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.

Member Highlight: Dr. John Lumpkin

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


In April, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation welcomed a new president, Dr. John Lumpkin.

In a recent Q&A released by the foundation, John said he is joining at a critical time for North Carolina. The state is currently debating whether to expand access to Medicaid.

“I am excited about the opportunities we have in front of us at the foundation to be able to participate in improving the health of North Carolinians,” he said. “Many national health policy experts are looking to North Carolina for good reason. The foundation has helped to set the stage for transformation of the systems that impact health in the state.”

Though John had an accomplished career in medicine – he was the first African-American trained in emergency medicine in the country after completing his residency at the University of Chicago – he has no shortage of philanthropic experience. Immediately before taking on his new role, he spent 15 years at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).

John said his experience at a national funder offers plenty that can be applied at a state-based foundation.

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Member Highlight: Juanita Floyd

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Regular readers of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal are no doubt familiar with Juanita Floyd – she’s an established presence in the newspaper’s opinion section, where she serves as a community columnist.

Juanita’s column doesn’t provide sharp-tongued opinions on the political issues of the day, however. Instead, she is a voice of encouragement, urging readers to do good on behalf of their community, fight against injustice and make a positive impact on the lives of others.

“Each one of us can promote love instead of hate; promote equality and justice instead of injustice; ease suffering instead of inflicting pain; pull our neighbor and community up instead of pushing them down; build relationships with each other; and heal wounds instead of inflaming them more,” she wrote in 2018. “It is our responsibility to make a difference while we live.”

Juanita’s late mother, Bernice, is a common presence in the column. Juanita notes that despite living through the worst days of Jim Crow, she chose to focus on the good in the world and was “a change agent” in her own right.

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Member Highlight: Amy Mandel

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


The Amy Mandel and Katina Rodis Fund, based out of Asheville, North Carolina, has a very specific mission: supporting social justice work that advances LGBTQ rights, forwards racial justice and combats anti-Semitism on a global, national and local scale. While the organization supports dozens of organizations around the world, Asheville and its surrounding areas in Western North Carolina get special attention – more than 20 nonprofits in the area have benefited from the Fund's work.

Last month, in a series of posts on the website for one of the foundation's programs, the Tzedek Social Justice Fellowship, Amy wrote an extended essay on her life and how she has leveraged her privilege to promote equity.

"In hearing others describe what led them to do what they do, I have come to see the importance of telling my story and sharing publicly why I do what I do," Amy wrote as she introduced the series. "My hope is that sharing the paradoxes and questions I sit with is a step towards the transparency and accountability which are so essential for building trust and community."

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Member Highlight: Andrea Young Kellum

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


"Capacity-building" is a term heard often anytime enough grantmakers are in the room. The general idea -- investing in the infrastructure of a nonprofit organization, as opposed to a specific program -- is a firmly established trend.

But what does it actually look like in practice? And how can a desire to boost nonprofit capacity be balanced with the need to invest in programs that directly support people in need?

These are difficult questions, but Southern grantmakers aren't shying away from them. At the Healthcare Georgia Foundation, senior program officer Andrea Young Kellum has devoted plenty of thought to the subject -- in fact, her reflections on the topic have received attention on the national level. A blog post she wrote last year, The Audacity of Building Capacity, was recently featured in a newsletter from Grantmakers for Effective Organizations.

"Our current funding strategies reflects the Foundation's values and commitment to place- based grantmaking and to supporting programs that address health equity, thereby reducing health disparities," Andrea wrote. "So one may question why, given all of the pressing health issues and disparities in Georgia, does the Foundation have the audacity to support capacity building?"

The answer, she writes, is simple: "We believe that strengthening nonprofits not only helps us to achieve our mission, but that providing organizations with the tools and resources necessary to build their capacity to better fulfill their missions' leads to stronger organizations, programs, and ultimately, better health outcomes for Georgians."

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Member Highlight: Lewis Whitfield

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Convening power is one of the greatest assets a foundation has -- by leveraging its reputational capital, funders can bring people from different sectors, and possessing different viewpoints, together for conversations that boost a sense of community and can even inspire collaborative action.

The CREATE Foundation in Tupelo, Mississippi, recently tapped into its convening power by holding a summit for educators and business leaders to discuss how schools in the region are addressing the needs of students and connecting them with jobs.

The foundation's senior vice president, Lewis Whitfield, spoke at the event. He said the summit aligned well with the foundation's mission.

