EPIP is proud to announce our newest member of staff in our New York office. Biz Ghormley will serve as our Membership and Operations Associate. Biz is joining us with extensive experience in philanthropy. Her new role will play a major part in EPIP’s operations and program development. She will also support member relationship maintenance. We’re thrilled to have her join the team and what she has to offer. We hope you’ll join us in welcoming Biz to our team. We sat down with her earlier this week to chat about her exciting new chapter with us.
1) You’re joining us with over a decade of experience in both nonprofits and philanthropy. How has the landscape changed since?
My vantage point has changed through those 10 years so the answer to this question is very much influenced by that. I started on the frontline, in community service delivery on a daily basis. Progressively, my roles have moved more towards management and funding. I’ve seen the scope of what is possible expand exponentially. And, through that time, the role of technology in our lives has completely changed and influenced the landscape. The accessibility of the non-profit, social innovation and philanthropy sectors has grown, creating new models for change, creativity, community.
2) What major trends in philanthropy have you seen emerge in recent years?
Technology has made the conversation about social justice more accessible to so many more people, and created many more ways of funding non-profits and social movements. Crowd-funding and other tools make it possible for many more people to be much more easily involved in non-profits and philanthropy than when I started. This means there is more opportunity, but also more people who are ignorant to the complexity of solutions and seek one-click opportunities for change before digging into the history and complexity of social change. Education is as vital - if not moreso - today than ever before to keep all voices aware and engaged in what real change means and what the most sustainable, equitable and just methods are. Platforms such as Kickstarter, GoFundMe, and even things like Change.org that aren’t about money but rather awareness, are collecting a variety of strangers together behind an idea to make it go. The potential is huge now, but clear communication between folks who want change and folks that are trying to make that change happen on the ground must continue so expectations and momentum can be maintained.
3) Noting your experience in diverse fields, what has been the unifying theme in your work and how do you hope to implement and advance that at your current role with us?
In my career, the through-line has been story. From witnessing people’s stories, helping share often unheard perspectives to leveraging data and creating organizational narratives that contribute to collective progress, effective strategies, access to funding and paths to justice. My hope coming into EPIP is to really be able to listen to the stories of the members and the challenges that they’re facing, and weave our questions and struggles into the larger context of social justice and progress today. I’d like to help create platforms, connect them to resources and be a creative partner in connecting the dots between their visions and what is out in the world. Part of what drew me here is the EPIP commitment to pushing forward racial justice in the philanthropic sector. I’d love to help EPIP continue to connect the dots between large and small funders, activists and thinkers on the frontlines of justice and those who have the power to invest in their work.
4) What does philanthropy mean to you?
Strategic investment in community and social change - either with dollars or with heart. Philanthropy is a commitment to what inspires people, what they value, and how we are connected as a culture, society or world.
5) Can you talk a bit more about how social justice influences philanthropy?
While I see philanthropists as engines making social justice work possible, I believe the people doing the day-to-day work on the ground are necessary partners in effective philanthropy. Together they can forge systems change. Even when focused on arts, education or culture, philanthropists are positioned to create the agenda for what is funded, what is highlighted, what can happen. Awareness of social justice in any and all non-profit fields is an asset for a great philanthropist or funding organization. Social justice work and the people doing it can highlight what works on the ground, what is missing, who is being silenced, what could be different. Philanthropy is a necessary part of social justice in our society in the US. In particular it fills gaps where governments and other funding institutions have left holes or neglected needs. Philanthropy can help raise up issues and leaders while creating effective and replicable models for change. There has to be a dynamic conversation between leaders within the social justice movement and philanthropists in order for things to move forward.
6) What do you hope to learn and achieve here at EPIP?
First I hope to continue and expand the legacy and the role EPIP has played in philanthropy. I want to continue to be a resource to people in the sector and be a supportive player in what it means to challenge the status quo; and give a platform for folks who are doing interesting and meaningful work to share that in a way that is inspiring to others. Behind the curtain, I’d like to help make sure the mechanics of the huge network run smoothly so great ideas and events can continue to flow. I’d like to listen to our members, chapters and prospective members about the variety of challenges that people are having in their work to support their development in the field. I want to understand where the friction lies so that I can help create tools and spaces to figure out how to overcome them.
7) What advice would you give young professionals who are motivated and aspire to leave their footprint in the philanthropic world?
The philanthropic sector is huge. I recommend exploring as many resources as possible. Go to events, sign up for newsletters, read articles and reports, volunteer and work as much as possible. And follow your passion. Personal passion is a huge fuel for success in this sector. There are many cool and fascinating things happening, but if you’re working on projects that don’t speak to your heart, it will be hard to keep going. Also, get to know the people who share your passions; work together and don’t feel pressured to create a solution yourself. Finally, experiment, have fun, ask hard questions and DO as much as possible.
This interview was conducted by our Communications and Research Fellow, Christie Saint-Vil.