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Unconscious Whiteness for Board Members & Trustees

Friday, January 29, 2021 - 10:00am to Friday, March 12, 2021 - 12:00pm PST
Virtual Workshop
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We invite you to join us for a four-part peer workshop series taking place January - March 2021 (January 29, February 12, February 26, and March 12: sessions run 10:00 am-12:00 noon).


Are you struggling to understand how your role as a white trustee is critical to advancing transformational change and moving toward a future in which race is not a predictor of security, opportunity, access to resources, and life outcomes? Join a group of peers to deepen your understanding of how white supremacy manifests in philanthropic organizations and systems. We'll peel back historical layers to review how white supremacy was created and embedded in the philanthropic sector, impacting everything from grantmaking and relationships to management and decision-making. Then we'll explore concrete strategies and actions to help you show up as interrupters of the status quo in philanthropic leadership and decision-making. We’ll use a blend of reading/listening/watching relevant content, interactive activities, and embodied learning. Be prepared to be uncomfortable in service of developing greater capacity to undo patterns that sustain white-dominant norms and perpetuate racism.

Ali and Alison, guides for this learning experience, use a humanizing and healing approach that calls white people to be gentle and patient with ourselves while still choosing discomfort and taking meaningful action - a way of engaging that goes against everything white supremacy has taught us.

WHO: This workshop is for white trustees who are feeling confused, overwhelmed, or intimidated by the idea of addressing how racism and white supremacy show up in their work. You’re ready to learn how you can use your positional power to act in solidarity with people of color. You can help advance systems that benefit people of every racial group, and especially those who are marginalized. If you have a desire to take anti-racist action in your role as a trustee, join us to grapple with white supremacy and how it shows up in your life and work.

WHY: A limited understanding of systemic oppression hampers the ability of white trustees to recognize when white supremacy is at play, despite best intentions. As a result, work from the same values and strategies that white supremacy promotes. Though committed to championing equity, it’s often unclear how to take principled and effective action that is supportive and respectful of foundation staff and of the nonprofits and communities they fund. White trustees can learn to dismantle white supremacy by exploring how it manifests in themselves and in the foundations they serve, and become more effective change agents.

To maximize impact, we ask that two trustees per foundation participate in the workshop series together. Registration includes a four-part workshop series, plus one-hour of coaching and consulting with either Ali or Alison, where you'll receive personalized support around your specific questions and needs. Coaching sessions will be scheduled after you attend the workshop.

Registration and Cost

  • $700 per person
  • $1,400 per organization (two individuals)

If you would like to register or have additional questions about the series, please email Caitlin Brune at

Join us to: 

In this four-part workshop, participants will:

  • Deepen their understanding of the systems of white supremacy and reflect on how those systems show up in philanthropic and nonprofit culture.
  • Identify concrete ways to show up as anti-racist leaders and interrupters of the status quo in philanthropy, in their roles as trustees.
  • Commit to taking action in their role in the philanthropic sector that applies their learning in service of disrupting systemic racism.

Session 1 (January 29) Objectives:

  • Create a brave space for participants to be vulnerable, set the stage for intimacy and connection, and express clear expectations for participation, and review how to use the Zoom platform.
  • Participants explore frameworks of power, privilege, and oppression and locate themselves within them.

Session 2 (February 12) Objectives:

  • Participants grapple with the historical creation of race (specifically whiteness), and how it has brought us to the current moment.
  • Participants discuss policies and systems that have both created modern philanthropy and upheld white supremacy in the U.S. over the last hundred+ years, and their present-day impact.

Session 3 (February 26) Objectives:

  • Participants explore how whiteness shows up in organizations / on teams, and reimagine alternatives that open up the possibility for more liberated ways of working and being together.
  • Participants consider their individual role in upholding white supremacy through their role as trustees.

Session 4 (March 12) Objectives:

  • Participants will engage with equity-based leadership practices.
  • Participants hear from CEOs and trustees who have been doing this work, who will highlight challenges and lessons learned from their journey.
  • Participants make specific commitments to take action on what they’ve learned throughout this workshop series, with a check-in planned for 2-3 months after this session.


Ali Sirkus Brody and Alison Traina use a humanizing and healing approach that calls white people to be gentle and patient with ourselves while still choosing discomfort and taking meaningful action - a way of engaging that goes against everything white supremacy has taught us.

Alison Sirkus Brody

Ali Sirkus Brody, M.A., is a Senior Philanthropic Advisor at the San Francisco Foundation where she partners with donors on their philanthropic journeys and connects them to giving that brings meaning and purpose.  Ali helps individuals and families create giving plans and grantmaking strategies that maximize philanthropic impact. She centers equity in her work, supporting donors to move resources into the hands of communities and organizations on the frontlines of social change. 

Ali has worked for nonprofits and foundations for more than 20 years. Most recently, Ali founded Greater Good Philanthropy, a consulting firm on a mission to inspire progressive philanthropists to become actively anti-racist partners in our shared pursuit of equity and liberation.  

Ali is a certified life coach and a 21/64 certified philanthropic facilitator and trainer. She holds an M.A. in Nonprofit Management from the University of San Francisco and a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In her free time, Ali enjoys dance, travel, hiking, weaving, singing around the campfire, and raising her two sons to be intersectional feminists. 

Alison Traina

Alison Traina , M.Ed.,CPC, is someone who’s a huge fan of speaking in the first person.

I’m a Bay Area-based coach, consultant, and educator who’s committed to creating a more just world for all of us, not just some of us. One of the through-lines of my work and education has been understanding whiteness so I can identify and interrupt white supremacy: in myself, first and foremost, and in the relationships and systems I participate in. Most of my work is with white people and white-led organizations who understand that white supremacy (they may call it racism) is real and harmful, but they aren’t sure what to do about it.

I have a specific interest in working with white philanthropic leaders to reimagine philanthropy, redistribute wealth, and cede power to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities. I do this work because…

…even though racial oppression has been the default setting in our country since its inception, it’s actually optional.

…I believe white people can play a critical role in dismantling racially oppressive structures.

…I want to build a world where BIPOC experience liberation every day.

I value listening deeply, from a place of curiosity and empathy, and I ask questions that stop people in their tracks. I tend to notice what others miss, helping my clients connect the dots between their thoughts, beliefs, goals, and actions. I’ve also been described as “warmly demanding”: I hold my folks to high standards while cheering them on along the way.

I believe this work is both strategic and emergent; we can simultaneously set concrete goals while creating space for what needs to be voiced and acted upon. Some of my recent clients and partners include: Stanford University, Camelback Ventures, Airbnb, Earthjustice, The Equity Lab, Contra Costa County, and a variety of philanthropic organizations.

 I completed my Certified Professional Coach certification through Leadership That Works (backed by the International Coach Federation). I earned a master’s degree in Education from Vanderbilt University, where I focused on learning, diversity, and urban studies; I also hold a BA in Sociology with a minor in Ethnic Studies from UC Davis (special shout-out to Davis, where I started learning about systemic oppression as a wee 17 year-old!).



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