Lowell Observatory Establishes New Foundation and Hires Head of Development


Flagstaff, Az – Lowell Observatory has established the Lowell Observatory Foundation, an independently managed, 501 (c) (3) organization that will allow the Observatory to expand its philanthropic base.  In a related move to bolster Lowell’s fundraising program, Lisa Actor was recruited to serve as Deputy Director for Development, in charge of overseeing charitable giving.

The principal purpose of the foundation will be to receive permanently endowed funds for the sole purpose of supporting the mission of the Observatory.  It may also receive funds restricted for specific projects, such as the development of astronomical instruments.

Observatory Sole Trustee W. Lowell Putnam said, “The Lowell Observatory Foundation is a way to create more engagement opportunities, and it gives us a vehicle to more efficiently and effectively manage people’s permanently endowed donations to the Observatory.  By pooling their gifts, we can reduce the management costs and overhead and hopefully increase the yield, thereby allowing those gifts to do more than if we managed them separately.”

A board of seven trustees will initially govern the foundation and will consist of the Observatory’s current sole trustee and a mix of current Lowell advisory board members and other individuals not currently affiliated with the Observatory.  Lowell Director Jeffrey Hall said, “Our goal was to create a substantial support entity for the organization that is not governed only by the sole trustee.  This independent governance is important when pursuing larger gifts to the Observatory.”  The foundation’s initial seven trustees will be formally elected at the Observatory’s annual board meeting in June.

While this new board will manage the foundation, it will work closely with Lisa Actor, who for the past 18 years had helped lead the development team at Westminster College in Salt Lake City.

Actor earned a B.S. in biology from the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee and worked for the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for five years, serving as deck officer/ survey party chief on a ship charting the waters of Alaska and Hawaii.

She succeeded in several roles at Westminster, including Director of Foundation and Government Relations, Director of Gift Planning, Development Director, and Associate Vice President for Institutional Advancement.

At Lowell, Actor will oversee charitable giving to the Observatory.  This includes major foundation and corporate gifts, estate gifts, the Friends of Lowell membership program, and capital campaigns for the Lowell Observatory Foundation.

Hall said, “Lisa has very long and broad experience in fundraising.  She has supported fundraising for science and has worked in scientific capacities herself. She is a perfect match for the position.

Lowell Observatory Foundation Contact

Lisa Actor
Deputy Director for Development
Lowell Observatory
(928) 255-5047

Media Contact

Josh Bangle
Communications & Marketing Associate
Lowell Observatory
(928) 607-1974

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