51st Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Margo Miller

Last month in Connect, we featured coverage of the Black Girls Dream Fund, a 10-year, $100 million campaign to financially empower the goals of Black girls and women in Southern communities – from big cities like Jacksonville to Appalachian communities in East Tennessee.

One of the leaders of the campaign, Appalachian Community Fund Executive Director Margo Miller, said the Dream Fund had, as its name would suggest, ambitious goals.

“During a time when the mainstream narrative of being Black and a woman in America can feel overwhelmingly negative, we’re proud to shift these racist and sexist ideals," she said. "We will enable Black girls and women to bring more of their magic into the world and fundamentally change the way the world views them.”

Others who want to bring more “magic” into their philanthropy will want to hear Miller and other speakers at “Giving Community Voice to Grantmaking,” a breakout session at SECF’s 51st Annual Meeting taking place at 1:00pm on Thursday, November 12.

Miller is a leader of the Southern Black Girls and Women’s Consortium, a collective of funders, activists and community leaders working to advance the movements for Black girls and women in the Southeast. The consortium is creating an infrastructure for regional grantmaking and movement-building by providing resources to locally-based organizations that work directly with Black girls, including those outside of traditional nonprofit organizations.

Born and raised in East Tennessee, Miller heads the Appalachian Community Fund, a grantmaking resource for grassroots organizations working to change systemic economic, racial, environmental and social inequity in Central Appalachia including Eastern Kentucky, Southwest Virginia, East Tennessee and all of West Virginia. 

In an interview with the Appalachian Funders Network, Miller said she draws inspiration from the next generation.

“I look to the children; they inspire me and motivate me to keep doing this work,” she said. “They are the ones; it’s their futures we are doing this work for.”

Miller’s work puts her in direct proximity to the intersecting issues of racial inequity and rural poverty. While acknowledging the work is challenging, she says frequent “random acts of kindness” push her to keep going.

“There are times it feels like there are more folks out there that don’t care than there are who do. It weighs heavy on my heart,” she said. “Then I will see a random act of kindness, see someone perform a courageous act, or I find myself surrounded by an assembly of people who I know are just as committed to seeing positive change as I am…I’m inspired again.”


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