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Member Highlight: Christopher T. Gates


For several weeks, SECF has been asking members to submit stories of how their own work has helped bridge divides in their communities - it's not too late to make your own submission - for use in this year's opening keynote featuring Mark Gerzon, author of The Reunited States of America.

In addition to our opening keynote, however, the stories submitted by members will also form the basis of another session at this year's meeting: Philanthropy Bridging Divides. The session, taking place immediately after the opening keynote, will feature not only Gerzon, but also Chris Gates, one of the country's leading thinkers on philanthropy and its relationship with civic engagement.

Previously, Gerzon has said funders have been reconsidering their approach to civic engagement in the wake of the 2016 election.

"I think a great many funders have been thinking about how they can increase the impact of their work, where they might need to double down, and where they need to make changes and adjustments," he said in a 2017 interview with Philanthropy News Digest.

During the session, Gerzon and Gates will continue the conversation that started during the opening keynote. They will take the case studies submitted by members, discuss them with attendees, and explore key lessons learned and takeaways.

Gates has said that economic inequality is one issue where bridging the divide is possible - and where philanthropy can play a major role.

"It is not a partisan issue," he said. "It's also an issue that requires new thinking and additional focus from all of us, because clearly it's a concern for many, many people in this country."

Gates works with a variety of philanthropic and non-profit organizations on the issues of philanthropic and non-profit practice, political reform and civic engagement. He is also Senior Policy Advisor at Georgetown University’s Global Social Enterprise Initiative and an elected Fellow at the National Academy of Public Administration.

Gates previously led three national organizations. He served as President of the Sunlight Foundation, Executive Director of Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement, and President of the National Civic League, America’s oldest good government organization.

Gates serves on the boards of Public Agenda and the National Institute on Money in State Politics. He also serves on the board of advisors of the National Conference on Citizenship and the National Civic League, and is the co-founder of the Intermountain West Funders Network.

Gates has a master’s degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University where he studied the interaction between the public and private sectors.

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