Abena Asante

Senior Program Officer St. David’s Foundation

Abena Asante has over twenty years’ experience in philanthropy, public health, and the nonprofit sector. A senior program officer at St David’s Foundation, she leads efforts that catalyze community action around issues and opportunities that align with the Foundation’s firm commitment to achieve health equity.

She has led the strategy development and investment approach for several portfolio areas including Clinics as Community Hubs for Health, Specialty Care Access, and Rural Health. She currently leads the Thriving Rural Communities portfolio where she incorporates a strength-based approach as well as an equity lens to work alongside communities determined to pursue positive community change to achieve rural prosperity.

Abena's strong belief in the importance of harnessing local assets to create community-determined solutions has been the cornerstone that defines her work. Recognizing that inherent in every community is the wisdom to solve its own problems, the Foundation’s Thriving Rural Communities strategy is a model investment approach for philanthropy which is built on trust; centering racial and health equity; partnering with proximate leaders who have lived experience to co-design solutions; and implementing new approaches in grant making.

Abena is a visionary and curious leader who develops and leads adaptive strategies that value and elevate lived experience and prioritizes community context. She led the design and implementation of the Libraries for Health initiative which seeks to reimagine community based mental health services by leveraging the strengths of libraries as trusted and accessible community hubs and embedding mental wellness services in public libraries while simultaneously building the capacity of library staff.

Abena grew up in a developing country which, in some ways is similar in characteristics to rural America. She appreciates the culture, deep knowledge, collaborative spirit, and the resiliency that is interwoven within the very fabric of these communities to thrive. She holds a Master of Health Care Administration degree from the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a Bachelor of Science degree in Community Health Education from the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Abena Asante

Senior Program Officer St. David’s Foundation