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How Connections Build Great Leaders

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Southern philanthropy is rooted in a rich history and strong traditions. Without a doubt, one of the best traditions is that of building connections — not just between foundations and grantees, or foundations and communities, but between generations of leaders.

As practitioners, we know that connections matter. And more specifically, connections matter when it comes to creating leaders. Leaders are made when those with passion are mentored by those who’ve been there – whether it’s knowledge shared from one generation to the next or a conversation between peers. These kinds of connections reinforce timeless truths, but they also spark new ideas between leaders and pave the way for their adoption among other leaders.

In fact, if you think a network of followers is a powerful thing, just consider what a network of leaders can do.

We think about that every day.

While many organizations devote resources to making connections, or to creating leaders, both the Southeastern Council of Foundations and Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy have focused on making connections specifically to help existing and emerging leaders flourish.

At SECF, leaders connect by participating in the Hull Fellows Program for rising leaders, or as mentors for Hull Fellows, or in the Advanced Leadership Institute for mid-career leaders, or even through the intimate network of a CEO Forum.

EPIP members connect with fellow rising leaders by launching and growing vibrant EPIP chapters throughout the country, by participating in professional development programs, and – perhaps most importantly – by practicing servant leadership as volunteers at many partner organizations.

In addition to connecting leaders, SECF and EPIP also share another common point of view — an appreciation of the value that Southern philanthropic leaders can bring to national conversations about the field. SECF is a long-time leader in connecting the South to the broader nation, and EPIP now aims to grow its own connections in this region.

While the possibility of new connections between SECF and EPIP are still being explored, one thing is true: great leaders are sure to emerge.

Stay tuned – or better yet, get involved.

Janine Lee                                    Rahsaan Harris
SECF                                              EPIP

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