A post to Exponent Philanthropy's blog

None of Us Has Any Wiggle Room on This

Throughout the year, I write to our member donors to pass along insights I gather in my dual role as Exponent Philanthropy member and CEO, and to provide a special window onto our activities. My most recent communication sparked many positive notes in return, and I’m pleased to share it here with our broader community.

I’ve observed over the past few years that those of us in philanthropy—and I include myself as a foundation trustee—have excelled at being reactive to a crisis. I appreciate I’m generalizing to some extent, yet when I look at Ferguson, Flint, Baltimore, and Charlottesville, for example, it feels like we rush in in significant numbers only after the fact.

If we are honest with ourselves, we know there are more Fergusons and Baltimores waiting to erupt, more cities and towns with lead in the water, more hate groups growing in strength. I find the seemingly explosive proliferation of hate—among groups of all types and across the political spectrum—to be incredibly troubling.

As funders we must use our power—in every sense of the word—to get out in front of crises like these. We can no longer wait and react. To do so is to abdicate our commitments to the very heart and soul of philanthropy: the love of humankind.

Earlier this year I recorded a Virtual Conversation on this subject with Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and National Director of the Anti-Defamation League. I encourage you to listen.

A Moral Imperative

Beyond the leadership we must show as philanthropists, I firmly believe we each have a moral imperative as humans to individually and collectively do our part to address the systems of prejudice, discrimination, and hate that plague our country.

None of us has any wiggle room on this.

The sidelines of history are littered with those who stood by and took no action. We must be active on the playing field. I urge you to use your power as conveners, catalysts, and leaders in your communities. Look for opportunities to bring together diverse perspectives. Inspire dialogue. Listen, learn, and act.

In the spirit of listening and learning, I’m pleased to announce the opening plenary speaker for our 2018 National Conference: Dr. Suzanne Barakat. Dr. Barakat will speak about how, in the aftermath of tragedy, she nurtured alliances and created a foundation that continues to strengthen and empower her community to face—and hopefully prevent—further adversity.

Dr. Barakat was born and raised in North Carolina and attended UNC Chapel Hill for undergrad and medical school. She is a practicing physician in Oakland, CA, and is passionate about women’s health, mental health, global health, and social justice. She serves as board chair of Our Three Winners Foundation.

I encourage you to learn more about the 2018 National Conference and take advantage of early registration savings for Exponent Philanthropy members through June 15.

Henry Berman became Exponent Philanthropy’s CEO in 2011, previously serving as acting CEO, board member, and committee member. Through his experience as a foundation co-trustee and Exponent Philanthropy member since 2003, he brings a firsthand understanding of the needs of members to his role.

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