An Incredible Year Sets Up SECF for An Even Better 2019
Author: Gilbert Miller
When my plane took off from Louisville's airport, I could see the Ohio River and the bridges that spanned it, reaching out into Indiana. The cloud cover was low, and the image quickly dissolved into white, leaving me to reflect on the meeting I was leaving behind.
It's hard to sum up an SECF Annual Meeting. It's one part family reunion, one part conference, one part tent revival, one part continuing education, and one part party. In 72 hours, we cover a lot of ground, and I remain amazed each year by all that happens for the betterment of our membership.
This year, however, felt different. From all corners, I heard talk of a "feeling," of a sense of something intangible that wove itself to the entirety of the event. Attendees felt more "together" than they had in the past, and the conversations outside in the halls were of partnerships and collaborations. Embracing the theme, it is hard to not feel like bridges were being built, or at least, that bridges in disuse were being crossed once again.
Looking back on the year, it is hard not to see those same bridges being built across our entire membership. As chair, the view I am afforded is awe-inspiring, giving me great hope for the times ahead.
Family Separations are a Humanitarian Issue
Author: Janine Lee & Gilbert Miller
Like all of you, we have been horrified and disturbed in recent days by the images and stories of children being separated from their families at the southern border. We are speaking out today because we believe the treatment of children and families is not a political issue – it is a humanitarian one.
Any parent can understand the importance of holding and cuddling children, and the power of nurturing to calm them. The idea of not being there to hold them, and never being certain about when we might see them again, would be unbearable.
Separating children from their parents must not happen, and we hope the executive order issued yesterday prevents future separations. It is also critical that every effort is made to reunite families that have already been separated.
Resolution & Transformation
Author: Robins Foundation
Editor's Note: We wanted to share this item from one of our members, the Robins Foundation, a family foundation in Virginia. You can view the original item on the foundation's website.
Hate has no place in our work.
Many of us have been saddened, confused and angered by recent events highlighting the fractures in our society and community fabric. The fissures created by hate highlight the need for more dialogue and more engagement, not less. We value love, patience, inclusion and teamwork. We value diverse voices and diverse perspectives.
Athlete and sports team protests, Tiki torches, monuments and/or gun violence have ignited more open conversations about racism, bigotry, root causes and possible steps. These conversations yield opinions of many perspectives and we, as a community stakeholder, appreciate those perspectives. We recognize the impact of history on the movements of today. Our region (Richmond, Virginia specifically and the South, generally) was the seat of the confederacy and that, segregation in schools, red lining and other past public policies have consequences that have echoed and magnified for generations. Coincidence that we continue to see downward mobility in marginalized communities here? Coincidence we read that particular evidence in grant proposals on the plight of children and families struggling against 39% child poverty in the City of Richmond? Every day, people living in poverty make heartbreaking decisions between affording rent or childcare, food or shelter, safety or healthcare.
Can we do better?
I consider private philanthropy to hold the greatest potential to creating and ensuring a just society. While philanthropy does not provide the greatest resource – recognizing the outsize investment the public sector does and should play to drive equity and outcomes – it has always possessed unparalleled opportunity to catalyze and advance the essential conversations, work and investments to change conditions that keep folks poor, powerless and silent.
A few weeks ago, I posted the following blog on my Facebook page. I have worked at a foundation for more than 16 years, yet in this post I speak not as a philanthropic professional but rather as an African American in America. Sharing this post within the SECF family, I recognize that I have a unique advantage of speaking to an audience that many don’t get to speak to – colleagues, many of whom have become lifelong friends. I present it with an appeal to do the disciplined thinking that we have been trained to do… to hear… to ask not just “what” but “why”… to seek truth… to innovate… to right the scales.
All around us communities are exploding and imploding, creating and falling into breaches that threaten the whole. If philanthropy is, as I believe, the force that can be the change, we must be brave enough and humble enough to search for solutions within and without, that build our understanding and increase our impact.
Mourning the Loss of a Truly Exceptional Leader
Have you ever had one of those moments where the sky seems less bright, the hill gets suddenly steeper and energy appears to decline as if there is less oxygen to breathe? I felt that way when I got an email June 13 telling me that Laurie Moran had passed away.
I know I was not alone in that feeling of loss. Many of us knew that Laurie had been fighting cancer for some time. She did not hide her illness, nor did she use it as a way of asking for sympathy. Laurie faced cancer the way she faced many things, head on without making a big deal out of it.
And she seemed to be beating it. I watched her come back from earlier rounds of treatment and we all hoped her progress would continue.
But it was not to be. At 56, she had given so much and she had so much more to give. But it was not to be.
Staying in Touch With Philanthropy
“Let’s stay connected!”
I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard and overheard phrases like this exchanged among SECF colleagues. Our members crave connection with one another for a variety of reasons. Some appreciate the opportunity to learn and share information about best practices. Others enjoy the camaraderie of friends and colleagues who share a common passion and purpose. Some relish the tailor-made resources and network of potential collaborators. Still others rely on their SECF relationships to build networks beyond their local geography. For most, it’s a combination of the above.
For all these reasons and more, SECF serves as a source of deep and lasting regional connections. Through relationships, conversations, events, reports, newsletters and more, we’ve built a network like no other. And now, we’re pleased to introduce another way to communicate with peers, learn from experiences and opinions, and share stories: ENGAGE, the SECF blog.