Caren Croland Yanis

Board of Visitors

Board of Visitors
Caren Croland Yanis: Board of Visitors


After building and running foundations for Oprah Winfrey and the Crown Family in Chicago, Caren started Croland Consulting to help high net worth families and businesses develop philanthropic practices in line with their values. Her focus is on governance, cross generation engagement, strategic planning and evaluation. Caren helps philanthropic professionals realize efficiency and potential using evidence based tools to understand changing landscapes.

Caren served as president of Crown Family Philanthropies (CFP) for eight years from 2009-2016, as the first professional, non-family leader. She served as a board officer and participated on policy and program committees. While at CFP Caren managed organizational redesign and growth, engaged three generations in philanthropic activities, planned and facilitated policy development, and guided strategic initiatives in the U.S., Israel, and the developing world.

Caren built and managed Oprah Winfrey’s philanthropies from 2000-2009. She was responsible for board, and investment committee development, presentations and communications. Caren was an officer on Oprah’s philanthropic boards and a member of the Harpo Senior Management Team. Activities included management of public and private foundations and corporate social responsibility.

Caren was involved in development of numerous programs both on and off the Oprah Winfrey Show. Capital projects included schools in Africa, the Oprah Winfrey Boys and Girls Club in Kosciusko MS, and disaster relief, recovery, and rebuilding efforts following Hurricane Katrina that put over fourteen hundred families back in homes.

Caren is a board director and finance committee member of The Poetry Foundation which received a $200M bequest from Ruth Lilly, a founding director of Leading Edge, a group formed to build organizational strength in nonprofit agencies, a member of the Illinois Attorney General’s Charitable Advisory Council, an Accreditation Advisory Committee member at the Spertus Institute for Jewish Studies, an advisory board member at the Lily Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University, a MacArthur Foundation adviser, and a redesign team member of the Pardee RAND Graduate School. Caren presents on issues related to family, celebrity and corporate giving at a variety of venues including Northwestern University, New York University, Duke and at wealth management conferences.

Formerly Caren served as a trustee and finance committee member of the Jewish Funders Network, and a trustee of the Chicago Donors Forum, where she chaired the board development and executive search committees. Caren was founding director of Project&, a creative agency focused on addressing critical social issues through the arts. She chaired the Council on Foundations’ 2013 Annual Conference in Chicago, and chaired two Council awards committees for excellence in grant-making. She served on UNICEF’s Orphans and Vulnerable Children Committee in the mid-2000s.

Caren has a degree in Broadcast Journalism from Emerson College and a certificate in nonprofit strategic leadership from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.

Caren enjoys coaching, mentoring, and working alongside people who believe they can make the world a better place.