Engage - The SECF Blog


SECF's Blog

Engage, SECF’s blog, is a space for SECF members, staff and partners to share their thoughts on the latest trends and best practices in philanthropy. Engage is also used for important announcements about upcoming SECF events and programs.

Do you have a story or insight you’d like to share with our members on Engage? Contact David Miller, director of marketing and communications, at david@secf.org or at (404) 524-0911 to discuss your idea.

50th Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Bryan Stevenson

Category: 50th Anniversary, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Few people are better equipped to talk both about the South’s past and its potential than Bryan Stevenson, who will close out SECF’s 50th Annual Meeting.

Stevenson’s work as founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), which is devoted to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment, first brought him to national attention. Originally focused on providing legal representation to death row inmates in Alabama, where it is based, the organization is now a national leader on issues of racial justice.

Following a 2012 TED Talk that has accrued over 5.8 million views and the 2014 publication of his best-selling and award-winning memoir, Just Mercy, Stevenson rose to further prominence. His most visible achievement, however, came last year when The National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the related Legacy Museum opened in Montgomery.

The memorial, dedicated to victims of white supremacy, draws thousands of visitors every day to view the stark, minimalist columns etched with the names of lynching victims from hundreds of counties – most in the South. The Legacy Museum, a short walk away, uses powerful images, audio and artifacts to draw a direct line from the enslavement of Africans that started in the 1600s all the way to today’s mass incarceration of African-American men.

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50th Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Philippe Cousteau Jr.

Category: 50th Anniversary, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Any conversation around the next 50 years of philanthropy -- Southern or otherwise -- would be incomplete without devoting significant time to the threats facing our environment, particularly climate change and its effect on the global ocean that covers 70 percent of the planet.

The health of our planet and its oceans will be on the main stage at SECF's 50th Annual Meeting through a presentation led by Philippe Cousteau Jr., whose family name has become synonymous with ocean exploration and conservation. Philippe, the grandson of the renowned Jacques Cousteau, will use photos and videos during his Friday morning plenary as he explores lessons learned growing up as part of a legendary family and the critical pathways we need to focus on in order to return our oceans to abundance.

"Growing up I was inspired by the work of my grandfather and father," Cousteau said in a recent interview with Australia's Grazia magazine. "[My grandfather] opened the world's eyes to the wonders beneath the waves and the need to protect and restore the health of our oceans. My father Philippe Sr. joined him and was a world-renowned filmmaker and explorer in his own right."

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50th Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Phil Buchanan

Category: 50th Anniversary, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


This profile is part of an occasional series highlighting speakers at SECF's 50th Annual Meeting! Register by July 1 and save $100!

SECF has long had a strong relationship with The Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) and its president, Phil Buchanan. Buchanan was a plenary speaker at the 2015 Annual Meeting and facilitated conversations at SECF's CEO Forum, and CEP reports and articles make regular appearances in the weekly Connect newsletter.

That fruitful relationship will continue at this year's Annual Meeting, when Buchanan will speak to alumni of SECF's leadership development programs, including the Hull Fellows Program, at a special reception on the meeting's second day. He's also set to facilitate a session earlier that day on how learning from failure can be a best practice regularly undertaken to benefit a foundation.

Buchanan is in-demand these days, thanks largely to his new book, Giving Done Right: Effective Philanthropy and Making Every Dollar Count. While it follows the release of several books -- David Callahan's The Givers, Anand Giridharadas's Winners Take All, and others -- that have been largely critical, Buchanan's book is rooted in a more optimistic view of the field.

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11 States in 11 Months: Southern Philanthropy in... Kentucky

Tags: Kentucky 
Category: 50th Anniversary, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Note: This post is the fifth in a series that will run throughout our 50th Anniversary year. Each month, we'll focus on philanthropy in one of the 11 states in the SECF footprint, using both current and historical data while highlighting a variety of voices. This month's state: Kentucky.

Kentucky Philanthropy Snapshot

First SECF Member: Foundation for the Tri-State (joined 1980)
Newest SECF Member: Lawrence and Augusta Hager Educational Foundation (joined November 2018)
Number of SECF Members: 21

Learn more about Kentucky foundations from SECF’s Southern Trends Report!

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50th Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Andy Goodman

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


This profile is part of an occasional series highlighting speakers at SECF's 50th Annual Meeting! Register by July 1 and save $100!

