In celebration of Black History Month, the Portland Trail Blazers honored six leaders in Oregon — including Linfield College president Dr. Miles Davis, Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, Oregon Health & Science University president Dr. Danny Jacobs, Oregon Supreme Court Justice Adrienne Nelson, Portland Police Bureau chief Danielle Outlaw and Meyer Memorial Trust president & CEO Michelle J. DePass — to recognize their groundbreaking leadership, each as the first African American to hold their executive-level position within their respective institutions.
Read the Skanner News’ reporting on the event that took place during the Feb. 5 🏀 basketball game between the #RipCity Trail Blazers and Miami Heat here.
Honorees Linfield College president Dr. Miles Davis, Meyer CEO Michelle J. DePass, Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, Portland Police Bureau chief Danielle Outlaw, Oregon Supreme Court Justice Adrienne Nelson and OHSU president Dr. Danny Jacobs.
ICYMI: “Disrupting the Legacy of Colonialism.” An Oregon Funder Partners With Tribes on the Environment
A partnership between Tribes of the Pacific Northwest and Meyer seeks to integrate and honor Native wisdom within the environmental movement.
Inside Philanthropy examines a recent batch of grants awarded through Meyer's Healthy Environment portfolio and the unique role its grantmaking plays in supporting Tribal communities:
"[We] are excited to learn more about how traditional ecological knowledge of indigenous communities and Western science can work together to support healthy natural systems and communities," portfolio director Jill Fuglister wrote in a blog at the end of 2018. She tells IP this integration "opens the door to addressing the disparate impacts of environmental problems that indigenous communities experience by creating space for indigenous leaders to bring their concerns, priorities and solutions to environmental protection efforts."
By turning to local Native American communities to help steer its environmental grantmaking practices, Meyer may create a rich example of how environmental and social movements can come together. We see more, but arguably not enough, environmental, social justice and human rights-focused groups acknowledging and exploring how their causes overlap. At the crux of this intersection is the fact that minority groups are often the most affected by environmental degradation and calamity, and the recognition that these same communities can be a source of experience-based, authentic responses to these problems.
The Chinook Indian Nation recently bought about 10 acres of heavily forested land in Warrenton around Tansy Creek, one of many locations where Chinookan tribes — Clatsop, Cathlamet, Lower Chinook Wahkiakum and Willapa — were pushed off by European settlers. The plan: to purchase, protect and revitalize the Tribes’ historically important 1851 Tansy Point treaty grounds.
The Daily Astorian documents the purchase, made possible by grants from organizations such as the Oregon Community Foundation, Meyer Memorial Trust, Collins Foundation and others:
“'The Clatsop folks covered this whole south shore of the Columbia, really, from around Astoria itself heading west, and then of course down the adjacent seashore all the way down to Tillamook Head, that country,” (Tony Johnson, chairman of the Chinook Indian Nation) said. “But all the main country people think about here in terms of Hammond, Gearhart, Seaside — that’s all Clatsop territory.'
The property near Tansy Point is near where, in the summer of 1851, members of all five Chinookan tribes gathered to negotiate with Anson Dart, the first superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Oregon Territory, to avoid relocation east of the Cascade Mountains. It is the only known instance when all tribal ancestors were gathered in one place, Johnson said."
"Yesterday's injustice remains today's inequality," wrote Meyer President & CEO Michelle J. Depass. "The racial wealth and income gap endures, wider, even, than it was in 1968, when King was killed. Built, as it is, on the great fortunes of America, U.S. philanthropy holds a key role in closing that racial wealth and income gap.
Since refocusing its work to address inequities in Oregon, Meyer Memorial Trust has been working to dismantle structural and systemic inequities at the root of disparities in education, housing, the environment and communities, both rural and urban."
ICYMI: Opinion – Looking to Finland to improve Oregon’s schools
In early November, four public education leaders from Oregon — including Meyer's Equitable Education portfolio director Matt Morton, The Chalkboard Project executive director Whitney Grubbs, KairosPDX executive director Kali Thorne Ladd and Future School Lab founder Vanessa Wilkins — journeyed to Finland in search of solutions to improve schools and outcomes for students within the state.
While abroad, they participated in both Helsinki Education Week and the HundrED Innovation Summit. A new op-ed in The Oregonian highlights learnings from their journey:
Through this experience, we served as teachers as well as students. As a largely homogenous country, Finland admits challenges in meeting the needs of its rapidly growing immigrant population. We proudly shared stories about Oregon’s rich diversity, our focus on data to identify and understand disparities and the deep collaborations between public, private and civic sectors. We highlighted “bright spots,” such as KairosPDX’s model for culturally responsive teaching for African American children, Chalkboard Project’s work to support and elevate teachers, and the Meyer Memorial Trust’s transformation to more equitable and strategic grantmaking.
Kaberi Banerjee Murthy joins Meyer as new Director of Program Strategy
I'm excited to announce today that Meyer Memorial Trust has named Kaberi Banerjee Murthy to be our new Director of Program Strategy.
Kaberi, who most recently served as vice president of programs at the Brooklyn Community Foundation in New York, brings to Meyer more than 20 years of philanthropic experience in youth, immigration, social justice, education, arts, civic affairs, health and community development at local, regional and national levels.
Kaberi has extensive experience building strategic frameworks and elevating advocacy as the highest value use of philanthropic resources and reputation. She has shared power with community to build constituent led grantmaking and is committed to implementing best practices of the sector to reduce the burden on grantees. As Meyer's new Director of Program Strategy, she will be responsible for fostering organization-wide collaboration while developing and implementing programmatic strategies that reinforce Meyer’s four portfolios and help leverage underlying intersections among them.
"We are thrilled to announce Kaberi Banerjee Murthy as Meyer’s new Director of Program Strategy as we begin to sharpen our strategies and focused objectives,” said Michelle J. DePass, president and CEO of Meyer Memorial Trust. “As a proven change agent, Kaberi will help Meyer to better address the intersection of societal causes of inequity while harnessing expertise cultivated in communities across Oregon.”
At Brooklyn Community Foundation, a racial justice foundation with $75 million in assets, Kaberi led the strategy, vision and implementation of grantmaking, programs and advocacy. Under her leadership, she grew the portfolio to oversee eight giving areas and doubled its annual grantmaking.
Previously, she served as program director at Crown Family Philanthropies in Chicago, senior program officer for education at the Picower Foundation in New York, philanthropic advisor at Hemenway and Barnes in Boston and program officer at the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation in Chicago. She has also worked as a philanthropic consultant for the Ford Foundation’s GrantCraft and the Council on Foundations.
Kaberi earned a Bachelor of Arts, Magna Cum Laude, from Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., and she holds a Masters of Education, Administration in Planning and Social Policy from Harvard University.
“As someone who has been passionate about addressing issues of equity, effecting social change and centering the expertise of impacted communities, I’ve been impressed by Meyer’s embodied leadership, the humility of the staff and the organizational shift to focus on systems-level change. My background and skill set dovetail perfectly with Meyer’s mission to create a sustainable future for Oregon,” Kaberi said.
ICYMI: A Focus on Equity is Changing One Northwest Funder’s Environmental Giving
Meyer’s Healthy Environment portfolio endeavours to center equity as a catalyst in philanthropy to address environmental disparities in Oregon and support work that directly benefits under-resourced and historically marginalized populations in rural and urban communities.
Recently, Inside Philanthropy examined the portfolio's approach to grantmaking and the environment in coverage of Meyer's 2017 Portfolio Grant Awards:
The foundation recently announced its second round of grants since launching a new Healthy Environment portfolio, which places emphasis on “underresourced and historically marginalized populations in rural and urban communities” in its funding for the state’s environment.
Before the new program was unveiled, the foundation was giving a lot to rivers and watersheds, and that’s still a priority. A lot of key Northwest green groups are still on the docket. But Meyer points out that in the 2017 round of green grants—totaling $3.9 million—every grantee has a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, with a half-dozen asking the foundation for training and support in developing them.
