Public Policy Overview

PRIORITIES Public Policy Public Policy Overview

Building Relationships, Improving Policy

From our inception in 1969, as an initial response to the 1969 Tax Reform Act, Philanthropy Southeast has chosen to be proactive in the public policy space – we believe “strength in numbers” is essential to achieving success in state capitols and in Washington, where members empower one another to mount a vigorous defense of philanthropy, educate policymakers and promote the ability of funders to address community priorities.

Foundations on the Hill

Philanthropy Southeast and its members are engaged on public policy year-round, but there’s no substitute for in-person advocacy. Each March, we bring the largest delegation of philanthropic leaders in the country to Washington for Foundations on the Hill (FOTH), the field’s annual opportunity to meet with lawmakers and their staff, inform them of philanthropy’s important work and advocate for policies that support our ability to transform communities and improve lives. 

Public Policy Committee

Philanthropy Southeast's Public Policy Committee identifies and monitors legislation, regulations and other government activities that affect the interests of Philanthropy Southeast members and the philanthropic sector. The committee seeks to educate members as to the importance of public policy engagement, to inform them of the rules governing lobbying and advocacy, and to identify ways members can magnify their impact through strategic interaction with government. The Public Policy Committee is also responsible for proposing policy position statements springing from legislation and other policy proposals.

The Public Policy Committee is comprised of SECF members from across the region. The committee advises staff on public policy programming and develops policy positions, which are recommended to the SECF Board of Trustees.

Jane Alexander​ (Co-Chair)
Community Foundation for Mississippi
Jackson, MS

Meredith Sullivan Benton​
The Healing Trust
Nashville, TN​

Pete Bird
​The Frist Foundation
Nashville, TN​

Christine Calpin
Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky
Louisville, KY

Ben Chandler
Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky​
Louisville, KY​

Torrey DeKeyser
​The Eyesight Foundation of Alabama​
Birmingham, AL

Susan DeVenny (Co-Chair)
​Arras Foundation​
Lancaster, SC

Sally Ehrenfried
Charleston, SC

Robert M. Fockler
Community Foundation of Greater Memphis
Memphis, TN

Regan Gruber Moffitt​
Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation​
Little Rock, AR​

Erik Johnson​
Robert W. Woodruff Foundation
Atlanta, GA​

Sutton Mora Hayes​
Community Foundation of Greater Memphis
Memphis, TN ​

Betsy Pennewill​
Community Foundation of Sarasota County
Sarasota, FL

Judge John Rochester
​Martha Christine White Foundation
Ashland, AL​​

Mason Runnel​
James Graham Brown Foundation ​
Louisville, KY​

Christopher Wilbanks​
The Robert and Polly Dunn Foundation​
Atlanta, GA​

Karen Wilbanks​
The Robert and Polly Dunn Foundation
Atlanta, GA 

Janine Lee (Staff)
Southeastern Council of Foundations
Atlanta, GA

Jaci Bertrand (Staff)
Southeastern Council of Foundations
Atlanta, GA

Look Up Your Representatives in Washington

The most effective public policy engagement comes from contacting lawmakers who represent the district or state where you live, or where your foundation is based. Enter your information below to learn who represents you in the U.S. House and Senate.



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If you have questions about Philanthropy Southeast's public policy work, would like support in setting up a meeting with policymakers, or want to know more about what kinds of advocacy foundations can, or cannot, engage in, contact Jaci Bertrand, Philanthropy Southeast's vice president of member engagement, at (404) 524-0911 or via email at







Jaci Bertrand

Vice President of Member Engagement


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.