Arlington, VA—The effort launched in 2010 by the Council on Foundations to nurture promising philanthropic leaders is gearing up for another year. Career Pathways, the Council’s intensive one-year leadership development program designed to foster diverse talent and excellence in the sector’s most senior levels, is accepting nominations and applications until tomorrow, April 26, for its second program year.
Last summer, the program kicked off by bringing together 15 people from diverse backgrounds and helped position them to better serve and advance in philanthropy.
Tonya Allen, who entered Pathways as a vice president at the Skillman Foundation, has since been promoted to chief operating officer. She said the program helped her find opportunities to advance within her own organization and earn additional support from foundation executives.
“The Career Pathways program was an amazing experience. With professional development programs, there is often a focus on leadership in the theoretical realm. The Career Pathways Program focuses on leadership in practical terms. Our cohort was able to engage with senior leaders and advisers in philanthropy, who spoke to the privileges and the challenges of leading foundations. These intimate conversations were invaluable,” Allen said.
In creating Pathways, the Council sought to identify and share promising leadership development approaches. It also surveyed executives in the field about leadership traits, professional success, hiring practices, demographic characteristics, and advancement opportunities.
Participants engaged in self-directed career planning and research, in-person group learning sessions, site visits, one-on-one executive coaching, mentoring, and leadership projects, and made connections with professional networks and decision makers. The program will continue to work with them to ensure they have access to support and resources they need to effectively serve in senior, executive, and trustee positions.
“Diversity, inclusive practices, and leadership preparation are all vital components of a vibrant and effective philanthropic sector,” said Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of the Council on Foundations. “During the last year, the Pathways has made important progress in preparing a talented group of professionals to lead the sector and ensure that philanthropy is living up to its mission of advancing the public good. With the continued support of the foundation community, we’re looking forward to another successful program year.”
Each Pathways participant also conducted an in-depth analysis of his or her own leadership styles and examined issues facing foundation executives, including strategic planning, administration, financial management, board relations, organizational culture, and public speaking.
Kevin K. Murphy, president of the Berks County Community Foundation in Reading, Penn., saw a leadership transformation in his colleague, Heidi Williamson, who was also part of the Pathways inaugural class.
“We feel really lucky to have had one of our employees selected for the program. It would be difficult, if not impossible, for Berks County Community Foundation to have access to the resources the Council was able to pull together. This program played a huge role in a key part of our talent development strategy. And as a result of completing Career Pathways, Heidi has clearly taken her leadership skills to a new level. The program gave her access to a broader understanding of philanthropy and, perhaps most importantly, to a peer group within the field,” Murphy said.
The first Pathways class represented a range of professional experiences and foundation types and sizes. The group, which was recognized for its accomplishments on April 10 at the Council’s annual conference in Philadelphia, included 15 employees from the following foundations:
Pathways is part of the Council’s Diversity and Inclusive Practices program and is made possible through the generous support of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the California Wellness Foundation, the Weingart Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
More information about Pathways and the Council’s diversity and inclusive practices efforts is available on its website.
The Council on Foundations (www.cof.org), formed in 1949, is a nonprofit membership association of grantmaking foundations and corporations. Members of the Council include more than 1,750 independent, operating, community, public, and company-sponsored foundations, and corporate giving programs in the United States and abroad. The Council’s mission is to provide the opportunity, leadership, and tools needed by philanthropic organizations to expand, enhance, and sustain their ability to advance the common good.
Council on Foundations