"CREATE Foundation's Commission on the Future of Northeast Mississippi has been focused on lifting the personal incomes of the people of our region -- primarily by helping improve the educational attainment levels of our population," he said. "Community foundations are a great source of data on key issues. Moreover, they are uniquely positioned to provide a forum for nonthreatening discussion of these underlying data and the issues. We believe in being a convener and catalyst for these discussions, but we also realize that without cooperative community partners our effectiveness would be limited."

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Member Highlight: Alicia Philipp

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


This week, in the offices of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, the Host Committee for SECF's 50th Annual Meeting convened to begin planning how this historic celebration will showcase its home -- a diverse, thriving hub for the entire region and a city where philanthropy has played a major role in revitalization and renewal.

Who could lead such an effort? One of the first names to come to mind was Alicia Philipp, the longtime president of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta -- not only is she one of the city's most prominent philanthropic leaders, but she's also one of the city's biggest civic boosters.

A recent Atlanta magazine profile of Alicia noted that "she's done more to change the Atlanta region than most elected officials ever could," adding that the foundation under her leadership "has become one of the largest philanthropic organizations in the Southeast -- donating an estimated $100 million a year to nonprofit and faith-based organizations."

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Member Highlight: Marianne Smith Edge

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky recently added significant health expertise to its Board of Directors with the appointment of Marianne Smith Edge.

Marianne, from Owensboro, is a registered dietitian who founded The AgriNutrition Edge, a communications consulting firm that helps food and agriculture companies navigate the complex consumer food environment.

A sixth-generation farm owner, Marianne is no stranger to food systems and agriculture. She writes about them, and their connection to nutrition, often on the AgriNutrition Edge website.

"Will the crops we raise today actually sustain the health and well-being of our nation and the world? Are we raising food for nutrient benefits or economic gain? Is having an affordable and safe food supply enough?" she asked in one post. "These are all complex questions without simple answers! Resolution comes with understanding our food systems and consumer concerns. It will do us well to reconnect ourselves and ‘meet at the table' with our neighbors and communities."

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Member Highlight: Sherrie Armstrong

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Members who attend this year's CEO Forum are sure to get a warm welcome in Richmond -- several foundation leaders from the city are helping plan the event, including Sherrie Armstrong, president and CEO of the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond.

Richmond, Sherrie said, is in a period of transition and change that many other Southern cities can related to -- populations are increasing, and food, arts and culture are proliferating, but that brings with it concerns about housing, displacement and more that foundations in the area are working to address.

"Neighborhoods and areas of our city are developing bringing more people to the urban center. There is an energy and vibrancy that is ever present," she said. "While we are experiencing this growth community leaders including those from government, philanthropy, nonprofits, and the business sectors are working more together to address our challenges with a line of sight to creating a community where everyone has the opportunity to participate and benefit from the changes."

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Member Highlight: Ayana Gabriel

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Ayana Gabriel, a member of the faculty at SECF's upcoming Essential Skills & Strategies for New Grantmakers, will be able to relate to many of the attendees in the room -- her career in philanthropy began less than four years ago when she joined the staff of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation in March 2015.

"I'm still fairly new so I hope my experience can help others," she said. "Philanthropy is fairly insular so there aren't a lot of resources to learn the profession."

Ayana will be leading the Managing Your Grants Portfolio session. Since she joined the Blank Foundation, Ayana has managed its educational grantmaking programs as a program officer. Her work has included investments falling under the foundation's Pathways to Success initiative, focused on expanding educational opportunities.

Pathways to Success, Ayana said, "focuses on birth – 12 education strategies in the areas of STEAM, education reform, and our placed-based initiative on the Westside of Atlanta."

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Member Highlight: Langley Shealy

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


The year is only two weeks old, but Langley Shealy has already taken on two new responsibilities -- she recently accepted a new position at the Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina and has also agreed to serve as a faculty member at next month's offering of Essential Skills & Strategies for New Grantmakers.

After more than six years as the foundation's director of communications and public information, Shealy has now stepped into the position of community outreach director. The role will see her serve more often as the public face of the foundation while also strengthening relationships with its grantees.

"The care and consideration that the foundation shows in the selection of grantees is matched by that organization's desire to include us in their milestone moments," Langley said. "It has become physically impossible for the foundation president and/or program staff to attend all of these wonderful events while continuing to perform their daily duties. I am excited to be able to focus on celebrating these incredible grantees and to serve as the ‘face' of the Foundation at these events."

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