Member Spotlight: Stephanie Randolph, Cassiopeia Foundation

Cassiopeia Foundation

Charlottesville, Virginia

Mission: Created in 1944, Cassiopeia’s designated mission is “for the betterment of mankind.”

This month’s “Member Spotlight” features Stephanie Randolph, Deputy Director of the Cassiopeia Foundation and NEW Advisory Board member. Stephanie has also been deeply engaged in VFN’s impact investing space, serving as co-chair of our impact investing learning series in 2021 and sponsoring our in-progress field scan of member impact investing work. Here’s a little bit more about Stephanie and her work in philanthropy:   

Pictured: Stephanie Randolph

Describe your philanthropic philosophy and how your philosophy shapes your work.

The “superpower” of philanthropy is the people and communities we serve.  The financial resources are tools to be deployed across the return spectrum. Philanthropy is most impactful when we embrace an entrepreneurial mindset and are prepared to learn and adapt with our grantee partners.

What are you currently reading?

I recently finished reading Lean Impact by Ann Mei Chang.

What “influencers” are you following? What leaders have “influenced” your leadership style or goals? 

Tony Pipa – an insightful advocate for rural America, untangling the complexities of domestic rural policy and uplifting inspiring stories from across the country. 

The Renegade Capital Podcast features a collection of “financial activists” who keep pushing me to think differently about money, power, and my role in the capitalist system.  

The leader that has had the greatest impact on my leadership style is my mother.  She taught me about systems change and why it is necessary.

What are your organization’s top three areas of focus for 2022? 

  1. 2023 will be a year of exploration as we work to define new program priorities in the Commonwealth.
  2. We are committed to building a vibrant network of foundations in Virginia supporting one another in our impact investing journeys.
  3. We are excited to be integrating the next generation of leadership into the foundation.

What partnerships and/or collaborative efforts have been meaningful to you in the last year?

Invest Appalachia grew out of a deep collaborative process to successfully launch a $19M fund to attract and deploy impact-motivated capital throughout Central Appalachia. This is a first-of-its-kind, blended impact fund providing flexible capital to support high-impact businesses, organizations, and projects to create a more equitable, sustainable, and resilient Appalachian economy. 

How has VFN been relevant to the work you’re doing?

The VFN conference in 2022 (the first) was a personal highlight for me. The packed rooms and vibrant conversations highlighted the potential.  We all have our own unique service area or sector, but we are certainly, better together!

Tell us about a project or an area of work you’re most excited about.

Much of the great work foundations are doing is not discussed or shared. This is true of traditional grantmaking as well as impact investing. But we learn best by example. Given our deep interest in impact investing, I am excited to be working with VFN to better understand the level of philanthropic “investment” in the Commonwealth and highlight examples of how we are serving our missions and expanding our impact by leveraging resources across the return spectrum.  

What else would you like your fellow funders to know?

  • Get proximate to the problem you are seeking to address and trust those with lived experience. 
  • Be comfortable being uncomfortable.
  • Embrace hope and possibilities.
  • Sometimes “but for…” means being first.