August 3, 2023

Dreaming in Color: Live at Essence Fest!

Episode Notes

In this bonus episode, we journey down to New Orleans during Essence Fest for Bridgespan’s very first live episode recording, a panel highlighting Black women in philanthropy moderated by Tonyel Edwards, a partner at The Bridgespan Group.

Join us as Tonyel hosts a kitchen table conversation with a panel of Black women leading some of the most innovative thinking on equitable philanthropy: Morgan Dawson, co-CEO of Threshold Philanthropy; Tynesha McHarris, co-founder of Black Feminist Fund; Carmen James Randolph, founding president/CEO at Women’s Foundation of the South; and Susan K. Thomas, president of Melville Charitable Trust. Listen as these remarkable women discuss their pathway into philanthropy, the unique assets that come from being a Black woman leading in the space, and all of the ways they have navigated and changed the landscape of giving in support of a more just, equitable, and colorful future.

Episode Transcript

Darren Isom (00:00:00):

Welcome to a special episode of Dreaming in Color, a space for social change leaders of color to reflect on how their life experiences, personal and professional, have prepared them to lead and drive the impact we all seek. I'm your host, Darren Isom, and we've been busy cooking up something tasty for season three.

In the meantime, I bring you to New Orleans, where, in typical New Orleans tradition, we try something new, a live recording of Bridgespan's very first panel at Essence Festival, centering on Black women in philanthropy. This panel is moderated by my brilliant Bridgespan partner, Tonyel Edwards, and features panelist Morgan Dawson, the co-CEO of Threshold Philanthropy; Tynesha McHarris, the co-founder of the Black Feminist Fund; Carmen James Randolph, the founding president and CEO of Women's Foundation of the South; and Susan K. Thomas, the president of Melville Charitable Trust. So excited to have you join this wonderful conversation where we celebrate these leaders' ingenuity, are inspired by their wisdom and wit, and learn how collectively we can all strive to do better. Live from Tremé, this is Dreaming in Color.

Any of you folks who have worked with me in the past or have listened to my podcast, you know that I love to start with a bit of an invocation. It's a tribute to my New Orleans upbringing, my good Jesuit education. And for this one, I am going to use our favorite, James Baldwin. "For nothing is fixed forever and forever and forever. It is not fixed. The earth is always shifting. The light is always changing. The sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we're responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have. The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the sea engulfs us, and the light goes out." So, Baldwin's always timely. Also, last day of Pride. Happy Pride, putting it out there. Okay.

So, hello everyone. I am Darren Isom. I'm a partner in Bridgespan's San Francisco office. I'm so happy to see all of you guys here. Before we jump in, some many months ago, we talked about what events we wanted to have this year and where it'd be important for us to show up. And someone on the team threw out Essence, and I was like, "Yeah, Essence." Why not Essence, right? It makes complete sense. And then as I talk with folks who are like, "Wait, Bridgespan's doing Essence?" I was like, "Bridgespan is doing Essence." So here we are at Essence. So, give you guys all a round of applause. Thank you for being here. It's great to see folks that I know in the room, folks that are new to me, folks that know each other. A beautiful panel, we'll get to them in just a little bit.

Darren Isom (00:02:32): 

I have the easy task of presenting you guys to Tonyel in just a bit, but more importantly, just setting the space in the room as well. I am a New Orleans native, a seventh-generation New Orleans native. So, it's always good to be home. I've expatriated to California, but New Orleans is always home. Home is where your mama is, right? And so good to be here. And it was actually really fun being downstairs earlier, looking over the exhibit, and saw a random picture talk about Ms. Gaudin, who opened a school here in Tremé. And my grandmother is descended from Gaudins, so Gaudins and Baquiés. So, you see your family history and you remember that we've been in this fight for a long time. It's from a picture from 18-something. My family's been here since the 1790s. So, it's always a reminder of the great legacy that we all build upon and that we have to continue as Black folks in this work.

Excited to celebrate Black women because Black women are doing all the things, always. It's not lost on me that I'm the gay Black guy convening folks for a Black women's panel in New Orleans. And that's why Tonyel is going to take over and shift things from this end. But I just wanted to offer a few thoughts as we jump in to set the context. And I'm reminded as we are dealing with, the Supreme Court has gone wild, and we can talk over cocktails about Clarence Thomas, because I got a plan for him, which I don't want to be recorded. I do want to stay employed, and I don't want to be on anybody's list, but we got to deal with him.

But I'm also reminded of civil rights attorney Donald Hollowell. And so Hollowell was a civil rights attorney in Georgia. He was around during the days of Thurgood Marshall. He was a lot less successful than Thurgood Marshall because he was working in the toughest states and at the state level. But he offered us a really important gem that I hold onto all the time. He talked about in the social justice work, there were always two battles happening at one time. There was the courtroom battle across the various courts across the land, and there was a kitchen table battle. And he said, "We don't win the courtroom battles very often. Very, very seldomly in fact, do we win the courtroom battles, but we always have to win the kitchen table battles."

And I think about that as we think about the fight for the narrative within the country itself. I'll share a little backstory here on the podcast, Dreaming in Color, self-plug here, go see it if you haven't seen it already, go listen to it, download it. I wanted to re-create those conversations, the kitchen table conversations that I grew up listening to. And I grew up in New Orleans, a city of matriarchs. And those Black women at the table, they knew things. I joke all the time that everything I need to know about philanthropy, about IITOC, your theory of action, about thinking strategically, about spreading the resources, but thinking about the chess game, I learned sitting at the kitchen table watching my grandmother have conversations with folks around her.

She could counsel, consult anyone, from the poor mother across the street to a college student deciding about a PhD, anyone, to the white man that she worked for. And so, for me, it was important for me to show what those kitchen table conversations look like. For others to see the genius that was happening in Black homes. And the genius that is Black women. And so, I'm excited to celebrate the Black women that are here today. I'm excited for the world to see the brilliance that is Black women in the space. And I was talking with someone yesterday, I was at dinner with Ify and her husband, wonderful dinner, Dakar Nola, amazing restaurant—just putting it out there. And we were talking about what keeps us hopeful. And I talked about, for me, what keeps me hopeful is the amazing folks doing the work. Whenever I feel a sense of despair, I have these conversations with these folks.

I'm like, "Yeah, the right is acting up." White folks are acting up like white folks have always acted up. This is not new, but we got something for them. We have a brilliant set of folks that are working on it. So, we're in really good hands and the work for us is to keep the work going and to be progressing in the work itself. And so, with that, I want to thank you guys all again for being here. I also want to thank you for doing the work that you're doing. We are making a difference. Doesn't feel like it very often, I know, but listen, it doesn't feel like it all the time, but I know for a fact that the reason that they're acting up is because they see that we’re coming. All the things they're trying to pull away are things that are working.

