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51st Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Dr. David Williams

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


This is the first in a series of profiles of speakers at SECF's 51st Annual Meeting, an online event taking place November 11-13. Registration opens next week!

The two dominant stories of 2020 – the COVID-19 pandemic and a national reckoning on racial justice sparked by the murder of George Floyd – will both be reflected throughout the 51st Annual Meeting, from the virtual keynote stage to several breakout sessions.

Both topics, and the intersection between them, are familiar to this year’s Opening Keynote speaker, Dr. David Williams.

Williams, a professor of public health and chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, is one of the world’s leading experts on the social determinants of health, a list that includes socioeconomic status, race, stress, racism, health behavior and religious involvement. 

Through his research, Williams has found that experiencing racism itself leads to negative health consequences – for example, Blacks with college degrees have a lower life expectancy than whites who only have a high school diploma.

“When I started my career, many people believed that it was simply about racial differences in income and education,” Williams said in his TedMed talk, How Racism Makes Us Sick. “I discovered that while economic status matters to health, there is more to the story.”

Central to Williams’ research has been his work to quantify racism – not only major experiences like unfairly losing a job or being wrongly stopped by the police, but also everyday indignities that, over time, have real health consequences. The Everyday Discrimination Scale he devised in 1997 to measure experiences like these is still used today.

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Registration Now Open for SECF's 51st Annual Meeting!

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Are You Ready to Lead the Way?
Registration Now Open for SECF's 51st Annual Meeting

Today, more than any other time in recent memory, our communities, region and nation are calling out for leadership.

An ongoing, deadly pandemic has turned lives upside-down, devastated our economy and stretched many of the organizations philanthropy supports to the breaking point. A long overdue reckoning on racial justice has shown the work of undoing centuries of systemic racism can no longer wait.

We cannot meet in person, but we must come together however we can. The moment demands it. Philanthropy must lead the way – but how?

We will explore this question, and many more, at SECF’s 51st Annual Meeting: Leading the Way.

Join us November 11-13, 2020, for an online event that will bring Southern philanthropy together in new ways while delivering the powerful speakers and sessions that have made the Annual Meeting the region’s premier philanthropic event for over 50 years!

Highlights of this year’s agenda include:

Powerful Keynote Speakers

Dr. David Williams
Harvard professor and
health equity expert
Richard Rothstein
Author, The Color of Law
Susan Taylor Batten
President & CEO, ABFE

Diverse & Dynamic Sessions, Including:

Storytelling for
Social Change
Courage in
Giving Community
Voice to Grantmaking
Race, Place &
Systemic Inequities

And more - View the Full Agenda!

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51st Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Richard Rothstein

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Federal law has outlawed housing discrimination based on race since 1968, yet nearly all of America’s major population centers are still heavily segregated – why?

That question lies at the heart of Richard Rothstein’s work, particularly his book, The Color of Law, which was released to acclaim in 2017 and has recently surged on bestseller lists in the wake of protests following the death of George Floyd that have sparked a national conversation on racial justice.

Rothstein’s work is centered around debunking what he calls America’s “national myth”: the idea that ongoing segregation isn’t the fault of public policy, but rather other factors outside the control of government.

“It’s pervasive across the political spectrum. Liberals and conservatives hold it. Blacks and whites hold it,” Rothstein says. “The name of that myth is we have de facto segregation. Not something that was created by government like all the other segregations that we undid in the 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s, but this is something that sort of just happened by accident.”

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51st Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Susan Taylor Batten

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Amid a pandemic disproportionately affecting Black people and communities and ongoing calls to combat anti-Black racism, ABFE and its president and CEO, Susan Taylor Batten, have been leading the way in calling on philanthropy to take action in support of racial justice.

Soon after George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers sparked protests around the globe, ABFE released a letter signed by Batten and more than 60 Black foundation CEOs that included 10 recommendations for philanthropy to follow in order to combat racism. 

“Our long-term goal is to free Black people from disparate treatment that result in the racial disparities we see in COVID-19, police brutality and on almost every indicator of well-being,” the letter stated. “We need deep, transformative institutional change in this country; foundations and donors that support Black communities, in addition to those from other sectors (government, business, etc.) must commit to and deploy an equity analysis to investments moving forward.”

Yet this letter is only the latest example of how, under Batten’s leadership, ABFE has been a prominent voice for change within the field. Even before Floyd’s death, Batten had directly tied the pandemic to America’s long, painful history of racism.

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51st Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: James E.K. Hildreth, Ph.D., M.D.

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


In 2020, two issues have dominated the conversation in philanthropy: the COVID-19 pandemic and the fight against racial injustice. The two issues are also highly intertwined, with the weight of the pandemic falling disproportionately on Black and Latinx communities.

One speaker at SECF’s 51st Annual Meeting may be more qualified than anyone else to discuss the inequity of the pandemic: James E.K. Hildreth, president and CEO of Nashville’s Meharry Medical College, the first medical school for African Americans in the South, and one of the world’s foremost researchers of infectious disease, particularly HIV/AIDS. 

Hildreth will speak during Race, Place & Systemic Inequities, a concurrent session taking place on the Annual Meeting’s first day. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Hildreth has been vocal online, using his Twitter account to urge continued public vigilance to fight the pandemic. Earlier this month, Hildreth wrote a letter to Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee urging a statewide mask mandate.

“We need a coordinated, statewide response to combat this virus and that can only be achieved with your forceful leadership, particularly on masking,” Hildreth wrote. “Decisions made during this pandemic should be guided by science, and the science clearly dictates that masks effectively reduce transmission.”

