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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Inspiration honors Janine Lee

Author: Philanthropy Southeast



Earlier this year, the Philanthropy Southeast community was devastated by the news of Janine Lee’s passing. Over more than a decade leading our organization, Janine became known nationwide as one of our sector’s greatest leaders, known for her courage and commitment to the American South, as well as a steadfast belief in philanthropy’s power to transform lives and elevate communities.

This month, to honor Janine, we have released a special edition of our Inspiration magazine that highlights the work and legacy of someone who meant so much to all of us. This issue includes:

  • A tribute to her career in philanthropy – at Philanthropy Southeast and beyond – featuring reflections from our staff and members throughout the region.
  • A reflection from Toya Nash Randall, founder of Voice. Vision. Value., on Janine’s mentorship of Black women in philanthropy.
  • Tributes from national and regional sector leaders.
  • A timeline of major events in Janine’s life, from childhood through her leadership of Philanthropy Southeast.
  • An introductory message from Philanthropy Southeast Board Chair Kristen Keely-Dinger and Chair-Elect Darrin Goss, Sr.

This issue of Inspiration is now available online – this link will take you directly to our PDF edition, no login required. Printed copies have also been sent to our mailing list of CEOs, senior staff and program officers.

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In Remembrance of Janine Lee

Category: Announcements, 
Author: Kristen Keely-Dinger



I am writing with profoundly sad news. Janine Lee, Philanthropy Southeast’s president and CEO since 2011, passed away Wednesday evening following a brief illness. She was surrounded by family.

On behalf of our entire Board and staff, I want to express our deepest sympathies and condolences to Janine’s family. We are doing all we can to support them during this time of great loss.

This is also a time of mourning for the Philanthropy Southeast staff, our Board, our members and countless others in our field who were blessed to know and work with Janine. The warmth of her personality, combined with an unwavering commitment to the Southeast and a steadfast belief in the power of philanthropy, made her one of our field’s most impressive and inspiring leaders. Words cannot convey how much we will miss her.

Philanthropy Southeast’s many accomplishments under Janine’s leadership include the adoption of a groundbreaking Equity Framework, new values and guiding principles, a dedication to courageous leadership and the embrace of an inclusive vision of philanthropy that has allowed us to welcome new organizations and leaders that share a commitment to our region, its communities, and its people. Janine’s vision and strategic thinking have put Philanthropy Southeast in a position of great strength, moving toward an even greater future.

While this is a sad time for us all, the next few weeks will be especially challenging for the Philanthropy Southeast staff, for whom Janine was not only a leader, but a valued mentor and friend. They will need space and time to grieve – please give them your patience and grace.

In the days ahead, we will share ways you can pay your respects and help us commemorate Janine’s life, work and legacy. As an organization, we will honor her memory and impact throughout the rest of this year and beyond – we will have more to share about those plans soon.

Please keep Janine’s family and the Philanthropy Southeast team in your thoughts and prayers. Your support for them is invaluable and deeply appreciated.

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Sharing News About Janine Lee

Category: Announcements, 
Author: Kristen Keely-Dinger


We wanted to let you know about some recent events that have deeply affected our Philanthropy Southeast family. Last week, our president and CEO, Janine Lee, was hospitalized and is now on medical leave. Our thoughts and prayers are with Janine and her family as they navigate this challenging time.

Janine's family has asked for privacy as they focus on caring for her needs. However, they wanted us to share that she is in stable condition and resting comfortably. We are in close contact with them -- if they have more information they wish for us to share, we will pass it along.

Janine is many things to each of us -- a leader, a colleague, a mentor, a friend, and so much more. I know that many of you are thinking of her and praying for her. I also know that her family sincerely appreciates your support. As an organization, we are doing all we can to help them during this time.

Since learning of Janine's condition, our staff leadership and Board have been in constant communication with one another -- both to support each other and to ensure that the work of Philanthropy Southeast moves forward. Our Board, already slated to meet this week, agreed today on a plan of action until we have more information on Janine's prognosis.

Dena Chadwick, our chief operating officer, will serve as acting president and CEO during this time. Janine and Dena have worked closely for years, and the Board has full confidence in her ability to lead Philanthropy Southeast. She will also be supported by an incredible team of leaders on our staff.

This is a difficult time for many of us and we want to recognize that in how we conduct ourselves and the expectations we place on our team. While we have currently made no changes to our program calendar, we will assess that as this situation evolves.

We hope to be in touch with you soon with more information. In the meantime, all I ask is that you keep Janine and her family close to your hearts.

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View the Winter 2023 Issue of Inspiration

Tags: Inspiration 
Category: Announcements, 
Author: Philanthropy Southeast


Over the holiday break, the Winter 2023 issue of Philanthropy Southeast’s Inspiration magazine was released in print and online. In case you missed it, visit our website now to check out these articles:

  • A profile of the winners of the 2023 Truist Promise Award – the Women’s Foundation of the South and the Partnership for Inclusive Innovation – and how their approaches to their work illustrate how philanthropy works on multiple levels to support communities and improve lives.
  • A recap of last year’s Annual Meeting, where a compelling lineup and a powerful sense of place combined to provide attendees with an unforgettable experience.
  • A look at a new and inclusive approach to evaluation, being practiced by The Greater Clark Foundation in Kentucky, and what it offers to funders throughout the region.