They know they're working, or they wouldn't be bothered. And also, just a reminder that the existence of Black Americans is a reminder to this country that so much of our founding principles are lies. And so, it hurts people to see us do well. It really disrupts the narrative, but we've always done well. We're going to go back down and see my great-great-grandmother go down there with her school in 1826. We've always provided for each other, we've always made a way, we've always managed to thrive. We've always looked spectacular, as you look now. And so, we have to continue doing that. So, with those as closing thoughts, I want to just once again a shoutout from an ancestor perspective, the folks that we carry with us—it's a theme that we'll talk about later in the day as well with Tonyel—to my grandmothers, both my New Orleans grandmothers, Lucinda Hadley Elloie.

I was talking with someone, one of the cameramen who's from Larose and folks are from Cut Off and Lafourche Parish. One grandmother, my other folks are from the city—now don't get it twisted. And then my other grandmother, Lois Baquié Isom, my father's mother. Those are folks that I keep with me all the time and they keep me peaceful, they keep me grounded and they remind me of the long legacy that I'm a part of and the long legacy that I continue with those that come after me. And with that, I am lucky to pass you to my colleague, Tonyel. She'll introduce herself as well. But I also want to say that Tonyel was also a Howard grad—HU!

Darren Isom:

There are a few of us here. Howardites, we always act up. You know how it is. Thanks, guys. Enjoy the panel.

Tonyel Edwards (00:08:36):

Good morning, good afternoon, everyone, and thank you so much, Darren, for sharing the space with me and to the amazing women who I have the honor to sit alongside. Thank you.

And thank all of you who are here. You could be doing anything today—it's Essence after all, so there's plenty of options. Just want to get started. I'll first introduce myself and I'll share my role, organization, and the hats that I'm wearing today because as Black women, we wear multiple hats regardless of our professional titles and roles and all of those things.

I'm Tonyel Edwards. I am a partner with the Bridgespan Group. The hats I'm bringing in… Before this, I was actually in philanthropy for the last seven years at a private foundation in Houston and held multiple roles there. And so, I’m bringing in the hat of a person who was formerly giving away resources. And I'm also bringing in the hat of a mother. My son is actually in New Orleans with me today. His fourth birthday is today. So happy birthday, Mansa. Just giving him a shoutout. He's at the aquarium with his dad because my partner is from New Orleans, so this is his home. So, my son is seeing his home for the first time. And then also of course here, as a facilitator.

So, what I'm grateful, we set the space, but really, I want this to be a conversation between us. A conversation amongst Black women who are all doing incredible work. So, with that, I will toss it to our first panelist. And Morgan, just introduce yourself, your name, your role, organization, and the hats that you're wearing today.

Morgan Dawson (00:10:11):

Hi, I'm Morgan Dawson. I'm trying not to be too loud because I'm usually loud, but they have me talking into a mic. I'm the co-CEO and founder of Threshold Philanthropy. The hats that I'm bringing in today, I think I'm being someone who just started a sabbatical.

Darren Isom:


Morgan Dawson:

So, someone who's deciding what rest looks like for them. An artist, and I think I'm always holding the idea of what it looks like to be a good neighbor. I think in philanthropy we so often talk about community, but we talk about it in the realms of being better philanthropists. And I wish we would talk about it like we were being better neighbors.

Tynesha McHarris:

Hey, good people. I need to stop too because I'm mic'd and I just go, "Mm-hmm." So, I'm sorry for whoever's controlling audio. Hi, I'm Tynesha McHarris. I am the co-founder and co-director of the Black Feminist Fund. And the hats I'm wearing, I don't even know how many hats I'm wearing right now, but the hat I know is someone who is trying to be honest both about who I am, the work I do, who I love, who I care about, and who I am, even if it changes at the given moment. Just living in my true honesty and wear that honest hat. And a principled Black feminist are the two hats I think I'm wearing today.

Carmen James Randolph:

Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to New Orleans.

Darren Isom:


Tonyel Edwards:


Carmen James Randolph (00:11:50):

I am Carmen James Randolph, and I am the founding president and CEO of the Women's Foundation of the South, based here in New Orleans. The hats that I'm wearing today, I'm wearing a very prominent hat of family. I'm a daughter. I'm wearing the hat of sister. My brother is here. I'm wearing the hat of wife and the hat of mother. So, all three of the men that I'm connected to are busy also getting ready for Essence weekend. And so, I'm wearing this hat of trying to support them as well. So, in addition to those hats, I wear the hat also of Black woman feminist and leader.

Susan Thomas:

Good afternoon. I was about to say good morning. Good afternoon, Susan Thomas. I'm the president of Melville Charitable Trust. And the biggest hat that I wear is mom. I'm wearing the hat of best friend, who came with me. My sister friends of too many years are the ones who hold me up. And I'm wearing the hat of... When I heard that question, I thought of torchbearer and I thought of it in the context of where we are right now in the darkness of yesterday, and that we have to be torchbearers, we have to bring in the light. And so, I'm wearing that hat.

Tonyel Edwards:

Thank you so much for that, y'all. I literally have chills. And I'm sitting with Darren's reflection about his grandmothers and the ancestors and the elders that we also carry as we come into this conversation. I am so grateful to still have my 97-year-old grandmother here as an elder to me. And just to imagine what she experienced, endured, saw, I had the opportunity to have conversations about the thirties and the forties and the fifties and the sixties and seventies. And just to hear that and the work they did and what they carried, it's beautiful to one, be able to continue to tell their truths because they're living the living truths. And then I also hold the ancestors.

So, two sisters who were gone too soon, and my youngest, who was thinking about epigenetics and what that means and what the future could look like given the thinking and just the realm she was thinking in was just absolutely beautiful and so forward-thinking. And so, holding that closely with me right now. It's my husband's little sister, so my sister-in-law. And then my sister who passed last year, who taught wellbeing and taking care of yourself and rest and care and restorative. Bringing all of that into this conversation. So that's who I'm holding and carrying in as we come today. Would love to just invite you to share as you enter the conversation, which ancestors and elders are you carrying with you?

Morgan Dawson (00:15:15):

Yeah, I think my first thought was my great-grandmother, my mother's grandmother, Bessie, and then my grandmother, Essie, who passed, and they were best friends and they passed a month apart. And then I'm also thinking of the reason I said yes to building this company, which was Toyin Salau. She was an activist who passed in 2020 who was doing a march for Tony McDade, the trans person who passed, and she was murdered. And I remember thinking and talking to my funder and saying, "What the fuck are we doing if the woman who is running this, that no one else wants to run, doesn't have a place to sleep? If I'm going to do this with you, we need to think about philanthropy differently." We need to fund individuals, not just white people's passion projects, but Black people's safety and slumber and housing. And so, I often am carrying Toyin when I think it's too much. I'm like, "Well, I have a place to sleep."

