Laila Bell

Laila Bell joined The Skillman Foundation in March 2023 as the inaugural vice president of learning & impact. In this role, Laila designs the Foundation’s approach to using data, evidence, and experience to inform investments in the power of Detroit youth to create and influence change. Laila works with the team to foster a learning culture where the voices of youth, grant partners, and the community inform ongoing work and drive grantmaking efforts to achieve greater impact.  

Laila previously held positions at The Duke Endowment and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, where she advanced equitable evaluation practices and promoted mindsets, practices, and infrastructure to support the continuous improvement of grantmaking and strategy. She has led evaluations of complex philanthropic initiatives in early literacy, K-12 education, and postsecondary success. Laila also served as the director of research and data at NC Child, a nonprofit that advances public policies to improve the well-being of children and youth. In that role, she led the North Carolina KIDS COUNT project and collaborated with partners to design and launch several policy and systems change initiatives, including the North Carolina Health Equity Impact Assessment and NC Pathways to Grade-Level Reading. 

Laila earned a master’s from the University of Texas at Austin Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and a bachelor’s with a double major in psychology and political science from Winthrop University. She is a member of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Child Advocacy Leadership Network. Currently, Laila serves on the Project Team of Building Movement Project, a national organization working to build capacity within the nonprofit sector to promote social justice. Laila previously served on the Youth Empowered Solutions (YES!) board of directors.  

A South Carolina native, Laila enjoys expressing her creativity as an amateur potter, avid reader, and live music enthusiast.  

Areas of expertise:
Strategy; evaluation; learning and data analysis, visualization, and storytelling

Favorite Book:
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

How I reenergize:
Dance, time with family and friends, learning to throw pots on a wheel