SECF's 50th Annual Meeting will mark the close of one chapter and the beginning of the next -- part of an ongoing story of philanthropy in the South, its growth and evolution, and its power to transform lives and communities.

Within that large, overarching story are many others, being written every day by foundations and the people who lead them. Yet people and organizations can easily get caught up in the day-to-day, unable to appreciate the powerful, long-running narratives they help write through their work. Too often, these stories go untold.

Andy Goodman, who will take the main stage during the second day of the Annual Meeting, has devoted his career to changing that. As the co-founder and director of The Goodman Center, and author of Storytelling as Best Practice, he argues that stories are integral to organizational success.

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50 Meetings in 50 Days: The Annual Meeting from 2007 to 2018

Category: 50th Anniversary, 
Author: David Miller


Registration for SECF's 50th Annual Meeting will open later today! We’re so excited that we’re going to finish off our look at the Annual Meeting’s history with a bang by covering the meeting’s last decade (plus two more) all in one post!

2007 Annual Meeting

When: November 14-16, 2007
Where: The Homestead, Hot Springs, Virginia
Theme: Hope Springs Eternal
Notable Speakers: Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, Ron Clark (Co-Founder, Ron Clark Academy), Randy Capps (Senior Research Associate, The Urban Institute), Joel Fleishman (Author, The Foundation: A Great American Secret – How Private Wealth Is Changing the World)

Joel Fleishman’s closing keynote was the first instance, though certainly not the last, of SECF bringing in a keynote speaker who forced philanthropy to turn a mirror on itself, for better or worse. His book, heralded as an “instant classic” by Philanthropy News Digest, was directed at the general public and aimed to demystify foundations and the broader philanthropic sector. While the book devotes substantial space to successful philanthropic initiatives, Fleishman also points out failures, shortcomings and blind spots in the field. Yet Fleishman, in the end, wants endowed philanthropy to succeed, writing “I am convinced that the foundation sector as a whole, as great as its social contribution is now and has been for most of its history, seriously underperforms its potential." Foundations can, he writes, “raise the level of their performance by reducing their insulation from beneficial external influences while retaining the independence they need."

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50 Meetings in 50 Days: The Annual Meeting from 2003 to 2006

Category: 50th Anniversary, 
Author: David Miller


Registration for SECF's 50th Annual Meeting will open May 15 – between now and then, we're going to take a look back at the history of SECF's signature event and how it's evolved over the years.

2003 Annual Meeting

When: November 12-14, 2003
Where: The Fairmont, New Orleans, Louisiana
Theme: Big But Never Easy: Philanthropy in the South
Notable Speakers: S. Frederick Starr (Author, New Orleans Unmasqued), Claire Gaudiani (Author, The Greater Good)

From his biography, S. Frederick Starr might seem like a strange choice to serve as an opening keynote for this Annual Meeting – or any of them. Starr has written or edited 20 books and hundreds of articles on Russian and Eurasian affairs. He founded the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, speaks Russian and, aside from a relatively short stint at Tulane University, had spent little time in the Southeast.

Starr, however, was also an expert on something distinctly American, Southern and from New Orleans: jazz. A jazz clarinetist himself, Staff helped establish the Louisiana Repertory Jazz Ensemble, which has performed around the world as part of its efforts to preserve jazz as it sounded in its earliest days in the Big Easy. As the band’s site notes, “Dr. Starr played the Mississippi riverboats beginning in 1957 and is the biographer of New Orleans' premier composer, Louis Moreau Gottschalk.” The band remains active to this day and Starr is their primary contact for bookings.

This meeting took place less than two years before New Orleans was forever changed by Hurricane Katrina – the host hotel, The Fairmont, would be among the buildings severely damaged by the storm. Efforts to repair the hotel proved too costly. However, the building would eventually be purchased and renovated into a new hotel, The Roosevelt, and opened in 2009.

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50 Meetings in 50 Days: The Annual Meeting from 1999 to 2002

Category: 50th Anniversary, 
Author: David Miller


Registration for SECF's 50th Annual Meeting will open May 15 – between now and then, we're going to take a look back at the history of SECF's signature event and how it's evolved over the years.

1999 Annual Meeting

When: November 17-19, 1999
Where: The Grove Park Inn Resort, Asheville, North Carolina
Theme: Seeking Higher Ground: Philanthropy’s New Profile in the South
Notable Speakers: Ray C. Anderson (President & CEO, Interface Carpets, Inc.)