Tonyel Edwards:

Thank you.

Tynesha McHarris:

I should not be on this panel.

Tonyel Edwards:

Yes, you should. Don't ever say that to me, because…

Tynesha McHarris (00:16:34):

Y'all be talking and everything I had prepared is gone. So, let me pull it together. So, the person that I always will return to is my great-grandmother. So, I appreciate you lifting yours up. And it is my mother's grandmother, my mother's mother's mom. Her name was Rosina, but we called her Rose. And in fact, many of us called her Aunt Rose. She raised me along with my mother, and I got the gift of being raised alongside my mother and my great-grandmother. And she taught me three things. See, I don't even know what them three things are, but that way it holds me accountable.

I know. The first thing that she taught me was that love required profound strength. Even in the face of profound disappointment, she taught me strength. The second thing she taught me is that I should not expect harm, and that when harm happens, someone should be held accountable, and I deserve to be angry. And that was the lesson that has continued to make sure that I can stand in my fullness in my life because harm happens. And there is something around what it means to experience harm in the world that we live in, especially as Black women that expect it. And so, she told me that I should never expect harm and when it happens, treat it like it should never have had.

So that's the second. And then I'll just say the third is she taught me that I get to be the person I want to be and like what I like and not feel like any of it is frivolous. She loved fashion, she loved laughter, she loved to cook, and she loved to talk shit. And I get to be all of those things too. And it does not disappear my most principled political self.

Tonyel Edwards:

Love that. See, you deserve to be here.

Tynesha McHarris:

There we go.

Carmen James Randolph (00:18:40):

Pull it together. It's pulling together. Well, I'm feeling like I don't need to be on this thing now. So, I will default to what I did prepare to say. So, in thinking of ancestors and the words of our ancestors that speak to us, the words of Toni Morrison, who was a prolific writer who, I inhaled her books, just inhaled her books. And there is a quote from Toni Morrison that I came across as I was taking on this role, and it stays with me. And that is, "As you enter positions of power and influence, dream before you think." And that stays with me because for the work that we are all doing, it requires us to dream.

Tynesha McHarris:

Come on.

Carmen James Randolph:

And you can't dream if you don't sleep.

Tynesha McHarris:

Come on.

Carmen James Randolph:

And dreaming is a release, and it is a way of seeing what is present. Seeing what is present not as it is, but as it can be.

Susan Thomas (00:20:22):

And I have to follow all that. All of that. I carry with me my great-great, great-great-grandmother, Mary Black. I know that's not really her name, but that's what the name was on the manifest on the slave ship. And she landed in Virginia. And in the last census that I was able to trace, she was 102. And I tell my children, "That's who you have inside of you. Someone who survived the Inner Passage landed here, was enslaved here, and she was 102. That's who you have inside of you." So, I carry her, I carry her granddaughter, Mary Lizzie, who was our first landowner in our family in Georgia, and I have Mary Lizzie's journals, and she created this hair product for Black women. And this was 1902. And she wrote in the margins of this book the formula and her notes and her thoughts, and I think where was she educated?

How did this happen? I'm so curious about her. And then I carry my mother, who was a force. All of our mothers were a force. And my mother was no different. She passed a few years ago, and my mother taught us that if you want something, you get it, you get it. There's a plan B... My mother had a plan B, C, D, E, and F. And you get it. And that is who I carry with me. I remember my mom telling us about... They were denied housing. They had shown up... You know the story. They showed up, and it was a Black person and not a white person. Last name Thomas. And then the house was not available. And so she and my father sued in 1961 in Pittsburgh, first lawsuit. They got the death threats, they got the phone calls, they got all of that. And I remember they won. And my sister said, "So how much did you win?" And my dad was like, "We didn't want any money. We won the right to live where we wanted to live." And so that's who I bring in.

Tonyel Edwards:

Okay, so I'm from Houston, by the way. So, you all could no doubt be doing anything. You women are, you're brilliant. You could be doing anything. You've chosen the fields of philanthropy. So, from your perspective, given the concept of the existence of philanthropy is truly a... It's an oxymoron, could be a double-edged sword, all of those things, can you just shed a little light on how you chose to engage and spend your life in philanthropy and how you navigate the spaces given all the... given what you're bringing into the space? And anyone can start because I feel bad tugging on Morgan to go first every time and Susan going last.

Susan Thomas:

I knew I wanted to be in a philanthropy since I was a little girl.

Tonyel Edwards:


Susan Thomas (00:23:58):

Yeah. I was about eight or nine. And my dad described to me what a philanthropist was, and I was like, "That is so cool. That's what I'm going to be." And he was like, "Well, you need some money." And at eight I was like, "Oh, okay." And what I didn't realize, though, is that you can use other people's money. And so, I always knew that that's what I wanted to do. I just didn't know how I was going to get there.

And now that I am here, I have learned that not all philanthropists are philanthropic. And navigating this space as a Black woman is... It is tricky. As soon as I come in the room... This is being recorded. So, I know I've been at a table with someone who, every time I open my mouth, I could see his jaw clinch. That's what it's like to navigate this space and to tell yourself, "I'm not loud. This is how I talk." To tell yourself this idea is not ambitious. If I hear that one more time... "Oh, that's so ambitious.” Really? This is my job. That's not ambitious. And to tell myself exactly that, "No, this is my job. This is not ambition. This is what I do." That's how I navigate this space. It is the self-talk that has to be louder than what everyone else wants to tell you.

Tonyel Edwards:

Thank you, Susan.

Carmen James Randolph:

I entered this space more than 25 years ago. So, I was a baby when I came into philanthropy. And honestly, prior to coming into formal philanthropy, I didn't know anything about it. So, unlike you, this was not something that I grew up saying, "Ooh, I want to work at a foundation," or "I want to do X, Y, Z." However, in terms of understanding, giving, and receiving a grant, all of that happened for me in childhood. And it was my mother and my aunties and my grandmother who fried chicken and sold dinners and did whatever to help a young person get to college and buy luggage and get... I received my first grant going to school. I had a book grant, and that paid for my books my freshman year. So, I knew that kind of giving and drive... A family lost our home to a fire. We got to collect coats, we got to get this, we got to get that. That was what I grew up in, that desire to give, to help, to make change happen.

