Earlier today, we announced the launch of the Independent Sector Public Policy Fellows Council. As some of you know, this has been a long time in the making. But as my parents always reminded me, “the best things always take time.”
The Policy Fellows Council is rooted in a couple of important ideas for Independent Sector.
The first is that, as an organization, we are part of a larger community – a community of doers and thought leaders, policy experts, and advocates. We are anxious to find new ways to spotlight and bring that outside voice in. That is what the Fellows concept allows us to do; bring external perspective and experience into IS, thereby building our capacity to deliver greater value through our public policy work.
The second idea is about solutions. In each area of our public policy work, we hope to do more than analyze or react. We want to find ways to solve problems through the policy process. So, each of the Policy Fellows we have named today comes with a strong bias toward doing, not delivering an academic study. To be clear, there is a real need for rigorous, academically sound research and analysis on issues critical to the sector. A large piece of our agenda is about identifying where that research is needed and how best to get it done and out in the world. But the Policy Fellows, at least in this early stage, are about how we can begin to apply that knowledge to build a stronger sector.
Harold Hancock will bring years of experience on the House Ways and Means Committee (working for the current three chairs, Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), and current chairman, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) and will help us think about how best to correct for the consequences of tax reform on charitable giving and charitable organizations. Cindy M. Lott, known to many of you as one of four members of the IRS Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities (ACT), will work with us to advance a sector-wide conversation, and deliver a sector perspective, on what we need now in a regulatory, oversight framework — before one is handed to us in reaction to a crisis. Jeremie Greer is making a return of sorts to Independent Sector, having just completed a stint as one of our American Express NGen Fellows. Now as a Policy Fellow, Jeremie will guide IS as we begin to learn what it means to apply a racial equity lens to our policy positions. Read more about all the Policy Fellows.
I hope you will take the time to read more about our three Fellows in this issue. Better yet, I hope you’ll have the chance to engage directly with them at a future IS event. I suspect we all have a lot we can learn from these three leaders.
Before signing off, I want to offer a special thanks to Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) for agreeing to an interview with our own Dan Cardinali, president and CEO of Independent Sector. Rep. Smith has introduced the latest piece of legislation to promote a universal charitable deduction and, in doing so, helps us keep the spotlight on how best to respond to the consequences of tax reform on charitable giving in our nation. Please be sure to read the interview – and to encourage your member of Congress to sign on as a cosponsor of the H.R 5771, the Charitable Giving Tax Deduction Act.