The following is a conversation between Tonia Wellons, President & CEO of the Greater Washington Community Foundation, and Denver Frederick, the Host of The Business of Giving.
Denver: For five decades, the Greater Washington Community Foundation has connected caring donors with nonprofits, creating lasting change in DC, Montgomery County, Northern Virginia, and Prince George’s County. It is the region’s largest local funder, having invested more than a billion and a half dollars since 1973 to build racially-equitable, just, and thriving communities where everyone prospers.
And here to tell us more about this work is Tonia Wellons, the president and CEO of the Greater Washington Community Foundation.
Welcome to The Business of Giving, Tonia.
Tonia: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.
Denver: Greater Washington is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, the big five-oh. Share with listeners some of the history of the organization.
Tonia: Sure. I am so excited to be at this organization at its milestone 50th anniversary. It’s a really, really big deal. As you mentioned, we have dispersed over $1.5 billion, a billion with a “B,” over the course of 50 years.
And I feel so lucky because just over the last, I’d say five or six months, I’ve had the chance to reconnect with prior trustees, with prior presidents and CEOs of the organization, to really just learn more about the rich history of the organization– one that has been very active in social justice in the nation’s capital for a very long time. One that’s been very, I would say, timely and responsive to community needs, and one that pushes the envelope.
I was just sharing with a colleague that under the leadership of Terri Freeman, who was the first Black woman to lead The Community Foundation and the longest serving president and CEO– she served for 17 years– we started a series called Putting Race on the Table in 2004. And that’s almost 20 years ago, Denver.
And even as challenging as it is sometimes to talk about issues of race and racial equity now, 20 years ago, it wasn’t a topic that was as common, as commonplace as it is. And so we’ve been very consistent, I’d say, in trying to push the envelope to bring more thoughtful conversations and to build bridges between various elements and aspects of our community for a long, long time.
“…I think it’s a huge gift to be able to be here at a milestone anniversary. One, I’m listening to people. So much of what I knew about our past was based on things that I’d read, few snippets here and there. But I’m sitting with people who were at the table during the 9/11 attacks where our community foundation served as community quarterback for the victims of the Pentagon attack. And so, so much of our crisis response ethos even was built for 9/11, on the back of the 9/11 crisis, and our response to it.”
Denver: Yeah. She was ahead of her time. And I’m always curious as to how that information informs your leadership now because sometimes you read the history… sounds to me you’re kind of going down memory lane here with the people who actually created it. Does that change the way you think about the future in any way?
Tonia: Absolutely. Again, I think it’s a huge gift to be able to be here at a milestone anniversary. One, I’m listening to people. So much of what I knew about our past was based on things that I’d read, few snippets here and there.
But I’m sitting with people who were at the table during the 9/11 attacks where our community foundation served as community quarterback for the victims of the Pentagon attack. And so, so much of our crisis response ethos even was built for 9/11, on the back of the 9/11 crisis, and our response to it.
So, so much of the… it’s given me kind of a place to point back to what made us like this. Why is it that we are able to do this kind of, with a bit of just… it’s organized, it’s systematized. And it’s not just the same people who are here doing it; it’s institutionalized because we have systems in place where the community knows who to call.
For example, when there’s a crisis or an important enough issue to be able to get organized around, and then we know how to respond. I’ll tell you the other thing that I’m reflecting on is how our board has shifted over the years. And it’s given me an insight into ways to think about the board composition based on what I’m learning.
Like I’d say over the years, we’ve done a mix of kind of private sector members of the board, some philanthropic leaders on the board, and fundholders, and that mix has shifted over the course of time, and there I’m getting some really important clues about what worked then, and tweaks that we can make now to make it work even better in the future.
“…I always say that it is incredibly hard to be poor in the seat of the nation’s capital because of such extremes of so much prosperity and success on the one hand, and then just a few blocks or zip codes away is the exact opposite extreme.”
Denver: Yeah. When you get some insights into the DNA of an organization, it really does give you an idea of what your capabilities are going forward. Not that you have to be there necessarily, but when it’s built in like that, you know you can really draw on it because we have it in the system.