And was brought up in the AME Church, where I was brought up to lead and to speak and to work with other young people to make change. So, I worked in the nonprofit sector in DC after I came out of school. And where I was working was in public housing communities in DC. Now, this is the early nineties, so you have crack that is running rampant through DC. And what I knew of public housing growing up in Pennsylvania, let's just say when I was told, "Oh, you're going to work in public housing communities." I was like, "Okay, cool." I was 23 and down for it. And then what I saw was not what my reference was for public housing. And let's just say that those experiences that I had in my twenties going in and out of about 13 public housing communities in DC, working with mothers in public housing, working with seniors in public housing and then babies, and being very clear and learning about the injustices, meeting with children and working with children who couldn't spell three- and four-letter words and saying, "Well, you know what? I'll come and meet your teacher."

They told me they had a parent-teacher conference. "Mom can't go." "I'll go." And then going into the schools and what I saw, I was like, "Oh my Jesus." And helping mothers in public housing organize. This is Potomac Gardens in southeast Washington, when the community said they wanted to keep the people in the public housing community in. So, the neighborhood voted to put a fence around the public housing community, and the fence was so high and the bars turned in and the children started calling their home "Baby Lorton," which was the prison that serve DC, organizing with the residents because there was only one unlocked entrance that they put up. And people asked, "What if there's a fire? What if someone needs an ambulance? What if this, that, and the other?" So, I will say I was exposed to injustice so deeply and profoundly in those formative years where you think anything is possible and you can do anything. And I was raising money for my programs. I was 23. I had a budget of $30,000. That included my salary, and I thought I was doing something.

Okay, don't look at me like that. I was like, "Ooh." When they asked me how much money... When we were negotiating salary, I just wanted a salary that was bigger than my age. So, it was like, okay, I'm 23, you'll pay me 24. Okay, that's great. So, I didn't know. I was right out of school, didn't know nothing. So anyway, but I was told, if you want more, you got to build it. So, I learned how to fundraise. I learned how to work with people, I learned how to build relationships, and I built relationships with people in philanthropy. And then one day I was offered a job to come into philanthropy. And I did.

And I was the youngest person. I was told this: "You're the youngest person I've ever considered bringing into this foundation." And this was the Meyer Foundation, which is one of the oldest foundations in DC. And all of my colleagues were in their forties and fifties. So, I really was the youngest person coming into that space. But what brought me there was, I came to a place where I wanted to make a difference at a larger level. It's like, how can I be of bigger impact? How can I be of bigger service? So that was the drive that brought me into philanthropy that has kept me here for the last 25 years.

Tynesha McHarris (00:32:03):

So, I entered into philanthropy similarly. I was a young leader managing an organization. I love when I start thinking about back when I used to do things, I was like, "Woo, some of the decisions I made." But I was a young leader managing a youth organization, much of it working with young people that were criminalized and coming out of an unjust criminal justice system. And I remember this one moment in my leadership journey where I clearly saw the distance between who I was, when I was with staff, with community, with my young people, and who I was when I was fundraising. And the gap was wide. And then who I asked my team to be, from who they were with each other and with our young people. And what I asked of them in front of donors, there was a distance.

And I convinced myself or rationalized it as: We have to do what we have to do to get what we have to get so that we can be able to pour into a generation of folks who will one day create a new world where we don't have to do this anymore and there will be no distance. And yet in that moment, I realized that distance in terms of our principles, in terms of who we were honestly being, the performativeness, it was dehumanizing. And so, I made a decision in my leadership journey at that point, I said I wanted to be in a position where I can create a slightly more humanizing experience because the truth is, it's always dehumanizing if you have to ask for resources that were extracted from your own people anyway.

And so, I said, let me try, and somebody let me into this one job. They regretted it. And I'm going to be honest, and I'm being recorded. You know who you are. And there was... Y'all know I'm being honest too. And I remembered, I thought that in my journey of trying to close the gap, create less distance in terms of who folks are so that they can be more consistently who they are, regardless of who they're talking to, I didn't realize how much distance I would have to face being in the sector. And so, one of the ways that I've been trying to negotiate in my own leadership journey for the past, I think, 13 years now, is one of the things is... Which is why you all have heard me say the word principled, is being really committed to principled leadership.

Because philanthropy is an unprincipled sector. And I don't say that lightly. We've got lots of principled leaders, lots, many of them are Black folk, but principled means that you are clear, politically clear, and we've got a lot of folks that are politically clear in ways that are not in alignment with the kind of world we want to build. And then there's a lot of folks who aren't even politically clear because they haven't done that intellectual work. The second thing it requires is to know who your people are and who you're accountable to. And the third is to be consistent at all those things. And our sector is not principled because it is founded off of wealth that never required principles to begin with. And you can't concentrate power and wealth and be principled. And so…

Tynesha McHarris (00:35:44):

You can't, because wealth is concentrated through extraction, it is concentrated through hoarding, and it's concentrated through a belief of sorting humanity. And there's no principles there. And I get it, there's nuances to all this, y'all, but I name that a part of my deep commitment is to be principled, and it is complicated. It's hard to always be accountable to those things because a confusing space to be in, and sometimes you don't want to think that hard. The sector requires us to do a lot of thinking. And I was just so appreciating what you named around “self-taught.” The amount of calculations we have to do is real. And those calculations are intellectual, political, and spiritual, with folks oftentimes, not all, but some folks you're doing that with don't even have the tool to start the numbers. And so, I name that one, it's about, for me, principled leadership.

I think the second thing, which has been a new part of my journey that I'm on, is to keep my spirit whole. Because while philanthropy is a sector that is big, and me and a lot of my colleagues and organizers call it the wealth industry. The wealth industry is, there's so much access to power and privilege, and being in the sector, there's access to power and privilege for those of us that are in relationship to it, but spiritually, it could be empty. And I come from a spiritual people. And so, for me it is making sure that I keep my spirit whole and create pockets of spiritual abundance for those of us that are in the sector. Then know we've got to return to that well in order to feel whole and know who we are because we often have to go back into spaces where we have to do a bit of a calculation and a dance.

Morgan Dawson (00:35:44):

All right. Well, I think I am here because of all the work they've done. So, my story's very, very different. My degree's in poetry and playwriting. I moved to Seattle because my partner got into grad school, and I was an event producer. I ran a 400-acre resort where we went to undergrad. But when we moved to Seattle, no one would hire me because Seattle wasn't on my resume, so I became a nanny. Because I built curriculums in Santa Fe for the resort, I built educational curriculums. So, they were like, "Oh, you built curriculums, you can watch kids." I was like, "Sure, I can watch kids."

And so, I was a nanny. When we first moved to Seattle, I was 23, and all my friends were 40-year-old women. And their friends and their kids... They're still my friends. And I was like, "I got to talk to 20-year-olds. I need friends who are not my partner's friends." I love her friends, but I needed other friends. And so, I was like, "This Washington Women's Foundation is hiring for a part-time event coordinator. It's a little below my pay grade, but I can move chairs and I can make friends. That's what I'll do."

