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Scholarship Recipients Speak on Their Experiences – Conference on Diverse Philanthropy and Leadership

By CASE District I

Scholarship recipients Marta Samuel (left) and Anika Munroe (right) pose with CASE DI Board Member and Opportunity and Inclusion Co-chair, Barbara Sabia (middle) at the 2017 Conference on Diverse Philanthropy and Leadership.

Marta Samuel, Writer, Special Projects and Campaign Communications, Concordia University

As a scholarship recipient for this year’s CASE District I Conference on Diverse Philanthropy and Leadership, I took great pride in representing my institution — Concordia University, in Montreal — at the two-day conference.

Being the only Canadian at the event, a lot of what I gained from the conference had to do with garnering a better understanding of the realities that my American colleagues faced, which tended to be quite different than my own. That said, there were many similarities and being able to attend this conference gave me a better appreciation of how we perceive higher education, diversity and the roles of leadership in bridging the gaps.

Main highlights of conference included the opening keynote speaker, Tricia Rose, who eloquently discussed how ideas of race structure our lives. She explained that alternatives to “colourblind storytelling” need to be addressed in order to identify and openly critique the underlying inequalities that exist in, but are not limited to, education systems.

Also of interest was the closing panel, which discussed how to build ties with diverse donors. It helped to dig deeper into how we engage with diverse minority groups — that is to say that all too often minority groups are not involved simply because no one asks them to be. I found it interesting to hear how the panelists and moderator addressed these issues and what each one of them was doing to help promote minority groups that were previously largely not approached.

There is always more that can be done in terms of diversifying both from within our institutions and beyond, through the people we engage with. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to listen, observe, meet new colleagues and discuss the issues that are important to our institutions, because today — more than ever — we have the opportunity to take action.

Anika Munroe, Assistant Director of Advancement Services, Simmons College

I attended the 2017 Conference on Diverse Philanthropy and Leadership on a scholarship awarded to me by CASE District 1. I arrived expecting to learn how to develop diversity and inclusion practices within my Advancement department and the conference lived up to those expectations. Here are a few key takeaways that I found especially interesting and hope to apply at my institution.

1. Keynote speaker, Tricia Rose, did an excellent job of explaining the barriers to diversity in organizations. Colorblindness was discussed as the biggest impediment to racial diversity because, among many things, it makes speaking about race uncomfortable, and drives the perception that talking about race is racist. Professor Rose also stated that one-size-fits-all engagement and solicitation strategies leads to colorblindness, and fundraising departments should steer away from this when connecting with diverse constituents.

2. The Harvard Alumni Affairs and Development team shared their journey to improve diversity and inclusion within their department. Some key takeaways from this presentation were the team building exercises to get staff speaking about diversity (e.g. the privilege walk, and implicit bias tests). They also stressed the importance of buy-in from the those in leadership positions, and making diversity and inclusion a strategic priority of the department. This includes internally reporting out on diversity metrics, and making D&I a part of staff performance measurements.

3. The final conference session featured panelists made up of various races, and focused on how to build ties with diverse donors. They discussed challenges of engaging and soliciting Asian, Latino, and African American donors, as well as helpful strategies to overcome these challenges. A suggestion to all of us was to change the narrative of who is a giver and who is a taker. Based on the current narrative, you would think minority groups are only takers, but that is not true. They have the capacity to give, which can be seen if implicit and explicit biases are removed.

Overall, I was very pleased with this conference and thankful for the connections made. I would recommend all levels of Advancement staff attend in the future because it serves as both a professional and personal growth opportunity.


Click here to learn more about this conference.

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