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A Vision for NCG (and the People Making it Happen)

Thursday, June 17, 2021
By Richard Tate, executive vice president of the California Wellness Foundation and NCG board chair

“Practice equity inside and out” — that’s a core promise in the new strategic vision we shared for Northern California Grantmakers at the annual membership meeting in May. I’m excited to see where this commitment will take us.

Truth is, I’ve been skeptical of membership groups for funders. Why should foundations put precious resources toward these groups — philanthropy-serving organizations? Is it helping the communities at the core of our missions? But then I experienced NCG, and I saw the power of funders coming together for good.

At their best, groups like NCG push our sector forward on critical issues facing our communities. And I believe NCG is positioned to do its best work pushing the field forward — both because of our new strategic vision and because of the people who will make it real.

First, the vision. We launched a wide-ranging effort in 2019 to seek input from members on NCG’s vision, strategies, and approaches. In surveys, focus groups and interviews, we heard loud and clear that you want NCG to be bold in our thinking, use our voice to push for change, and explore new partnerships outside our sector and across the region. Your feedback is the foundation of the new strategic vision, including our commitment to integrate racial equity more deeply across everything we do. 


But a vision is just a vision without people working toward it. Many of you had the opportunity to meet our new NCG president and CEO, Dwayne S. Marsh, who started with us in September 2020. I’m convinced he’s the right leader at the right moment for NCG. With a deep personal and professional commitment to equity, and considerable experience in coalition and movement building, Dwayne brings a fresh sense of purpose and possibility to the organization. And he’s joined in this work by the amazing NCG staff.

There’s another key group of folks helping to make this NCG vision real: the board. I took on the role of board chair earlier this year because I was confident we had a terrific team of diverse leaders at the board table. It’s a board that represents the NCG membership and shares a deep commitment to our field and the values that guide NCG’s work. They’re also great fun to work with.

Last but certainly not least, there’s you, the people who make up our membership. I was so inspired by the energy at the annual conference in May, even in the virtual environment. The day was packed with provocative dialogue and debate. There was also music (shout out to DJ Lady Ryan), a lively chat stream, and lots of laughter. People came ready to engage, and it showed.

As we continue to emerge from pandemic lockdowns and non-stop Zooms in the weeks and months ahead, I look forward to the opportunity to see all of you live and in person once again. And I want to thank you for helping us write an exciting new chapter in NCG’s work — with a renewed commitment to equity, leadership and transformation.