Philanthropy Southeast's Blog

Engage, Philanthropy Southeast's blog, is a space for members, staff and partners to share their thoughts on the latest trends and best practices in philanthropy. Engage is also used for important announcements about upcoming Philanthropy Southeast events and programs.

Do you have a story or insight you’d like to share with our members on Engage? Contact David Miller, vice president of strategic communications, at or at (404) 524-0911 to discuss your idea.


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Summer 2022 Issue of Inspiration Now Available

Author: Philanthropy Southeast


The latest issue of Philanthropy Southeast’s quarterly magazine, Inspiration, is out now in print and via a PDF digital edition on our website! Here’s what you can look forward to in the latest issue:

  • Gilead Sciences may be based in California, but the corporation’s philanthropic work has long invested in the South, including its COMPASS Initiative focused on HIV/AIDS and, more recently, its Racial Equity Community Impact Fund.
  • For more than two years, Philanthropy Southeast’s Chair’s Book Club has provided a welcoming platform for members interested in exploring equity and inclusion via novels, memoirs, and other books. Members are reading the Book Club’s fifth selection, Valeria Luiselli’s Lost Children Archive, right now.
  • From The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, a look at how the various businesses of the foundation’s founder, Arthur M. Blank, give their employees a significant role to play in directing community outreach and philanthropic support.
  • An interview with Alejandro Avilés, a member of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation Board of Directors.

Every issue of Inspiration also includes an opening message from Janine Lee and updates on our newest members and new hires and promotions from across the region.  

A copy of Inspiration is sent to each Philanthropy Southeast member office – members can also read the entire issue now by logging into our website and visiting our Inspiration archive!

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Southeastern Soundings – Extended Edition (Summer 2022)

Author: Philanthropy Southeast


Southeastern Soundings, a regular feature of our Inspiration magazine, highlights new hires, promotions and board appointments by our members. For this issue, we had more announcements than would fit in our print edition, so we’re publishing an extended roundup online. Congratulations to all the people mentioned here!

If your organization has welcomed a new staff member or trustee, or promoted an existing staff member, we want to know! Please email the information to David Miller at


Kristy Klein Davis has joined the Healthcare Georgia Foundation as president. She previously worked at the Missouri Foundation for Health as chief strategy officer.

The Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta has hired Nichole Owens as public relations manager. She most recently served as director of communications at The Salvation Army’s Metro Atlanta Area Command. The foundation has also greatly expanded its board, adding seven new members: Jen Bennecke, a community volunteer, Julie Ann Crommett from Google; Dr. Jeffrey Hines of Wellstar Health System; Debra Lam from the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation; Marc Pollack of RangeWater Real Estate; the Atlanta Music Project’s Dantes Rameau, and Southern Company’s Dekia Scott.

Kathryn C. Yarzebinski is the new president and CEO of the Greater Lynchburg Community Foundation. Previously, she worked at Randolph College as director of development.

Kimberly Heimiller is the new director of marketing at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. 

The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky announced three new team members: Chloe Atwater and Katy Walker have joined as policy associates, and Ally Wells has joined as communications associate.

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July 2022 Research Update: Highlights from Recent Reports in the Field

Category: Research & Data, 
Author: Stephen Sherman


Philanthropy Southeast’s online Research Library is regularly updated with the latest reports relevant to Southern philanthropy. Members can browse over 500 research reports, websites, case studies, and other resources we have cultivated to help funders stay abreast of trends in the field and learn about emerging best practices in philanthropy. 

Below are some of the key findings and highlights of the newest additions to the Research Library. If you would like to suggest a resource or have other feedback, contact Stephen Sherman, Philanthropy Southeast’s Director of Research and Data, at or (404) 524-0911.


Centering Equity and Justice in Climate Philanthropy
Candid, Ariadne (2022)
This field guide for funders provides an overview of current philanthropic funding for climate justice, identifies common barriers to supporting climate justice strategies, and describes ways to overcome these barriers. The authors share insights and case studies from experienced funders that have shifted their institutions to use a climate justice lens for greater impact within their existing grantmaking priorities. The report finds that intermediary organizations, particularly regranting institutions and pooled funds, are critical partners in the climate justice field. One section profiles several examples of such organizations and offers a detailed listing of national and international intermediaries. The authors close with recommendations for funders interested in supporting climate justice initiatives.


