Letter from Ypsilanti

Thank you, CMF! The Council of Michigan Foundations convened this week, and I was honored to be invited. I was also impressed by its call-to-action theme: Be Bold, Act Urgently.

Notable too was Ypsilanti, the venue, named for a hero of the Greek war for independence. What better place to consider what constitutes boldness and instills urgency? As a storied Greek of an earlier era wrote: “The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out to meet it.”

A clear vision for meeting the challenges facing Michigan and the world is what CMF and President and CEO Rob Collier are all about. And that is just one of many reasons I am excited about the 2017 Independent Sector Conference: it will touch down in the heart of Detroit, a city Millennials increasingly choose to call home, and be co-created and co-sponsored by CMF and the Michigan Association of Nonprofits.

Attending this week’s gathering gave me a chance to observe outstanding leadership and great collaboration in action. The conference was a reminder that while our charitable sector work is deeply grounded at the practitioner level, it is critical that we elevate key themes and issues into a national discussion – just as IS and its partners are doing, based on our coast-to-coast Threads conversations. Whether it was social impact investing, harnessing technology, or working alongside government and business to drive impact, it is clear that, while there are risks, there are also huge rewards to be grasped, if we will only move forward to meet them.

The manner in which Rob and the CMF team brought these topics forward reflected honesty and earnestness, as well as the kind of capacity-building know-how and policy sophistication infrastructure organizations can provide. I relished interaction with CMF trustees and staff, among them many familiar faces and long-time allies of and participants in our work.

One final note: Rob kindly invited me to take part in the “Washington Update” attendees heard on day one. I found as much insight in Rob’s remarks as I did in comments by final session speaker Wayne Baker, author of the new book United America. While the headlines out of Washington are cloudy, we know from his work, and IS’ own recent polling on this issue, that Americans are united in their commitment to the common good and to a brighter day for us all.

Types: Blog
Global Topics: IS Member, IS Staff