Philanthropy Northwest

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Jan Jaffe

Jan
Jaffe
Senior Partner
Senior Partner, The Giving Practice

Jan’s consulting work focuses on strategic planning and creation of onboarding and professional development programs. In addition, she facilitates meetings and coaches foundation executives and staff. She is leading our project called Philanthropy’s Reflective Practice  an initiative to share lessons learned from philanthropy practitioners about what skills help them recalibrate and navigate classic dilemmas that emerge at work.

Jan spent 30 years at the Ford Foundation with a wide range of assignments: making program-related investments, running a Program Planning and Learning team and creating GrantCraft — an electronic set of guides, informed by philanthropy practitioners across the globe, about the craft of social change. Prior to working in philanthropy, Jan helped create the first urban homestead program in Philadelphia. She has degrees in urban and regional panning from University of Pennsylvania and business administration from Wharton. Jan serves on the board of a community organization in the Catskill region of upstate New York.  She has family in Seattle and splits her time there, New York City and the Catskills.

Jan Jaffe's blog posts

September 24, 2018

Cross-posted from Philanthropy's Reflective PracticesOur first interview about reflective practices in group work is with Brenda Solorzano, who is the CEO of the new Headwaters Foundation in Western Montana. So many of our readers have asked how do you reflect when your staff is small and multi-tasking all the time or when the board is just past start-up stage and anxious to move from planning to action or a new CEO has just arrived and feels the need to hit the ground running? Brenda and Headwaters offers us a chance to answer all these questions at once.  more »

June 5, 2018

In philanthropy, we have two big jobs.
The first is to build deep knowledge about the "what" of the work that we are supporting. It might be human rights, housing reform or having a vibrant arts community in a specific place. We stay current with new knowledge, find networks for ongoing learning, and work to build expertise.
The second job is to put that expertise into play – "the how" of the work. How do we nurture generative thinking when there are power differentials? How do we collaborate with partners who have different perspectives? How do we introduce or sustain diversity, equity and inclusion inside a foundation or a field? more »

June 27, 2017

Cross-posted from Philanthropy's Reflective Practices. Ever since we started this project I’ve wanted to interview Darren Walker because I admire his fusion of intellect and energy. I have wondered what tools and skills help him mobilize and manage these strengths as well as handle the inevitable struggles that come with the job. For all of us, our strengths have a flip side, and in challenging situations that’s often where true leadership lies. Being attentive to what needs to be managed in ourselves implies showing vulnerability as a leader. It’s something not usually discussed, but Darren does here. — Jan Jaffe more »

March 14, 2017

In a conversation for Philanthropy's Reflective Practices, Jan Jaffe and Sindhu Knotz spoke with Nikki Foster, program officer at the Northwest Area Foundation, about reflective practices she has used in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. "I learned from one of my colleagues that I used to jump into agendas too quickly. Especially in my interaction with Native communities," she explains. "It is important to have time to establish a relationship and get to know each other. I was so appreciative of the feedback and the need to be thoughtful about the balance between the personal and the objective work." more »

January 30, 2017

The Giving Practice's Jan Jaffe spoke with Ryan Chao, Annie E. Casey Foundation vice president, about developing and using philanthropy's reflective practices individually and in teams. "Our team is organized to effect change for people and place in education, workforce and housing," he explains. "That means we are philanthropy practitioners with very diverse backgrounds working together and working with partners in the community with very diverse backgrounds. Perhaps because of this very multidisciplinary approach, we have to be able to question each other’s answers in order to fine tune our collaborative effort. We’re using three reflective practices to help the team share and problem solve with each other." more »

January 26, 2017

In an interview for Philanthropy's Reflective Practices, Jan Jaffe spoke with Katie Hong, a Raikes Foundation director focused on youth and young adult homelessness, about systems thinking. "I am passionate about the topic of reflective practice because I believe in the power of “self” as a tool and this is critical to having impact in the world," she responds. "I’ve been in different roles in the government sector and in the private philanthropic sector always working with others to drive change. I deploy a couple of practices that help me on a daily basis." more »

October 4, 2016

When we say “strategic,” what’s the next word that comes to mind? If it’s “planning,” you're like many of our clients. And for many foundation staff and board members, dread is the feeling that follows. It doesn’t have to be that way, however. In consulting with foundations around the Northwest and across the country, we have worked with leaders who are seeing strategy in a new way — as an ongoing practice rather than a discrete planning chore and an opportunity to mobilize continuous curiosity, experiment and learn, and even have some fun. Our new guide contains 10 activities that can help you get there, too. more »

August 24, 2016

I had a hunch: If everyone in a room reflects on their practice, especially the practices they turn to when stymied somewhere between intent and outcome, something good and potentially powerful would result. By practice, I mean the tools and skills one uses to have difficult conversations, move ideas along, work across the boundaries of different systems and bring one’s best assets and manage one’s worse behaviors in service of a task. If my hunch was right, perhaps we could create a space for sharing practices to up everyone’s game. Could we ask philanthropy practitioners to help us discover reflective practices tied to different philanthropic leadership traits? more »