The Impact of COVID-19 on Aging and Older Adults Grantmaking
Grantmakers in Health, Grantmakers in Aging (2022)
To better understand how philanthropy has responded to these challenges over the course of the pandemic, Grantmakers In Health and Grantmakers In Aging launched a joint survey in November 2021 to learn how health and aging funders are addressing COVID-19 related needs among older adult populations and potential long-term impacts on future grantmaking. Findings from this survey showed an increased focus on food security and programs to address social isolation during the pandemic. The infographic also examines changes in grantmaking strategies brought about by the pandemic, which included shifts in the types of programs and interventions funded and an increase in general operating support. Most funders surveyed expected changes in grantmaking to endure beyond the short-term.


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Five Georgia Foundations Launch Drawdown Georgia Climate Solutions and Equity Grant

Author: Drawdown Georgia


In October 2020, the Ray C. Anderson Foundation launched Drawdown Georgia after funding an 18-month collaboration between researchers at Emory University, Georgia State University, Georgia Tech, and the University of Georgia. That work identified 20 high-impact climate solutions that would put Georgia on a path to drawdown – that point in the future when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to steadily decline. In doing so, Georgia became the first state to localize the methodology of Project Drawdown, which pioneered a global blueprint for reversing global warming by scaling market-ready climate solutions.

Since that time, Drawdown Georgia has been bringing together businesses, universities, NGOs, policymakers, and other stakeholders to collaborate on climate in Georgia, with a goal of reducing the state's carbon impact by 30 percent by 2030. At the same time, our state's climate solutions can advance other priorities beyond carbon, including equity, health, economic opportunity, and the health of the natural environment.

The most recent collaboration comes from the philanthropic sector. Last month, five Georgia-based family foundations announced a joint request for proposals that will deploy Drawdown Georgia climate solutions while also advancing equity in Georgia's low-income, BIPOC communities. The opportunity is called the Drawdown Georgia Climate Solutions and Equity Grant, and the five foundations are the R. Howard Dobbs, Jr. Foundation, the Kendeda Fund, the Wilbur & Hilda Glenn Family Foundation, the Sapelo Foundation, and the Ray C. Anderson Foundation. The application process will open on August 1, 2022 and letters of introduction will be due by August 31, 2022. An informational webinar will be held at 1:00pm ET on Thursday, July 28.

"It's easy to feel overwhelmed in the face of climate change, to wonder how one could possibly make a difference in the face of such a large problem," said David Weitnauer, president of the R. Howard Dobbs, Jr. Foundation. "Thanks to Drawdown Georgia, we have a statewide road map of very practical climate solutions – solutions that work on a local level – ready for implementation.

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Staff Highlight: Maura Toole

Author: Philanthropy Southeast


For most Philanthropy Southeast interns, the experience marks their first brush with the world of philanthropy – but for Maura Toole, it’s an opportunity to deepen her experience in a sector she’s engaged with since her preteen days.

Maura, a student at Emory University studying philosophy and human health, presented her first grant proposal as a 12-year-old to the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro’s Teen Grantmaking Council – a body she would eventually serve on.

“I interacted with foundation leaders, asked big questions about how funds move between individuals and nonprofits, and explored my community’s greatest needs,” she said.

Maura followed up that experience by joining with classmates in 2018 to establish a nonprofit, the Greensboro, North Carolina, chapter of March for Our Lives, the network that formed in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

“I learned how to build strong and broad coalitions and how to identify and encourage strengths in teammates,” Maura said of the experience. “And I explored what it means to be a collaborative, effective, resilient servant leader.”

Before arriving at Emory, Maura also worked with the Educational Theatre Association to help develop grants to send underrepresented student leaders to the International Thespian Festival and another for public school arts programs struggling with the impact of the pandemic.

Given her experience, it’s no surprise that Maura came into her internship with some knowledge of Philanthropy Southeast’s work. Since joining the team in May, Maura says she’s been able to gain an even better understanding of philanthropy in the region.

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Public Policy Update - July 2022

Category: Public Policy, 
Author: Philanthropy Southeast


Each month, Philanthropy Southeast provides members with monthly updates on the latest public policy developments in Washington and state capitols around the region, analyzing their possible impact on the charitable sector. If you would like to see an issue featured in a future Public Policy Update, contact Jaci Bertrand, Philanthropy Southeast's vice president of member engagement, at


Democrats Hope to Move Ahead with Scaled-Back Version of ‘Build Back Better’

Last year, congressional Democrats and the Biden administration spent several months hoping to pass an ambitious package of proposals, known as Build Back Better, that would have represented a significant expansion of social safety net programs.

Those plans fell apart when two Senate Democrats, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Krysten Sinema of Arizona, objected to the plan due to its scope and proposed tax increases. In the evenly divided Senate, Democrats needed the support of every member of their caucus to pass the bill via the reconciliation process, which forbids the use of the filibuster.

Months later, hopes of passing a slimmed-down package are on the rise. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Manchin have been negotiating on a package that may include proposals on prescription drug pricing, climate change and tax revisions. So far, none of the tax proposals reportedly under consideration would directly affect foundations or donor-advised funds.

If Democrats can agree on a legislative package, party leaders hope to hold a Senate vote on it before the August recess, though that deadline could slip into September.

We will monitor whatever legislation emerges from the ongoing negotiations, particularly any provisions that affect the communities and people philanthropy serves.


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Program Officers: Foundations’ Cultural and Strategic Messengers

Author: Allen Smart


The foundation program officer has always had a difficult role. Part gatekeeper, part bureaucracy manager, part cheerleader – and now increasingly responsible for building collaboratives, promoting equity and engendering trust. 

At their best, they can hold all these skills concurrently. At their least effective, they gravitate to one competency over all others and muddle through their tasks without meeting the demands of their internal or external stakeholders. The result: program officers that aren’t providing value to their grantees, communities or foundation leadership. They are too often just getting by.

The evolution of the program officer role has followed similar shifts in private philanthropy. Beginning as bank trust officers in the early days of philanthropy and growing to influential issue experts and movement leaders in the 60s and 70s. The 80s and 90s saw the explosion of foundation staffing, process and layers of decision making. Many program officers became primarily process navigators. 

When I (with my colleagues) coined the term “Program Officer of the 21st Century” for a Southeastern Council of Foundations (now Philanthropy Southeast) conference presentation a few years back, the branding was meant to reflect the need to move program officers to a more community-engaged listening and facilitative model, in an effort to diminish the inherent power dynamics in the funder-nonprofit relationship. The change also tasked the program officer with responsibilities that extended far past grantmaking — to using the social and facilitative capital of foundations. This switch from steward to activator was, and still isn’t easy, for many. The challenge is how to best support this more active and nuanced role?

For decades, philanthropy supporting organizations, sometimes described as foundation affinity groups, have organized various trainings under such titles as Foundations 101 and the Art and Science of Grantmaking – brief general exposure curriculum meant to give those new to foundations a common language. Concurrently, there developed a series of leadership and peer support programs for those younger in their career; those in specific operational roles or those from specific demographic backgrounds, as examples. What didn’t develop, however, was any training or support for the evolving role of the program officer. Nothing to respond to the basic questions of “How Can I Be Good at My Job” or “What does a Successful Program Officer Look Like and How to Get There”? 

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Public Policy Update - June 2022

Author: Philanthropy Southeast


Each month, Philanthropy Southeast provides members with monthly updates on the latest public policy developments in Washington and state capitols around the region, analyzing their possible impact on the charitable sector. If you would like to see an issue featured in a future Public Policy Update, contact Jaci Bertrand, Philanthropy Southeast's vice president of member engagement, at


Powerful House Committee Adds Another Southeast Member

The House Ways & Means Committee – one of the most powerful committees in Congress, and the one responsible for writing tax policies that impact the nonprofit sector – has added a new member from the Southeast region.

