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Engage - The SECF Blog

BEST + NEXT PRACTICE 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: Mark C. Callaway

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Dec13

If you've attended an Annual Meeting session on impact investing in the last few years, you've probably heard from Mark Callaway - there might be no bigger evangelist for the practice in all of SECF's membership.

Mark, who was elected to the SECF Board of Trustees at this year's Annual Meeting, developed an interest in environmental and social issues while living in Northern California in the 1960s and 70s - that led him to later embrace the Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) movement in the early 2000s.

Mark said impact investing will continue to be a focus in his work as a Board member.

"I feel very strongly about the Impact space and wanted to make sure that I could continue to focus in that area," Mark said. "I think the opportunity to showcase Impact Investing at the 50th Annual Meeting will be an ideal opportunity for us to focus on the work that is being done in the Southeast in this space that doesn't usually get the opportunity to be highlighted."

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Member Highlight: Michael Tipton

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Nov29

Cross-sector partnership is already integral to Michael Tipton's work - his role as the head of a corporate foundation puts him at the intersection of philanthropy and the private sector.

Now, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Louisiana president is looking forward to exploring partnership from a new perspective, as a member of the SECF Board of Trustees.

"I think foundations in our region can be critical partners with government, the nonprofit sector, business and others in addressing some of our most critical issues," Michael said. "Serving on the Board of SECF gives me a window into how other foundations and our region is approaching this opportunity and gives me a chance to support our collective efforts to give back in strategic ways to the communities in which we live and work."

Michael leads the foundation's efforts to improve health outcomes in Louisiana - a state that is far behind the rest of the nation on many health-related metrics. However, Michael sees several bright spots that can serve as inspiration for the rest of the state, and the region.

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Member Highlight: Eric Kelly

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Nov15

When Eric Kelly became president of the Quantum Foundation five years ago, he quickly learned that SECF would be there to support him as he settled into his new role.

"I had been in philanthropy for 15 years and had served in executive-level leadership, but this was a new leadership role for me. One of the very first calls that I received was from Janine Lee," Eric said. "That year I attended the CEO Forum and had a chance to experience SECF at a closer level- It was amazing!"

Those initial experiences set Eric on the path to being engaged with SECF events and programs year after year. Now, he'll get to play an even larger role in the organization as a member of the Board of Trustees. He said he felt "both ecstatic and completely humble" when asked to serve.

"It was such an honor to be asked to join the board," he said. "Every event I attend is so helpful to me and to our team. I would comment to myself, 'it would nice to serve on the board of SECF when I grow up.' I wanted to serve in a capacity that would give me a chance to offer leadership and service to the foundations in our region."

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Member Highlight: Terri Lee Freeman

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Oct25

This year may mark Terri Lee Freeman's first SECF Annual Meeting, but it's a testament to her experience in the field that she'll mark the occasion as a panelist during this year's Breakfast with Champions plenary.

Terri, a trustee of the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, has also distinguished herself as president of the National Civil Rights Museum, a role she's held since 2014, and as the former president of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region in Washington, D.C.

"As a relative new board member of the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, I was shocked that SECF would think I would add value to the panel," Terri said. "But as I realize my unusual background, I think I can bring an interesting perspective to the panel. Additionally, as issues of diversity, inclusion and equity continue to be top of mind for the funding community, I see my current role as lending some expertise on that issue."

Terri says Annual Meeting attendees will hear a new perspective at this year's Breakfast with Champions. While previous offerings of the session have brought CEOs to the stage, this year will shift the focus to the boardroom.

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Member Highlight: Claire Webber

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Oct18

A decade ago, Claire Webber was just starting to become involved in her family's foundation, while also reintroducing herself to the South.

"I attended my first SECF Annual Meeting, green and returning to my hometown of Atlanta, after living on the West Coast for some time," she said. "I was eager to dive into the philanthropic community and the Annual Meeting was the perfect place to re-connect."

That event was a transformational experience.

"I am so grateful to be part of such a wonderfully engaged group of thought leaders, who kindly let me sit at the adults' table," Claire said. "Between the sessions and social offerings, I was able to re-engage and haven't looked back."

