Those of you who read Nonprofit Quarterly (if you don't, you should) know how important Rick Cohen was to our sector. We often talk about the need for boldness in philanthropy. Rick embodied that. In a sector driven by relationships, Rick put the need to tell his truth over the need to make friends. His thoughtful and sometimes incendiary critiques of nonprofits and foundations alike challenged us to look in the mirror and ask ourselves if we are really embodying the values we work to actualize. I only met Rick once, years ago, but I remember him fondly and miss him already.
Rick's legacy goes beyond his time at NPQ. Rick also ran the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy from 1999 to 2006. You can see more about his considerable accomplishments in that role here.
Now it's on us to pick up what Rick tragically had to put down. We're not all (especially in the foundation world) free to be as pointed as Rick was, but we can take the facts as they are, challenge our peers and our institutions with compassion and savvy, and maybe, just sometimes, call it exactly like we see it. If we can infuse our work with just a little bit more of our truth, we can carry on the legacy Rick left us.
Our thoughts are with Rick's families, at home and at the organizations he changed indelibly with his energy, integrity and commitment to progress.