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Statement from National Infrastructure Orgs On the Life and Legacy of Congressman John R. Lewis (D-GA)

Thursday, July 30, 2020

This news item was originally featured on Independent Sector.

As the body of the late U.S. Representative John Lewis (D-GA) lies in state at the U.S. Capitol, several infrastructure organizations representing the nation’s charitable sector have made statements in honor of the man who inspired us all.

Rep. Lewis was the co-chair of the Philanthropy Caucus, made up of a group of lawmakers in Congress who understood the dynamic role of philanthropy in society and how philanthropy participates in national policymaking and federal programs across a wide and diverse range of issues and interests. Rep. Lewis was a lifelong champion of everyday people coming together to create a better world, and nonprofit and philanthropic leaders remember him for his support and advocacy on behalf of our organizations and the communities we serve.

The following is a compilation of statements from Council on Foundations, Independent Sector, Philanthropy Roundtable, and United Philanthropy Forum.

Council on Foundations

“Through his advocacy, leadership, and service, Congressman Lewis showed his love for our country by highlighting the ways we must be better. We are grateful for his service as the Co-Chair of the Philanthropy Caucus where he was a true champion for the sector to support the greater good. At a Council event many years ago, he reminded the Council of our purpose to serve and challenged us to ‛do something.’  We can honor his incredible legacy by redoubling our efforts to get in the way and stir up some good trouble.” – Kathleen Enright, President and CEO

Philanthropy Roundtable

“The Philanthropy Roundtable and its Alliance for Charitable Reform (ACR) join the nation in mourning the passing of Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), an American hero whose impact on our country and commitment to progress transcended politics. Mr. Lewis brought grace, strength, and humility to every challenge he took on; his unwavering commitment to principle serves as a model for us all. His work to help the charitable sector flourish, while encouraging all Americans to engage in civil society, underscored the importance he placed on voluntary action to improve communities. ACR is honored to have worked alongside Mr. Lewis to advance those aims.” – Elise Westhoff, President and CEO

Independent Sector

“There is something universally recognizable about the resilience of the human spirit. We all fall short and we all make mistakes, but there are also those who remind us that we are capable of creating the sort of good trouble necessary to move our country forward. Rep. John Lewis embodied that spirit. It’s the reason that people from all backgrounds and political persuasions paused upon his death to honor the man. It is also the type of human spirit we should all try to embody more often. The charitable community is better for Rep. Lewis’ leadership, and we will all continue to be inspired by his spirit and fight against injustice and for the fulfillment of our organizational missions to ensure that all people in the United States thrive.” – Daniel J. Cardinali, President and CEO

United Philanthropy Forum

“United Philanthropy Forum joins the world in mourning the death of the Honorable John R. Lewis (D-GA). Although he was only 5’6”, John Lewis stood as tall as a giant in the fight against evil, racism, and white supremacy in this country. The epitome of an American hero, Congressman Lewis was a true justice warrior, continuously putting his life on the line for the rights of Black people in America. From his work as a leader in the civil rights movement to his commitment to public service, Congressman Lewis never wavered in his mission for justice and equality for all.

Congressman Lewis was a dedicated partner to this sector and a consistent reminder of what this country can become, if we continue to work to dismantle the inequities that exist in communities across the country.

‘All of philanthropy owes an incredible debt to John Lewis,’ said Janine Lee, president and CEO of the Southeastern Council of Foundations, a Forum member in Congressman Lewis’ district. ‘Beginning with the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and stretching to today’s Black Lives Matter movement, John Lewis’ actions and words not only inspire the work we are doing, but also remind us that there is so much more we can, and must, do. The beloved community John Lewis and others worked tirelessly for is not here yet, but it is within our grasp if we can follow the path he laid out for us.’

Through our work, the Forum envisions a courageous philanthropic sector that catalyzes a just and equitable society where all can participate and prosper. In the spirit of Congressman Lewis’ bravery and commitment, the Forum remains steadfast in this work, continuing our pursuit of the common good and a society that is fair and just.” – David Biemesderfer, President and CEO

About Council on Foundations

The Council on Foundations exists to help philanthropy be a strong and trusted partner in advancing the common good. Building on our 70-year history, we are charting a course for the field where funders display high integrity, earn and maintain the public’s trust, and serve as excellent stewards of philanthropic resources. We imagine a world where philanthropy is a trusted partner in advancing the greater good.

About Independent Sector

Independent Sector is the only national membership organization that brings together a diverse community of changemakers at nonprofits, foundations, and corporate giving programs working to ensure all people in the United States thrive. Learn more at

About Philanthropy Roundtable

The Philanthropy Roundtable’s vision is to build and sustain a vibrant American philanthropic movement that strengthens our free society. To achieve this vision, The Philanthropy Roundtable pursues a mission to foster excellence in philanthropy, protect philanthropic freedom, and help donors advance liberty, opportunity, and personal responsibility. Learn more at

About United Philanthropy Forum

As the largest and most diverse network in American philanthropy, United Philanthropy Forum holds a unique position in the social sector to help increase philanthropy’s impact in communities across the country. We are a membership network of 86 regional and national philanthropy-serving organizations (PSOs), representing more than 7,000 funders who work to make philanthropy better.