Sarah Vaill

VIVA Strategy

Sarah Vaill is the founder and president of VIVA Strategy | Vital. Intersectional. Vibrant. Advising + Strategy. VIVA is a consulting practice for feminist and collaborative philanthropy, donor advising, donor organizing, and movements and networks. Sarah mobilizes ‘acta et verba’—words and deeds—for racial and gender justice and representative democracy. In addition to projects with Mama Cash, Liberty Hill Foundation’s Liberation Fund, and the Black Excellence Project, VIVA Strategy is piloting Philanthropae, a platform for intersectional feminist advisors in philanthropy.

Sarah leads with a survivor-activist lens, and started as a canvasser at age 17 for the Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women (now Peace Over Violence). She has subsequently held the roles of Program Officer (Americas, Caribbean, Oceania, Europe), Development Officer, Director of International Advocacy, Director of Philanthropy, and Vice President of Programs within organizations and foundations such as the Global Fund for Women, Karama, Liberty Hill Foundation, and Panorama Global.

As a consultant, she has produced strategic communications and stakeholder engagement for the Women’s Funding Network, Urgent Action Fund for Feminist Activism, Ms. Foundation, UN Fund for Gender Equality, Rape Treatment Center, SCOPE, Pro-Social, Organization for Women’s Freedom in Iraq, and AWID.

In the Middle East and North Africa before and after the Arab Spring, Sarah supported feminist activists across the region as they built an intersectional network and used international human rights mechanisms to help them win more than 30 laws and constitutional articles. These advances increased women’s representation in parliaments from 11% to 19%, narrowed impunity for gender-based violence, and expanded the limited rights for women to pass their citizenship to their children.

Sarah has significant experience with international women’s funds, global feminist movements, writing dockets and grant recommendations, donor advised funds and giving circles, philanthropic advising re intersectional movements, international human rights mechanisms, fiscal sponsorship, documentary film production, democracy-building with a race x gender lens, women/peace/security and transitional justice, women’s sports and outdoor education, and writing creative, strategic communications for impact.

She also experienced firsthand the inflection points of the UN World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 and the Egyptian Revolution in 2011. She is fluent in English and Spanish, lives in a first-generation immigrant household, and draws on personal and professional lived experiences in Mexico, Bolivia, Egypt, Mozambique, China, England, and Spain, as well as in rural, urban, southern, and border regions of the U.S.

Sarah holds a Master’s degree from Oxford University in International Human Rights Law and a B.A. from Duke University in Gender and Hispanic Cultures. She serves on the Executive Committee of The X Fund, a women’s giving circle committed to gender justice in Los Angeles, and she co-founded Grantmakers without Borders (later merged with EDGE Funders Alliance). Sarah also co-founded and since 2005 has served on the Board of Directors for SEE (Social and Environmental Entrepreneurs), a fiscal sponsorship agency, helping steer its growth from a budget of $2.5 million to $70 million with 200+ projects.