Susan Jenkins is the Executive Director of the Cherokee Preservation Foundation and has been named to the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation Board. As the first employee, she provided leadership for the "start-up "phase, hired staff and developed the grant making strategy and infrastructure. The Foundation recently completed another grant cycle that brings the total number of grants to over 600 with an investment of nearly $51 million over a nine year period.
Previously, Dr. Jenkins served as Senior Program Director at the Hitachi Foundation and Program Director at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, where she oversaw a multi-million dollar portfolio focusing on corporate citizenship and rural development, respectively.
Before starting her philanthropic work, she was a rural health policy analyst for the University of Georgia. For eleven years, she worked as an extension sociologist in Community Health Programs for the Department of Economic and Community Development. During her tenure, she helped leaders, organizations and citizens to identify and find workable solutions to local health issues. She also served as the university’s liaison to state, national, and international health and health care organizations.
She is Chairperson for the Southern Rural Development Center’s Board of Directors and serves on the Steering Committee for the WNC Nonprofit Pathways, a 17 county regional collaborative. She also serves as Board member for Leadership North Carolina and the Lake Junaluska Assembly. Other memberships include the North Carolina Network of Grantmakers, Native Americans in Philanthropy, Grantmakers and the Arts and the Southeastern Council of Foundations. Jenkins served on the Policy Board of the National Rural Health Association and was a member of the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health. She has authored many articles and was a member of the National Editorial Board of The Journal of Health for the Poor and Underserved.
Jenkins earned a bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University, a master’s degree from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate in sociology from The University of Georgia. Born in Oklahoma, Dr. Jenkins is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation.