So Many Great Sessions, So Little Time to Blog


Philanthropy411, in partnership with the National Network of Consultants to Grantmakers, is currently covering the Council on Foundations conference with the help of a blog team.  This is a guest post by Sterling SpeirnPresident and CEO of the WK Kellogg Foundation.

by:  Sterling Speirn

Now I see why the pros shoot off short bursts all day, my head is swimming with encounters and my notebook is filled with highlights captured with my multi-colored pens.

For me the conference launched with a meeting of the COF’s Committee on Inclusiveness on Saturday evening, and as a sacrifice I was unable to attend Crystal’s James Joseph speech—thanks for those great notes and inspiring ideas, Crystal.

The Committee on Inclusiveness’s Chair, Michael Balaoing, reviewed some of the history of our field and the Council’s efforts to take up in earnest the challenges that true diversity, inclusiveness and equity bring to philanthropic actors and institutions. Michael traced 5 distinct stages of this work. It began in the early 90’s with the COF’s first task force, and it was followed from 95-2002 with increased outreach and the publication of several reports. The third stage began when staff and some targeted resources were allocated to advance the work. And the fourth stage commenced in 2007 when senior staff and increased Board support brought new emphasis and focus to the efforts. And today in 2010 Michael observed, with an array of resources and talent both at the Council Board and staff levels, on our Committee, and in the wider field of infrastructure and affinity groups who along with the Council are collaborating on the Diversity in Philanthropy/now D5’s cross-cutting efforts, we could be on the threshold of a renaissance in this work, coming out of dark and middle ages into a new era. A hopeful and deeply challenging thought.

Exhibits # 1 through 4 were offered into evidence. It was exciting to see the three new resource books, “10 Ways for Independent/Community/Family Foundations to Consider Diversity and Inclusive Practices.” And to bring increased attention and emphasis on diversifying our sector’s leadership, the program overview and application materials and guidelines for the new “Career Pathways” leadership pipeline expansion program have just been released with an application deadline of May 13, 2010.

An evolution of our common work begins to emerge. We start by striving to diversify our boards and staffs. We go deeper when we struggle to develop our organizational cultures and practices to be truly inclusive and capable of capitalizing on the differences and diversity we are assembling. And the ultimate test is how this changing the who and how of our organizations begins to transform the who and how of our grantmaking, and the promotion and pursuit of social and racial equity continues to grow as a result. I look forward to working with the COF Committee in the coming years.

Kris is a sought after philanthropy advisor, expert and award-winning author. She has helped over 90 foundations and philanthropists strategically allocate and assess over half a billion dollars in grants and gifts.

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