Our History

The Summit Foundation was founded by Vicki and Roger Sant in 1991 as a private family foundation with a view of creating a multi-generational, collaborative effort built on a common aspiration to use philanthropy as a mechanism to address significant problems.

Vicki Sant

Founding Story

Vicki Sant served as president of The Summit Foundation from its inception in 1991 until the year of her death in 2018.

In her nearly 30 years as the leader of The Summit Foundation, she set an example for a style of grantmaking where money is not enough. “We aren’t just sprinkling money around to do nice deeds,” she told the Washington Post in 2002. “We actually want something to happen. We try to have our giving be highly leveraged, lead to systemic change, and really make a difference.”

That intention, coupled with a drive to advocate for organizations but always to avoid interfering, left her with a reputation for being a passionate, caring and responsible donor, eager to strengthen the capacity of organizations to do vital work; to stay out of the way unless she was invited to help; and act with a clarity of intention to honor those she funded but never herself. That spirit led her to act in leadership and advisory roles for much of the second half of her life and to never shy away from doing the work necessary to support organizations for whom she held such responsibility.

At the time of her death, Vicki was a member of multiple boards, including as a trustee emerita at The Phillips Collection (where she had previously served as the first non-family board chair), Vital Voices Global Partnership, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy (now known as Power to Decide), the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies (FAPE), The Brookings Institution, Kakenya’s Dream and the S&R Foundation’s Honorary Board.

For more than 40 years, she supported Population Action International (PAI), including serving as its national chair. She was a long-time member of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) National Council; the National Geographic Society as a member of its Council of Advisors; and the International Council of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). She was also a board member emeritus of the Greater Washington Community Foundation.

“We aren’t just sprinkling money around to do nice deeds ... We actually want something to happen.”

Vicki Sant

Washington Post, 2002

A proud alumna of Stanford University, she was also a member of the Board of Trustees from 1997 to 2007 in addition to serving as chair of the Stanford in Washington National Council, as a member of the Director’s Advisory Board of Stanford’s Center for Visual Arts, the Stanford Arts Advisory Council, and the Stanford Center on Longevity Advisory Council. She received Stanford University’s Gold Spike Award, the highest honor it bestows on alumni in recognition of exceptional and significant volunteer service.

Having first started as a volunteer docent in 1983, Vicki was also a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Gallery of Art from 2000 to 2015 and served as president from 2003 to 2014. In 2022, her family posthumously created the Victoria P. Sant Fund for Women Artists to further the National Gallery of Art’s ongoing priority of acquiring more work by women, from historic works to living artists.

Closer to home, she was president of the former Summit Fund for Washington from 1993-2015, which focused on halving the teen pregnancy rate in Washington, DC as well as creating a swimmable, fishable Anacostia River. The Summit Fund was a supporting organization of the Greater Washington Community Foundation, an organization with which she had a relationship for more than 35 years, including serving as vice chair of the board.

Her work at The Summit Foundation leaves a lasting legacy but it is not her only legacy. She and her husband Roger, endowed positions for the Music Director of the National Symphony Orchestra; the Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History; and the Department of Art & Art History at Stanford University. They also provided naming gifts for the Ocean Hall at the National Museum of Natural History; a wing of The Phillips Collection; and the North Tower of the National Gallery of Art. They also provided a leadership gift to protect millions of acres of the Amazon rainforest through WWF. As tribute to a shared love of art, they donated their collection of late 19th Century paintings to The Phillips Collection as the Sant Nabi Collection, in addition to creating an endowment for its preservation, care and study.

In 2015, she was named a member of The American Academy of Arts & Sciences. She is remembered most of all at The Summit Foundation as person whose courage shone through her work, armed with a faith and belief in people and all they cared about. To that work she brought a gracious heart, a kind spirit and an irrepressible resolve to leave behind work of lasting consequence. Whatever the title—as a spouse, a mother, a grandmother or as a colleague—we dedicate our work at The Summit Foundation to the service of her lasting spirit.


“For decades, Vicki has been a shining example of philanthropy, a reminder that while money is necessary to do good work, it is not sufficient.”

Vernon Jordan


“The beauty for me of Vicki and Roger’s philanthropy is that they do not do it for awards or praise. They do it because they believe in it.”

Vernon Jordan


Roger Sant

Founding Story

Roger W. Sant is co-founder and chair of The Summit Foundation. For more than 30 years, his shared leadership of the foundation and the vision for a multi-generational commitment to philanthropy has helped shape and motivate much of the foundation’s work.

To his work at Summit, Roger brings a disciplined view of engaging with problems and keeping an identifiable goal in mind in pursuing the strategies and outcomes that shape a solution.

“It is as hard to make good grants as it is to make good investments and it needs to be done with dedication,” he says. “When done right, there is nothing more satisfying than grant-making—seeing positive results and learning from mistakes.”

Roger is also co-founder and Chairman Emeritus of The AES Corporation, a Fortune 200 company that generates and distributes electrical power across the globe.

Prior to starting AES in 1981, Roger was Assistant Administrator for Energy Conservation and the Environment at the Federal Energy Administration.  He was also the Director of the Energy Productivity Center, an energy research organization affiliated with the Mellon Institute at Carnegie-Mellon University, and a lecturer in Finance at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

In his charitable work away from Summit, Roger’s investment of time and dedication has given him an opportunity to engage with a broad range of institutions focused on the environment and science as well as performing arts and academia.

Roger served as a Regent of the Smithsonian Institution from 2001 to 2013 during which time he served as its first Board Chair. He served on the board of directors of the World Wildlife Fund-US, which he previously chaired from 1994 to 2000 and co-chaired from 2009 to 2011. His is a member of the boards of the National Symphony Orchestra, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, and the World Resources Institute. He is also a member of the Stanford Advisory Council for the Natural Capital Project and National Geographic’s Pristine Seas Advisory Board.

He also served on the Marriott International Board of Directors from 1994–2006.

Roger received a B.S. from Brigham Young University and an MBA with Distinction from the Harvard Business School and received a 2013 award from Harvard Business School for distinguished alumni achievement. In 2014, he was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1998, he was awarded an honorary doctorate of science degree from Clarkson University. He is co-author of Creating Abundance—America’s Least-Cost Energy Strategy (1982).

“It is as hard to make good grants as it is to make good investments and it needs to be done with dedication”

Roger Sant