The Annual Meeting made its first of several trips to the Asheville, North Carolina’s Grove Park Inn, quickly establishing itself as a favorite location – the meeting is set to return to the resort in 2021!

While the 1999 Annual Meeting continued the practice of constituency tracks, the parts of the agenda open to all attendees displayed a strong emphasis on the environment. Sessions on smart growth, sustainability and reducing urban sprawl were offered, and the meeting also reserved the afternoon of its second day for site visits, including one focused on the Southern Appalachian environment.

The opening keynote was delivered by Ray C. Anderson, the president and CEO of Interface Carpets and the namesake of the Ray C. Anderson Foundation. Anderson was only five years removed from what he called a “spear in the chest” epiphany moment. As the foundation’s website explains:

In 1994, at the height of his success with Interface—a company he had built from a dream, grit and determination—he was challenged with a question that would define the rest of his life: "What is your company doing for the environment?" In an effort to discover the answer to that question, he read a book by Paul Hawken. The Ecology of Commerce made him aware for the first time that Interface was doing much more to harm the environment than to protect it.

This "spear in the chest" epiphany led to what Ray later called his Mid-Course Correction—the beginning of his quest to prove that sustainability was not just the right thing to do, it was the smart thing to do for business.

Anderson would die in 2011, leading to the establishment of the foundation that today continues to work for improving the environment and, in particular, combating the threat of climate change.

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50 Meetings in 50 Days: The Annual Meeting from 1995 to 1998

Category: 50th Anniversary, 
Author: David Miller


Registration for SECF's 50th Annual Meeting will open May 15 – between now and then, we're going to take a look back at the history of SECF's signature event and how it's evolved over the years.

1995 Annual Meeting

When: November 8-10, 1995
Where: Marriott at Sawgrass Resort, Ponte Vedra, Florida
Theme: Waves of Change: The Rising Tide of Expectations
Notable Speakers: Andrew Young (former Mayor of Atlanta; Co-Chair, Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games)

The 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta were less than a year away when SECF members convened at Ponte Vedra, near Jacksonville in northeast Florida. Naturally, the first Olympics in the South merited remarks from one of the leaders of Atlanta’s bid, former Mayor Andrew Young. Some of Atlanta’s leading foundations played a key role in improvements to the city, particularly Centennial Olympic Park, that made it an ideal host for the Summer Games. Young would go on to establish the Andrew Young Foundation in 2003.

This meeting also shows a willingness to experiment with format, and sessions that more and more resemble today’s offerings. Following the meeting’s adjournment, family and community foundation members had the opportunity to attend separate post-conference convenings that extended into the weekend. The community foundation convening included Martin Lehfeldt, then a consultant to SECF, as a speaker. In a few years he would succeed Bob Hull as president and CEO.

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50 Meetings in 50 Days: The Annual Meeting from 1991 to 1994

Category: 50th Anniversary, 
Author: David Miller


Registration for SECF's 50th Annual Meeting will open May 15 – between now and then, we're going to take a look back at the history of SECF's signature event and how it's evolved over the years.

1991 Annual Meeting

When: November 13-15, 1991
Where: The Breakers Hotel, Palm Beach, Florida
Theme: What's New Under the Sun?
Notable Speakers: William Ferris (Director, Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi and Co-Editor, Encyclopedia of Southern Culture), Josephine Humphreys (Author)

William Ferris led the Center for the Study of Southern Culture for 20 years beginning in 1978 and ending in 1998, when President Clinton appointed him to lead the National Endowment for the Humanities. His scholarship had focused on African American folklore and culture and undoubtedly contributed to The Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, which he co-edited and was released in 1989. To this day, he is seen as an expert on the region. His most recent book, published in 2016, was The South in Color: A Visual Journal, and his photography has been featured in the Smithsonian.

Josephine Humphreys is the author of several novels set in her native Charleston, South Carolina, including "Dreams of Sleep," "Rich in Love" – which was made into a movie in 1992 – and "The Fireman's Fair."

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Southeastern Council of Foundations
100 Peachtree Street NW
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Visiting SECF: Parking, Directions & Nearby Hotels

Monday-Thursday from 9:00am–6:00pm (ET)
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Phone: (404) 524-0911
Fax: (404) 523-5116

Mission: The Southeastern Council of Foundations serves, connects, strengthens and champions philanthropy and philanthropic infrastructure in the South.