Samantha Giusti, 27, took the helm of the LGBT grantmaking agency, effective Dec. 3.
The announcement was made at Saturday’s TOY, which brought together more than 400 people who donated 500 toys to the pediatric HIV/AIDS unit at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and raised $48,000 for DVLF.
Giusti, who is a Gloucester County, N.J., native, earned her bachelor’s in social work and theology from Catholic University of America and her master’s in social work with an emphasis in non-profit management from University of Pennsylvania.
Most recently, she served as the manager of Women’s Way, the nation’s largest and oldest funding federation for women. She said her time at the organization will help mold her DVLF experience.
“I think it will help my work immensely because at Women’s Way, one of my primary roles was to fundraise and I feel I can help with that, particularly where DVLF is concerned with corporate sponsorships,” she said.
Giusti has been a longtime volunteer for the organization and joked that DVLF had to eventually put her on the payroll. She served on the TOY, Wonder Women and grant and outreach committees and not only gave a lot of time in those capacities, but also served as a donor for the agency.
Giusti is quite busy outside of DVLF — having volunteered as a chaperone for the Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative’s alternative prom and at the William Way LGBT Community Center. She is also one of the Philadelphia Dyke March organizers and has served on the scholarship committee for The Attic Youth Center.
She also managed the door staff at Stimulus events and served as the project manager for Stimulus Gives Back, the LGBT party’s charitable and volunteerism efforts.
Giusti said she was attracted to DVLF by its overarching mission.
“What resonates most with me is the fact that the LGBTQ community looks different now than when DVLF started 20 years ago. The needs for the LGBT community will continue to change,” she said. “When people invest in the DVLF endowment, they are ensuring that when the LGBT community continues to change, there will still be money there to get grants and help people in the evolving community.”
One of her goals as executive director is to improve the marketing and public-relations efforts. She said she hopes to “piggy-back” off the work of outgoing interim director Mark Dann and previous director John Moeller and focus on strengthening the fund’s brand.
“I don’t know that certain pockets of the community know about DVLF. I have a lot of friends who didn’t know what DVLF does and what it is,” she said.
Giusti hopes to continue to expand the agency’s endowment, which is currently at $1 million.
“My plan is to have people continue to give to us. I want to make sure that there is always a pool of money that organizations can seek funding from. The LGBT community has a foundation that has their best interest at heart and that’s us,” she said.
Giusti said she was excited when the director position arose, adding that her investment in the community, coupled with her passion for volunteering and her educational background, make her the perfect fit for the organization.
“I have the desire to make change and what better way than to make that change than with an organization that I love and a community that I love,” she said.
DVLF board president D. Mark Mitchell said the agency was looking forward to Giusti’s leadership.
“We are very excited to welcome Samantha,” Mitchell said. “DVLF celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, and we believe she brings the energy and leadership necessary to propel this organization into the next stage of growth.”