This is a guest post from our member Afia Amobeaa-Sakyi, Manager, Marketing and Development at National Center for Family Philanthropy.
Last month I was fortunate enough to attend United Philanthropy Forum’s Annual Conference in San Francisco. As a first-time attendee and newbie to the field of philanthropy, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. With that in mind, the first session I attended was, to put it simply – amazing. The Emerging Practitioners session was designed for attendees with 10 or fewer years of experience in the field. The dialogue was candid, enlightening, and authentic. Being in a room full of peers who were dealing with the same types of challenges was not only comforting, but also inspiring. For me, this conversation set an encouraging tone and energy for the rest of the conference. Now I knew what to expect.
From there – the opening lunch & keynote session on Race, Equity, & Philanthropy was heavy, but appropriate. Dr. David R. Williams’ remarks were thought-provoking and I was very much appreciative of the time dedicated to unpacking our initial reactions with our table during dessert. It was a touching moment to share insights through our personal experiences. Commingling with current leaders in the field and specifically having the unique opportunity to attend a session dedicated to uniting emerging leaders and CEOs was essential to amplifying multi-generational and multi-cultural voices ready to ignite change within philanthropy.
Over the course of the next three days I took the much needed heart, mind and body breaks to seriously reflect on session discussions and recent tragic events within communities we serve. As I kept hearing, “philanthropy does not have a recruitment issue, it has a retention issue,” I thought to myself – Well then how will the field respond? I also began to notice there were certain people who were or were not in the rooms having difficult conversations. At times this was discouraging because it was clear to me that the Forum’s underlying message was to embrace race, equity, diversity, and inclusion (REDI) from the inside out, but that didn’t go unnoticed as I was energized to take on a more active role with my organization’s upcoming REDI initiatives.
I was very grateful to be selected as an Emerging Leader Scholarship recipient. With the generous support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the National Center for Family Philanthropy, I know these were a great investment. With a new brand and identity, the United Philanthropy Forum’s approach is ambitious, relative and timely. The United Philanthropy Forum and its partners are committed to doing this important work. As an ambassador of hope and an emerging leader, I look forward to confidently participating in a future of philanthropy that reflects a generation of change makers. One day I’ll be attending the CEO Summit of the Forum conference, but for now let’s just get through this first year.