I’ve been reflecting on an experience I had last month. I was honored to attend the first Annual Northern California Tribal Policy Summit held in Arcata, California. Hundreds of leaders, survivors, legislators, and funders gathered to address the Missing and Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP) crisis.
Still, it was worth noting, as the last two years were unlike anything professionally in the 28 years that proceeded it. A global pandemic, climate crises, economic destabilization, and assaults on democratic institutions occurring during a racial reckoning will have that effect. That said, I am more convinced than ever that I have the right job to do. We have the right job to do at NCG.
NCG is thrilled to announce that Qurratulain “Q” Sajid (she/they) has joined the team as the Senior Director for Public Affairs. President and CEO Dwayne S. Marsh had a chat with Q about the new role and prioritizing values within our work. Read on to hear Q’s take on philanthropy’s work of today, narrative strategy, trusting our wholeness, and grandmothers’ recipes.
This is a governance moment. We can master governing for all people by bringing a racial equity consciousness to every aspect of how government does business. We have an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen our democracy by fully activating our multiracial population and building a nation where everyone participates, prospers, and reaches their full potential.
This is not the New Year’s message I was hoping to write. There was a moment this fall when things started feeling like they might just fall into place. We saw progress on the pandemic, and it felt like 2022 might herald a fresh beginning. But reality intervened, as it tends to do.
During our Annual Conference, NCG's President and CEO Dwayne S. Marsh shared a very personal story, one that helped shape who he is today. To celebrate Dwayne at the helm for just over a year now, NCG's Board Chair and Executive Vice President at the California Wellness Foundation Richard Tate spoke with him to dive into the story. Read through the conversation to hear more about why Dwayne centers racial equity, what the past year has meant to him, his hopes for the NCG community, and what he needs from you to get us there.
CCJFG Steering Committee members are excited to share the following books and podcasts that have accompanied us as we settle into Spring 2021. The content ranges from writings on indigenous forms of justice and healing to a podcast tracing the connections between hip-hop and mass incarceration to a mixed media collection of responses to the question, what does it mean to be Black and alive? These stories are rigorous, compelling, and bring us closer to understanding the intersections of history, justice work, and future-making.
I’ll be the first to acknowledge that I’ve arrived as NCG’s CEO on the shoulders of many others that came before me. Two of the strongest shoulders belong to my first professional mentor and a heavyweight in philanthropic circles, Joe Brooks. During my seventeen years as a work partner and friend at The San Francisco Foundation and then PolicyLink, I learned more from him than I could ever adequately describe. He had a habit of saying things that were increasingly profound the more you thought about them. One of those sayings was, “how much do you need to know to act?”, often dropped in a setting surrounded by other foundation colleagues where he was about to propose bold action to engage some of the Bay Area’s most vexing social challenges.
In a year of memorable moments, I keep coming back to a conversation I had with my cousin Harold that is shaping my entry into 2021. Harold lives in Chicago and is an ardent student of history, particularly in the pursuit of racial justice. His observations often help me refine my own thinking.
One message stood out: we must stretch beyond what we’ve tried before. Just aligning corporate philanthropy with a company’s business interests will no longer suffice. With our nation’s health, climate, race relations, economy, and democracy under assault, our social order is quite squarely in the balance. The brand that invests in communities' own systems for survival, leverages its voice and influence to advance change, and stands up to be counted, will resonate most.