Sustaining the Legacy of Black Power-Building
Darren Isom is a partner in the San Francisco office, where he advises mission-driven organizations and philanthropic foundations in support of equity and justice and supports the firm’s work with arts and cultural organizations. He co-leads the firm’s commitment to advance racial equity in philanthropy and is also the host of the podcast Dreaming in Color: Creating New Narratives in Leadership, which offers leaders of color space to share how they have leveraged their unique assets and abilities to embrace excellence, drive impact, and more fully define what success looks like.
Darren also speaks and writes on racial equity in philanthropy. His recent publications include: “Lessons on Leadership and Community from 25 Leaders of Color” (Harvard Business Review, 2022), “What Everyone Can Learn From Leaders of Color” (Stanford Social Innovation Review, 2022), “Endow Black-Led Nonprofits” (Stanford Social Innovation Review, 2021), “Race and Place-based Philanthropy: Learnings from Funders Focused on Equitable Impact” (Bridgespan.org, 2021).
Darren was the founder and executive director of the Memphis Music Initiative (MMI), an ambitious five-year, $20 million grantmaking and community arts development initiative. There, he led efforts to use targeted investments and programmatic offerings to strengthen youth and community music engagement activities for low-income, Black, and Latino youth and communities.
Earlier in his career, he worked as the art, design, and public programming director for Times Square Alliance, planning and implementing programming for public art and performance initiatives throughout the Times Square District. Prior to working at Times Square Alliance, Darren served as VP of Programs for Groundwork, a start-up youth services organization in East New York, Brooklyn, helping young people in underserved communities develop their strengths and skills through experiential learning and enrichment programs.
A seventh-generation New Orleans native, Darren is a graduate of Howard University, Institut d'Études Politiques de Paris, and Columbia Business School’s Institute for Nonprofit Management. An activist for disconnected youth and LGBT communities of color, he serves as an advisor to the leaders of several Bay Area, Southeast US, and national foundations. He currently serves on the board of Beloved Community of New Orleans, Collage Dance Collective of Memphis, Springboard to Opportunities in Jackson, MS, Kingmakers of Oakland, Alice James Books in New Gloucester, Maine, The Mondavi Center for the Performing arts in Davis, California, and The Sciences Po American Foundation.
Dwayne S. Marsh
Dwayne S. Marsh
Dwayne S. Marsh assumed the position of President and CEO of Northern California Grantmakers on September 9, 2020. He brings 27 years of experience in the public, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors with a career commitment to advancing racial and economic equity.
Dwayne recently completed a four-year turn as co-Director of the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) and Vice President of Institutional and Sectoral Change at Race Forward Race Forward. During his tenure, the membership network of local, regional, and state entities committed to advancing racial equity through the policies, practices, and public investments grew from just over 20 to nearly 200 participating jurisdictions.
Prior to GARE, Marsh spent six years as a senior advisor in the Office of Economic Resilience (OER) at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. There, he helped advance sustainable planning and development through interagency partnerships, departmental transformation, and funding initiatives managed through OER. He was OER’s principal coordinator for a $250 million grant program and led the development of capacity building resources that reinforced the work of pioneering grantees in 48 states and the District of Columbia. Under his leadership, OER prioritized equity as a foundational principal for its planning and investment initiatives.
Marsh brings to the movement his expertise and considerable experience in coalition building for regional equity and leadership development for policy change. He provides technical assistance and capacity building knowledge to equitable development initiatives that address continuing disparities in affordable housing, transportation investment, and environmental justice. Before HUD, Marsh spent a decade at PolicyLink, the national organization committed to economic and social equity. Before PolicyLink, he directed the FAITHS Initiative for eight years at The San Francisco Foundation, building a nationally renowned community development and capacity building program that continues to this day. His career has been defined by supporting communities traditionally marginalized from full participation in our economy and society to build power and leverage lasting systems transformation.
Born and raised in South Central Los Angeles and now living in Oakland, CA, Marc Philpart has been a leader in the racial justice movement for more than a decade. He currently serves as the Executive Director of the Black Freedom Fund, a five-year, $100 million initiative to ensure that Black power-building and movement-based organizations have the sustained investments and resources they need to eradicate systemic and institutional racism.
Marc previously served as the Managing Director at PolicyLink where he advances racial justice initiatives that build power and facilitate policy and systems change, and also oversees the strategic direction and policy agenda of the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color. Under his leadership, the Alliance has grown to a national network of over 200 organizations across Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Florida.
Marc is a creative results-driven leader that prioritizes grassroots leadership and has established a variety of successful initiatives and advanced dozens of policy campaigns. Marc maintains policy expertise and experience across a multi-disciplinary set of issues including public health and violence prevention, moving from mass incarceration to divestment and decarceration, education and the criminalization of youth, economic equity and poverty eradication, and voting and civic engagement.
In California, where the Alliance got its start 10 years ago, the network has successfully advanced more than 100 state policies and established powerful partnerships with the California Senate and Assembly Select Committees on the Status of Boys and Men of Color and the California Funders for Boys and Men of Color. Through Marc’s leadership, the Alliance has broadened its focus to include fighting for gender justice and ending intimate partner violence by addressing misogyny and patriarchy, as well as racial equity.
In addition to his work with the Alliance, Marc has led the development of a transformative racial justice initiative, tentatively titled California for All, that seeks to foster deep structural change throughout systems and institutions to ensure racial equity. Developed through the wisdom of more than 75 movement leaders, the California for All unity statement represents a shared vision and aspiration for California’s future.
Marc serves on the Board of Directors for the California Immigrant Policy Center, Partners for Dignity and Rights, and is on advisory committees for the University of Southern California’s Equity Research Institute and The Colorado Health Foundation’s Locally Focused Work.
Diana Tate Vermeire
Diana Tate Vermeire
Diana Tate Vermeire, J.D., is the Senior Vice President of Strategy at the Schott Foundation for Public Education. She is a former civil rights attorney who has brought her prior experience as a litigator and policy advocate in support of equitable and justice oriented public education to her current role. Diana’s work has focused on organizational change and strategy in support of Schott’s role as a bridge connecting philanthropy and grassroots organizations in their shared commitment to movement building in support of education justice.
Molly Watson (she/her) was raised in a political household in Southern California as the daughter of a Haitian immigrant and a hippie from the South. She majored in Afro-Ethnic Studies at CSU Fullerton and studied Urban Affairs at CUNY Hunter in Manhattan, NY. Molly worked as an Advocate and Coordinator at Harlem Children’s Zone and fundraised for a safety net hospital in Downtown Brooklyn before returning to California to work in fundraising and partnerships for Courage California. She has been the Deputy Director at the California Donor Table Fund since 2021, ushering in infrastructure programs and support across tax statuses, advising power-building investment for funder alignment, and deepening relationships among the national and statewide movement ecosystem for long-term coordination opportunities.
Molly is an Alumna of Emerge California, a Scout for Close the Gap California, and a Board member of RegisterHer, Project68, and the Black Women’s Democratic Club. Molly’s favorite things include her family + friends, justice, laughter, and hair.