An Open Letter to the EPIP Community from EPIP's New Executive Director

TN_Headshot_cropped.JPGI could not be more excited to start as Executive Director of EPIP.  As the old commercial says: “I’m not only the president: I’m also a client.” From my experience as a Chapter Leader in New York, as well as on EPIP’s national team, I’ve seen firsthand EPIP’s power as a platform for people of many backgrounds to learn, to connect and to find their path in philanthropy and beyond.   

Since its founding, EPIP has worked to help bring philanthropy into deeper alignment with the values of many of its institutions, including but far from limited to freedom, inclusion, pluralism and justice. In particular, diversifying the ranks of philanthropy, ultimately at the executive level, has always been in EPIP’s DNA. EPIP’s membership, comprised of sixty percent women and over half people of color, reflects that commitment. Programs like EPIP’s People of Color Network and Inclusive Leadership Cohort are tailored to support practitioners of color and their allies in navigating philanthropy and pushing it from within to become more diverse and inclusive. Many of our “alumni” (though once you’re in the family, you never really leave) have gone on to positions of power and influence in philanthropy and the nonprofit sector. That is a legacy I take seriously.  EPIP remains committed, and I am personally committed, to being an ally to you as you find and walk down your path of leadership and service. 

At the same time, many of our members are hungry to do more. If you’ve read the extraordinary blog posts written by our recent People of Color Network Delegation, you’ve seen EPIP leaders not just wrestling with big questions, but also actively leading in their community and nationally. This in my view is the next stage of EPIP’s evolution: A community of leaders in and around philanthropy actively working, individually and collectively, to advance equity and inclusion in our sector and in our world.  

The urgency of this work has never been greater. In a country where a child born into the poorest quintile of the population has a 45 percent chance of getting out; where traffic stops, targeted disproportionately at people of color, are used to finance local governments; where religious minorities are subjected to persecution by association; and where our political economy allows a fortunate few to succeed while so many struggle to get by – we need leaders who have the competencies, the connections and the courage to harness the power of philanthropy for a more equitable society. But even more than that, we need to act, together and on our own. Over the next one to two years, we will begin to determine together what this evolution looks like. 

EPIP enters this stage of its development on firm footing, thanks to the leadership of Interim Executive Director Emily Kessler, Membership and Operations Manager Biz Ghormley (and former M&O Manager Michael Barham), Board Chair Jasmine Hall Ratliff, and the many staff, board members, partners and stakeholders who have given their time, talent and treasure in the last year to keep EPIP strong. I could not ask for a better situation to walk into as a new ED. We are also fortunate to have the enduring support and participation of our dozens of institutional members and funding partners. Lastly, I have been energized and humbled by the many, many EPIP members, alumni, friends and supporters who have offered to be of service to our community, and to me as our new steward, however they can. 

I look forward to connecting or reconnecting with all of you in the coming weeks and months.  I hope you will join me for an #EPIPLeaders Digital Town Hall this coming Wednesday, December 16th at 4pm ET. In the meantime, thank you for your ongoing engagement with our community and talk soon.