While the sun still shines warm in Austin this November, I am realizing we are soon headed into the cooler, quieter, darker time of year. It’s a reflective time for many, especially as we come closer to another Covid-unknown winter—a time of counting our blessings, holding on to hope for our shared future, and yet bracing in our new reality of “anything can happen!” challenges ahead. That goes for our health, our infrastructure, our climate, our justice system, and our democracy.
In his article Rebuilding our post-Covid world together, Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, writes: “Before coronavirus, many took for granted that democratic values and institutions, especially in the US, were strong and, in Lincoln’s words, would long endure. Now it’s clear, they are vulnerable to autocracy in ways many Americans never honestly acknowledged.” He speaks too of a renewed, global, intersectional movement that is committed to fighting the clear and present racism, white supremacy, sexism, and more that still pervades our society.
I couldn’t agree more. As Walker writes, “We must move away from a culture of individualism toward the restoration of the common good. We must shed our obsession with rapid growth at all costs and establish, instead, a clear, shared understanding of inclusive, sustainable growth—with both equal opportunity and equitable outcomes. And we must push ourselves not merely to answer the call for justice, but to reckon with a history of injustice.”
I’ve been thinking a lot about my role and responsibility as a professional of color working in the field of philanthropy. Outside of my advising work with foundations, funder collaboratives, and giving circles, I lead and participate in networks – CAP® Impact Program, 21/64 Advisors of Color Pilot Program, and National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers – that aim to emphasize diversity as a core value to advance the effectiveness of philanthropy. One of my favorite parts about this is that I have the opportunity to connect with incredible, inspiring practitioners who are committed to changing the field of philanthropy to one that is inclusive of diverse perspectives and people. The sense of belonging that I have come to feel in the field has created agency to expand beyond the historical construct of philanthropy.
In 2022, I’ll be kicking off an interview series with multicultural—and all cultural—practitioners taking a courageous stance on reimagining philanthropy. I look forward to lifting up their voices and perspectives, and I hope you will be as inspired by them as I am. Look for the series Reimagining Philanthropy in Practice & Profession sometime after the new year.
As individuals and as a collective, we must have the courage to elevate the common good, to imagine a different—and better—world, and to “work together to define a new age of solidarity, connection, and equality,” according to Walker. We must do it, if nothing else, because we are more than connected—our shared fate depends on each other.
As I reflect and reimagine my own role, I remain ever committed to helping people uncover their passion and power to lead and transform our world to a thriving, sustainable community—for all people and for our planet. And as a practitioner of color, I’m grateful for the opportunity to use my own voice to amplify the stories and strengths and gifts of others.
Check out these resources on equity and trends in philanthropy:
CivicAIM is a philanthropy consulting firm focused on strengthening grantmaking, governance, and impact. CivicAIM supports mission-driven families, small-staffed foundations, funder collaboratives, and giving circles. Together with you, we develop and execute grant and evaluation strategies that lead you to impact, and we facilitate critical conversations and transitions that strengthen your board’s decision making.