Following our long summer days here in the Northwest, the crisp air and vibrant colors of fall’s arrival signal a time for new beginnings and change. As a prior attendee of Philanthropy Northwest’s annual convening, I always looked forward to this opportunity to absorb new ideas, find inspiration from my colleagues and reflect on and examine my practices as a funder and grantmaker.
I’ve now had the privilege of serving as the CEO of Philanthropy Northwest for the last couple of months. In these early days of my tenure, I am struck by the resolve of so many of you, our Philanthropy Northwest team, Giving Practice consultants and board members to deepen and redouble our efforts and commitment to building an anti-racist future, centering racial equity, community voice and trust in our work. Our country’s reckoning on race, magnifying persistent inequities, now more than ever call for philanthropy to both empower and drive greater resources to the communities we seek to serve.
At Philanthropy Northwest, we are exploring the power of truth-telling to ground our collective work ahead. We believe truth-telling – acknowledging the harms perpetuated in the past and challenging dominant narratives – is a necessary first step toward undertaking reparative actions to redress historical and ongoing harm to Black and Indigenous people – communities who have been the most impacted by systems and structures producing a seemingly intractable pattern of economic, social and educational inequities.
Our theme for this fall’s gathering – Illuminate – is anchored in the role of truth to activate change through more accurate and expansive telling of our region’s history by centering the voices and experiences of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. How can a fuller story of “what has been” and “what is” shape what might be?
Our talented team here at Philanthropy Northwest, supported by a brilliant advisory committee, has planned a set of experiences designed to interrogate what we believe to know as true. On October 6, we invite you to join us for an inspiring opening plenary at our Virtual Summit that will illuminate the stories of our communities that we don’t hear. Subsequent breakout sessions will call on us to examine our work, lean into our values and illuminate new approaches. We expect some conversations may prove difficult and uncomfortable, but ultimately view them as uplifting and necessary to shift our practices and strengthen our impact as a sector.
Those attending our Member Retreat on October 11-13 can expect to participate in interactive storytelling experiences centered around narrative change to bring forth new truths and perspectives. PNW22 Illuminate will be a time and space to shine a light on the thought leaders within our network and colleagues who create energy and connection among us.
My thanks to so many of you who have offered your time, support and counsel as I lean into my new role. I look forward to meeting more of you at PNW22 Illuminate. We hope you will join us!