‘It’s hard to say goodbye,’ says departing DVLF director 

After five years as executive director of LGBT grantmaking organization DVLF, Samantha Giusti will step down from her role.

The 31-year-old will depart her post Nov. 22 to lead community-affairs efforts for IKEA USA.

“The entire board is excited for [Giusti] and her family, yet we are also sad to see her move on from DVLF, where she has made a major impact over the past five years,” DVLF board president Ron Lucente said in a statement. “This includes revitalizing DVLF’s mission and brand, strengthening the LGBT community’s commitment to philanthropy, increasing DVLF’s endowment and fostering the overall vibrancy of Philadelphia through events like Our Night Out.”

Giusti’s departure begins as DVLF prepares celebrations for its 25th anniversary, something she called a “huge accomplishment” for the organization. 

“It’s hard to say goodbye,” Giusti said. “I have been so grateful to all of the friendships I have made, to all of my colleagues in the LGBTQ community and to have this opportunity to serve.”

She credited the many volunteers and supporters for DVLF’s success and hopes people continue to invest in the organization for “the next 25 years.”

“In a changing political landscape, we don’t know what the future holds,” Giusti said. 

She added that DVLF’s founders also did not know what the future would hold 25 years ago. The organization would go on to see calls to support homeless LGBT youth, advancements in HIV/AIDS medications, marriage equality and many other actions, Giusti noted, adding she hopes the community will continue to support DVLF. 

“I think there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done,” she said. “My hope is that people continue to step forward to give time, talent and resources to DVLF so we can continue to give out grants and put money on the ground to organizations that are meeting all of these critical needs. I hope folks continue to do that and that DVLF gets bigger, better and stronger in the future.”

After her departure, Giusti plans to stay involved with the LGBT community. Prior to joining DVLF, Giusti said she served on several boards for LGBT nonprofits but had to resign once she started leading DVLF due to such roles potentially being a conflict of interest. She currently serves on the board of the Independence Business Alliance and hopes to get involved with other organizations in a similar capacity once again.

“I’m open to volunteer opportunities at LGBTQ nonprofits and staying involved in the LGBTQ community through giving back my time, which is what I’m excited to be able to do,” she said. “Hopefully in the future, I will be given an opportunity to do that.” 

Giusti said she is looking forward to the post at IKEA USA, a brand she also shops as a consumer. During the interview process for this new position, she came to appreciate the way the company treats both employees and customers. 

“It’s really an honor to have the opportunity to work with them. They are a company that lives out its values every day, and those values match my values.” 

Giusti added that she is looking forward to using the skills she learned from DVLF in her new position. 

“DVLF has given me a framework for philanthropy, selecting community partners and relationship-building,” she said. “All of this work that we do is really about the relationships we have with people in our community and, for me, I’m excited to take that framework to amplify IKEA’s philanthropy, strengthen relationships that IKEA may already have with community partners and hopefully develop some new community partners. I think DVLF has given me the framework and best practices around that.” 

She looks back on her time with DVLF as a “wonderful opportunity.” 

“I came to DVLF as a 26-year-old and I have grown so much personally and professionally because of this role. I am grateful to everybody in the community for supporting DVLF, supporting our mission and our work, supporting me personally and professionally and helping me to grow into the person I am today. It has really been a wonderful five years.”