Leadership

I have attended a lot of conferences over the years and have always felt driven to go to as many sessions as possible, to gather information and knowledge to bring back to my colleagues at the Maine Community Foundation. This time around was no different: I set out to get the latest on National Standards, to explore issues related to endowed philanthropy, to learn how community foundations and United Ways can do more together.

A year and a half before the historic US Supreme Court ruling ended discrimination in civil marriage rights for same-sex couples, foundations and nonprofit leaders of the LGBTQ movement came together to address a concern: While many activists anticipated the legal victory, many also worried that the larger movement for LGBTQ equality would lose momentum in the wake of a win—potentially leaving important issues unaddressed.

James E. “Jim” Casey coined the phrase “constructive dissatisfaction” while steering United Parcel Service (now UPS) to becoming one of the world’s most successful companies. His dissatisfaction drove him to outpace the competition as he developed innovative transportation strategies, implemented advanced management practices and constantly broke new ground.

When my grandparents, Sam and Helen Walton, set the course for our family’s philanthropic vision in the late 1980s, they set out to make lasting change by empowering individuals. My grandfather often said there is no limit to what can be accomplished when people are given opportunity and incentive, and my grandmother reinforced that giving back was the most important undertaking our family could do together.

Historically, community foundations have worked to create change by making grants to local nonprofits, advocacy groups, and other organizations. But a new breed of funders is showing how, by serving in yet another role, they can foster change that is more comprehensive, more responsive to residents’ needs, and, hopefully, more enduring. This role involves reaching into the very roots of the community to its people, and empowering them.

Recently, I saw the power of what happens when you put a few dozen foundation CEOs in a room together to discuss the future. They generate as many questions for each other as answers, and, as the head of the Council on Foundations, I’d say that’s a great thing for the communities philanthropy serves. After all, learning and leading together is how lasting solutions are made.

Immigration reform is a hot topic on the national scene as the 2016 presidential election looms. While no consensus legislation has emerged on Capitol Hill to date, our guests will discuss how funders can play a role in educating policymakers on the impacts of pro and con policies. Get an update on federal Executive Branch actions to implement the President's 2014 Executive Order that focused on cracking down on illegal immigration at the border; deporting felons, not families; and accountability through criminal background checks. Explore what funders can do to promote sensible policies that insure fair treatment of immigrants and their families.