Diversity Is a Core Commitment for Philanthropy New York

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Message from PNY President Ronna Brown, published originally in the New York PhilanthroPost Monthly July 2014 edition.

When Philanthropy New York’s Board approved our 2014-2016 Strategic Plan last year, we – the Board, staff and our members – reaffirmed our core organizational values: a commitment to the greater social good, integrity, transparency, diversity, and innovation.  Our commitment to those values is readily apparent in our programming, public policy work and interactions with our members. But on diversity, which means different things to different people, I want to say a bit more about what we’re doing. 

As we have articulated in our long-term planning documents: We embrace the many forms of diversity, including ethnic, cultural, racial, religious, sexual orientation, economic status, physical abilities and gender, and draw from the perspectives, opinions and experiences of a cross-section of people. We are fully committed to ensuring that our programming and our organizing activities are infused with the spirit and meaning of authentic inclusion.

In May, PNY’s Board of Directors devoted half of its annual board retreat to exploring how our organization fulfills its commitment to diversity. We talked about PNY’s history of working on diversity, which was officially incorporated into our core planning over two decades ago. We talked about our deep involvement with the D5 Coalition, which works nationally to grow diversity, equity and inclusion in philanthropy.  Board members Cynthia Rivera Weissblum and Susan Olivo gave the group an update on the work of PNY’s Increasing Diversity in Philanthropy Committee, which is charged with promoting diversity and inclusion by educating members about successful  approaches and  practices. And the entire board engaged in a deep and far-ranging conversation about what it really means to be inclusive of the many diverse perspectives of those that philanthropy aims to serve. 

Our conversation was very much informed by the concept of intersectionality articulated immediately before our retreat by Janet Mock and others at the PNY Annual Meeting focusing on issues surrounding the state of women and girls. Intersectionality is a term that more and more philanthropy professionals are integrating into their work, and it points to the inextricably linked connections between various forms and systems of oppression, such as racism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of bigotry. One of the continuous themes of our conversation was the imperative for PNY to be diligent in shining a spotlight on those intersections and help our members find connections in their work.

Two programs in July aim to do just that:

Tuesday, July 22 – The Rollback on Reproductive Rights and Justice: Ways Different Communities are Impacted  and How They are Bridging Movements to Fight Back

 Thursday, July 24 – Inspiring Action to Advance Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Philanthropy

We are currently exploring the development of several other programs for later in the year in conjunction with the D5 Coalition on topics like “micro-aggression” and cultural competency training and diversity and inclusion policies that are proving successful. 

While the focus on diversity, inclusion and equity is not new, there are many fresh perspectives, newly framed topics and emerging promising practices to explore. Please let us know what you want to share with peers and what you want to learn more about through our programs and networks.  And, join us later this month!

Best regards,