Sawako Sonoyama Clarin

Senior Advisor, Philanthropy


Sawako is passionate about building connections between people, ideas and resources. As Senior Philanthropy Advisor at Silicon Valley Community Foundation, she cultivates engagement strategies that encourage donors to identify their charitable goals, collaborate with partners and maximize the impact of their grantmaking. She partners with individual and institutional donors that utilize donor advised funds, supporting organizations and private foundations. In her role she also manages and mentors a team of four associates. More recently, she was appointed by SVCF’s interim President and CEO to co-lead the Culture Task Force, an internal and cross-departmental team dedicated to improving and sustaining a positive culture at SVCF.

Prior to joining SVCF in 2016, Sawako was the director of philanthropy programs at the Global Philanthropy Forum (GPF) where she was the curator for GPF’s signature annual conferences. She also contributed to building strategic relationships with philanthropists, foundation and business leaders to launch the newly formed African Philanthropy Forum. Prior to GPF, Sawako worked at Medic Mobile, FHI 360, UNICEF and the Institute of International Education. She brings over a decade of experience in the nonprofit sector, including field experience in Ethiopia, Thailand and Chile.

Born in Japan, Sawako holds a master's degree in international affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and a bachelor's degree in cultural anthropology and mathematics from UC Berkeley. She enjoys practicing yoga and swimming, trying new restaurants and chasing her toddler around.