Well, the Washington metro area is home of nine of the 20 wealthiest communities in the United States, and that juxtaposition only serves to accentuate the wealth gap, and particularly…
Tonia: That’s right.
Denver: …with communities of color. Tell us a little bit about the impact and the dimensions that wealth gap has on the greater metro area of Washington.
Tonia: Yeah, I always say that it is incredibly hard to be poor in the seat of the nation’s capital because of such extremes of so much prosperity and success on the one hand, and then just a few blocks or zip codes away is the exact opposite extreme.
The wealth gap between Black and White in DC proper is 81 times. White families have 81 times more wealth than Black families based on pre-COVID data. We don’t know how that has been exacerbated since COVID. But what we do know is that our economy and our financial systems and our policy, our public policy, just hasn’t kept pace with what it costs to live in metropolitan areas.
Wages just aren’t enough for people to be able to… for working class people and people who earn lower incomes to be able to make it. And so it’s only being exacerbated. Income gaps could help to create wealth gaps, systemic injustices that have perpetuated themselves over centuries, actually. They really display themselves the most, we believe, in wealth gaps.
And then there’s a correlation between health gaps, education gaps, all of the isms that we’re trying to address through our philanthropy. And people’s means…
Denver: There’s a through line to all of it.
Tonia: That’s right. And people’s means of survival. Absolutely.
Denver: Well, you launched your strategic plan, I think it was in 2021. It’s a 10-year strategic planning, and closing that wealth gap is right at the very, very top of it. And that’s a big, big job. How are you aligning your priorities to that vision, Tonia?
Tonia: Yeah, thank you for that. First, let me just say that I’m really proud that our staff have the sort of inclination, our team had the inclination and our board had the determination to choose such a bold strategy, one that people, some people say, “Well, how can you close the racial wealth gap?”
And what we always say is, it will not be closed if we don’t try. And it is absolutely our obligation to be able to do our absolute best to make a dent in it, to increase mobility so that we have the opportunity to close the racial wealth gap.
The second thing I’ll say, Denver, is that we chose a 10-year horizon, and most strategic plans are three to five years. And we know for sure that we can’t close the racial wealth gap, or even make the impact that we want to towards it in three to five years. And it certainly is a… it’s a decade-long agenda and maybe even two or three decades long.
But we also believe that there are strategies within our reach that we need to implore, so it’s looking at ways of getting more resources, more money in the hands of low-income people, recognizing the challenges in our economy. It has us looking at specific neighborhoods. And so while as a community foundation, our fundholders get to support whatever charities they care about. That’s the beauty of a community foundation.
But the other side of that beauty is that we get to say: I know you care about this organization, but you know what? This community needs the support, based on our analysis of a home ownership, our analysis of life expectancy, our analysis of income. And so why don’t you join us? We get to use our discretionary resources in a way that signals the way for our fundholders and for our broader community to follow us.
And so it’s looking at strategies like guaranteed income, like children’s savings accounts, like community wealth building. It’s looking at neighborhoods, specific zip codes where there’s the most disparity. And then it’s looking at: How do we support community institutions and community leaders in a way that helps to change the trajectory of neighborhoods?
Denver: Yeah. It does seem like a lot of the community foundations are now bringing a point of view to the table.
Denver: And they’re just being passive and you’re not, you know, they can do what they want in many ways, but if you become an advocate and say, Why don’t we get some collective impact here by putting all our money in this community? I also think it’s very smart to go for the 10 years because you have to have those place-based things, but you have to have some systems change, too.
Tonia: That’s right.
And you won’t make the decisions in a five or a three-year plan because you will never see the results or returns on them, so you have to at least think about a decade so you make some of those longer term decisions.
Well, let me pick up on a couple of those programs. One that I’d like to start with, I mean, I’ll go through three. I could go through 83, I realize, with all you guys do, but I’ll go through three. And one would be the Health Equity Fund. Tell us about that.
Tonia: Sure. The Health Equity Fund is actually a new fund that has come to our foundation as a result of a settlement between CareFirst and the District of Columbia government about a longstanding surplus issue. And we were invited to serve as host and administrator of the Fund.
What’s exciting about it? One is that it’s a $95 million fund. It’s a five-year spend-down, and it is for the District of Columbia, specifically. And so it is a rare opportunity to have a mandate to disperse such large resources in a specific jurisdiction over a very tight timeframe.