And I think when I got there, they'd never had a Black employee. And if you don't know philanthropy or you don't know Seattle, Seattle is the Gates Foundation. And Washington Women's Foundation was founded before the Gates Foundation. So, Melinda's a member. Seattle's just money and family foundations and all of those women are a member of the Washington Women's Foundation. And I was like, "This is such an interesting concept. All these women come together, and they give away money. That is so cool. That's so great. They come together, they do..." And I was like, "Oh, but it's mostly white women and there's 500 women making a decision." 

Morgan Dawson (00:40:04):

“And I'm their first Black employee. And what the fuck are we doing here?” And I said all of that aloud. And it was 2016. I'm now 24. They're all devastated because Hillary just lost. We're hosting this national event. They are crying because Hillary's lost. And every big Black woman in Seattle you can think of is on the stage trying to make these women feel better and saying, "You can do all of these things." And I'm like, "Oh, maybe this is amazing. Community is here. They trust us."

So, I call up one of these women afterward to say thank you. And she says, "I'm only answering the phone because I won't let you fail, but I am done with those white women." And I was like, "Wait, what happened? What did they do? What? I thought it was going well. What's happening?" And she says, "The Washington Women's Foundation only pays white women." And I was like, "What?"

And so, I walk into Beth's office, who is my funder, but at the time she was my boss. And I was like, "Why do we only pay white women?" And she has no idea what I'm talking about. And the truth is, we were a staff of five. We did 40 events a year. They were spread across people. There wasn't an events person. Everyone was doing a couple events. Two people had a budget, two people didn't have a budget. The people who didn't have a budget had the capacity to get new people, and the people who did have a budget just kept using the same people. It looked like we only paid white women. And so, I said, "Let's change this all."

And it happened to be all of the people who were there were leaving, and it was going to be just me and Beth. And she said, "Do you want to leave the kids and be full-time?" I was like, "Sure." She's like, "What do you want to do?" I said, "I'll build you an events department. I can educate these white women. I can learn philanthropy, I can do this." And so, I did. I started doing 75 events a year. I would say, "Okay, this is what community's talking about. This is what nonprofits are talking about. This is what I need you to know so that you're a better board member. Again, I don't care about you being a better philanthropist, but you represent me now." I'm a nanny. I don't reward bad behavior and I know how to educate.

Tonyel Edwards:

Morgan is a mess.

Morgan Dawson (00:42:39):

And these white women said that they wanted to learn, and they knew they needed to change. They were 25 years old. And I remember being in a marketing meeting, and they were saying, "Our target audience for members is a 27-year-old woman of color." And I was like, "That's me." If you want young women of color, I have to show up as my real self, because if you can't handle me, who is mostly palatable, you won't be able to handle the 27-year-old that comes in.

And to be fair, Beth, when I had started, she said, "Hey, you need to tell me if something racist happens." I was like, "Do you want me to talk to you all the time?" And she was like, "I'm always going to be wondering if you don't tell me." I remember after this meeting, I went back into her office. I said, "Just so you know, I have decided to show up as myself, and no one is prepared for that. I want you to know that I'm going to be me because you say this is what you want." And she said, "Okay, let's do this." And so, we worked to change this 25-year-old organization into a place where the community wanted us to be.

And when we were both about done, I was like, "I don't want to be in philanthropy forever. I'm kind of over it." She's like, "I'm kind of over it. I don't know if I should spend my own money, or if I should keep educating these white women. Is that my work as a white woman?" I was like, "I don't know." And I was like, "Portia wants to move to LA, I'm going to move to LA." And she was like, "Okay, great. You'll leave. I'll leave." I was like, "I'll train your predecessor. It'll be lovely."

Then the pandemic happened, and then I was like, "Thank God we didn't move. I just want a job." And then the uprisings happened, and I said, "I'm doing a book discussion on how to be an anti-racist while people are in the street. I need to do something different."

And then Toyin passed. And when Toyin passed, Beth texted me and she said, "Do you want to come build a company with me? You want to come run my thing?" And I was like, "I love you, babe, but I don't know what your thing is." And she was like, "It could be whatever you want. I think us working together could heal our lineages. It could heal my family and it could heal your family." And I said, "Okay." And we built Threshold.

And I say that because I think I'm a product of what it means for someone to be poured into. My entire life, people have wanted to help me. My father was incarcerated for 23 years. My mom had me at 19. And my whole life, people have just wanted to help us. And I remember being in rooms with people who were saying, "What is risky to a community that they weren't a part of?" And we were talking about, "Hey, who's been impacted by a nonprofit?" People would say, "I listened to NPR," and I was like, "That's not what the fuck she means." Okay, right. That's not the same thing.

And I was like, "I remember doing this thing called Angel Tree where all the kids of incarcerated folks would put what they wanted on a tree, and they would put on a little ornament." And I remember my mom saying, "Okay, we're going to put your gifts on it. Not the big gifts, though. The small gifts. And then I'm going to also take a snowflake, and we're going to buy gifts for someone else."

My whole life was impacted by nonprofits and people pouring into… because there's not a lot of places in philanthropy where a very wealthy white woman says, "But you're in charge. What do you want to do?" And to be fair, while we were at Washington Women's Foundation, that whole time she did that. We would be in meetings and people would be like, "Well, what do you think, Beth?" And she was like, "Well, it doesn't matter because Morgan said what she thinks, and you ignored her. So, we're not doing this anymore."

And we still had to have conversations about, "Hey, your education, your growth as a white woman is on my back." The growth of this entire organization is because I let them touch my hair. It's because I shaved my head and it was bad, but it wasn't as horrible as other people's experiences.

And I think when I think about why I stay in philanthropy, if I'm being honest, it's the place I've been cared for. When I was at Washington Women's Foundation, even that Black woman saying, "Hey, I'm done with them, but I'm not going to let you fail." There were so many Black women in philanthropy who called me, [inaudible], Ada Williams Prince, who called me and said, "Hey, are those white ladies taking care of you? What do you need?" People who said, "Hey, I wouldn't normally do this at this price, but I will for you."

And so now I am in a position to where I can pour into others, and I want to make sure that is done well. People think it's cool that me and this white woman get along, so they'll put a mic in front of us. So, I'm going to say the thing, and she's going to say the thing, because that is our job when no one else is willing to do it.

I think the other thing is, philanthropy is not altruistic. And so white people have money because of enslaved labor and native genocide. You don't just have extra money. And I practice telling rich white women that. They'd be like, "Well, Morgan, I know what it's like to be poor." "Well, Judy, when was the last time you were poor?" "I grew up poor." "And how old are you now? How much does milk cost?"

