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10 Questions or Less for Dwayne Marshall

Monday, June 29, 2015

10 Questions or Less is a feature through which we get to know regional association staff members a little better—their work, what drives them, and more. This week we talk with Dwayne Marshall, Director of Programs and Partnerships at the Southeastern Council of Foundations. If you would like to suggest someone for a profile through 10 Questions or Less, contact Dan Brady.

altIn your role as Director of Programs and Partnerships at Southeastern Council of Foundations, how does the Forum network contribute to your work?

The Forum supports my role at SECF by helping me connect with my peers in the regional association network to foster opportunities for partnerships and collaboration throughout the calendar year.  Through the Forum network, I’m able to both gather and share “best practices” around innovative in-person and virtual programming offerings for our diverse membership base.  In addition, I’m able to review the Forum’s Grantmaker Education Directory to generate new program ideas that I can possibly implement within our region.

Walk us through a typical day in the SECF office.

I will typically begin the day by reviewing my calendar to assess the list of meetings and conference calls that I have scheduled.  Upon review, I’ll gather any additional materials or research needed so that I can be fully prepared.  My colleague (Will Kauffman) and I will usually have a quick check-in meeting in the morning so that we can determine key deliverables that we want to complete by the end of the day or week based on priorities.  My days usually involve a great deal of outreach to both members and various SECF partners regarding programming that we are currently planning in the coming months.  We conduct and design a lot of programming with the support of member-led committees so I have quite few committee calls during the week on sometimes multiple committee discussions in one day depending upon how soon a core program is coming up.  Lastly, I conduct outreach to potential sponsors and partners that can support SECF programming and have products and services that would be of value to our membership.  As you can imagine, there really isn’t a day that is typical but I try to start each day with a game plan so that I can feel that I’ve been productive when the day is done!

Is there anything you’re working on now that is particularly exciting?

We here at SECF delivered our inaugural Advanced Leadership Institute (ALI) program last year.  ALI is a year-long professional development experience that is exclusively designed for senior executives within the field of philanthropy.  The program is delivered via a series of in-person retreats and tailored virtual learning opportunities.  Upon completion of our initial 2014 program, we are now completing a comprehensive program review and evaluation process. Based on this review and working with our ALI committee and working group, we are going to make a few adjustments to further enhance our next ALI offering.  It’s an exciting opportunity to help deliver a unique program that will provide leaders with the soft and technical skills needed in order for them to further professional careers.  It’s an awesome opportunity that I’m honored to be a part of.

You currently completing a year-long stint as an Independent Sector American Express NGen Fellow. Can you tell us a little bit about the experience?

I’m a part of a dynamic cohort of 12 members who represent various constituencies within the charitable sector.  Our program is structured for us to individually further develop our adaptive leadership skills while also developing a stronger connection with emerging leaders within the nonprofit and philanthropic community.  One of our signature program components is a capstone project that will be a contribution to the social sector.  Our fellowship class is addressing the issue of “innovation” and how foundations and nonprofits are currently using new technologies and applications to both improve their internal operations as well as further support the work of their community and/or grantee partners. It has been a positive journey thus far and I’m looking forward to the ongoing education that I’ll receive from the program and the diverse leaders I’ve been fortune to connect with.

You serve on the Forum’s Grantmaker Education Committee. Are there any projects or initiatives that have come out of the committee that you can point to as a favorite?

I’m very excited right now about the ongoing conversation amongst members of the Forum Grantmaker Education Committee to develop a new curriculum for new entrants into the field of philanthropy.  In my 2 ½ year tenure at SECF, we have consistently delivered the Essential Skills & Strategies for New Grantmakers (ESS) modules to our members.  However, we realize that this curriculum needs to be both refreshed and doesn’t address many of the trending topics/issues (impact investing, venture philanthropy, diversity, equity and inclusion, etc.) that are impacting the field.  Therefore, I’m very excited about being a part of the process to offer a more up-to-date and comprehensive curriculum that our collective Forum network can benefit from.  

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job by far is the ability to help serve and support our various members in their efforts to be positive change agents within their respective communities.  By helping deliver education and professional development opportunities for funders, I’m encouraged by the fact that my work can help nourish the next generation of philanthropic leadership in the American South. This both warms my spirit and keeps me passionate about the important work we’re doing within our organization. 

Outside of work, what are you passionate about?

In addition to philanthropy, I’ve very passionate about youth leadership development and learning about new cultures.  I enjoy traveling, spending time with my family and friends and building my network and connections with people who desire to make a lasting difference in the world. 

Anything else we should know?

I’m a native of Savannah, Georgia and have mostly lived in the metro Atlanta, Georgia area since arriving here to attend Emory University for undergraduate school.  I’m a huge sports fan (Dallas Cowboys especially) and can often be caught during the weekend watching the big sporting events of the season. 

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