The journey begins…

This week, our Board of Directors approved a new Strategic Roadmap that will guide our work for the next five years. We chose the term “Roadmap” on purpose: while it’s important that we have a clear path and a destination in mind, we also recognize that there may be detours, we may have to stop for gas, and we may decide to take a back road to explore some new territory.

As we embark on this journey, we realize that some of our new ideas and activities are going to stretch us, and take us out of our comfort zones. One idea, one value, one destination that we are particularly committed to is advancing equity: in our organization, in our work with nonprofits, with donors, and with our community. “Equity” has become a bit of a buzz word these days, but really, when we think about our vision that everyone in our region thrives, it’s a no-brainer, and it should be embedded in our DNA.

But living into that value sometimes means having uncomfortable conversations, and pushing ourselves to really contemplate the actions, the history, and the stories that have created privilege for some and barriers for others. It’s not going to be easy, and it’s not going to be something that we can strive for alone.

We’ve seen unfortunate examples in our country and in our communities over the last several weeks where the ideas and actions of some are meant to suppress or take away from others. From the hateful activities in Charlottesville to the stripping of opportunity for DACA students, we recognize now more than ever how the impact of our work needs to be as much about having these tough conversations — with our donors, our nonprofit partners, our community — as it is about grantmaking.

Personally, this is hard stuff for me. Because we also value “community,” and for me, that means making space for all voices, all ideas, all perspectives. But sometimes, we are going to have to use our voice to call out what we think is wrong. This is new territory for us. I’m fortunate that there are others on the team whose passions about these issues, these students — this community — are here to push me, to speak their truths and to tell their stories.

I hope that in this space you’ll enjoy hearing from a variety of perspectives: our professional staff, board members, donors, and nonprofits. These are the leaders that are going to move our community forward, and who are going to guide us on this journey. We’ll be sharing more details soon about our strategic roadmap, our plans and our destination, but for the time being, I want to thank you for taking this journey with us, for sometimes being uncomfortable with us, and for having the conversations that will ultimately shape our community for the better.

Contributing writer Lori O’Keefe is the President and CEO of Triangle Community Foundation.