Moving ahead as "One Meyer"

An aerial photo of the Columbia Gorge on a sunny day.

Two years ago, I accepted the opportunity of a lifetime. 

At the time, Meyer was in the process of living into its newly adopted mission to accelerate racial, social and economic justice. I set out to ensure that every part of Meyer works in service of this mission within my first few years in this role. From grantmaking and evaluation to internal operations and how we invest the endowment, we all needed to be pointed in one direction. I often referred to this direction as “One Meyer.”

Like all evolutions, reaching this goal has required a number of changes. For Meyer, these changes included creating a new internal structure and shifting our investment practice to an outsourced office. 

Impact Department

We have a newly-created Impact Department — three teams who will work to implement trust-based practices, learn from our grantees and share the outcomes of our grantmaking. Led by Vice President of Impact, Kim Melton, this department includes our program, communications, and learning and grant operations teams.  

As you know, we have been working diligently to define our new funding priorities — particularly for Our Resilient Places, Our Collective Prosperity and Our Empowered Youth. 

We recently welcomed a new cohort of senior program officers who offer deep expertise that will further our understanding of our state’s most pressing challenges in these three fields, as well as the most promising approaches to overcoming them. I’m excited to work with and learn from Huy Ong, Maribel de León and Michael Reyes as we round the corner on completing our strategic plan for grantmaking. We look forward to announcing the goals we hope our grantmaking will achieve and the strategies we plan to fund to reach them.  

Building out the capacity of our communications team is important to me, not just for our own internal purposes, but to provide additional resources to amplify the phenomenal work of our grantees. And so, we’re delighted to welcome Senior Digital Communications Manager Tyler Quinn to help us do just that. 

Please join me in welcoming Huy, Maribel, Michael and Tyler to the Meyer team. 

Mission-Aligned Investing

Meyer has long been ahead of the field in terms of deploying all our resources in ways that mirror our values. Along the way, we hired diverse talent to manage our endowment and adopted an investment policy statement that pushes us to utilize our endowment to help achieve our mission.  

And after 42 years of managing our portfolio primarily through in-house staff, our trustees have decided to use an outsourced investment office to help ensure we can meet the challenge of investing in ways that accelerate justice. We are excited to partner with the investment firm, RockCreek, on this important endeavor. 

As one of the world’s largest woman-owned investment firms, RockCreek brings decades of experience in mission-aligned investing. Vice President of Investments and Finance, Sohel Hussain will work closely with RockCreek to align our endowment with our new mission, all while delivering returns. 

This new partnership will help us to expand the impact Meyer can make in Oregon and beyond.

A heartfelt thank you

Getting to this place has taken the tireless efforts of Meyer staff — our new staff, our longtime leaders and those who have since moved on. Their collective experience, knowledge and relationships have helped light our path as we continue our justice journey. Thank you all. 

In addition, we have a number of new titles and responsibilities for many of our current staff. Much appreciation to all those who have taken on new or reconfigured roles over the last several months. 

What’s next

It’s important to remember that amidst all the changes, our staff has continued to make powerful and meaningful investments throughout Oregon. In this fiscal year, we granted nearly $45 million to organizations doing incredible work.  

It is an honor and privilege to support work that impacts the lives of so many Oregonians.

Soon, we will share the big, hairy, audacious and inspiring goals we hope to achieve in Meyer’s new funding priorities, along with the specific strategies we plan to fund to help meet those goals. Our goals are long-term, population-level changes and we fully understand that it will take time to see and feel any results. We will measure our progress in decades, not in yearly grant application renewals. 

Furthermore, just as we are working to meet our own mission, we aim to fund grantees like we want them to meet their missions. Thus, we plan to write fewer, bigger checks, support the general operations of our grantees and walk alongside them to help find ways to support their work beyond writing checks. We will fund work happening in communities, support movement building and engage in changing the systems that make programs necessary in the first place. 

This is a lot of change to take on all at once. I call this Meyer’s ‘everything, everywhere, all at once’ evolution. I have to say, I am more excited today than when I agreed to take on this awesome responsibility. 

Here we go!

— Toya