A little over a month ago, Harlem native George Suttles joined The John A. Hartford Foundation as a new program office. The foundation is a private, nonpartisan philanthropy dedicated to improving the care of older adults.
Suttles’ work at the foundation consists of working with strategic partners to develop age-friendly health systems. The foundation is also keeping abreast of new innovations in health and what the current presidential administration is doing when it comes to health care.
Suttles said that long before he started working as a professional, he learned about community service and giving back while growing up in Harlem.
“I was always involved in community service in one form or another,” Suttles said. “I was instilled at an early age by my mother doing service through church or school. It’s been a common theme for my entire life.”
Before joining the foundation, Suttles was on a journey that thoroughly prepared him for his current position. He was a senior philanthropic relationship manager in the Philanthropic Solutions Division of U.S. Trust, where he served as a relationship manager for private family foundations, charitable trusts and nonprofit organizations. Before that role, he served as program manager at the Anthem Foundation and was formerly a program officer at the New York State Health Foundation.
After earning his B.A. in African-American Studies from Wesleyan University, he was an intern for the National Urban League. Suttles earned his MPA at the Baruch School of Public Affairs (CUNY) through the National Urban Fellows Program. He later earned a second master’s degree in Philanthropic Studies from the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
“There are two sides of the coin for philanthropy, fundraising and people who give the money,” he said. “I wondered who are those people on the other side who are trying to give money to these programs. For me it’s about having a seat at the table.”
Suttles’ interest in the health field was sparked by an internship at the New York State Health Foundation in 2006, where his team built a statewide health care philanthropy devoted to improving the health of New Yorkers.
As a Harlem native, he said he understand the needs of underserved communities and wants to target those who might not know or have access to health care options available to them.
“My hope is to play a part in advancing the work of the foundation broadly,” he said. “Coupled by the fact I come from an urban community, I hope to keep the foundation honest about working in certain demographics. Bring that perspective, I believe the foundation is committed to that.” he
Along with his work at The John A. Hartford Foundation, Suttles serves on the nonprofit boards of Odyssey House, The Support Center and the Storefront Academy, as well as volunteering in varying capacities with several other organizations in the city. He has participated in several leadership development programs, notably the Association of Black Foundation Executives Connecting Leaders program and the Council of Urban Professionals Leadership Fellows program.