Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Wes Moore


Not many people are invited to speak at three SECF Annual Meetings in less than a decade, but not many people have a story like Wes Moore.

In 2014, Moore riveted the 45th Annual Meeting audience in New Orleans as he shared not only his own life story, but that of “the other Wes Moore” – a man with the same name, and only a few years older. As boys, both grew up in Baltimore, lost their fathers early, and had some run-ins with the law. But while one Wes Moore went on to be a Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Army veteran, the other was drawn into a life of crime and is now in prison following a murder conviction.

Moore attributed his success in life largely to the strong network of support that surrounded him, one his counterpart lacked. 

“Starting with my mom and my grandparents would lead me to this amazing stream of role models and mentors and supporters and philanthropists and deans and people who were able to help me understand that the world was much bigger than what was just directly in front of me,” he said in 2014 during his Closing Keynote. “In essence, what they did was they taught me what it meant to be free.”

He also said people are products of their own expectations – but that society, including philanthropy, has a role to play in elevating those expectations.

“Expectations aren’t born from nowhere. The expectations that people have of themselves come from the expectations that other people have of them, and they just simply internalize them and make them their own,” he said. “We are a nation of self-fulfilling prophecies.”

In 2017, at the 48th Annual Meeting in Orlando, Moore once again spoke – this time he was joined by his mother, Joy Thomas Moore, at a session for Hull Fellows alumni. The mother and son duo provided insights on their relationship and the importance of strong families and communities while also discussing Moore’s second book, The Work, which focuses on finding meaning in one’s professional life.

Moore hasn’t slowed down since his last Annual Meeting appearance. He recently stepped down as CEO of Robin Hood Foundation after four years leading the organization’s work to target poverty in New York City. In June, he announced his candidacy for Maryland governor.

At this year’s Annual Meeting, Moore won’t be discussing politics. He will, however, be sure to provide a dose of inspiration as SECF continues its work to promote courageous leadership in philanthropy and build an equitable South.

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