Future leaders in philanthropy: Three insights from New Orleans

This post originally appeared on the KnightBlog: The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation on May 29, 2015.



Future leaders in philanthropy: Three insights from New Orleans

Posted by Anna Dilernia

Cristina Jimenez of United We Dream, Joyce Hobson Johnson of Beloved Community Center and Aaron Dorfman of National Committe for Responsive Philanthropy; Photo by Melvin Johnson at the 2015 EPIP National Conference.

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of attending the Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP) national conference May 12-14 in New Orleans. The conference brought together diverse young leaders in philanthropy to learn from peers and seasoned leaders to better advance pathways of social change.

Here are three insights I gained from the conference:

Compound leadership: It is challenging for younger practitioners in philanthropy to make a big splash with a project that gets lots of attention from staff or community leaders. Instead of focusing on getting a big break, Flozell Daniels Jr., CEO and president of Foundation for Louisiana, encouraged focusing on doing your core job well while also taking on small leadership projects. This “compound leadership” will grow social capital just as compound interest in a savings account grows financial capital over time.

Lead from where you are: Everyone from billion-dollar foundations to individuals support social movements. To create change, Joyce Hobson Johnson, of the Beloved Community Center, noted that we all have to work together “because I’m linked to you, and you’re linked to me.” This ownership of social movements—no matter where we’re positioned in an organizational chain—builds an ecosystem of engagement and adds momentum to change.

Learn from peers: A repeated theme across panels and plenary sessions was the power that peer networks have in philanthropy and the role they play in professional success. A session led by Christopher Johnson, of the Florida Philanthropic NetworkWill Kauffman, of the Southeastern Council of Foundations, and Emily Wexler, of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, provided valuable information on the role regional associations can play to convene and share tools for placed-based philanthropists. Additionally, these regional associations act as connectors and knowledge repositories for the field of philanthropy. The Giving Forum has information to find a regional association to connect to your area.

Overall the conference produced conversations and fostered relationships that will continue to build stronger communities and diverse leaders for the field of philanthropy. Together with our colleagues from across diverse generations, we can develop leadership and social change inside and outside of philanthropy

Anna Dilernia is a member of the Strategy and Assessment team at Knight Foundation. Email her at dilernia@knightfoundation.org or follow her on Twitter @AnnaDilernia.

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