Member Highlight: Kim Davis

This Member Highlight is part of a series profiling new members of the Philanthropy Southeast Board of Trustees elected at this year’s Annual Meeting.

Place is important to Kim Davis, one of the newest members of the Philanthropy Southeast Board of Trustees.

While he works for a foundation with a broad, national presence – the Walton Family Foundation – Kim’s work is focused on the foundation’s home region, specifically the Arkansas and Mississippi Delta. From football to food, he identifies strongly with his hometown of New Orleans. He is also a proponent of the idea that effective philanthropy must be rooted in the places it seeks to support.

“I am a firm believer that community moves at the speed of trust, so proximity is critically important,” he said.

Kim says the high value that Philanthropy Southeast puts on place was a key factor in his decision to accept a nomination to serve on the Board.

“Philanthropy Southeast has a strong emphasis on ‘valuing place’ when thinking about the role of philanthropy,” he said. “By utilizing courageous leadership, Philanthropy Southeast is the best philanthropic organization to mobilize the people and resources to address critical issues in communities in the South.”

Though Kim is a strong supporter of Philanthropy Southeast’s work, he says he still has plenty to learn in his new positions as a Board member.

“During my first year of service, my goal is to listen, learn, and laugh,” he said. “I plan to get curious about Philanthropy Southeast’s strategies, our member services, measurements, and outcomes.  Because of vast amount of impact by Philanthropy Southeast, I will be there to learn from organization staff and other Board members.”

Kim is also interested in using the knowledge he’s gained working with disadvantaged rural communities to benefit all Philanthropy Southeast members – at the Walton Family Foundation, he’s responsible for leading strategic planning for the foundation’s work in rural communities in Delta.

“This work has led to deep dives in the areas of rural education, economic asset development and capacity building,” he said. “I look forward to leveraging the lessons learned throughout Walton’s Delta strategic development process and highlighting equity opportunities in philanthropy for rural communities throughout the Southeast region.”

Working in the Delta – a region known for deep poverty and disparities in education, income and access to technology – means Kim is no stranger to inequity. He says his experiences have deeply shaped his opinion of how philanthropy should operate.

“Philanthropy has an opportunity to influence and shape significant institutions working to serve diverse communities impacted by inequities,” he said. “This work will require innovative programming, courageous leadership, a sharing of power, and listening ears. It is time for philanthropy to remove its superhero cape and replace it with the team jerseys in communities where we work.”


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