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Member Highlight: Christopher T. Gates

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Oct11

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.

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Member Highlight: Jerry Gonzalez

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Oct04

At this year's Annual Meeting, the Breakfast with Champions of Southern Philanthropy will, for the third year in a row, put SECF members on the main stage for a rich conversation about leadership within the field and the region.

This year, however, comes with one change: All the champions on stage are trustees. One of them, Jerry Gonzalez, a trustee at the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, says attendees will benefit from the perspective he and other champions will bring to the plenary session.

"Trustees provide great perspective and leadership for many foundations and have a great responsibility for carrying forward the mission and vision of the foundations to which they serve," he said. "Being asked to share my thoughts is really an honor and a humbling experience."

The wide-ranging session will once again be moderated by Mark Constantine, president and CEO of the Richmond Memorial Health Foundation. Gonzalez said he hopes he and the other trustees will have the chance to talk about an issue important to his own work: equity and its connection to policy.

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Member Highlight: Susan Taylor Batten

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Sep27

This profile is part of an occasional series highlighting speakers at SECF’s 49th Annual Meeting. To learn more, visit the Annual Meeting website!

On the second day of SECF’s 49th Annual Meeting, attendees have a chance to attend a special session focused on the systems and policies that perpetuate socioeconomic disparities. The session, An Unvarnished Look at Poverty Through History’s Tarnished Lens, will explore policy-driven inequity and philanthropy’s role in dismantling it.

One of the panelists at this session, Susan Taylor Batten, has emerged as one of the leading voices calling on philanthropy, and the infrastructure that supports it, to engage head-on with these issues. Susan is part of that infrastructure herself as president and CEO of ABFE, the Association of Black Foundation Executives.

Susan believes philanthropy-supporting organizations (PSOs) can be leaders in the advancement of diversity, equity and inclusion within the sector – and she offers concrete steps they can take.

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Member Highlight: Salin Geevarghese

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Sep20

This profile is part of an occasional series highlighting speakers at SECF’s 49th Annual Meeting. To learn more, visit the Annual Meeting website!

During this year's Annual Meeting, alumni of SECF’s Hull Fellows and Advanced Leadership Institute programs will have the opportunity to hear from one of the country's leading experts on an issue affecting many Southern cities: affordable housing and its impact on marginalized populations.

Salin Geevarghese previously worked in the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as deputy assistant secretary for international and philanthropic innovation; today, he is the founding director of the Mixed-Income Strategic Alliance, a collaboration among the National Initiative on Mixed Income Communities at Case Western Reserve University, Urban Strategies, Inc., and the Center for the Study of Social Policy, where Geevarghese is a senior advisor.

During his time at HUD, Geevarghese was a proponent of adopting a place-based strategy to community development, an idea he directly attributes to philanthropy.

"We took lots of inspiration from philanthropy because we knew that philanthropy had been about supporting place-based, comprehensive, integrated work for years," he said during a 2015 conference at the University of Southern California. "I think there was as much, I hope, of a humble recognition on the part of the federal government that we were actually late to the game, and perhaps that is the case for the public sector in general."

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Member Highlight: Roderica Williams

Tags: SECF Staff 
Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Sep13

SECF's Programs & Partnerships team is now more effective than ever thanks to the new addition of Senior Programs & Partnerships Associate Roderica Williams, who joined the staff September 4.

Roderica comes to SECF with significant experience in program management and project development. She most recently worked for Fulton County Schools, where she served as Early Intervention Program Educator, a role that required her to use data analysis to improve language arts and math programs, while also administering effective teaching strategies. She also has extensive experience overseeing student support programs at the College of Lake county and Bacone College.

"I worked in education for many years, and it was my work in higher education that aligns most with what I do here at SECF," Roderica said. "I served as program director for federally-funded programs and performed many of the administrative duties that I have now. Evaluation and reporting was a huge part of my job, and I will lead similar efforts in my role at SECF."

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Southeastern Council of Foundations
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Phone: (404) 524-0911
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Mission: The Southeastern Council of Foundations serves, connects, strengthens and champions philanthropy and philanthropic infrastructure in the South.