Leadership

In philanthropy we’ve long known that we play a unique role by addressing society’s most pressing challenges at their root. Our work is distinct from charity – focused less on meeting immediate needs and more on tackling the underlying causes. And we’re well positioned to take risks to figure out what strategies work best to solve social problems, something that companies and other players beholden to greater political and consumer pressures can’t always do.

Foundations have long taken a role as "neutral conveners" around controversial issues. Many foundation leaders, however, are taking strong stands on critical issues in their communities (e.g. education, health, police brutality, and more). Is this a new trend? What are the benefits and pitfalls? During this webinar, several foundation CEOs who chose to speak up on controversial issues share their experiences around what these efforts have meant for them and their organizations.

It’s an ever-clear sky today. Just as it was in 2001. And yet ever-clear and jet trails slicing September blue-skies then are now reminders, important ones, of the events of 9/11 and the losses and learnings we have experienced since.

War and tragedy have always brought us together as a people, but we need more regular experiences that foster the understanding that we are in a common enterprise. When the Founders penned the inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness, they weren't just talking about an individual right, but a common undertaking that we help one another to achieve.

Last week, I got to see philanthropy in action on a great trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan. After just a few days of meeting with philanthropic leaders in Western Michigan, I had new energy, new ideas, and more proof that collaboration is driving the field forward.

The year I was born, 1963, being gay was officially deemed a mental illness by the medical establishment. Same-sex relationships were illegal in every state, save Illinois. The federal government maintained a policy that prohibited the hiring of "known perverts,” then referring to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans.

Social change transpires at a blistering pace, in both promising and discouraging trajectories. After growing up in isolation in South Dakota and cutting my teeth decades ago as an LGBTQ human rights activist, I’m gob-smacked and elated by today’s Supreme Court decision.