Knight Foundation names new San Jose director
The former Knight-Ridder building in downtown San Jose on Aug. 7, 2023. Photo by Jana Kadah.

The Knight Foundation has selected a new program director to oversee its efforts in San Jose, following a year without a permanent leader.

The philanthropic organization that supports nonprofits, the arts and public improvement projects announced today it named Allan Madoc to the role, a Stanford University Sloan Fellow with a background in technology investment banking.

Madoc, an Australian national, succeeds Chris Thompson, who left the post in September 2022. Charles Thomas, Knight’s Charlotte director, was serving as an interim director in San Jose.

Allan Madoc, a Stanford University Sloan Fellow with a background in technology investment banking, has been named as the Knight Foundation’s program director for San Jose. Photo courtesy of Knight Foundation.

Kelly Jin, Knight’s vice president for community and national initiatives, said the organization’s goal under Madoc is to continue to support the vibrancy and prosperity of San Jose.

“Allan’s extensive investment experience and pioneering mindset will undoubtedly contribute to San Jose’s ongoing advancement,” Jin said in a Knight statement. “We are excited about both broadening our existing partnerships and forging new connections throughout the city.”

Madoc is set to officially begin with Knight on Nov. 6.

“I’m deeply committed to collaborating with San Jose’s civic leaders, creators, innovators, and social entrepreneurs,” Madoc said in the statement. “Together, we’ll empower diverse talents, and drive innovation and inclusion in a crucial ecosystem that greater San Jose is a part of, all the while celebrating the rich tapestry and history that connects and strengthens our community.”

The foundation runs community programs in 26 cities, though eight larger cities including San Jose have dedicated program directors to oversee local giving, advocate for funding and support leaders.

Prior to the announcement of Madoc as the next director, local nonprofit and arts leaders raised alarms about Knight not filling the role sooner.

Critics told San José Spotlight the lack of a permanent program director hampered the ability of groups to work closely with the foundation to seek more funding from its multibillion-dollar endowment.

They also had concerns about an apparent pause or drop in overall grants issued by Knight in San Jose, as well as poor communication from the Miami-based organization to its San Jose grantees.

Shiloh Ballard, former director of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, which received funding from Knight, said she doesn’t know Madoc. Nonetheless, she is cautiously hopeful about his tenure.

Foundations are untouchable and can wield power unhealthily so I just hope they hired someone who understands power and privilege,” Ballard told San José Spotlight. “Folks who come to the work from a culturally humble perspective are welcome given how miserable they can make the lives of those who must kiss the rings for money.”

Madoc most recently served as managing director of technology, media and telecommunications at HSBC USA’s West Coast Coverage sector. There he “oversaw Fortune 500 public and private equity-sponsored companies based in the San Francisco Bay Area,” the Knight statement said. Madoc previously held several senior positions in the Australasia region, including head of origination and sector coverage at HSBC Australia.

Madoc has been an early-stage technology investor for more than 10 years, and has deep connections to San Jose where he gained expertise in the tech sector, according to Knight.

“With a substantial background in identifying and nurturing emerging ideas and a decade-long connection to the city, he brings a global perspective and an unwavering commitment to driving innovation in enterprises,” the Knight statement said.

Cayce Hill, director of community garden nonprofit Veggielution, told San José Spotlight she doesn’t know Madoc, but expects her organization and others will step up to help get him familiarized with the local nonprofit and arts community.

“It’s something we are often asked to do as nonprofits, to spend time and resources in the future hope that maybe we will be funded,” Hill said.

She hopes Knight will offer some bridge funding to local organizations to recognize the effort, which they have also put out for two prior directors, who similarly weren’t closely hooked into the local nonprofit landscape.

“Every three years or so we go through this exercise of bringing someone up to speed, bring them on board, introducing them to our work, introducing them to our community,” she said. “It’s a huge additional lift for us and it does impact us.”

Contact Joseph Geha at [email protected] or @josephgeha16 on Twitter.

Editor’s Note: The Knight Foundation has supported San José Spotlight, including through event sponsorships and NewsMatch. San José Spotlight’s office is located in Open San Jose, a community hub run by CreaTV and supported with a $1 million Knight grant.

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