Sindhu Knotz, Partner, The Giving Practice
I’m excited to announce the launch of our second CEO peer learning group on diversity, equity and inclusion. This cohort includes nine CEOs of foundations in Alaska, Washington and Oregon who will meet four times in 2015. Our commitment to these cohorts builds on a body of work that started several years ago, initially through a partnership with the D5 Coalition and culminating in a report called Vision and Voice: The Role of Leadership and Dialogue in Advancing Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
In our report, we found that leaders need support from peer networks to advance diversity, equity and inclusion — and more importantly, that the field of philanthropy is more likely to move forward if it can create opportunities for safe, direct and honest in-person conversations.
Why are peer cohorts so effective? Through our research and ongoing facilitation of these groups, I see a few reasons why peer cohorts can have such a powerful impact, particularly when addressing issues such as equity and inclusion:
- Leaders find wisdom, moral support and inspiration from each other, and cohorts like this can alleviate a sense of isolation that can occur at senior leadership levels.
- Talking about issue such as race and equity is not easy and leaders need a space where they can be candid and vulnerable, without the fear of judgement.
- Everyone faces dilemmas in their work and one of the most effective ways to sort through thorny issues is to get sound consultation and advice from peers.
- A true commitment to creating more equitable and inclusive organizations requires resilience and a long-term perspective, as change can be very slow. Peer cohorts are also places to laugh, re-charge and have fun — all while being inspired to stay the course.
We commend the participants of this cohort and past cohorts — who have courageously stepped forward because they are committed to these issues and want to make a difference within their organizations and the field. Our current cohort includes the following individuals:
- Cynthia Addams, The Collins Foundation
- Antony Chiang, Empire Health Foundation
- Nichole Maher, Northwest Health Foundation
- Dona Ponepinto, United Way of Pierce County
- Martha Richards, James F. & Marion L. Miller Foundation
- Elizabeth Ripley, Mat-Su Health Foundation
- Trevor Storrs, Alaska Children’s Trust
- Keith Thomajan, United Way of the Columbia Willamette
- Sam Whiting, Thrive Washington
Our research and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is leading to other exciting initiatives within Philanthropy Northwest. For example, we recently launched a learning community in partnership with Social Venture Partners, The Seattle Foundation, United Way of King County and Loom Foundation. In addition, we are getting ready to launch a new fellowship program called the Momentum Fellowship — we’ll share more about this very soon!