Philanthropy Northwest Looks Ahead to 2017

December 5, 2016

As an organization that champions the values of inclusion, community, authentic relationships and transparency — and has stated that effective philanthropy reflects these qualities — we have our work cut out for us. Our staff and board remain committed to our values of equity and inclusion for all people and places in the Northwest, and reject prejudice and violence against those in our communities who have been harmed or made to feel unsafe.

Last month, we hosted an open member conversation to debrief after the election election and how strategies or activities may shift as a result. We had more than 30 registrations and participation from five states. We kicked off the conversation with thoughts from Daniel Kemmis, who described Philanthropy Northwest’s Democracy Northwest initiative. Our Advocacy Catalyst Fellow, Remy Trupin, reminded our members of a necessary commitment to protect societal gains we have made, and the people in our communities who are most likely to experience changes in policy most directly. Members on the call expressed similar sentiments of being responsive to community and simultaneously holding both hope and fear for what lies ahead. We heard about efforts to convene leaders and grantees who are feeling most vulnerable. People shared resources or offered their own skills to help others on the call. We talked about philanthropy’s role in healing and bridge-building. After the call, I received several emails with suggestions of ways Philanthropy Northwest can support or highlight your work in rural and urban areas. You will continue to hear from us in the weeks and months ahead as we share your ideas with other members, provide relevant programs and encourage more cross–sector collaboration and dialogue.

One activity that is pertinent as ever is joining us for Foundations on the Hill, March 2017. Each year, Philanthropy Northwest takes a delegation of our members to Washington, D.C. for Foundations on the Hill to connect and build relationships with elected and appointed officials. This annual event, where we join with funders from around the country, helps policymakers understand philanthropy’s impact in our region and encourages them to view foundations as resources on public policy issues. In addition to meeting with our local representatives and senators, we also arrange additional meetings with White House officials and other government agencies. Regardless of your experience doing policy work, we invite and encourage you to attend. I'd be thrilled if we sent our largest ever delegation in 2017.

Finally, as we close out this year, our board hopes to close out its search for a new CEO for Philanthropy Northwest, who is scheduled to assume leadership in early 2017. It has been truly a pleasure and an incredible experience for me to serve as Interim CEO and while I will miss this role because it has been really fun, I look forward to returning to my “old” job as managing partner of The Giving Practice, and supporting our new CEO in the months and years to come. I am grateful for the encouragement and support so many of you have offered me and our entire staff — it says so much about the compassion and commitment of our community. And a humongous thank you for the time and effort of our search committee ably led by Erin Kahn, executive director of Raikes Foundation. I offer an equally enthusiastic shout out to the rest of the committee: Luz Vega Marquiz, Elizabeth Ripley, Doug Stamm and Mark Dederer.

Audrey Haberman is interim CEO of Philanthropy Northwest and managing partner of The Giving Practice, our national consulting team. She can be reached at ahaberman@philanthropynw.org.