And I tell you, Denver, it’s not easy to give away a lot of money. People think it is. It’s not.
Denver: No. I’m going to say it’s a blessing and a curse in some ways. It’s tough to make those decisions so quickly.
Tonia: Yeah. And it’s tough to make transformational decisions. It’s why I’m really happy. Again, we have some great volunteer leadership that the Health Equity committee, which again was appointed by the Executive Office of the Mayor, and CareFirst made the decision to align with our economic mobility agenda, making the direct correlation between health and wealth, health equity, and income or wealth inequity.
And so a lot of the strategies that we are exploring are looking at ways to increase the economic prospects for low-income district residents so that they can create a ladder to a different station in life. One of the programs that we’re really excited about… there’s so many, a lot of them focus on guaranteed basic income with specific populations.
Some of them focus on things like reducing medical debt, right? So we’re working both sides of the equation for our lowest income residents so that they can get free and have some time and space to really contemplate what they want to do for their families and themselves as they increase mobility and move up the socioeconomic ladder.
Denver: Yeah, Tonia. Let me just underscore that point a little bit because I think many people think it’s the lack of access to clinical care is the reason for the health discrepancies, but that’s not that big a factor compared to some of the others, correct?
Tonia: That’s correct. Actually, health access is about 20%. It’s all the other social determinants like environment, like housing, like community safety that impact health even more than clinical care or health access.
“And our ambition is to do no harm while we’re trying to do the most good. And so there’s a lot of work that goes into implementing these interventions. But it also points to systems failures, right? It’s also pointing to the fact that a low-income person would never be able to climb their way or pull themselves up by their bootstraps if every time there’s an incremental increase in their income, there’s a detriment on the other side.”
Denver: Yeah. Yeah. You mentioned this a couple times, so I have to mention it now and dig a little bit deeper. On these direct cash transfers, guaranteed income, tell us the kind of program you have set up and how it’s working.
Tonia: Right. So I always say that a lot of things went wrong in COVID. But one of the things that we all became, I would say, more socialized toward, is cash transfers. Many of us received cash transfer payments as a direct result of earned income tax credit, the child tax credit during the pandemic.
And so we began to understand that in the economy that was failing almost everyone at the time, that it is possible that there is an economic condition that we need to sort and fix when it comes to our low-income people who are perpetually trying to keep their heads above water.
And so cash transfers are guaranteed income. It’s really making allowances for unconditional transfers to people who meet a specific criteria for a consistent period of time so that they can begin to either pay down debt or achieve a different… purchase a car, or use the resources with some personal agency that allows them to shift stations in life.
So the key feature is that these payments are made regularly over a specific period of time. And most of the time, they are without strings.
Tonia: And what’s interesting is that while it sounds like a simple idea, there’s so many hurdles that we have to cross in order to implement these programs. One, we were able to socialize it. People understand that there’s a mix/match between earnings and cost, right? So that was the first hurdle.
I’d say the second and third one were getting waivers, or doing some counseling with each individual recipient to determine whether or not them receiving these cash transfers would have them lose other benefits that they might be receiving because of their income levels. And so it’s not a given.
Denver: Yeah. Run into unintended consequences.
Tonia: Absolutely. And our ambition is to do no harm while we’re trying to do the most good. And so there’s a lot of work that goes into implementing these interventions.
But it also points to systems failures, right? It’s also pointing to the fact that a low-income person would never be able to climb their way or pull themselves up by their bootstraps if every time there’s an incremental increase in their income, there’s a detriment on the other side.
And we’re saying, to really shift the trajectory, we need to work on both. They need to continue to receive benefits, and then these extra payments are ways for them to pay debt, purchase a car, enroll in school, provide aftercare for their kids so that they can all benefit from this through mobility.
Denver: Fantastic. I had a conversation with GiveDirectly many years ago, and they were looking at these direct cash transfers as almost an index fund, like the way Vanguard does in the stock market.
And he says, people actually have a pretty good idea what to do with the money. And they ain’t going to throw it away. They’re not going to do it on alcohol or smoking or… they’ll put a roof on or something like that.