Read Inside Philanthropy’s full exploration of Meyer’s Healthy Environment portfolio’s approach to grantmaking and the environment here.
ICYMI: Mitch Hornecker honored at 2018 Business Leadership Evening
The intersection of business, community and philanthropy was the central theme at the Portland Business Alliance's annual Business Leadership Evening, which honored Mitch Hornecker with the 2018 William S. Naito Outstanding Service Award to recognize his impact in our community.
Traditionally, the PBA makes a donation to an organization of the honoree's choosing. This year, Mitch selected New Avenues for Youth, a nonprofit he founded to raise up at-risk local youth and get them off of the street:
“Also featured last night was keynote speaker Michelle DePass, president and CEO of Meyer Memorial Trust. Both Hornecker and DePass emphasized the importance of philanthropic support to addressing critical issues, like homelessness.
'We need a bold, new plan,' said Hornecker. 'We need to scale up. This is the defining crisis of our time.'
'Philanthropy spends so much time fixing problems our system of wealth has created in the first place,"'said DePass. 'Today, we can and we should be about identifying all of the systemic sources contributing to our problem and shock the system to prevent them from happening again and again.'"
"We need a bold, new plan," Hornecker told the audience at the Portland Business Alliance's annual Business Leadership Evening. "We need to scale up. This is the defining crisis of our time." Photo: Chad Baker Photography
ICYMI: Charles Wilhoite on Meyer Memorial Trust and transparent leadership
Culture change. That was the topic of a recent feature in the Oregon Business magazine, where reporter Allan Brettman interviewed eight business and civic leaders, including Meyer board chair, Charles Wilhoite.
Charles spoke about how Meyer's CEO search process reflected our culture:
“Meyer is about the most transparent organization I’ve ever been affiliated with because employees participate in just about everything,” says Wilhoite, the board chairman who was head of the search committee to find a replacement for Doug Stamm, who announced last April he would be departing this year after serving 15 years as chief executive.
Wilhoite and the board decided the CEO search would mimic the trust’s participatory culture. That meant telling employees they would have a direct role in selecting the new chief.
“We put it out there that we’re going to go through a search process. We want your feedback regarding attributes and characteristics and traits you want to see in the next CEO, and not all companies do that.”
“Meyer is about the most transparent organization I’ve ever been affiliated with because employees participate in just about everything,” says Charles Wilhoite, the board chairman who was head of the search committee to find a replacement for Doug Stamm.
ICYMI: Veggie Rx brings fresh produce to Cascade Locks
The impact of last September's Eagle Creek wildfire was felt on both sides of the Columbia Gorge: some 50,000 acres were burned, more than 150 hikers were stranded by the flames, businesses were forced to evacuate, landslides made travel unsafe and the ensuing air quality reminded many of the eruptions of Mount St. Helens in 1980.
Another impact you might not have heard about is elevated food insecurity in the Gorge.
Hood River News tells the story:
The need for food assistance has risen in Cascade Locks as the Eagle Creek fire recovery continues. Gorge Grown Food Network was able to offer support by “prescribing” Veggie Rx at the Cascade Locks FISH Food Bank during its January distribution.
Veggie Rx is a fruit and vegetable prescription program designed to address food insecurity and increase accessibility to fresh produce. Packets of vouchers are normally prescribed through social service or healthcare providers, but a grant from Meyer Memorial Trust allowed over $7,000 in vouchers to be distributed to 104 low-income families, supporting healthy choices for more than 250 people. The majority of the vouchers went to seniors, and recipients are reporting sharing food with their neighbors in need.
“Everyone was so thrilled to receive vouchers for fresh fruits and vegetables,” said Cascade Locks Food Bank Site Manager Martha LaMont. “I am hearing comments like, ‘Fresh produce is not something I can usually afford and I am so glad to be able to have a healthy choice of food — I am going to try a new recipe tonight using fresh ingredients.’”
You can read more of Hood River News' piece on Gorge Grown's efforts to combat food insecurity here and learn more about VeggieRX program here.