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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: Marianne Smith Edge

Category: Member Highlight, 
Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Feb14

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

Feb07

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

Jan24

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

Jan10

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