And he says, I sometimes think about looking at all those intermediary nonprofit organizations, and he said it would be interesting to pit the support that they give compared to what a person could do for themselves. And I thought it was little bit… an interesting mind experiment along those lines.
You’re trying to raise I think like $50 million?
Tonia: I am. Yeah.
Denver: Yeah, for this. Yeah.
Tonia: And guess what, $50 million is still not enough to do all the work around the region that we want to, but we think it’s a fairly good start for us to make some deep investments in some of these pilot initiatives and to make a big investment in sort of building for the future of our community foundation.
Denver, if it’s okay with you, I want to quickly go back to the point around building the field because the field for economic mobility, I would say it doesn’t fully exist. Because what we’re trying to do is a lot different from what our traditional nonprofit partners might do. I think all of that work is important work and is necessary work, but this is different work.
Asset management, financial interventions, these kinds of interventions require a different skillset. It requires a different level of engagement and interaction with participants. Sometimes it doesn’t require any interaction with participants. It really is about agency on the one hand and support where needed on the other.
And so I do believe that over the next 10 years, we’re going to see some shifts in how giving is done, one, and then the kinds of institutions or organizations that are going to be needed to support individuals along their journey. Yeah, I think it’s an important opportunity, and it’s actually pretty exciting– the paradigm shift that I think we’re helping to instigate.
Denver: Yeah. I really agree with you, and with this field work, I mean, you’re trying to build an infrastructure. And you can’t do these things without some kind of structure.
It’s the exact same thing that’s happening with impact investing right now, that the people who really care about it are not just looking at their investment, where it’s going; it’s the field. We have to create the field.
How do you think philanthropy is going to change over the next 10 years?
Tonia: I think it’s going to be incredibly different. We’re going to find, I would say, community banking opportunities, more opportunities for people to figure out how to do things together in community.
I’m so hopefully optimistic. I think what they’re calling the silver tsunami is going to create a new opportunity for entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs of color, for more women entrepren– not entrepreneurs, people who can acquire business, not just startup businesses, but actually acquire existing businesses and take them to the next level.
I mean, I think it’s all of these kinds of intervention. We always talk about the ones that help people move from, I would say, from crisis to stability, from stability to mobility. Like those are the savings, the credit repair, the additional income, the financial capability work.
But then there’s this other work where we talk about community wealth building. Like that’s the prosperity kind of… that’s the thriving lens we’re trying to get people to where you’re thinking about what it looks like to have employee-owned businesses, or to build cooperatives.
Or what about strategic economic participation where we’ll be thoughtful about how the role of anchor institutions and people, and community is where there’s the sort of the greatest opportunity. So I think the sector is going to open wide up and, in a way, that’s going to breathe some new life and excitement and energy into the work we do.
Denver: Well, it’s really very interesting, and I agree with you 100% because I think if you take a look at some other industries, if you take a look at music where you had to go into Warner Bros. or something like that, now you go on the internet, and now you have Spotify out there.
And I think about 98% of the books, Tonia, are self-published today. So you don’t really have to go. And then you say, well, why is philanthropy still pretty much in this rigid form of the way it was? And I start to think about these community banks. I think about mutual aid societies. I think about GoFundMe pages.
And people are always worried about the philanthropic up high shrinking and less people giving. They just may not be giving through the traditional 501(c)(3), and other things are springing up just like every other industry… like journalism for goodness sake. So I think you’re absolutely correct on that.
I’ll ask you about one more. You touched on this, too, the Children’s Trust Account.
Tonia: Yes. Yeah, I’m so excited about this one too because our fundholders have been asking us for generations to do more in education. And in this instance, we get to focus on a strategy that creates incentives for high school graduation and even secondary education. And it’s an economic incentive as well.
So for our Children’s Trust Account, children’s savings accounts, we’re still trying to land on the exact language for it. But we are instigating a pilot where we’ll, based on data and need, choose two schools, one in each of two counties, separate counties in our region.
And we’re seeding children’s trust accounts with a thousand dollars each at kindergarten, and they will be funded with up to a thousand dollars every year until graduation. At graduation, the kid, the young adult will be able to redeem the reward and use it for continuing education, for entrepreneurship, roll it over into a retirement account. Or for home ownership, they can defer it and then redeem it at some point in order to purchase a home.
