How Will You Write Your Next Chapter?

As 60 TPW members gathered in New York City earlier this month to explore these questions at our annual Network Retreat, author of Adaptive Leadership, Alexander Grashow, led a reflective session to explore where participants have been, where they are now, and where they’re heading.

“People don’t fear change,” he said; “they fear loss.” He went on to ask participants to reflect on what they needed to honor, heal and hospice in order to embrace the dreams, experiments, and partnerships emerging in their next chapter.  

Our conversations were inspired by tremendous thought leaders including President of the Ford Foundation, Darren Walker, who, in his groundbreaking work to address inequality has cited Martin Luther King Jr.’s challenge that philanthropists “not overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.” Asking TPW members to get uncomfortable in addressing the complex inequities in our world, he underscored the critical nature of this fight, warning that “hopelessness is a real threat to democracy and inequality drives hopelessness.”

Entrepreneur and founding CEO of the B-team, Derek Handley, offered examples of the creative ways in which business, finance, and philanthropy can combine to create outsized social impact. 

Kavita Ramdas provided a sophisticated analysis of the next chapter in global philanthropy, along with approaches to contend with power and privilege, whether one funds locally or globally.

Finally, a tremendous panel consisting of leaders from corporate and nonprofit media, moderated by TPW member Arran Bardige, contended with what’s next in media and information, including the critical role philanthropy plays in shoring up journalism in today’s world.

As we jumped into a weekend designed to meet change, embrace it, and navigate it gracefully, we began by sharing our favorite books or films. I shared the connection I feel with the classic children’s book, the Velveteen Rabbit, and the stuffed rabbit’s quest to become “real.” For the velveteen rabbit, the process to transform, to become real, is a long and at times painful yet deeply worthwhile journey.  And just as the rabbit doesn’t become real alone (it is loved by a child, mentored by a more senior toy, and finally has its magical fairy godmother moment) we don’t evolve in isolation. Rather, in the right community, we find the support we need to move towards authenticity, experiment, become who we’re meant to be, and experience fulfillment in this process.

Not surprisingly, in addition to the ideas inspired by the thought leaders and doers who spoke with our group, the biggest takeaway participants shared from the Retreat is the tremendous resource they find within the TPW community. That they deeply value this network as a place to exchange ideas. To build skills. And to find support in navigating the opportunities and challenges of philanthropy.

A peer coaching session and member-led Give Better table discussions on topics ranging from impact investing to mindfulness to adapting ones’ giving in the current political climate, provided space for members to continue building connections in service of meeting their own philanthropic goals as well as societies’ most pressing needs.

In sharing the ideas and actions they would take from the Retreat, many participants expressed a desire to get more deeply involved in the TPW community through geographic TPW Agora groups and peer learning groups on topics ranging from climate to food sustainability to media and film.

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