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Member Highlight: Eric Kelly

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: Michael Tipton

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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An Incredible Year Sets Up SECF for An Even Better 2019

Author: Gilbert Miller

Dec12

When my plane took off from Louisville's airport, I could see the Ohio River and the bridges that spanned it, reaching out into Indiana. The cloud cover was low, and the image quickly dissolved into white, leaving me to reflect on the meeting I was leaving behind.

It's hard to sum up an SECF Annual Meeting. It's one part family reunion, one part conference, one part tent revival, one part continuing education, and one part party. In 72 hours, we cover a lot of ground, and I remain amazed each year by all that happens for the betterment of our membership.

This year, however, felt different. From all corners, I heard talk of a "feeling," of a sense of something intangible that wove itself to the entirety of the event. Attendees felt more "together" than they had in the past, and the conversations outside in the halls were of partnerships and collaborations. Embracing the theme, it is hard to not feel like bridges were being built, or at least, that bridges in disuse were being crossed once again.

Looking back on the year, it is hard not to see those same bridges being built across our entire membership. As chair, the view I am afforded is awe-inspiring, giving me great hope for the times ahead.

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Member Highlight: Mark C. Callaway

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: Allen Mast

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Dec19

At last month's Annual Meeting, SECF members elected three new leaders to the Board of Trustees. We've profiled each of them here over the last three weeks.

As senior vice president at SunTrust's Foundations & Endowments Specialty Practice, Allen Mast doesn't work with just one foundation -- his work, which ranges from advising to board service, puts him in touch with a large and varied group of funders throughout the region.

Having first-hand experience working with so many foundations will undoubtedly help Allen as he begins his first term on the SECF Board of Trustees.

"The breadth of philanthropic interests that we see, and the variety of issues that we are often asked to address, has afforded me the opportunity to learn about many different programmatic areas plus a great deal about the technical aspects of foundation work," he said. "When I first entered the field, [former Foundation for the Mid South President] George Penick shared with me a simple, but profound, insight: Don't forget, when you have seen one foundation, you have seen ONE foundation. My current work confirms, on a daily basis, that each foundation is unique, with its own philanthropic mission and goals."

Allen has long been a fixture within the SECF network. He attended his first Annual Meeting in 1994, an experience he says cemented his closeness to the organization.

"I will never forget that first meeting," he said. "I was so impressed and moved by everyone's commitment to making the South a better and more equitable place. From that moment on, I knew that I wanted to join in and do my part."

Allen went on to participate in the Hull Fellows program and serve on multiple member committees. These experiences, he says, made it easy for him to agree to be nominated for the Board when asked.

"SECF has played a pivotal role in my development, both professionally and personally," Allen said. "As a result, my rule of thumb is to support SECF at every opportunity because really good things come from that support."

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SECF's Response to COVID-19 Coronavirus

Author: Janine Lee and Regan Gruber Moffitt

Mar12

Like many of you, SECF has been closely monitoring developments related to the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, which was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization on March 11. As a membership association, we want to provide you with information on how you and your organization can best respond to this outbreak. We also want to update you on how SECF is responding, including the impact on our events and programs.

Last week we posted a collection of resources on SECF.org to help foundations take action to protect their employees and visitors – foundations, like any other workplace, should follow these guidelines and make their employees aware of actions they can take to limit the spread of the virus. We will continue to update this post as new information and resources become available. The World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are also continually updating their COVID-19 pages with new information. SECF.org also includes links to resources from the Center for Disaster Philanthropy on how philanthropic organizations can support response and recovery to the outbreak.

Several of our members have contacted us regarding the status of upcoming SECF programs. The health and safety of our members and staff is our highest priority – in order to reduce the need for traveling and maintain social distancing, we have made the following modifications to our program schedule:

  • The Atlanta Foundations Forum event scheduled for April 9 has been postponed. We are working to reschedule this event for a date later in 2020.
  • We will announce by Friday, March 20, whether the CEO Forum, currently scheduled for April 23-24 in Sarasota, Florida, will need to be moved to another date later this year.
  • No other changes to our program lineup have been made at this time; however, we will continually assess whether events need to be rescheduled as the situation develops.

The SECF staff will remain available to support you during this time. However, out of an abundance of caution, our staff will begin working remotely on Friday, March 13 through Friday, April 3, at which point we will evaluate whether to reopen our offices. We believe we have the technology in place to make this an easy transition, though we do ask for your flexibility and patience over the first two days of this process in case technical complications arise.

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Announcing the First Selection of the Chair's Book Club: The Sun Does Shine

Author: Regan Gruber Moffitt and Robert Dortch

May14


We are excited to invite you to join the new SECF Chair’s Book Club. Our hope is that the books we read and the discussions we have will inspire us to find common ground, build meaningful relationships, and deepen our understanding of equity.
The first book, The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life, Freedom, and Justice by Anthony Ray Hinton, builds on the deeply moving and passionate keynote by Bryan Stevenson at the SECF’s 50th Annual Meeting last November.  Stevenson, who spent his career helping those who were unjustly accused or wrongfully convicted, called upon philanthropy to be proximate to the places, people and problems that our organizations support, to change existing narratives, to remain hopeful and, most importantly, to do things that are uncomfortable and inconvenient. Anthony Ray Hinton was one of those who was represented by Stevenson. 

The Sun Does Shine is Hinton’s memoir of peace, purpose, and eventually freedom after serving 30 years on Alabama’s death row after being wrongfully convicted. The brilliantly written personal narrative instructs, inspires, and creates an imperative for action. 

SECF is providing access to the eBook version of the title through our recently launched Lending Library, or you can obtain a copy through your local bookseller or public library. Sign up here to participate in the Chair’s Book Club and we’ll soon share more information on how to get started and how to engage in discussion groups with your fellow SECF members.