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Nominations Are Open for the 2020 Truist Promise Award!

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


This year’s Annual Meeting will feature the first presentation of the Truist Promise Award recognizing innovative philanthropy in the Southeast! We are excited to announce that we are now accepting nominations for this prestigious honor!

The Truist Promise Award will recognize a particular initiative and/or innovative grantmaking strategy or approach, done by an individual organization or through a collective partnership – as such, it may be presented to more than one foundation if the initiative is a product of partnership and collaboration. Due to the extraordinary health, economic, and racial justice crises currently facing the country, this year’s Promise Award will also recognize work that focuses on at least one of these areas.

Nominees must meet the following criteria:

  • Work focused on issues of racial equity, racial justice or anti-racism.
  • The innovative use of multiple forms of philanthropic capital, particularly beyond financial capital.
  • Use of data and research in determining strategies and tactics.
  • Cooperation with community partners, particularly in other sectors, or direct engagement with community members.
  • Impact/outcomes that are evidence-based.

You may nominate any SECF member organization, including your own, for the Promise Award. The recipient will be selected by a group of SECF staff and Board members and recognized at the 2020 Annual Meeting.

Nominations are due Friday, October 9. Click here to submit your nominee!

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5 Reasons Your Whole Team Should Attend the 51st Annual Meeting

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations



In less than two months, we’ll gather online for SECF’s 51st Annual Meeting – and we hope you and all your colleagues will be there!

Your entire staff – and even your board – at the Annual Meeting? This year, it’s not only easy to do, but also the smart thing to do. Here’s why:


1. It’s an incredible value!
No airfare, no hotel rooms, but plenty of fantastic content, all at a greatly reduced rate. Plus, if you miss a session or have to step away, you can access archived recordings and materials whenever your schedule allows!


2. There’s something for everyone!
No matter your interests, role or experience level, you’ll get something out the Annual Meeting. Our sessions address a diverse set of topics – including evaluation, mentorship, work-life balance, storytelling, investment and risk-taking – while keeping a focus on the issues that have dominated this eventful year.


3. It’s easy to fit into your day!
We’ve designed our agenda to work with your team’s schedule – the bulk of our content is concentrated into a couple of hours each day. You’ll learn plenty while being plenty productive!


4. It’s a shared experience!
When was the last time your entire team was in the same place at once? SECF’s Annual Meeting provides an experience everyone can share, both during and long afterward!


5. Your entire foundation – and the community you serve – will benefit!
When your entire team attends the Annual Meeting, each of them will end the experience with new insights, information and inspiration – all of which will quickly be reflected in the work you do on behalf of the organizations you support and the people you serve. 


Visit the Annual Meeting website now and you’ll probably discover many more reasons you and your colleagues should join us in November. Register yourself – and your colleagues – today!

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SECF Member Highlight: Kristen Keely-Dinger

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


This profile includes excerpts from the upcoming Fall 2020 issue of SECF’s Inspiration magazine, coming out later this month!

At the outset of 2020, Kristen Keely-Dinger was excited to be on the planning team for this year’s Annual Meeting, which was returning to Music City for the first time since 1990.

It is an understatement to say much has changed since then. The Annual Meeting has pivoted to an online event in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the conference isn’t coming to her hometown in Nashville, Kristen is still deeply involved in the planning – in fact, she’s now Annual Meeting Chair.

“It has been a lesson in letting go of expectations and learning how to be more adaptable,” Kristen said. “I am certain that many of us are experiencing that as we surrender knowing what the future holds and strive to make the best decisions that we can to protect the health and safety of our colleagues and partners.”

Kristen took over as Annual Meeting Chair a few months ago when the prior chair, Cabot Pyle, stepped down from his role at another Nashville foundation to move outside the region. Thankfully, her earlier experience on the planning committee allowed her to hit the ground running. Plus, this year’s vice chair, Dr. Laura Gerald, is a physician and former public health official, in addition to her current role leading the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust.

“It has been so important to have Dr. Gerald with her background in medicine and public health as part of the leadership team for this year’s meeting,” Kristen said. “We had no way of knowing last year that having a public health degree would be important for planning the Annual Meeting.”


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51st Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Margo Miller

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


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.

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Experience the 2020 Annual Meeting – Again, or for the First Time!

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations



This November, more than 400 philanthropic leaders from across the region and the nation gathered online for an event like no other: SECF’s 51st Annual Meeting.

Today, all SECF members can experience this unique event – recordings of sessions from this year’s Annual Meeting are now posted at the SECF.org program archive!

This year’s Annual Meeting was the first in SECF’s history to be offered virtually, providing attendees the opportunity to interact with one another in real-time during a robust lineup of speakers and sessions, including keynotes from Harvard’s Dr. David Williams and ABFE President Susan Taylor Batten. Attendees also hear from Richard Rothstein, author of The Color of Law – recently announced as the newest selection for our Chair’s Book Club!

The Annual Meeting agenda drew on this year’s most pressing issues – public health, economic inequality and inequity, and the fight for racial justice – to explore a diverse set of topics relevant to grantmakers throughout the region, including place-based grantmaking, investment strategy, foundation culture, evaluation, mentorship and more!

Head to the Archived Programs page now to view all available recordings and other meeting materials. If you feel inspired after watching, take a few minutes to help shape next year’s meeting by answering our Call for Topics

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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.

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

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

Mission: SECF strengthens Southern philanthropy, welcoming our members to listen, learn and collaborate on ideas and actions to help build an equitable, prosperous South.