Thank you, Marcus and Dwayne, and Cathy and Dimple, for your courageous leadership. And Dimple, thank you for inviting me into the conversation to answer "What exactly holds us back from making more dramatic transformations in our philanthropy?" I’m humbled to be a part of it. I propose that what holds us back from making more dramatic transformations in philanthropy are three beliefs that we inherit and internalize from white supremacist culture.
In a year of memorable moments, I keep coming back to a conversation I had with my cousin Harold that is shaping my entry into 2021. Harold lives in Chicago and is an ardent student of history, particularly in the pursuit of racial justice. His observations often help me refine my own thinking.
Recently, Northern California Grantmakers and philanthropic research and strategy firm Open Impact released Get it Right: 5 Shifts Philanthropy Must Make Towards an Equitable Region, a report funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. The report outlines what we need from decision-makers in philanthropy – board members, trustees, high net worth individuals, CEOs, and executive directors –to listen to communities, catch up to the moment, and align grantmaking support.
I’ll be the first to acknowledge that I’ve arrived as NCG’s CEO on the shoulders of many others that came before me. Two of the strongest shoulders belong to my first professional mentor and a heavyweight in philanthropic circles, Joe Brooks. During my seventeen years as a work partner and friend at The San Francisco Foundation and then PolicyLink, I learned more from him than I could ever adequately describe. He had a habit of saying things that were increasingly profound the more you thought about them. One of those sayings was, “how much do you need to know to act?”, often dropped in a setting surrounded by other foundation colleagues where he was about to propose bold action to engage some of the Bay Area’s most vexing social challenges
I’ll be honest: I’ve been putting off answering your question “How do foundation leaders stay clear-eyed in this moment?” As I sit to write, our Northern California skies are hazy with wildfire smoke. It strikes me as a metaphor for this moment, 19 months into COVID, when our visions of a post-pandemic future are shifting yet again. I definitely don’t feel clear-eyed.
Join community, philanthropic, and public sector changemakers in a discussion about the racial and economic justice opportunities in East Contra Costa County and a community-centered philanthropic collaborative activating leadership development, narrative change, and public and philanthropic investment in the region.
We have been working hard for the past year to create a website that reflects our current evolution. You'll find that we've updated our brand—and it's not just about changing logos or colors. We've taken a deeper look at how we communicate our values through our new design and our refreshed mission and vision statement. Our new site provides better accessibility and is more user-friendly. We hope this website makes your experience with NCG even better than it was before.