This issue also includes interviews with the latest members of the Philanthropy Southeast Board, an opening message from Janine Lee and a roundup of the latest hires and appointments from members across the region.

This issue and previous issues can also be viewed on

If you have a story you’d like to see highlighted in Inspiration, contact David Miller, vice president of strategic communications, at

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Meet the New Members of the Philanthropy Southeast Board of Trustees

Author: Philanthropy Southeast


At this year’s Annual Meeting, Philanthropy Southeast members elected four leaders to a first term on our Board of Trustees. They shared their thoughts with us on joining the Board and what they’d like to focus on in the year ahead.


Kristin Walker Collins
Incoming CEO, Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky

What made you say “yes” when asked to serve on the Philanthropy Southeast Board?

I have been a part of Philanthropy Southeast since 2016, and I have admired its increased focus and dedication to strengthening Southern philanthropy and building a more equitable and prosperous South. I believe philanthropy has the power to make a real difference in the lives of people in the South, and I am passionate about supporting organizations that are working to create a more just and inclusive society. I continue to be impressed by the organization’s commitment to providing quality programming and peer-to-peer learning to its members, which is essential for the growth and development of philanthropy in the South. Finally, I was excited to have the opportunity to work with Philanthropy Southeast’s talented and dedicated staff and Board members. I believe that together, we can make a real difference in the South.

Do you have any goals for your first year of Board service?

My primary goals for the first year of Board service include familiarizing myself with Philanthropy Southeast’s mission, vision, and values; actively participate in meetings, discussions, and events to gain a comprehensive understanding of our work and priorities; establish strong relationships with Board members and staff; contribute to strategic plan implementation and decision-making; and expand and engage with Philanthropy Southeast’s membership.

Your foundation has been deeply involved in disaster recovery work in Eastern Kentucky and is heavily focused on rural communities. How does this inform the perspective you’ll bring to the Board?

I currently serve as COO and am the incoming CEO of the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, a nationally accredited community foundation that doesn’t necessarily act like a traditional community foundation. We live and work in Appalachian Kentucky, one of the most persistently poor regions in the United States but have proved that by working in and with community, and truly investing in people and place, that we can make a real difference.

Over the last three years, we have found ourselves doing more and more disaster recovery and resiliency work in our region and from this experience I bring a unique perspective of philanthropy in the South. Our work is rooted in community and the belief that when you work with and listen to community that change happens. We understand that money is power, so we give the money and decision-making power to our communities. They choose where to make investments in areas they care about and we provide them with the tools and resources to make those decisions. I also understand the issues plaguing rural communities because I live in a rural community – less than 5,000 people – and a lot of the work we do is making sure that rural is represented in rooms where decisions are being made. Understanding that lack of food, transportation, broadband, phone service, and basic infrastructure are issues that people deal with every day and how philanthropy can use its power to alleviate those issues.


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Submit Your Ideas for the 2024 Annual Meeting!

Author: Philanthropy Southeast


Planning is now underway for next year’s Annual Meeting, taking place November 13-15 in Nashville, Tennessee. As we begin to build out our agenda, we want to hear from Philanthropy Southeast members about which topics we should explore in our breakout sessions.

Our full agenda will include sessions focused on these four areas:

  • Best & Next Practice – These topics are designed to make organizations more effective and impactful in their giving (e.g., evaluation, collaboration, diligence, reporting).
  • Giving Strategies & Priorities – These topics typically focus on community issues, initiatives or programming that reflect giving priorities (e.g., education, health care).
  • Governance & Leadership – These topics focus on internal operations and strategies for effective leadership and management (e.g., compliance, investments, governance, communications, staff and trustee development, recruitment and retention).
  • Communities & Ecosystems – These topics focus on broad issues facing Southern communities, philanthropy, the charitable sector or society generally (e.g., demographics, public policy, next generation issues, diversity/equity, nonprofit capacity). 

In addition to topics, this survey will also allow you to submit ideas for keynote and plenary speakers for this year’s meeting – we’re excited to hear your ideas!

If a topic you submit is selected, we may ask you to serve on our Annual Meeting Session Design Team to develop your idea further, recruit speakers and work with the Philanthropy Southeast staff on session logistics.

The survey will allow you to submit up to three topics. If you have more than three topics, please send your submission to Dena Chadwick at




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A "Big Tent" That Benefits All Members

Category: Announcements, 
Author: Janine Lee


When we adopted Philanthropy Southeast as our name, it came with the promise of transforming our membership into a “big tent” – a network that brought together not only traditional foundations, but also many other kinds of philanthropic organizations, so that we might learn from one another and work together toward our shared goals.

