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CEO Message: Leading with Love

Thursday, November 8, 2018


My sweetheart and I were married a couple of weeks ago.  We celebrated with friends and family with good food, dancing, and lots of laughter on a hilltop overlooking Tomales Bay.

In the weeks leading up to our wedding the airwaves were saturated with the Kavanaugh hearings and the midterm elections. The disintegration of civility that has been fueled by cable news, the internet, and our political leaders for decades reached peak levels. Like so many people, we were riveted and distraught.

At some point we realized that we could not be present for each other if we continued in this vein, so we decided to turn the news off until the wedding.  It was a necessary act of self-care that we were fortunate to be able to choose.

It turned out to be an absolutely magical day for the two of us.  But it was also a celebration of the power of love, the beauty of connection and community, and the possibility of hope.  This was a gift to everyone present.

One need not go so far as to throw a wedding to connect to ourselves and each other (although I highly recommend it!).  There are many other ways to do so.  And do so we must, so that we can remain energized and engaged and well in the face of the difficult challenges we are facing here in the Bay area, in our state, in our nation, and in our world.

To that end, I pause here to reflect on a few things that are inspiring me right now:

  • I am humbled by the passion and sacrifice of so many of my friends and colleagues who worked tirelessly to get out the vote throughout the country.
  • I am thrilled by the record numbers of people of color, women, and young people who ran strong campaigns for office at every level of government, and by the fact of so many successes and “firsts” in the election resultsAs our colleagues at Opportunity Agenda put it so well, “millions of Americans chose a shared future over fear, embraced our nation’s diversity as a source of strength, and adopted positive, pragmatic solutions to problems that lawmakers had failed to address.”  This is incredibly encouraging.  
  • I am inspired by our colleagues who are coming together to envision a bold future for California, and who are willing to take a fresh look at how we get there.  
  • I am grateful the efforts of our colleagues to stop gun violence as we grapple with unrelenting reports of mass shootings (even as I write this, in fact).
  • I am inspired by our collective action and progress in preparing for the 2020 Census.
  • I am fired up by our first-of-its-kind campaign to challenge proposed Department of Homeland Security regulations that would exclude many immigrants from access to health, housing, food and other benefits.
  • I am looking forward to connecting with you at our annual holiday gathering.  While we can’t promise a wedding (although one never knows, I suppose), we can promise that there will still be community celebration, good food, laughter, and maybe even some dancing. We hope all of you will join us.
  • Finally, I am deeply grateful for my dear friend and colleague, San Diego Grantmakers President and CEO Nancy Jamison.  After fifteen extraordinary years of leadership in her community and in the philanthropic sector, Nancy has announced that she will be leaving her post in early 2019.  Nancy has been a trusted confidant for me, and a leader and role model to so many in our field.  In truth, it’s hard for me to imagine how I will do my job without her.  We extend our heartfelt thanks to Nancy, and wish her the best as she begins a new and exciting chapter in her life.

As we approach a holiday that centers family and encourages connection and gratitude, I can’t think I a better time to extend my gratitude to all of you.  Just as my wife and I were bolstered by community on our big day, we in the NCG community are bolstered by each other in our work, and in our hope.  Thank you for being a part of our family.

I wish you and yours a restful, love-filled holiday season.

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