Susan Wolf Ditkoff


Susan Wolf Ditkoff is a partner in the Boston office and co-Head of the Philanthropy Practice. Her work has focused on three primary areas: effective philanthropy, public education, and infrastructure issues such as leadership, capacity building, and governance.

Most recently, Susan co-authored the September/October 2017 Harvard Business Review  article "Audacious Philanthropy," which highlights 15 historic examples of large-scale social change and a framework of five elements that influenced their success. She also co-authored “When You’ve Made Enough to Make a Difference” (Harvard Business Review, 2011) and "Galvanizing Philanthropy" (Harvard Business Review, 2009), which explored how philanthropists can increase their impact by getting clear about defining success, getting real about what it takes to create change, and getting better over time. In 2012, she co-authored “Philanthropy in the New Age of Government Austerity,” published on  She has also co-authored four related op-eds in the Chronicle of Philanthropy: "The Hard Truth: Philanthropists Need to Get Real to Make Lasting Change," “For the Gates-Buffett Challenge to Work, It Takes More than Money,” “For Better Results, Philanthropists Need to Meddle Less and Collaborate More,” and “Private Donors Must Help Government Do More With Less,” as well as two case studies on high-impact philanthropy (Tiger Foundation) and education strategy (Expeditionary Learning Schools / Outward Bound: Staying True to Mission).

She has been cited as an expert by The New York Times and Reuters, and speaks frequently at the Council on Foundations and Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, Association of Small Foundations, and the National Center for Family Philanthropy, as well as for private groups of philanthropists. Her writings have been reprinted in national and international publications. In 2011, she initiated Bridgespan’s first philanthropy blog and Twitter campaign (#30DayDonorChallenge).

Outside of Bridgespan, Susan is vice president and on the Executive Committee of the Harvard Business School Alumni Board of Directors, and is the past president of the HBS Social Enterprise Alumni Association, a global alumni group with over 1,000 members. Susan is also chairman of the Brookline School Committee (school board), an elected position in Brookline, MA, and is the former chair of the Curriculum Committee.

Prior to Bridgespan, Susan’s career included helping to start up a $500-million healthcare subsidiary of Merck & Co., which doubled in its first three years; for-profit consulting to financial institutions; and nonprofit consulting in microfinance with McKinsey & Company.

Susan is a graduate of Yale University, where she wrote her thesis on bilingual education. She received her MBA from Harvard Business School, where she was most recently a leadership coach for five years in the school’s Executive Education program.



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