Two years later, that tent is starting to fill up. For proof, just look at the list of new members approved at our most recent Board meeting. At 11 organizations, it’s one of the largest groups of members we’ve ever welcomed within one quarter. But what’s even more impressive is the sheer diversity of that group, which includes family, community and health legacy foundations – the longtime core of our community – along with two supporting organizations, and two grantmaking public charities.

That’s only the beginning, however. We’re also welcoming our second giving circle and two philanthropy-serving organizations, focused on Mississippi and Greenville, South Carolina. Finally, there is the United Way of Greater Atlanta, which is joining Philanthropy Southeast as our first-ever federated fund member.

When I became president and CEO more than a decade ago, a slate of new members like this would have been considered impossible. Today, organizations like these are essential to achieving our vision of a just and equitable South.

What changed over the past 11 years? First, with the support of our members, in 2015 we adopted a strategic plan that expanded our mission – in addition to our longstanding support of our members through programming, services and public policy, we also emerged as a source of thought leadership within our region and our field.

That mandate to provide leadership led directly to 2017’s Passing Gear report, which laid bare the systemic inequities and disparities that were standing in the way of making real progress in the South. It also contributed to the realization that our efforts to spark transformative change were being held back by a narrow definition of philanthropy that made it more difficult to bring together all people and organizations invested in our region’s success.

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Community Foundation Survey on Endowment Building Cohort

Author: Philanthropy Southeast


Unrestricted Endowment building continues to be a topic of interest for community foundations. Ralph Serpe, President and CEO, Adams County Community Foundation was the featured speaker for June's meeting of Philanthropy Southeast's Community Foundations Committee. Ralph shared "The Secrets to Building Unrestricted Endowments" and members came away with a wealth of information and an eagerness to learn more.

We are pleased to announce that Ralph Serpe has agreed to facilitate a 10-month Community Foundation Endowment Building Cohort for Philanthropy Southeast members. The Cohort will be an interactive peer group for a maximum of 14 and minimum of seven participants per group.

Please complete the survey linked below to learn more about the cohort offering and to share your interest.




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2022 Annual Report & Member Survey Highlights: Living Our Values, Advancing Our Mission

Category: Announcements, 
Author: Philanthropy Southeast


Today, Philanthropy Southeast released its 2022 Annual Report. Read the introduction from President & CEO Janine Lee, then view the full report, including highlights of our latest Member Survey!

I’ve had the fortune to serve as Philanthropy Southeast’s president and CEO for more than a decade – while we have experienced many high points during that time, 2022 stands out as a testament to the strength of our member community and our commitment to our vision and mission.

Of course, the cancellation of the Annual Meeting following an evacuation order is one of the first things we all remember from last year. The disappointment our staff and Board felt in that

moment, however, quickly gave way to humility and gratitude as we heard expressions of sympathy and support from scores of members and partners. Their response turned what could have been a crisis into a demonstration of strength and resilience.

The inspiring conclusion to 2022 also serves as validation of our work to strengthen Southern philanthropy, to call our members into courageous leadership, and to stay true to our core values of integrity, excellence, equity, respect and courage.

That said, even before the Annual Meeting we had plenty of evidence we were on the right track. The dozens of new members that joined us in 2022, the astounding success of our Sustainability Campaign, and the incredible levels of engagement we saw throughout the year – with over 90 percent of our members participating in programs or committee service – are only a few of the many ways our members showed support for our work.

While there is undoubtedly much work ahead – and many challenges to address – I am more confident than ever that Philanthropy Southeast and its members are positioned to not only advance philanthropy in our region, but also to strengthen our region’s communities and improve countless lives.


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Your First Look at the 2023 Annual Meeting!

Author: Philanthropy Southeast



Set a reminder now:
Registration for Philanthropy Southeast's 54th
Annual Meeting opens on Wednesday, June 7!

Taking place November 8-10 in Montgomery, Alabama, this year's Annual Meeting is focused on our shared commitment to the communities of our region and to improving people's lives.

While Southern philanthropy has become increasingly adept at recognizing the systemic issues that prevent people from fully participating and prospering, many challenges persist. But philanthropy simply cannot afford to be discouraged -- too much is at stake to slow down or take a step back. We must keep moving forward, and we must do it together.

By moving forward together, Southern philanthropy can act as a unifying force for good and a source of leadership in our communities and our region. We are diverse, but we are not divided -- and this year's Annual Meeting will be a demonstration of our unity and resolve during this pivotal time.

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Connecting with Philanthropy Southeast:
The Philanthropy Southeast staff works remotely – the best way to reach us is by email or by calling (404) 524-0911.

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

On Fridays, staff work on a flexible schedule. Members can reach our team via email or by calling (404) 524-0911 between 9:00am and 6:00pm (ET). We will respond to all urgent and time-sensitive matters promptly.

Mailing address:
100 Peachtree Street NW, Suite 2080
Atlanta, GA 30303

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.