I think a lot about the fact that a lot of philanthropy has coddled white people. And so, then when we tell them they have to make a change, they're like, "But you said it would be…," and so now I'm kind of sitting here like, "What if we just tell them it's going to be hard?" Because it's not your money, and you need to give up something, and power-sharing doesn't mean you get to just play with the toy and hand it when you're done. Power-sharing means you're giving something up. Wealth redistribution. I can't say that word apparently.

Tonyel Edwards (00:48:55)

Yes, you can.

Morgan Dawson:

It means that you need to give something up. And the truth is it's not yours.

Tonyel Edwards:

We have heard palatable. We've heard “learn how to navigate spaces.” We've heard lots of words about what it's taken as you've engaged in your work. Susan, I have a question for you. Thinking about the work that you do, you're CEO of a foundation that was existing, and as you entered your work as a Black woman with a vision, walk us through your journey of how you've navigated these spaces to really push forward the vision that you have for Melville.

Susan Thomas:

Melville Trust focused on ending homelessness. That was its sole focus, ending homelessness. And I knew that yes, worthy cause. But that wasn't the issue. Being homeless wasn't the issue. It was the symptom. It was one of many symptoms of the inequities, of the injustices, of the systemic racism, of our lack of opportunity that was taken from us. And so, I wanted to go deeper.

And even though I had worked at the trust for six years, in my interview, I went through the full interview process and I told the board, "If we want to end homelessness, we need to end homelessness for Black people. We need to end housing instability for Black people, and we need to address the root cause of why that's happening. That's what I want to do, so if you don't want me to do that, then you shouldn't hire me into this role." I was very clear what I wanted to do.

And so the board, they've been very supportive. And I mean, there's pushback. It's a journey. It is always…

Tonyel Edwards:

That's a code word in philanthropy, by the way.

Susan Thomas:

Yeah. It's always a journey.

But I was very clear and laser-focused, and that is something that we have to make sure that we stay, is laser-focused. People are always trying to knock you off your game to distract you. Something shiny, something this, something that. Well, that's maybe just a little bit too far. If you know that you know that you know. Someone told me one time, "Hold your north." And I keep that in the back of my head because no matter which way the wind blows, you hold your north.

And so that's what I've done to navigate those spaces. I work collaboratively. I think that two heads, three heads, are better than one. I make sure that there is space for other people's ideas. Now, you're going to have to convince me that it's a good idea. But there's always space for someone's idea. And someone had told me one time, "Always work yourself out of a job." I'm always thinking, "What's the next step? What are we supposed to be doing?" And nothing's too hard. It just depends on how much you want to work, how hard you want to work at it. And there's always going to be a co-conspirator that you can find somewhere to bring along with you. And so, I look for those co-conspirators. I look for a coalition of the willing ,and if it's two, if it's three, we stay laser-focused and we go towards our goal.

Tonyel Edwards (00:53:18):

Thank you so much for that, Susan. Tynesha, Carmen, Morgan, all of you have started organizations. Would love to know as you have gone about the process of starting your foundations, how have you brought your experiences, expertise, and what's truly best practice? Redefining what best practice looks like to lead, what it looks like to build. Talk to us about that.

Tynesha McHarris:

I can start. The Black Feminist Fund was something that we had been planning and dreaming about for 12 years. Well, about 10 years, actually, so twelve years ago. And it was sort of myself, who… when I was based in New York at the time. In the US, a dear friend and comrade, Hakima Abbas, who is based in West Africa and was visiting, and then a dear friend and person in the work, Aminda Doherty, was based in the Caribbean, in Antigua. All three of us, and I remember there was one particular with two of us, a conversation. It wasn't at a kitchen table; it was at a dining table. And we were all just venting about the same thing, about money.

She's visiting, doing organizing work in Kenya. I was doing organizing and work in New York, and we're spending the majority of our time not talking about the global connections that we can make about our work, not talking about the things we could plan or vision out for the organizations or the programs we were managing, or not talking about how we might want to work together. We had known each other for years at that point. We already had the foundation to be dreaming, planning, plotting, thinking, connecting. We spent all of our time talking about how hard it was to raise money, and how hard it was to figure out how to get resources out of philanthropy in this sector in a way that felt still good or whole.

And that turned into venting sessions with Black women turning to planning sessions all the time. And we literally were like, "What if we had a fund that was global that moved money to Black women and gender-expansive people's activism and did it in all the ways we tell this sector it can, but it continues to tell us it can't? And then held onto it for 10 years and then finally launched in two years, two years ago.

And so, the question in terms of building a thing is, there's a few things that I think we learned on the journey. One of the beauties of Black women's leadership is we know the biggest, brightest work we do is always in community, it's always collective. The thing that often the sector or dominance teaches us, that white supremacy and patriarchy teach us, is about king-making and queen-making: There's only room for one. Our leadership journeys are organized around one, and that is isolating, and it's not sustainable. And so, the leadership journey is, I rock with a team, and we make decisions collectively together. It's so much easier to be able to make decisions together in community with other smart Black women. I think that's first.

The second is, things take the time it takes. For those first 10 years of designing and planning and thinking, I've held so much shame over it not launching yet. Somehow felt like I was getting in my own way. And then also all the things flooding in that we often talk about, about not feeling enough. All those things are true, but things take the time it takes. And so that is something that has been really helpful.

That way we have two years now that we've been starting the organization. We have a collective team of the dopest community of Black feminist activists from around the world making decisions together. People are like, "Y'all do a lot. Y'all did a lot in two years." We've committed $14 million to 47 organizations in 30 different countries in two years.

Tynesha McHarris (00:57:27):

And 21 of those organizations, through one of our funds called the Sustained Funds, each of those organizations receive a grant, and our grants range around a hundred thousand dollars a year around the world, and we're consistent. We don't believe in this thing where, if you’re in the Global South, you get less money than our folk in the Global North. We could talk about that later, because there's a way that anti-Blackness shows up in anti-Africanness and anti-Black women around the continent that is deep, y'all, and in the Caribbean, and Latin America. But it's about really actually investing in where the most brilliance is, which often is in the Global South.

But each of those organizations get a grant a year for eight years. We are now, as far as we understand, the longest-running grant-making program we have ever seen. Because the point is, we can make eight-year grants. And I'm not talking about a grant where it's like, you can come back every year for eight years.

Tonyel Edwards:

It's guaranteed.

