What first sparked your interest in philanthropy and specifically in the field of environmental grantmaking?
My interest in environmental grantmaking and specifically, in being a program officer, was first sparked in my second year at Stanford Law School. At a lunch event, I heard a Hewlett Foundation program officer talk about his work, which I found to be incredibly appealing. After working in the nonprofit sector, federal government, state government, and the United Nations on a wide range of environmental issues, my dream of working in philanthropy finally came true when I joined the New York Community Trust in January 2014. I never thought that I could find a position that brought together all of my environmental policy interests, but serving as The Trust’s environmental program officer does exactly that. I love being able to think so deeply and strategically about so many issues, and to learn from the brilliant people working in these areas. My passion for protecting the environment was instilled in me by my Puerto Rican grandfather. As a biologist working for the Federal Government, he introduced me to the wonders of the natural world whenever I visited the island. He taught me how fragile and precious these wonders were, and how important it was to conserve these natural resources for future generations.Read more
Margo Miller, Co-Chair of the Appalachia Funders Network Steering Committee crafted the below poem from the presentations and tweets at the Gathering. She read it at the closing of our learning day, Wednesday April 15, 2015.
We Come from a place where
The fog from the mountains look like crushed velvet
a place of natural beauty and a rich culture
We Come from a place
of place-based folks and organizations
a place with a long history of independence,
America’s First Frontier
where we are protected by the shelter of the timeless Appalachian mountains
We are a group of people who
are grantmakers big and small and practitioners
who want to work together for the economic transition of the region
this is our table, the place where we work together.
Join Lisa Richter of Avivar Capital, Sandra Mikush, Deputy Director of the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, and colleagues from across central Appalachia to explore how you can maximize your investment potential through the use of Program-Related Investments (PRI).
In early 2015, a group of philanthropic foundations joined forces to create the Just Transition Fund to support coal-impacted communities working on transition issues. The Fund is a $450,000 fund created by national and regional foundations to rapidly award capacity building grants to help coalfield and coal plant-impacted communities better prepare for economic transition and compete for the Federal POWER Initiative grants.
The fund is a model for using public/private partnerships to advance economic transition in these coal-impacted communities.Read more
Take a peek into some of the innovative efforts to advance the economic transition in East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. Below is a video where we highlight some successful efforts in the local food, health, renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors. These examples punctuate the opportunities that unite the entire Central Appalachian region.
How did you get involved with the Appalachia Funders Network?
The Blue Grass Community Foundation has fund holders in 19 Eastern Kentucky counties and five Community Endowments with local advisory boards in Appalachia Kentucky. It is through this work that we became involved in the Appalachia Funders Network.Read more
How did you get involved with community development?
Upon graduating from college I moved back to Virginia and took a job at a nonprofit organization funded mostly by the Job Training and Partnership Act. When this funding was replaced by the Workforce Investment Act, the nonprofit I worked for decided to dissolve. I had the unfortunate opportunity of being charged with closing down a program that had been serving the community for 18 years. During this time, I became very familiar with the opportunities and challenges of the nonprofit sector, particularly how fragile they are and how much the ebb and flow of fundraising can impact communities. From there I went to the West Virginia development office and worked in their Community and Economic Development department. Eventually, I was recruited by BB& T to lead Community Development activities in West Virginia and Kentucky. These transitions have been fortunate because I can draw upon experience and knowledge from the Nonprofit, Government, and Private Sectors to my work in community and economic development.Read more
How did you get involved in community development?
When I was president of the agribusiness club at the University of Tennessee, we attended a workshop at USDA RD. Afterwards, they told me that there was an interview with students for an internship with USDA RD. That was in 1992 and I’ve been with Rural Development ever since. It goes to show you how important it is to get involved and build relationships with professors and people you meet when you’re in school. We try to keep that cycle going and open those doors for promising students interested in business, economics & community development to connect to RD. We see the internships as great opportunities for students to start careers with RD or community development. I have maintained my relationships with faculty at University of Tennessee in the Agriculture and Resource Economics Department. It affords me the opportunity to return every year to present to juniors and seniors about working for RD and starting this type of career.Read more