[Editor's Note: We asked contributors for a final, reflective blog entry from the Atlanta conference. Here's what Roger had to say.]
A few days back from Atlanta, three impressions are sticking with me. One, the fierce commitment and incredible dynamism of John Lewis and Melody Barnes. They made so clear what a pivotal moment we’re at as a nation. Sure, it’s one full of fear and uncertainty. It’s also bursting with opportunity. Opportunity to question assumptions, to try new ways of making positive change in the world, to remember and draw strength from the simple fact that we’ll all accomplish much more working together. Public sector and private sector. Grantmaker and grantee. Foundation and foundation.
Second lasting impression: there’s still energy behind the field’s vital push toward increasing diversity and inclusion. I’d been wondering if the economic meltdown might derail philanthropy’s recent surge of interest in the subject. But from the conference program to corridor conversations to special meetings, I saw evidence that this hasn’t happened. What’s more, there were small indications that the field’s concept of diversity is inclusive of LGBT people, communities, and organizations. To the extent that’s true, it represents real progress.
Third: at least some in philanthropy do, after all, seem to be in a bit of a hurry. Maybe it was inspiration kindled by the plenary speakers. Maybe it was a Tuesday session on community foundation leadership. Or maybe I just had different conversations with different people. Whatever it was, it was encouraging.
And we can only hope that that sense of urgency has followed all of us home. There’s a lot to do.
Roger Doughty is executive director of the Horizons Foundation.