Member's Memo | May 2021

Member's Memo | May 2021

Three weeks ago, I began my journey as the president of Maryland Philanthropy Network. I am thrilled to be in my home state doing work I love and value. Already, I see committed and focused funders who have been deep in the work throughout one of the most tumultuous periods we have known. There are many who are also overwhelmed by what remains to be done to heal our communities. Our families, friends, and colleagues are still disconnected by the pandemic, longing for relationship and human connection. To give us the only piece missing from these epic times, we will also be welcoming a proverbial plague of locusts in a few days. It has been a tough period but also one of clarity, calling many of us from complacent comfort towards an acute recognition that addressing racial equity and social justice is essential to our lives and work.

We must reimagine what our world will look like when we lean into our values, transformed by the racial reckoning of the last years, the clear inequities in our health systems, economy, and institutions, and the divide in our body politic that has separated us from our neighbors and threatened the very nature of our democracy. These must inform our work and be used as the rubric to measure our impact. The work is hard. We are required to get proximate to those most impacted by inequitable systems and policies which we have been complicit in creating or reinforcing.

As we think about how philanthropy continues to respond during COVID-19, we know we are capable of moving resources quickly and expecting less paperwork from our partners. We must learn from our experience and be in the practice of trust-based philanthropy as our norm, not just in crisis. We must partner and collaborate across sectors and borders to ensure incoming federal, state, and regional relief dollars get to those most impacted with a particular commitment to BIPOC-led organizations, communities of color, and other marginalized groups. People who are most affected by inequitable systems must inform and co-create change based on their lived experience in order to build just systems and we must be in the room to listen.

There is a lot before us, but I believe we are surrounded by talent, energy, and commitment to make good trouble and change happen. I pray in the words of Howard Thurman, "we remain steadfast in our high resolve" to love our neighbors and to carve a new footing from Maryland’s rocky foundation that will truly be built on liberty and justice for all.

Maggie Gunther Osborn
President + CEO
Maryland Philanthropy Network
MOsborn@MarylandPhilanthropy.org

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