Sisters woman earns philanthropy fellowship


Last updated 11/1/2022 at Noon

Erin Borla of Sisters has been selected for the National Center for Family Philanthropy Fellows Program. PHOTO PROVIDED

Erin Borla, executive director and trustee for The Roundhouse Foundation, has been selected for the National Center for Family Philanthropy (NCFP) Fellows Program. The program is designed to accelerate the learning and development of family philanthropy leaders, while also defining and elevating effective practices in the sector.

Borla was selected due to her leadership skills and meaningful contributions to the field, as well as a commitment to advancing ongoing learning and advocating for effective philanthropic practices.

Asked by The Nugget to describe what sets The Roundhouse Foundation’s approach to philanthropy apart, Borla said, I would say that we’re very relational. Traditional philanthropy had gotten to be very transactional — sitting behind a desk and writing a check.”

Roundhouse’s work is focused on partnering with community organizations to develop, implement, and sustain creative, place-based approaches and programs that strengthen and celebrate rural Oregon.

According to Borla, the work is not just about providing funding for worthy programs — it’s about helping people in rural Oregon establish connections and leverage influence in regions where distance and a paucity of resources can make that challenging. And a lot of the work involves “trying to really sit and listen and learn what the actual need is, beyond what is written in an application,” Borla said. “The need isn’t just financial. Yeah, money always helps, but there is an opportunity to create community.”

Borla’s passion and direct approach appear to have gotten the attention of NCFP.

Nicholas Tedesco, president and CEO of the National Center for Family Philanthropy, said, “Our Fellows Program is instrumental in furthering and elevating family philanthropy work across the country, and we are pleased to welcome our newest fellows to the program, including Erin. Her commitment to the philanthropic community and established skills and expertise in the space will make her a great asset to the work we are doing. We are looking forward to her unique contributions!”

All fellows will be working to advance the field; foster learning to strengthen the practice of family philanthropy; elevate effective and best practices; and encourage an open exchange of ideas and information. In particular, Borla will be focused on elevating rural voices and sharing creative solutions to the unique challenges associated with rural culture and landscape.

“I look forward to working with foundations and philanthropists across the country to elevate the programs and projects happening throughout rural Oregon and with our Native partners and am honored and humbled to be included in the group of fellows selected for this work,” Borla said.

The need is acute. Borla notes that only about seven percent of philanthropic dollars go into rural communities — much less to native communities.

And rural communities often lack time and capacity to apply for grants and demonstrate the impact of funds. That’s why The Roundhouse Foundation has simplified their application and reporting process — the kind of practice that will be promoted through the fellowship.

Borla said that she values the ability to take immediate action and affect long-term change. The work honors Columbia Sportswear entrepreneur Gert Boyle — Borla’s grandmother.

“My grandmother was an immigrant to this country — and came from pretty significant persecution,” Borla said. “Oregon was very good to her, but she also gave back. “It’s a gift, right? To be able to share with the community something that the community built. Because that’s where the wealth came from.”

In addition to this fellowship, Borla also recently received a Certificate in Tribal Relations from the Institute for Tribal Government and Center for Public Service in the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University.

This capstone course will not only help The Roundhouse Foundation better collaborate and partner with tribal governments and other native communities, but also inform Borla’s upcoming work with the NCFP. For more information on NCFP visit

For more information on The Roundhouse Foundation, visit


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