Rep. David Kustoff, a Tennessee Republican, was named to the panel on June 9. He represents a district that begins outside Memphis and encompasses the western end of the state.

"It is an honor to be selected to serve on the oldest committee in the House of Representatives, the House Committee on Ways and Means. As the only Republican from the Mid-South on this committee, West Tennessee and the Mid-South region will have a seat at the table on issues such as taxes, trade, and healthcare” Kustoff said in a statement.

In addition to serving on the full committee, Kustoff was also appointed to serve on the Subcommittees on Social Security, Worker and Family Support, and Oversight.

He joins several other members from the region on the committee, including Vern Buchanan (R-FL), Tom Rice (R-SC), Terri Sewell (D-AL), Drew Ferguson (R-GA), Donald Beyer (D-VA), Gregory Murphy (R-NC), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) and Stacey Plaskett (D-VI).


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Standing With Florida’s People and Communities

Author: Philanthropy Southeast


Registration for this year’s Annual Meeting is opening this week – and we look forward to sharing all the details of our agenda with our members. Before that, however, we wanted to address concerns around our meeting’s location in Amelia Island, Florida.

This spring, Florida enacted multiple pieces of legislation that target and isolate people who have historically faced discrimination and marginalization while also seeking to limit discussion of related issues in the classroom. These include the measure widely known as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, as well as HB 7, which bans educators from teaching certain subjects related to race.

While Philanthropy Southeast has not taken a position on these specific bills, we are deeply alarmed by these measures and their potential to harm educators, students and their families. Both bills appear designed to create a chilling effect that will limit the discussion of issues that have historically not received the attention they deserve. 

In response to the passage of these laws, some organizations have responded by moving or canceling events slated to take place in Florida. We have also heard calls to move our own Annual Meeting from the state. While we understand and respect this perspective, we are still planning to hold the Annual Meeting in Florida, for a few reasons.

First, many Philanthropy Southeast members, in Florida and beyond, work hard every day to support organizations that serve the LGBTQ community and communities of color. The Annual Meeting provides a safe space for members concerned about these issues to share insights and learn from one another. We will not deprive our members of this opportunity – this applies especially to our members in Florida who may not be able to attend a meeting in another location as easily.

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A First Look at the 2022 Annual Meeting

Category: Annual Meeting, 



Today we’re excited to give you a first look at what’s in store for Philanthropy Southeast’s 2022 Annual Meeting – Bold Moves: Building a Brighter Future. Over three days in Amelia Island, Florida, we will come together to share how courageous leadership can translate into actions that take our work to the next level and help realize our vision of a just and equitable South!

As we prepare to open registration on Wednesday, June 15, we wanted to give you a quick preview of what’s in store for this year’s event!


Thought-Provoking Leaders Take the Stage


This year’s lineup of keynote and plenary speakers includes two voices with years of social sector experience who are also unafraid to speak their minds:

Edgar Villanueva, author of Decolonizing Wealth, Hull Fellows alumnus and award-winning author, activist, and expert on race, wealth, and philanthropy issues. Decolonizing Wealth, one of the most talked-about books in our field, was recently reissued as an expanded 2nd edition.

Vu Le, whose irreverent Nonprofit AF blog has long been a favorite of nonprofit and philanthropic leaders. His combination of blunt and provocative insights along with humor have made him a can’t-miss speaker that leaves audiences both entertained and energized.


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Philanthropy Southeast
100 Peachtree Street NW, Suite 2080
Atlanta, GA 30303

Visiting Philanthropy Southeast:
All staff are working remotely at this time but can still be reached via email and by calling (404) 524-0911.

Monday-Thursday from 9:00am–6:00pm (ET)
Friday from 9:00am–12:00pm (ET)

Phone: (404) 524-0911
Fax: (404) 523-5116

Mission: Philanthropy Southeast strengthens Southern philanthropy, welcoming our members to listen, learn and collaborate on ideas and actions to help build an equitable, prosperous South.