Lyell Sakaue

Principal, San Francisco

Lyell Sakaue is a principal in The Bridgespan Group’s San Francisco office. Since joining in 2015, he has supported a range of nonprofit organizations and funders to achieve greater social impact, with an emphasis on unlocking additional philanthropic capital for racial and economic equity. He has worked with the Audacious Project, the 1954 Project, and with high wealth families to define goals and strategies, design sourcing and selection processes, support portfolio organizations, and measure impact over time. He is a co-author of “What Ambitious Donors Can Learn From The Atlantic Philanthropies’ Experience Making Big Bets.”

Across his portfolio of work, Lyell is committed to lifting up the work of BIPOC leaders and organizations working to transform systems in service of racial equity, and has worked with organizations like Echoing Green, the 1954 Project, PolicyLink, Kingmakers of Oakland, and Black Ambition. He co-led a joint research effort with Echoing Green on the magnitude and drivers of the barriers to capital faced by leaders of color and equity-focused organizations and is a co-author of “Overcoming the Racial Bias in Philanthropic Funding,” (Stanford Social Innovation Review, 2020), and  “Moving from Intention to Impact: Funding Racial Equity to Win,” (, 2021).

Prior to Bridgespan, Lyell managed IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge, a global philanthropic initiative to support municipal governments to use data to drive better outcomes for residents. He serves on the board of the Vesper Society, a healthcare conversion foundation focused on closing health disparities in California. Lyell grew up in rural northern California and holds an MPP from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a BA from the University of California, Berkeley.

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