Foundation News: Farewell to Allison Johnson Heist

Allison Johnson Heist joined Headwaters in January 2015 through the Ron McKinley Fellowship at the Minnesota Council on Foundations. For over 7 years, she has dedicated herself to transforming philanthropy. Allison is moving on from her position at Headwaters this summer, and her last day at the Foundation will be Thursday, July 21. 

I am grateful for Allison’s leadership. She launched and led Headwaters’ Giving Project program and helped to establish Headwaters as a leader in the national donor organizing ecosystem. In that time, she worked alongside her colleague Melissa Rudnick to strengthen our grantmaking and capacity building programs. 

Internally, Allison has also made her mark. After several years co-leading the Foundation’s grantmaking programs, she took on the role of Vice President of Culture and Partnerships. In that role, Allison has led Headwaters’ organizational development work during a period of significant growth on our team. Her care for the Foundation’s staff and the culture has been evident as she’s introduced generative somatics practices and conversations around power and leadership with staff. 

I am excited for Allison as she begins to write a new chapter in her life. I am grateful to have been able to witness and support her growth as a leader and as a human being. Allison has truly made a difference in in the Headwaters community. 

Please join me in wishing Allison the best of luck. 


Maria De La Cruz

President, Headwaters Foundation for Justice

A note from Allison Johnson Heist: 

I am incredibly proud of what we’ve accomplished together over the last 7 years. When I started at Headwaters, I was tasked with launching the Giving Project: a bold experiment in the future of philanthropy. Today, I celebrate that we sparked a movement that has transformed the way that thousands of people think about fundraising and organizing donors to support grassroots movements for justice, not only in Minnesota, but also nationally 

I am profoundly grateful for the relationships I’ve built over the years. To my Giving Project participants, grantee partners, donors, co-workers, fellow Ron McKinley Fellows, and colleagues in the sector: thank you. You have shaped me into the leader I am today. I will always cherish the chapter I helped to write in the story of Headwaters, and I look forward to the ways in which we’ll connect and build together in the future. As I move into the next phase of my career and life, I’ll be leaning on what I’ve learned from so many of you: we can trust in the power of community.