When I first learned of the Council on Foundations’ Career Pathways program, I wasn’t sure whether I should apply. I was interested by the programs’ goal to increase the number of people of color in senior and executive positions in philanthropy and to thereby deepen capacity for impact in the field, but facing a looming deadline made me think it’d be best to wait until next year. When I realized a friend of mine, Fatima Angeles at The California Wellness Foundation, was a member of the inaugural class of 2009, I reached out for her thoughts. Her recommendation? It was the best leadership program she’d ever participated in and I needed to apply.
I just returned from our first in-person convening. The curriculum and the faculty are outstanding, beginning with a focus on connecting both our head and heart to our goals and developing greater awareness and understanding of our leadership. The program focuses on building individual capacity and strength to become more effective in our current roles and the sector. The program is rigorous, with reading and a case study project due at the end of the course. There’s also the relational aspect—all our meetings take place in a circle and we’re encouraged to get to know our other cohort members in a profound way. I left that first convening with 23 new friends.
Since I can remember, I have always found myself taking on positions that I felt I was not totally ready for; where that learning curve seemed to have no slope. Joining the California Endowment in 2009 as a place-based program officer for a 10-year community change initiative was no exception. My career prior to philanthropy was in academic medicine, public health, and direct patient care. I had no prior experience in the philanthropic sector. I’ve made plenty of mistakes along the way, and I’ve learned so much about how to best serve the community I support. I still have so much more to learn, and I’m committed to using Career Pathways as part of that growth.
My goal for Career Pathways is to learn more deeply about my leadership style so I can better serve my foundation and the communities I work with in the Salinas Valley and Monterey County, California. There, I’m working to support an ecosystem of the city and county government, residents, and philanthropies to center a healing informed, racial justice framework to achieve lasting equitable outcomes and opportunities for all people. This work is groundbreaking and necessary given our country’s current social and political state. I plan to use the skills I gain from this program to advance philanthropy towards supporting investments that address the structural causes of persistent racial inequities in our nation.
I can’t wait to see the faculty and my cohort colleagues in April.