Katie Hong, Lisa McGill, Abby Sarmac and Lalitha Vaidyanathan

Featured Image: Orange painted background. Title text reading Can we talk about...? Episode 9. Katie Hong, Lisa McGill, Abby Sarmac and Lalitha Vaidyanathan on Moving Forward Together: Themes and highlights from season 1


In our final episode, four TGP Senior Advisors – Katie Hong, Lisa McGill, Abby Sarmac and Lalitha Vaidyanathan – reflect on the stories we heard across Season 1, sharing perspectives and advice based on their work as consultants supporting a diversity of philanthropy boards and leaders along their racial equity journeys.

Together they reflect on the moment we’re in as a philanthropic sector and acknowledge the critical work of infrastructure groups who’ve paved the way for philanthropy to take on equity and justice like the ABFE: A philanthropic partnership for black communities, and Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP). They explore the work of racial equity at the personal, interpersonal, organizational and systemic levels and emphasize that there’s no roadmap or one right way. 

Finally, they drive home the importance of moving this work forward as a community. “We need each other for transformation…and if you’re embarking on this work, you’re not alone. You’re absolutely not alone.” Katie shares.

References and Resources

  • Leadership Cohorts
    As Katie mentions, this podcast was largely inspired by cohorts that Philanthropy Northwest and The Giving Practice have been hosting and facilitating for 10+ years. You can learn more in our report, Leading for Racial Equity with Peer Support: Reflections on the Power of Cohorts for Learning, Resilience and Action.
  • The "Power Houses"
    Lisa mentions the “power houses” who’ve paved the way for racial equity in philanthropy and will continue to advance this work – ABFE: A philanthropic partnership for black communities, Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP), Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP), Native Americans in Philanthropy (NAP), and The Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity (PRE).
  • On Racial Inequities Impacting Everyone
    Our Senior Advisors talk about the power of understanding that racial equity affects all of us, referencing thought leaders who have brought this knowledge forward including John Powell (Targeted Universalism), Heather McGee (The Sum of Us) and Angela Blackwell (The Curb-Cut Effect).
  • Theory U
    Abby reminds us that transformation takes time and can be a messy process. She references Theory U by Otto Scharmer, a model we often share with clients to help visualize a process that lets not only new solutions but also new ways of working emerge. You can hear Abby speak with TGP colleague Lisa Fisher on this process in our Ask TGP Video.


Individual Reflection Questions 

  1. Katie talks about the long arc of racial equity work - it began generations before us and will continue for generations after us - and how - our small actions can keep propelling this work forward. In thinking about the future generations, what do you hope the world will look like in 2100? What daily or weekly small actions can you take towards this vision?
  2. Each senior advisor began the conversation by talking about why they do racial equity work. Reflect on your ‘why’ in this work. Why do you continue this work? What grounds you and keeps you moving forward in this?


Group Exercise

Design for Belonging by Susie Wise

Katie, Lisa, Abby and Lalitha emphasize that this work takes all of us, moving forward in relationship and in power with one another.

Susie Wise’s Design for Belonging is a framework that can help groups co-create more inclusive spaces that disrupt exclusionary systems and generate new and transformative ways of being and working together. 

One of Wise’s exercises that you can test with your board is her Belonging Journey Map (page 14). This journey map helps individuals identify feelings of belonging or othering that they have experienced within a given time frame or environment. 

Wise’s map includes a grid with the x-axis representing time and the y-axis representing levels of belonging. It allows individuals to identify moments of belonging or exclusion along their journeys and reflect on what might have caused these moments, both positive and negative. This can be a powerful exercise for board members to complete individually, then share in pairs and reflect with the full group on how your board can build a greater sense of belonging as a team.

Wise, Susie. (2021). Design for belonging. Retrieved from https://www.designforbelonging.com/toolkit

Wise, Susie. (2021). Design for belonging. Retrieved from https://designforbelonging.com


Episode Highlight



This episode of Can we talk about…? was produced by Aya Tsuruta (Executive Producer), Emily Daman (Producer) and Jesse McCune of Podfly (Audio Engineer).

Special thanks to Asha Hossain (Graphic Design), Nancy Sanabria (Episode Host), Komiku (Music) and to our Philanthropy Northwest and Giving Practice teams for their thought partnership and support. Thank you to the Ford Foundation for making this project possible.

Katie Hong Headshot
Katie Hong
Senior Advisor, The Giving Practice

Katie brings over 25 years of experience working in the philanthropic, nonprofit and government sectors to the conversation. She focuses the majority of her consulting work at The Giving Practice on supporting leaders and organizations that are working to advance racial equity and social justice. Prior to joining The Giving Practice, Katie worked as program director for the Raikes Foundation and previously led the Pacific Northwest Initiative for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. You can read Katie’s full bio here.

Lisa McGill Headshot
Lisa McGill
Senior Advisor, The Giving Practice

Lisa is nationally known as a thought leader in the philanthropic sector around diversity and leadership in philanthropy. She has spent much of her career working to deepen relationships between foundations and their communities through conversations and skill-building with a racial equity lens. Lisa also focuses on youth advocacy by working with grantmakers on their strategies supporting young people through education and employment as they transition into adulthood. You can view Lisa’s full bio here.

Abby Sarmac Headshot
Abby Sarmac
Senior Advisor, The Giving Practice

For over 20 years Abby has worked with mission-oriented organizations, including philanthropy, non-profit, for-profit venture and sustainable community development in global south and emerging market countries. Before joining The Giving Practice, Abby worked with The Lemelson Foundation to develop grantmaking strategies and review grant and investment opportunities for entrepreneurs and triple-bottom-line companies. She also spent the first decade of her career focused on environmental policy with the United Nations and other environmental organizations. You can view Abby’s full bio here.

Lalitha Vaidyanathan Headshot with orangey yellow background
Lalitha Vaidyanathan
Senior Advisor, The Giving Practice

Lalitha brings over 20 years of strategy consulting, management and organization development experience to the conversation. Prior to joining The Giving Practice, Lalitha was the Chief Operating Officer at the Stupski Foundation where she led the foundation through their equity, diversity and inclusion journey and transformation. Lalitha also spent 11 years as a Managing Director at the social impact consulting firm, FSG. You can view Lalitha’s full bio here.

You may also be interested in

Stay Connected

Sign up for our quarterly newsletters to get the latest TGP reflections and resources right in your inbox.