Tynesha McHarris:

It's your money. And so, I think our point is, in terms of how we're trying to build a thing is, we get to break these rules that have never made sense for us. And a part of it is, we know that our resources that we're moving is the floor. We want to model the kind of solidarity funding that we deserve. We say often, "Fund us like you want us to win." And so, I think in terms of building a thing, it's like we are trying to model, what does it mean to resource movements, like we want them to win? Because you can't win with one-year grants. I often say, "Folks want you to be Harriet Tubman for $15,000." Pursue freedom!

And by the way, in three months you'll be ready for your site visit. I mean, don't get me started. Anyway, I'll just say that I think what we get to do is model the kinds of things that feel outrageous for this sector. And so, we want to be really outrageous and in many ways to hold folks accountable to a standard that they often say that they can't for, regardless of other reasons, but as we have done with always with our communities, we do a lot more with a lot less, and we don't have to. See what we can do, and then give us a lot damn more.

Tonyel Edwards (1:00:04):

Yes. Carmen, I'm going to toss it to you.

Carmen James Randolph:

I would say, very similarly to Tanisha, first of all, I have enjoyed and have been blessed to do this with a group of sisters, so this is not a solo effort. And it started very similarly with dreaming. So having sessions where... And our dreaming sessions were not only... It wasn't as much about venting, but reimagining because, having worked in this sector in DC and then in New Orleans, I can tell you the impact of racism and patriarchy is so profound here. It is profound. And I'm most grateful that the waters were troubled, because if the waters weren't troubled, I would've been comfortable and WFS would not exist. If I was expected to be able to do what I'm doing, WFS would not exist. I still have people who bump into me asking me, "How's that little project going?"

Tonyel Edwards:

Oh, wow.

Carmen James Randolph:

So having…

Tonyel Edwards:

The disrespect.

Carmen James Randolph:

... other women and saying, "Okay, can we build what we want to see?" Because we have been inside these institutions, whether it's national philanthropy, whether it's private foundations, community foundations across the South, and know how hard it is to move money, particularly to people of color and, most difficult, to women of color in the South. It's hard. And how can we change that? How can we shift what philanthropy looks like in the South by modeling what you're saying, modeling how we think this should be done. So, we had five founders. I'm one of them, and I'm so blessed that I was able to call on Gladys Washington, who, when I first talked to sister Gladys, and you talk about feeling nervous and not knowing if you're enough and all those things, and I talked to Gladys and I asked. I told her what we were thinking about and planning, and I said, "Gladys, can I call you?"

She said, "Baby, call me." I said, "Well, I need your number." She said, "Well, take out your phone," and I took out my phone and I typed in, "Gladys," and it popped up, all her information. She said, "See, everything you need is right there." And it was a lesson to me that here we have, if you're questioning, if you're doubting what you can do, all of us are what we need. And we have it right here. So, we had those five founders, and then we pulled together 25 women of diverse gender expression, diverse racially, diverse in age, come together to say, "What should the values be of this organization, of this entity? What should the mission be? What should the focus be?" And I'm talking real debate about language that evoked violence or words that just were counter to who we are as women.

I mean really just rich dialogue, and the values that came forth were values that looked very different. So, the first value that we say that we honor is Mother Wit. And I'm often asked, "Well, why is that one of your values?" And it's one of our values because we're very clear, as women of color, when we don't know where the money's going to come from, when we don't know what the answer is, we draw on that thing that is so deep within us. We draw on that Mother Wit, the knowledge that came from the ancestors that we've all called into this room to come forward with the solution. That's how we do the most with the very least. So, we honor that value. We value the ingenuity of women. We honor sisterhood. We honor equity, justice. We honor community wisdom, and we honor power-sharing.

So those are the values that built this organization. And I would say that having the opportunity to be an architect and plan the bones of the organization, and then once we were able to open our doors, I jumped over a big thing. This kitchen cabinet of 25 women, we said, "Okay, so we don't have a donor that donated a big amount of money for us to get started." So, we didn't have a donor, dead or alive, that contributed a large gift to start WFS. And we're like, "So how do we get this started? Where's the capital going to come from?" And the first thought was, "Well, why don't we expand this circle and call on other Black women working in philanthropy across the country and ask them to give? Ask them to ask their institutions to match their gifts and ask them to ask their allies to give." And so that's what we did.

And that generated the first $100,000 that came into WFS and some of the allies that came forward.  The Minnesota Women's Foundation sent us $10,000. We're like, "Minnesota? Why would the Minnesota Women's Foundation send us money?" But it was striking. So that was the first, and then that $100,000 leveraged larger gifts. So, we opened our doors in August 2021. So, we're barely two years old. We opened two years ago with $1.3 million, and then it came the time, because we had done strategic planning, we had done an operations plan, to actually start everything from writing personnel policies and financial policies and practices, all of those things that most of us, when you get a job, you just go to the place and that's what it is. But this is the opportunity to be an architect and sitting with my board and saying, "Those values, we want to make sure every last one of them shows up in these personnel policies first for how we treat our people."

So that was such a beautiful labor of love, creating those personnel policies. Now, my youngest and newest employee is here, so you can tell me if I'm wrong in saying, "Those policies, we wanted them to speak to the experience of women, of people, of whether you were trans, non-binary, what have you, and see yourself in our personnel policies." And then when we were selecting benefits, oh, that was such an experience. For instance, we purchased an FSA, a flexible spending account, for our employees. And I'm going over with the broker for the FSA program, and he said, "Oh, when you choose who your staff could choose as a benefit officiary, just do spouse and children." And I said, "Well, what are the other categories?" "Oh, well, they could be grandmothers. That could be…"

Carmen James Randolph (1:00:04):

"... children, grandchildren, adopted children.” “Well, most people don't have those." It's like, "Hold on, hold on, hold on. But our women, Black women, women of color, do have those.” So no, I want to say, "Anybody who they taking care of, they can claim for their FSA."

Tonyel Edwards:


Carmen James Randolph:

All right? Whether you buying Depends or diapers, you should be able to write that off. So anyway, having the opportunity to make those choices, and understanding that they're choices, understanding even down to developing a retirement program to when people can use their phones, it's like, "No, we often have emergencies."

Group (1:09:29):

That's right.

Carmen James Randolph:

Whether or not we got to come up with money to help somebody who's been incarcerated or to help this, that, and the other, we have emergencies. We have things we need more money for. So, all of that, we built in and having that opportunity to be an architect of plans that were flexible, plans that spoke to the needs of women, putting in place things like financial planning for each of our staff members, and then when we went about starting our grant-making program, we only had a little bit of money dedicated to re-granting. And we said, "What can we do that's meaningful with just a small amount of money?" And to start our grant-making here in Louisiana, right after Hurricane Ida had devastated our state, it gave birth to our flagship initiative called WŌC @ Rest (Women of Color at Rest). Because we were clear. Instead of along those plans that we had, of hosting listening sessions across the South, we said, "No, we don't need to be extractive. We need to pour into these sisters, and we understand, after three years of COVID, after Hurricane Ida, responding to disaster and compounding disaster, they need rest and support."

