Welcome to the White House, Philanthropy
On December 1, I had an opportunity to join with other regional association and community foundation leaders from across our country to celebrate 100 years of community foundations. Having been to Washington many times to attend meetings and meet with legislators, I’d never been invited to the White House. And it was indeed an honor, and the convening that celebrated the service of community foundations was a terrific way to start a Monday.
In an article about the event, Jonathan Greenblatt, the director of the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, said, “America has led the world in developing a national culture of civic participation, but one of the most enduring institutions that we created has been the community foundation. Today, President Obama is proud to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the community foundation with a convening here at the White House, where we welcomed more than 100 leaders from this field. Together, we commemorated a century of achievement by community foundations and looked forward to the possibilities that lie ahead.”
And it was a day of thoughtful celebrations. We heard from community foundation leaders and senior White House staff about the roles and responsibilities of the foundations, and more importantly, how those roles and responsibilities are changing.
The questions in our smaller group discussions were vital ones. What are funders thinking about for the future? Who are your communities’ catalysts? How are businesses and philanthropic organizations convening and working together?
These questions and more were raised and discussed at a reception hosted by Independent Sector and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, whose CEO Emmett Carson said, “Community foundations must lead in community discussions about local populations and local issues. They have the nuanced abilities to meeting issues head-on and can convene leaders and financial resources.”
But he challenged the assembled group with one final question that asked each of us ponder: are we mission and values-based, serving the needs of our communities?
This question and others are ones I know our community foundation leaders constantly ask themselves and their colleagues. And because of this constant inquiry, Ohio stands as a leader in the community foundation field. Whether large or small, or somewhere in the middle, our community foundations are daily reminders of the vision and fortitude of our state’s dedicated citizens – those who knew that to prepare for the future, we must preserve and invest our wealth in perpetuity.
It was a great day in Washington, D.C.
Suzanne T. Allen, Ph.D.