On the Phone With… NCFP Board Chair Carrie Avery of the Durfee Foundation

In October 2010, the National Center’s Board elected Carrie Avery as the new chair of the National Center for Family Philanthropy, succeeding Mary Mountcastle of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. Carrie is the President of the Durfee Foundation, a family foundation based in Los Angeles. The Durfee Foundation makes grants in arts and culture, community development, and education, mainly in the Los Angeles region. The Foundation focuses on individuals by providing fellowships, grants to new grassroots organizations with dynamic leadership, and sabbaticals to long-time nonprofit leaders.

Carrie’s long and distinguished career includes service as chair of the Board of Directors of Northern California Grantmakers, co-chair of the board of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, and service as a past trustee of Pitzer College in Claremont, California.

“Carrie Avery is one of philanthropy’s most gifted leaders,” says Ginny Esposito, president of the National Center. “I am so pleased she is lending her considerable knowledge, experience and vision to the National Center for Family Philanthropy.”

In this special issue of Family Giving News, we’re pleased to share Carrie’s personal hopes and predictions for 2011 and beyond – both for the field of family philanthropy generally, and for the Durfee Foundation in particular. Here’s what she had to say…

What are your predictions for how the field of family philanthropy may change or evolve over the coming decade?

The economic downturn caused funders to hunker down and focus on mission-critical work for the past couple of years. The slowly growing economy will allow philanthropies to emerge from the bunker and begin to think bigger and more imaginatively, in ways that they have not been able to do for some time because they have had to concentrate on immediate survival needs of the nonprofits and communities they support. It will be interesting to see the release of this pent-up creative energy. At the same time, I think that some valuable soul-searching occurred during the economic downturn to hone in on the core values of family philanthropy. I hope that this will not be lost.

What do you personally hope to do in 2011 to increase the enjoyment and/or effectiveness of your family’s philanthropy?

The Durfee Foundation celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2010, and one of the ways we marked the milestone was to add two non-family Board Fellows to what had previously been an all-family board. I am looking forward to working closely with these brave pioneers in 2011 to see what we can learn from their new perspectives on our work.

What do you hope that your foundation can do in 2011 (and beyond) to increase the effectiveness and value of your grantmaking, both for the communities you serve and for those who serve on your board and staff?

We are seeking to deepen our community-building work in Los Angeles and to understand more about how we can support nonprofit leadership at all levels in these changing times. We’re planning a meeting with non-CEO leadership staff at star nonprofits so that we can hear what they have to say about their career paths and the sector. We hope to create a cohort of these leaders to learn from one another, much as we have for CEOs and Executive Directors.