OCTOber Member Spotlight

Meet Wendy Oliver
Executive Director
VoLo Foundation

Wendy Oliver, Executive Director of VoLo Foundation, is an influential and trusted leader overseeing annual grant making. Committed to the foundation's purpose, she helps her trustees Thais Lopez Vogel and David S. Vogel fulfill their mission to accelerate change and global impact by supporting science-based climate solutions, enhancing education, and improving health.  Wendy's exceptional leadership skills have bolstered the foundation's brand and fostered collaborative relationships, yielding outstanding results. Her guiding principle of leaving every place better than she found it reflects her dedication to positive change.  VoLo is the foundation of her philanthropic endeavors, and she is highly dedicated to fulfilling her trustees’ commitments to the nonprofits and causes they support.



Thais Lopez Vogel and David S. Vogel have maintained a personal philanthropic portfolio for many years, largely consisting of public health and education programs. As they became more informed and noticed evident changes in the environment and climate, they set out to address these pressing environmental and climate issues by funding relevant projects. In 2014, Thais and David formed VoLo Foundation. 


What is your involvement with Florida Philanthropic Network? What influenced you to join?

"My involvement with the FPN has been more substantial over the past few years. We recognize the vital role the network plays in fostering collaboration, sharing insights, and aligning efforts for greater impact. Joining the network was influenced by the desire to connect with like-minded philanthropic organizations, share our experiences, and learn from others to enhance our collective ability to drive meaningful change."

    Name one thing you find special about the Florida philanthropic community. 

    "The Florida philanthropic community's resilience and collaborative spirit in tackling environmental and social issues are truly remarkable. The willingness to come together, pool resources, and innovate solutions is inspiring. This collective dedication to making a difference sets the Florida philanthropic community apart."

    Are there any partnerships or collaborations you have found most meaningful to you in the last year?

    "One particularly meaningful collaboration for VoLo Foundation has been partnering with my colleague Daniel Gibson, Regional Vice President, Miami-Dade, Allegany Franciscan Ministries.  In 2023 he included me to present with him at the Statewide Summit on Philanthropy. We wanted to raise awareness and let our fellow donors know that only 1.5% of philanthropy goes toward climate. My hope was to represent VoLo Foundation well showing the powerful impact of environmental grant-making on all our lives, especially those who are most vulnerable and causing the least amount of harm to the planet.

    By remaining open to exploration and discovery, we can fuel new ways to engage with our partners and work more collaboratively across the state to elevate the voices of those we serve. The exchange of knowledge and expertise has been mutually enriching and has led to other joint-speaking engagements by me and Daniel to advance climate action."

    What's the biggest challenge you've faced with your philanthropic efforts? How have you overcome them?

    "A significant challenge has been scaling our impact while maintaining a highly targeted, data and science-based approach and embracing trust-based philanthropy. To overcome this, we've focused on strategic partnerships to optimize our processes. Additionally, fostering a culture of continuous learning and adaptability has allowed us to navigate challenges and refine our strategies effectively. 
    A personal challenge when I started working at VoLo Foundation almost four years ago was not having the terminology and knowledge about climate change.  A solution that I’ve used, is to access VoLo’s tools to raise awareness on this topic.  When I exercise, my air pods are streaming in VoLo’s #1 ranked Climate Correction podcast (which we’ve expanded to Spanish). On Fridays, I’ll eagerly check my email in anticipation of receiving VoLo Climate News.  The more I learn, the more grateful I am for my trustees Thais Lopez Vogel and David S. Vogel who care so deeply for planet Earth and the quality of life on it both for today and for future generations.  They have fostered my growth within the sustainability field and reinforced VoLo as the cornerstone of my philanthropic work."

    What fuels your cup- in life and at work?

    "Witnessing the positive impact of our philanthropic efforts fuels my passion both in life and at work. Knowing that we are contributing to a sustainable future and creating opportunities for growth and education for individuals and communities is immensely gratifying. It's this drive that keeps me dedicated to our mission at VoLo Foundation." 

    Can you share one piece of advice you would give to someone considering a career in philanthropy?

    "My advice to anyone considering a career in philanthropy would be to stay deeply connected to the cause you're passionate about. Dive into the field with a genuine desire to make a difference and continuously educate yourself by learning from leaders in the field and sharing best practices. Collaborate with diverse stakeholders, remain adaptable, and never underestimate the power of collective efforts in achieving lasting change."

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