April 13, 2019

Drawn to Meyer’s commitment to equity

Meyer staff and Asian Health & Service Center CEO Holden Leung, attended a two-day program team retreat to delve deeper into equity work and programmatic strategy.

The start of the year initiated a new chapter of life for me. I joined Meyer with 20 years in philanthropy, most recently serving as vice president of programs at the Brooklyn Community Foundation in New York.

Why did I come to Meyer? It was simple: I was drawn to Meyer’s top-to-bottom commitment to equity, both internally and externally, and the ability to guide this level of resources to invest in critical issues. Not only is equity guiding the grantmaking work but it is also guiding investment decisions as well, building to use all of our assets to advance our mission. Plus, I was pleased to see the hard work of living equity values internally has started here as well.

Meyer has one of the most diverse teams I’ve seen in philanthropy: an all-women, majority people of color executive team led by a visionary African-American woman; a diverse board, also led by an African-American woman; and a bold, diverse and thoughtful team. Among Meyer’s staff of 41, more than half identify as people of color or Indigenous, more than half have taken part in nine or more days of equity training and a third were raised in a home speaking a language other than English. My partner jokes that it took a move from NYC to Portland to find a foundation as diverse as Meyer, but it is indeed an amazing organization and I am excited to be a part of this thoughtful, talented and committed team.

I am thrilled to be here in Oregon. I moved with my spouse and two sons in January and have been welcomed with friendliness and warmth, and we respect and are falling in love with our new home state. For me, taking part in visits to Tribal councils and Native communities around the state has been a wonderful start to learning more about the land and communities here. And I am looking forward to getting out of the office to meet all the grantees and communities that we are in service to and partnering with.

My role isn’t a new one entirely at Meyer, but adding the word strategy to my title was an important shift for the organization. I’ll be working to foster organization wide collaboration and making sure we build a stronger learning culture inside Meyer, while also developing and implementing programmatic strategies that reinforce the foundation’s four portfolios and leverage underlying intersections among them. The goal is to implement best practices of the sector to help Meyer continue as a leader in the field, specifically to move from a culture of metrics and compliance to a culture centered on building connections with communities.

I look forward to working with you to tackle inequity and disparity and make our home of Oregon a place that is equitable and flourishing for all. I look forward to meeting with you soon.

Kaberi