Regan Gruber Moffitt is chief strategy officer at the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and chair of the SECF Board of Trustees. Robert Dortch is vice president of program and community innovation at the Robins Foundation and chair-elect of the SECF Board.

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Member Highlight: Darrin Goss, Sr.

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Dec10

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be profiling the new members of SECF’s Board of Trustees announced at the 51st Annual Meeting following a vote by SECF members.

In less than five years under the leadership of Darrin Goss, Sr., the Coastal Community Foundation in Charleston, South Carolina, has emerged as one of Southern philanthropy’s leading advocates for advancing racial equity and for the adoption of Passing Gear principles focused on deploying multiple forms of capital to address the root causes of issues in the community.

The foundation’s work has earned national attention and praise – just this week, the foundation received a $1 million grant from Facebook to support Black communities and black-led organizations. At the 51stAnnual Meeting, the foundation’s Passing Gear work was recognized with the Truist Foundation Promise Award.

The SECF network stands to benefit even more from Goss’ leadership now that he has joined the Board of Trustees. But despite an impressive track record, Goss is beginning his new role ready to learn and listen.

“I want to learn as much as I can on how I can be effective in supporting the goals of SECF as an organization and how that can potentially shape the future of the Southeast,” he said. “I am relatively new to foundation philanthropy and so I have a lot to learn.”

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SECF Member Highlight: Kristen Keely-Dinger

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Jan07

This is the last in a series profiling the new members of SECF's Board of Trustees announced at the 51st Annual Meeting following a vote by SECF members.

Kristen Keely-Dinger was already intimately familiar with SECF and its staff by time she was approached to serve on the Board of Trustees – she was months into her service as chair of last year’s Annual Meeting.

In the midst of that experience, the decision to accept a nomination to the Board was an easy one, she said.

“After having the opportunity to work with the staff and the planning team at SECF for this year’s annual meeting and watching the flexibility and the adaptability of the staff, I felt confident that I could learn from and contribute to the organization in meaningful ways,” Kristen said. “I am also a big supporter of the Equity Framework that SECF has adopted and am excited to learn from my peers and the team at SECF as we continue to implement the framework throughout the organization.”

Equity has been on Kristen’s mind frequently in the past year. As the president and CEO of The Healing Trust, based in Nashville, she has helped lead a transformation in the foundation’s work – a transformation that accelerated in the wake of this summer’s racial justice protests.

“Almost all our grants now and going forward will be unrestricted. Our partners need to know we trust them, and we understand that they also need the same flexibility to respond to their changing environment,” she said. “The pandemic has both highlighted and exacerbated the needs of historically uninvested in and marginalized communities and has underscored the urgency of our work on equity.”

Kristen says her experience as a foundation CEO will also affect her work on the SECF Board.

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Picking Up the Pieces: Our Reaction to the Assault on American Democracy

Author: Janine Lee, Regan Gruber Moffitt and Robert Dortch

Jan14

Over the past week, we have seen images that will be forever seared into our minds: an armed mob laying siege to the heart of America’s government; a lone Capitol Police officer successfully defending the Senate chamber against armed insurrectionists; other officers being beaten and crushed; lawmakers in the House chamber, fearful for their own safety.

The horrific events that enveloped the Capitol last week were unprecedented – but we cannot say they were unexpected. They were the culmination of dangerous trends, decades in the making, that have sought to divide us while providing a space for disinformation to take hold. Too many political leaders, instead of trying to reverse these trends, have unfortunately sought to exploit them – this time, in an effort to overturn the results of a free and fair election.

These actions brought into the halls of Congress people whose ideas run counter to the principles our country aspires to uphold. While some of our nation’s greatest social movements have fought for equal justice under the law, inclusiveness and equity, the insurrection at the Capitol was led by groups that promote hatred based on race, religion, ethnicity or ideology.

We were glad to see that, despite this warrantless attack, Congress succeeded in doing its duty, affirming Joe Biden as President-Elect and Kamala Harris as Vice President-Elect. We look forward to working with their administration and lawmakers at all levels of government, in both parties, as we work toward building a society that rejects bigotry and disinformation and, instead, embraces equity and objective truth.

The work of rebuilding democracy cannot be left exclusively to elected officials in Washington and elsewhere. This moment, like the COVID-19 pandemic and the fight for racial justice, is another call to action for philanthropy. No other sector of society enjoys the combination of social, moral, intellectual, reputational and financial capital that is prevalent in the charitable sector. We are obligated to do all we can to reverse the forces that brought us to this point. We must recommit to the belief that a strong America is synonymous with a strong participatory democracy.

This task will not be easy, and the solutions are not obvious. But we strongly believe they begin at the community level. We must rebuild trust – in each other, and in major institutions. We must revive meaningful dialogue that embraces difference, encourages peaceful dissent and seeks to win hearts and minds instead of defeating them. 

Philanthropy, particularly in the South, is deeply rooted in community – this is why we are confident that philanthropy not only must help lead the way forward, but also is up to the challenge.

Janine Lee is president and CEO of the Southeastern Council of Foundations. Regan Gruber Moffitt is Chair of the SECF Board of Trustees and Chief Strategy Officer of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation. Robert Dortch is Chair of SECF's Equity Committee and Vice President, Programs & Innovation, at the Robins Foundation.

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Southeastern Council of Foundations
100 Peachtree Street NW, Suite 2080
Atlanta, GA 30303

Visiting SECF:
All staff are working remotely at this time but can still be reached via email and by calling (404) 524-0911.

Hours:
Monday-Thursday from 9:00am–6:00pm (ET)
Friday from 9:00am–12:00pm (ET)


Phone: (404) 524-0911
Fax: (404) 523-5116

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