So, we gave them small grants, $5,000, and said, "Do what you need." For some women that looked like, "Well, my home office was destroyed. I need to put it back together." "Do it." For some women that looked like, "I've had a double mastectomy and I need compression garments that I can wear underneath my clothes to look professional when I go out." "Do it." "It looks like my mother is dying and I need to have time with her and not have leave without pay." "Do it." "It looks like I need a coach. I need someone who can support me," or, "I need to just take a break." They got to say what they used the dollars for. We worked it out with our legal and accounting that they knew it was taxable depending on how they used it, but they got to make those decisions. And we invited them to a two-day retreat. Our curatorial partners, Junebug Productions, here in New Orleans... So that retreat was based in culture and spirit, and we brought them together.

It was loosely programmed, and we loved on them. We had massages, and it was just wonderful to love on them, to see them love on one another and share. And then we listened as they shared their stories, and we were able to learn from them. So, this work now, we've started in Louisiana. We took this to Mississippi last year, and I have to tell you something, for both of those groups, women in New Orleans said to me, "Carmen, is this for real? Carmen, why'd you choose me for this grant? Why'd you choose me for this opportunity?" And this woman who asked me this runs a statewide mental health organization, and this is after COVID, and you're going to ask me, “Why you? I said, "Aren't you doing the work, sis?" And she said, "Yes, but just why me?" And she said, "I'm not the only one. All of us at this table have thought this is a hoax." And when we were in Mississippi, the sisters of Mississippi asked us, "Well, who gave you permission to start the foundation?" And we said, "Gave us permission?" And they're like, "No, no, really, who said you could do this?" And when we asked them about their experiences with philanthropy, the first word, and that kept going around, was, “trauma.”

Tonyel Edwards (1:13:58):


Carmen James Randolph:

So, we've expanded this work to Texas, and now we're going into Georgia, taking this flagship work. But this is a way of building the ship as we are flying. We're building it as we're flying it. We're learning from women from across the South, and it's our goal that within five years, we will have reached our entire footprint and connected more than 300 leaders from across the South who will then inform what our grant-making to build health, wealth, and power looks like.

Tonyel Edwards:

Yes. Love that. And what better way to unfortunately close this conversation out, but on rest, because I think that that is the most critical. I think I love... Who said it? "You can't dream if you don't sleep," and so with that, Morgan, we thank you for coming on your sabbatical, your six-month sabbatical. Correct? That you have started.


Six months.

Tonyel Edwards (1:14:57):

But one of the things that I'll make a plug for, first of all, I could have spoken with you all, all day long, and so we hope that there's a way to have you on Darren's podcast, Dreaming in Color, to just have longer stories because all of you have so much wisdom to share and just expertise and brilliance that is truly changing the world, changing the philanthropic landscape. And so, just an honor and a pleasure, and many of you had a chance to meet through the work that we're doing now, exploring the role of philanthropy in reparations. And so, as we think about repair and progress, excited to continue these conversations with you all. I'm going to pass it back to Darren to close us out.

Darren Isom:

I want to thank you guys all again for coming. Give everybody a round of applause. I want to give the panelists a round of applause, give you guys a round of applause, for being here. Also, for looking good. I just love... I said this earlier, Black women, you all just show up and look exactly like you're supposed to. You all always understand the assignment, and I appreciate that. I would also love for my team to raise their hand. There's a whole team of folks that when Darren's talking about, "Oh, we're going to do this. We're going to do that," there's some folks who actually make that happen, and so happy for that, particularly my assistant, Christina, who's probably hiding off somewhere. We made a plug for the podcast. Of course, please download the podcast, Dreaming in Color. It's wonderful. I enjoy the episodes.

We have a few folks actually from, see you, Mary, Mary Annaïse, from the episodes that are here. There's a little something in the handbag. I think there are pralines in the handbag too. That was my request. But there's also something about the podcasts in the bag as well. And Tonyel mentioned briefly, but Bridgespan, we got an article coming out on reparations, y’all. We got an article. Come on now. Can you give us a round of applause? I was talking with my driver. You know New Orleans drivers. They talk a lot. And I talk too, so I can't be mad at them, and the guy, the Black guy, was talking about how we need reparations. And I was like, "I used to think reparations was maybe a grandchild conversation because you're Black. You're used to things not happening in your lifetime. You're working for your grandchildren."

We're the only folks where our leaders get up and talk about, "I hope one day my great-grandkids can do something they should be doing now." But I think that reparations might just happen in our lifetime. I see it coming. So that's something to be really excited about. And so those are my thoughts I have here. I'm going to leave you with the closing thoughts. I'll give you a benediction as well as an invocation today. I don't give that normally. And this one, because it's Pride, Pauli Murray: "We need not despair because we seem to fail or cannot see the fruition of our efforts on behalf of others. If we build with love and compassion, we can build with hope." So, as you guys are out there doing the work, the hope is within you. The love is within you. Carry out the work because all that's done in love is done well.

I referenced briefly in opening the panel that everything I ever needed to know about strategic thinking, intended impact, and theories of change, I learned as a child watching my Grandma Lucinda navigate her kitchen table conversations at her home in Uptown New Orleans. Listening to this brilliant panel engage in such a rich and inspiring conversation on philanthropy was like returning to my grandma's kitchen table. Un grand merci to Morgan Dawson, Tynesha McHarris, Carmen James Randolph, Susan Thomas, and my Bridgespan colleague, Tonyel Edwards, for joining me in Tremé to make this conversation happen, for imparting their wisdom and humor on the group, and for beaming back the light and love radiating from the beloved community there assembled. Thank you for your gentle, steadfast life-saving work. And with that, stay tuned for season three of Dreaming in Color, coming soon. It's shaping up to be the best one yet.

Well, y’all, that's a wrap, and while the episode has finished, the work continues. Thank you for tuning in and listening generously to Dreaming in Color, a Bridgespan-supported StudioPod media production. Special shout-outs to our wonderful show producers, Teresa Buchanan and Denise Sevas; our video editors, Dave Clarke-McCoy, Diana Roy Dailey, and Alejandra Ramirez; our graphic designer, Deanna Jimenez and our show coordinator, Nicole Genova. And a huge shout-out to our ever-brilliant Bridgespan production team and family, Cora Daniels, Jasmine Reliford, Ami Diané, Christina Pistorius, and Ryan Wenzel. Be sure to subscribe and leave a rating and review wherever you listen to your favorite podcast. Talk soon.

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