Scott Downes

Portfolio Director
Priority Areas I Lead:

Advocacy | Locally-focused Work | Community Solutions and Capacity Building

Scott’s work has bridged philanthropy, nonprofit and policy advocacy. He previously served as senior program officer at The Colorado Trust, managing a multi-million-dollar grant portfolio focused on policy and advocacy, civic engagement and capacity building. Scott has also held communications roles with the Colorado Center on Law and Policy and the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute. In the political realm, Scott wore many hats on campaigns at the local, state and national level, including work with two governors. More recently, he was an independent consultant specializing in strategy development, project management and strategic communications for foundations, nonprofits and other mission-oriented organizations.

Scott’s commitment to work in civic engagement and health equity was sparked growing up with parents who were deeply involved in their communities through schools, local government and political action.

After nearing burnout from working in politics in Indiana, D.C. and New Mexico, Scott landed in Colorado 15 years ago and hasn’t looked back. He has a strong belief in philanthropy’s responsibility to help people use their voice and actively engage in the civic process to affect change, and he believes we must put folks in power who desire to help undo structural disadvantages.

At the Foundation, Scott works across our Advocacy, Capacity Building and Community Solutions priority areas, in addition to playing a strategic role with our locally-focused work. By working with local leadership to spark positive change, he is helping bridge the gap between policymaking impact and supporting communities most vulnerable to systemic injustices.

Scott has served as a board member for Scholars Unlimited and Bikes Together, and is a graduate of Leadership Denver and the Colorado Institute for Leadership Training. Originally from Indiana, his healthiest habits – biking, hiking and running – happen in the great outdoors, preferably in The Arkansas Valley. Scott lives in Denver with his wife, Sarah, and their pup, Tallulah.


BA in Government and International Studies – University of Notre Dame

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"Philanthropy has a responsibility to exercise its voice and platform in a manner that instigates a positive degree of change. Our work at the Foundation is uniquely positioned to catalyze that change – and I’m grateful to play my part each day."
Scott Downes
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