Courageous Leadership with the Southeastern Council of Foundations

Southeastern Council of Foundations, The Giving Practice, Leadership, Equity, Philanthropy in the South
Mark Sedway and Aya Tsuruta
April 4, 2021

How is philanthropy showing up — or not — in the face of injustices and societal shortcomings? What responsibility do we have as leaders and individuals who sit in a sector filled with wealth, power and influence? Why are we — you and I — here in philanthropy? What is our purpose?

The Giving Practice has been privileged to have worked with three incredible leaders in philanthropy who have thought deeply, and continue to think deeply about these questions; Janine LeeRobert Dortch and Regan Gruber Moffitt are kind, humble, hilarious (and so fun to work with) and they’re unwaveringly committed to seeing a more just and equitable American South. 

All three sit on the board of the Southeastern Council of Foundations (SECF) — Regan, as Board Chair, Robert as Chair-Elect and Janine as President and CEO — with whom TGP worked during the last year to develop their strategy for the next five years. All three have made tangible, lasting impacts in their communities, and they attribute their successes, in part, to the centerpiece of the SECF strategy and focus of our blog post today: courageous leadership. As they state in their strategy, “Calling our members into courageous leadership will be essential to meet the opportunities and challenges facing philanthropy in the South and communities in the South during the next five years."

Southeastern Council of Foundations, The Giving Practice
Above: Zoom call with SECF and TGP


We had the opportunity to sit down with Janine, Robert and Regan, and while a blog post is a far cry from the magic and heart that these folks bring to Zoom meetings, we wanted to share as much as we could.

We set out to understand their perspective on courageous leadership, the centerpiece of their strategy. What does it mean and what does it look like in the context of leadership and philanthropy in the South? 

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We also asked for concrete examples to help make courageous leadership a little more tangible:
 


We hit on a huge reality of courageous leadership earlier: it's not easy. So what stands in the way?


As difficult as courageous leadership can be, as isolating and vulnerable as it can make us feel, leaders like Janine, Robert and Regan are showing up courageously. Where do they find the strength?

Finally, we asked each for one top lesson learned that they would share with a philanthropy leader:

You can read more about SECF's equity framework here

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