Sara Vander Zanden is a senior manager at Jobs for the Future. In this role, she builds resilient systems and partnerships across sectors and program areas to advance organizations’ visions, values, and goals. She also leads the Quality Green Jobs Regional Challenge for JFF and contributes to the Spectrum Community Center Assist initiative.
Her skills and areas of expertise include:
● Complex project management
● Program and project startup
● Change management
● Climate resiliency
● Community-based organizations
● Affordable housing and homelessness
Before joining JFF, Sara was the executive director at Facing Homelessness, a nonprofit that mobilizes community members to help end homelessness. In that role, she led teams, programs, and partners through a period of rapid organizational growth and co-designed The Block Project, a sustainable solution for providing permanent housing that has been replicated nationally.
Previously, Sara worked toward building a more sustainable and equitable food system in both the nonprofit and for-profit sectors.
She has been recognized for her regional impact by the Puget Sound Business Journal as a 40 Under 40 honoree and has spoken about her approach to community impact at a national TED conference.
Sara says she was drawn to JFF because of the organization’s commitment to social change. “JFF influences systemic change by simultaneously investing in bold new solutions and navigating and improving existing systems,” she says. “This creates an unprecedented opportunity for cross-sector collaboration and comprehensive social change.”
Sara has a bachelor’s in organizational studies from the University of Michigan.
She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with her husband and “a lively toddler,” she says. “I love farmers markets, the Great Lakes, neighborhood restaurants in both familiar and new places, paddleboarding, and themed gatherings.”