Advisory Board and Funders

Lisa Cylar Barrett

Advisory Board Secretary / Program Director, Civil Society Program, Wellspring Philanthropic Fund

Lisa Cylar Barrett has over 25 years of combined experience in the legal, philanthropic, and nonprofit sectors. As the Director of the Civil Society Program, at Wellspring Philanthropic Fund she leads the Foundation’s efforts to create a more equitable, representative, and fully engaged electorate and a more just, responsive, and resilient US democracy. Ms. Cylar Barrett has spent her career working to effectively execute multipronged strategies to expand democracy, eliminate disparities, and achieve racial justice.

Prior to joining Wellspring, Lisa served as Director of Policy and Director of the Washington D.C. Office at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF), where she led and managed the federal and state-level policy work for the organization, including the organization’s voting rights and political participation efforts. While in that position, she served on various election reform and voting rights coalitions, including serving as Co-Chair of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Voting Rights Task Force. In conjunction with her core roles, she served as a member of LDF’s Senior Leadership Team, where she assisted with the development and execution of the strategic direction for the organization.

Prior to joining LDF, Ms. Cylar Barrett served as the Managing Director, Federal Policy at PolicyLink. In that position, she oversaw the development and execution of strategies to advance racial and economic equity on a wide range of issues. Ms. Cylar Barrett also served as a Senior Associate at the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP), where she provided leadership for its efforts with federal agencies and other national organizations to advance and promote policies grounded in equity, which help to strengthen children and families and help them thrive.

Before joining the CSSP, Ms. Cylar Barrett spent several years in philanthropy, working to improve outcomes for children, families, and communities in the city of Detroit and the surrounding areas in southeast Michigan. As a Senior Program Officer for the Skillman Foundation, Ms. Cylar Barrett developed and managed the Foundation’s efforts related to policy advancement, alignment of investments/leverage from other entities, and increased awareness/influence regarding challenges faced by children and families in the city of Detroit. As a Program Officer and Director of Development at the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, Ms. Cylar Barrett managed various grantmaking portfolios and oversaw numerous efforts focused on increasing funds available for investment. Prior to her philanthropic career, Ms. Cylar Barrett practiced labor and employment law.

Ms. Cylar Barrett received her B.A. from Spelman College and her J.D. from Case Western Reserve University School of Law, where she served as an Associate Editor of the Health Matrix Law Journal. Her legal studies also included a semester at Oxford University, where she studied International Taxation and Comparative Legal Professions.