on their interests of the day. I love spending time by the ocean, as well.
Foundation: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
Lourdes: I’m a Star Wars fan and have been from a very young age!
Tell us a little about yourself. Which do you prefer?
Chocolate or vanilla?
Reading a book or seeing a movie?
That’s tough! I like both.
Going for a hike or sitting by a fire?
Sitting by the fire—depending on whether it’s a cold day
Talking or listening?
Dogs or cats?
Being interviewed or having a tooth pulled?