Community connections: Engaging diverse stakeholders in your grantmaking
Board members, staff, advisors, and donors in family philanthropy.
What are the spectrum of options available to family foundations and funds seeking to engage diverse perspectives in their work? What are the benefits of doing so and how can you develop a strategy and plan that makes the most sense for your governance and grantmaking approach? And how can families learn together with the organizations and community they support – how can you get out of your offices and boardrooms to share both your successes and mistakes with the outside world. Join this conversation with board and staff representatives from two family foundations that have identified creative ways to connect with their community, along with a leader from Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, who will present findings from GEO’s new study, Learning Together: Actionable Approaches for Grantmakers.
Cindy Doyle is a trustee of the Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation and the Tower Family Fund, Inc. She is a board member of the YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard, the Dukes County Health Council Youth Task Force, and the Martha’s Vineyard Donors Collaborative. Cindy is particularly interested in youth issues, substance abuse prevention, and education. Cindy earned a B.A. in Art History from Boston University and an M. A. in Holistic Counseling from Salve Regina University. She is a former Head Start teacher, children’s librarian, independent school development director, architect’s assistant and mental health counselor. Cindy is the mother of two daughters and lives with her husband on Martha’s Vineyard.
Avi Khullar serves as a Senior Program Manager at the Stuart Foundation. Stuart Foundation is committed to transforming the public education systems in California and Washington so that all youth can learn and achieve in school and life. In her current role, Avi is actively working with her partners to document and share their learning broadly with the field. Avi has led multiple cross-functional and cross-agency projects and has expertise in systems analysis and design. Before joining philanthropy, she worked in the New York City child welfare system as the Assistant Commissioner overseeing the Office of Research, Planning and Management Analysis at the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS). Her portfolio included development of quantitative and qualitative data to inform executive decision making and she also led the creation of an internal unit to conduct systems analysis and design.
Heather Peeler is vice president of member and partner engagement at Grantmakers for Effective Organizations. She leads GEO’s efforts to engage and mobilize members in adopting grantmaking practices that make the biggest impact on nonprofit performance. Heather serves GEO’s “networker in chief,” deepening the organization’s relationships with members, forming new partnerships, and helping members forge connections between peers. In this role, Heather regularly speaks for GEO at events and in the press about what steps grantmakers are taking to improve their effectiveness.
Tracy A. Sawicki is the Executive Director of The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation, a family foundation with approximately $140 million in assets. The Foundation provides funding support to initiatives that ensure children, adolescents and young adults facing challenges brought about by mental illness, substance abuse, intellectual disabilities and learning disabilities achieve their full potential. Foundation support is given to non-profit organizations in Erie and Niagara Counties in Western New York and in Barnstable, Dukes, Essex and Nantucket Counties in Eastern Massachusetts.
Prior to coming to the Tower Foundation, Ms. Sawicki worked at the American Red Cross, Greater Buffalo Chapter for 12 years. The last two years she served as the Chapter’s Assistant Executive Director. Ms. Sawicki has over 25 years experience in administration, fundraising, program development and implementation.
What participants said:
A helpful reminder of the importance of engaging with grantees, community and government officials.
I work at a very small family foundation that focuses on mental health, and there are few mental health funders in the US, so learning about the Tower Foundation was encouraging. We'll be looking at their strategic plan and other reports, which will be helpful for us as we're kind of like a startup.