September 6, 2022

Writing Meyer's Next Chapter, Together

A photo of CEO Toya Fick and her family

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” ― James Baldwin

 

I’ve spent my entire career aiming for impact. My professional experience is rooted in ensuring children and families, particularly those who are furthest from opportunity, have the resources and tools they need to thrive. It’s my hope that the breadth of my experiences — teaching in low-income communities; working for a member of Congress; leading advocacy that advances equity; and serving on the board of a foundation — will serve me well as I prepare to lead Meyer.

For the last 10 years, I fought for changes in how Oregon invests in our children and the education they need to pursue their dreams. It was hard work, often frustrating, and deeply rewarding. I'm grateful for the team I led and proud of what we accomplished together. The organization I led was a Meyer grantee. I saw firsthand how Meyer approached its mission to help advance equity throughout the state.

I have also had the privilege of serving as a trustee at Meyer for the past six and a half years and became board chair just in time to help the foundation navigate the challenges of COVID-19, historic and devastating wildfires, and a racial awakening. My time as a trustee taught me more than I could have imagined — about myself, about the spirit of collaboration, about the power of purpose-driven philanthropy.

During my tenure as a trustee, the board adopted a new mission statement. I am grateful for the small part I got to play in setting the direction for this foundation:

Meyer accelerates racial, social and economic justice for the collective well-being of Oregon's lands and peoples.

I love our new mission for many reasons. Chief among them is that it calls out the need for racial, social and economic justice throughout Oregon. We have a long way to go to achieve our goal, but (as Baldwin reminds us) acknowledging the issue is the first and most important step.

On September 1, I started a new role and a new mandate: to lead Meyer — one of Oregon's largest and oldest philanthropies — into a new chapter, recognizing that change is needed at every level of our culture, and that the pace of change itself must accelerate. Luckily, I’ll have the privilege of working alongside a smart, capable and driven team whose expertise and commitment to justice will drive Meyer’s impact.

There is one staff member whose wisdom I will not get to call on, on a daily basis at least: Meyer's now-former inimitable chief investment officer, Rukaiyah Adams. For eight years, Rukaiyah led Meyer's investment portfolio to record returns, creating more resources from which Meyer could provide grants. I thank her for all she has done for Meyer and for Oregon, and am excited to see what she does next.

Author and advocate Heather McGhee notes that “the sum of us can accomplish far more than just some of us.” The challenges ahead, for our state as much as for our country and our planet, cannot be met by any one individual or organization. It will take collaboration the likes of which we have not seen before — transparent, honest, nimble, responsive, focused and sustained. I am excited to lead Meyer as we take on those challenges in partnership with public and private sector allies.

So, if you read our mission and believe that racial, social and economic justice is needed here in Oregon, let's talk. Nothing can be changed until it is faced, and I say we face it together. It is the only way to build a better Oregon for all of us.

 

In Partnership,

― Toya