Tiffany Johnson is the Program Officer at the Ken Birdwell Foundation. As a part of our Member Spotlight Series, Tiffany spoke to us about where she is inviting collaboration from NCG membership and why she's in no rush to pick what she wants to be when she grows up.
How’d you get started in this work?
My family benefited from the services provided by public systems and non-profits. It was natural for me to want to work in those same systems as a way to give back to those communities that help me thrive. After 20+ years working in non-profit and government sectors, philanthropy seemed like the next best way to use my talents to help my community.
Are you new in your role? Been there a while?
The Ken Birdwell Foundation just turned one-year-old in May. I am also new to philanthropy in this capacity (6 months as a Program Officer), so the foundation and I are growing and learning together. Prior to this role, I served as a member for the Foster Care Work Group which is a part of the Youth Transitions Funders Group.
Tell us what you do in your work?
I love my work. I support non-profits in a cohort model that runs over 5 years. My first cohort is currently running and consists of three organizations located in Oakland. My overarching goal is to balance the power dynamics between funders and grantees. I start by nurturing relationships and creating a high-level of open communication with non-profit partners. Then I provide the space for the magic to happen. All grant proposal and reporting happen in the cohort meetings so it's very much a collaborative decision-making model to include the grantees.
When and where are you happiest?
I am happiest when I am experiencing mother nature. Mostly through outdoor hiking. I appreciate the silence of the city chaos but welcome the noise that nature has to offer.
Where are you inviting collaboration these days?
We hope to collaborate with funders by acting as a "vetting body" for growing non-profits. Our model helps small to medium non-profits grow their infrastructure which allows them to smoothly transition into larger portfolios and obtain larger grants. We help build them to be strong, then you help them get to the moon. We are also interested in funders that focus on start-up organizations that could eventually feed into our model.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I am still contemplating what I want to be when I grow up. My first dream was to be a gymnastics star and many things between. Today it's to help others learn, grow, and to lead.
Do you have questions for Tiffany or ideas for collaboration? You can contact her at: