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SECF's Blog

Engage, SECF’s blog, is a space for SECF members, staff and partners to share their thoughts on the latest trends and best practices in philanthropy. Engage is also used for important announcements about upcoming SECF events and programs.

Do you have a story or insight you’d like to share with our members on Engage? Contact David Miller, director of marketing and communications, at david@secf.org or at (404) 524-0911 to discuss your idea.


Remembering Bob Hull (1932-2021)

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Mar09

The SECF family lost one of its most influential members last month with the passing of Bob Hull, who served as our president and CEO from 1978 until 1997 and inspired the creation of the Hull Fellows leadership development program. He was 88 years old.

“Under Bob’s leadership, SECF went from a young membership association still finding its way to a recognized leader within our region and the American philanthropic landscape,” current president and CEO Janine Lee said. “He became a valuable mentor to me and countless others in Southern philanthropy – that legacy of mentorship will live on for years to come through the Hull Fellows program, which recently celebrated 20 years of leadership development.”

SECF President & CEO Janine Lee shares the stage at the 50th Annual Meeting with her predecessors (left to right) Martin Lehfeldt, Bob Hull and Pete McTier.

 

Even though Hull retired nearly 25 years ago, he continued to be a regular presence at SECF events and programs until the present day. He and his wife, Shannon, were a regular presence at the Annual Meeting as SECF’s honored guests. His last Annual Meeting would be the 50th Anniversary celebration in Atlanta, which he helped plan as a member of the 50th Anniversary Task Force.

He also played an active role in the Hull Fellows program that bears his name. In recent years, he spoke to each class, both in-person and via webinar, to share his wit and wisdom with the next generation of philanthropic leaders. 

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Hull Fellows Highlight: Wesley Prater

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Feb25

Before entering philanthropy, Wesley Prater worked on behalf of retired citizens in Ohio. He analyzed health policy in Washington, D.C. He has also studied at institutions like Yale University and Ohio State University.

Through it all, however, he’s only called one place home – Mississippi, where he now works at a program officer for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

“I have been fortunate to live in different parts of the country throughout my adult life and travel around the world, but there is no place I love more than my home state of Mississippi,” he said. “The strength, intelligence, success, and love I have witnessed from Mississippians gives me more hope than ever for the state’s future.”

Though based in Michigan, the Kellogg Foundation has made Mississippi a priority place for its investments as part of its work to advance racial equity. Wesley’s work there has focused on health care policy and advocacy efforts.

“The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has a long history of supporting racial justice and racial equity not only in the South but across the globe,” Wesley said. “The past year has reinforced the importance of our work to continue working with communities to address the critical needs of children and families, support the nonprofit sector, and tackle issues around racial injustice.”

While his previous work and studies prepared him well for much of his current role, Wesley came to the Kellogg Foundation without much experience within philanthropy. He said SECF’s Hull Fellows program has helped him better understand the sector’s role in helping communities.

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Hull Fellows Highlight: Monique Pitts-Taylor

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Feb18

Scholarship programs have been a part of the philanthropic toolbox for decades, allowing foundations to provide direct aid to young members of the community seeking a college education.

The importance of these programs has become more apparent than ever in recent years, as long-standing educational disparities in America, particularly those affecting Black communities, have received long overdue attention.

For Monique Pitts-Taylor, the scholarship director at the Community Foundation of Central Georgia, this work is deeply personal and motivating.

“The pandemic did not reveal a new call for racial justice, it just intensely magnified what others have looked away from for many years,” she said. “As an African American female, I have always saw the need for racial justice and equity in my area of work. Being a scholarship director, I have always felt that it is my duty to ensure that all eligible students are given the equal opportunity to compete for funding for college.”

The passion Monique brings to her work has also motivated her to develop herself as a leader – she recently finished a year of work in the 2019-20 class of Hull Fellows.

“I was motivated to participate in the Hull Fellows program because I wanted the opportunity to learn and grow with a diverse group of leaders,” she said. “I saw this program as an opportunity to meet new people and learn new ideas in this awesome world of philanthropy.”

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Hull Fellows Highlight: Danielle Gray

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Feb11

Throughout its history, the Hull Fellows program has developed a deserved reputation for propelling its participants to leadership roles within Southern philanthropy – sometimes, the process even begins before the fellowship is over.

That’s exactly what happened to Danielle Gray. When she joined the 2019-20 Hull Fellows class, she was a program officer at the R. Howard Dobbs, Jr. Foundation in Atlanta. By time she finished her Capstone Project, she was associate director of The Zeist Foundation.

Having settled into her new role, Danielle says she’s excited to work with The Zeist Foundation board during a period of transition.

“We will be onboarding the first group of Next Generation trustees, moving toward a paperless office, and re-evaluating internal systems all while operating in a time that is anything but business as usual,” she said. “I am excited to dig in on all these fronts, but I think I’m most excited about helping with the Next Generation transition and working with them to not only establish their roles as trustees, but also lay a foundation that continues to engage and prepare subsequent generations for board service through informal participation in philanthropy and community.”

That’s a heavy workload, but Danielle is well equipped to handle it. She has already worked for two family foundations and, thanks to the Hull program, has a nearby mentor with similar experience: Lynn Pattillo, president of The Pittulloch Foundation. 

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Hull Fellows Highlight: Margy Thomas

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Jan28

Much of Margy Thomas’ life and career has been devoted to her hometown of Warrenton, Virginia, a town of about 10,000 people situated between the fringes of exurban Washington, D.C., and the state’s rural Piedmont region.

Her dedication to Warrenton eventually led her to the PATH Foundation, a health legacy funder focused on access to health care, child wellness, mental health and senior services. As a program officer, Margy is able to put her extensive public health education and experience to work – while earning her master’s degree in public health, she even worked with the local government in Warrenton on a Health Impact Assessment.

Already armed with expertise, experience and deep bonds to the community she serves, Margy decided in 2019 to take her development to the next level by signing up for SECF’s Hull Fellows program.

“I was eager to apply to the Hull Fellows program after experiencing the rich hands-on educational opportunities at SECF conferences and regional meetings,” she said. “I wanted to improve my abilities as a leader and build connections across the philanthropic sector.”

The Hull experience, Margy says, has given her a much deeper understanding of philanthropy’s work and how it can be most effective in a community like Warrenton and the three-county region the PATH Foundation serves. 

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Hull Fellows Highlight: Sarah McBroom

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Jan21

Sarah McBroom holds a title showing up with increasing frequency across Southern philanthropy: equity officer.

In that role, she provides leadership for the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation’s efforts to pursue economic, educational, social, ethnic, and racial equity for everyone in Arkansas. But to help others effectively, Sarah knew she needed to develop herself as well – thankfully, she knew exactly where to go: SECF’s Hull Fellows program.

“I was excited about the opportunity to connect with leaders across the southeastern states to build relationships in the hopes of building a better future,” she said. “I am passionate about building an inclusive, prosperous, and equitable American South. I believe philanthropy has a powerful role to play in that movement, but it will require us to learn, grow, and reimagine together as a sector.”

Sarah’s learning journey over the past year has been aided by her Hull mentor: Christine Reeves Strigaro, executive director of The Sapelo Foundation. Both have brought to their jobs a significant focus on equity, particularly in rural communities.

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Hull Fellows Highlight: Kendra Jones

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Jan14

Over the past year, Richmond, Virginia, has been a hub of philanthropic activity and innovation thanks largely to the work and partnership of three SECF members: the Community Foundation for a greater Richmond, the Robins Foundation and the Richmond Memorial Health Foundation (RMHF).

In Richmond and elsewhere, the impact COVID-19 pandemic has not landed evenly. Communities of color have disproportionately paid the health and economic costs of the crisis – an issue of chief concern to Kendra Jones, RMHF’s director for health equity, arts and culture.

“We know that the people we serve have incredible power, lived experiences that we can learn from and they persevere despite the system that was created to oppress them,” Kendra said. “However, they need resources – and we share our resources with them by the means of financial, intellectual and social capital.”

As director of the foundation’s Health Equity and Arts (HEArts) program, Kendra has helped offer community members opportunities for creative expression that help people be heard, bridge divides and collaborate on solutions to inequity.

“Communities have been able to advocate for criminal justice reform, neighborhood and pedestrian safety, to destigmatize mental illness, and so many other issues that affect their ability to achieve health equity,” she said.

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Hull Fellows Highlight: Alice Hall

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Dec03

The Betty and Davis Fitzgerald Foundation, a family foundation based in Atlanta, focuses part of its giving on education – a subject quite familiar to Alice Hall, one of the foundation’s newest trustees and a learning specialist at Atlanta’s Pace Academy.

For Alice, however, experience as an educator wasn’t enough. She wanted to expand her knowledge of philanthropy itself. For that, she turned to SECF’s Hull Fellows program.

“This program almost feels like getting a personalized degree in philanthropy, which was exactly what I needed to be a productive, impactful part of the Fitzgerald Foundation,” Alice said. “As a foundation board member who does not work professionally in the world of philanthropy, I wanted to be a part of the Hull Fellows program so that I could gain a deeper understanding of how philanthropy works.”

Alice says she’s gained exactly during her year in the program, which culminated earlier this week when she and a group of her Hull classmates gave a Capstone presentation on Inspiring the Next Generation of Philanthropy.

“Through the Hull Fellows program, I expanded my knowledge of philanthropy from only being familiar with a small family foundation in Atlanta to understanding how a wide variety of organizations function throughout the entire Southeast,” she said. “I was privileged to hear from speakers who are experts in the field, as well as have personal conversations with my fellow classmates, who are respected professionals at their foundations.”

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Hull Fellows Highlight: Nicole Eovino Diebold

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Nov19

Earlier today, Nicole Eovino Diebold was slated to join her Hull Fellows classmates to present a Capstone Project on the next generation of philanthropy.

Nicole, however, wasn’t able to present live – but she was definitely focused on the next generation: A few days ago, she gave birth to a son. She didn’t let that small distraction get in the way of presenting, though: Thanks to the magic of pre-recorded video, Nicole was able to join the rest of her colleagues (so was her newborn, via a photo).

That dedication isn’t surprising – Nicole says the connections she’s made through the program are the type that will endure for years afterward.

“I have made valuable connections within this cohort of fellows with varied experiences across the Southeast, and I am confident that will continue to build into a network I will be able to call on for the entirety of my career in philanthropy,” she said. “It has also been interesting to learn about different perspectives and approaches to our work as a sector.”

For Nicole, this has been an eventful week coming toward the end of an eventful year. As a program associate at the C.E. & S. Foundation in Louisville, Kentucky, her work has been deeply affected by the news events that have reverberated throughout philanthropy in 2020.

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Hull Fellows Highlight: Anne Davis

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations

Nov05

Since coming to the Christy-Houston Foundation in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Anne Davis has absorbed all she can about philanthropic leadership through a number of SECF programs, including Philanthropy Essentials, the Annual Meeting and the CEO Forum.

All of those programs led her to where she is today: the 2019-20 Class of Hull Fellows.

“From the moment that I was chosen for the position of President of The Christy-Houston Foundation, I began to seek out opportunities to understand grantmaking,” Anne said. “The motivation included my desire to build a new network of grantmaking professionals with whom to compare notes, collaborate and learn.”

She’s doing all of that now, even though the COVID-19 pandemic has forced Anne and her Hull classmates to meet exclusively online – meetings that include work toward a Capstone Project that will be presented later this year. In fact, Capstone presentations from a previous Hull class were a key reason Anne was interested in joining the program herself.

“Attending the Hull Fellows final presentation during the Annual Meeting in Louisville, I sensed a real interconnectedness in the room,” she said. “Hull Fellows Alumni attended the session in full support of current class members, as the Capstone Project groups made their way to the front of the room to share their findings on particular topics.”

As she and a group of her Hull classmates continue to meet, Anne has developed a sense of class pride that would be familiar to most Hull alumni.

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