We’re excited because we’re expanding the use of these kinds of rewards. Typically, they’re only tied to education, and we know that so much is shifting in our sort of infrastructure that there are so many options for young adults, especially, to pursue. And so we’re widening use.
And the data shows that kids with trusts assigned to their names are three to four times more likely to graduate from high school, more likely to go on to college, and actually begin to show performance differences as early as third grade. And so we’re saying, if we can create these incentives that have a socio and emotional benefit, and there’s a financial reward at the end, it certainly is a double win for us.
Denver: And that’s the best of all worlds. And I’d have to say with philanthropy being a little bit behind the curve and some of the changes that have hit other sectors, I’d put education right with it.
Denver: What’s going to happen in education over the next 10 years is going to be remarkable, the change.
Tonia: Yeah. I want to hear more about what you’re learning, Denver. I think that’s what we’re… we’re preparing ourselves to be able to support it because we think that it is going to look differently. And so much of what we are doing in designing these trust accounts are: we’re trying to predict as much of the future as we can.
But we know we don’t know all the shifts and things that are going to happen, but we want to create it as flexible a product as possible so that it applies 10 years down the line, 12 years down the line when these kids are ready to redeem this award.
Denver: A great metaphor as someone told me about that, Tonia, is Impressionist art. Because if you’re looking 10 years down the road, you can’t really see what’s going to happen. But you’ve got a Monet out there, you know what I mean?
And you have a general idea, and it will get more clear, and it will change. And that’s all you’re looking for right now, but you do have that Monet, in order to be able to know which way you’ve got to head.
Let’s talk a little bit about your donors and your funders and fundholders you’ve talked about. I mean, a billion and a half dollars. That’s a lot of money, and obviously you have some pretty ambitious plans going forward.
Tell us about some of your plans in terms of trying to raise even additional funds, and also in light of the fact that Washington ain’t a great place when it comes to their average donation compared to some other parts in the rest of the country. Give us some context for all that.
Tonia: Yeah, that’s true. I always start with saying that people are generous. And Denver, we see that generosity even more in crisis. That’s when I think people’s hearts are, you know, are ready to give and ready to make sure that our neighbors are supported.
But we still tend to trend, yeah, below the national average when it comes to average donations, have for a while. So much of that is related to the transient nature of our region where people come here from somewhere else. They come and spend their great years in their career in either politics or public policy or other industries.
And then their home is typically in other places. I mean, that happens with a lot of folks who are in and out of the region. And so I’d say that we didn’t have a big industrial bank or a company to leave us a huge endowment.
It really is sort of the generosity of people who were here often for a while. They made DC their home; they set up a fund with us and were supporting efforts in the region or their favorite nonprofits in the region while they were here.
Part of what we’re doing through our campaign is… it’s actually several goals, but one of which is to invest in these strategies that we think are cutting-edge and innovative. Two, is when we get to do this through our 50-year anniversary. The storytelling about our impact is to really invite people to make the Washington, DC Metropolitan area home.
Like if you’ve been here, and you’ve become a successful lawyer or a successful real estate investor through your time and tenure here, we want you to continue to support this community, the community that has given you so much in life and in death.
And so we’re doing quite a bit of engagement with our current fundholders and with a number of other prospects around what it would mean to leave our community in your estate planning, as you’re thinking about perpetuating your giving.
And then you mentioned the $50 million campaign. It really is twofold, again: support the work of our strategic initiatives, but also to really build the endowment of the community foundation. I don’t like saying this, but it’s the absolute truth that we’re probably one of the least endowed community foundations of our size.
And we have an opportunity to make that right so that when there’s another crisis or another opportunity, we have discretionary resources that have been left to this community for those specific purposes. And so we’re endowment building. So we’re planning; we’re doing work that helps us address the very current and present needs in our community, but we’re also thinking about the next 50 years of this foundation.
Denver: I think the CEO’s got a lot of fundraising to do.
Tonia: The CEO is out there, Denver.
Denver: I bet you are. But you know what? That’s one of the best jobs because you’re an ambassador to the community, and the fundraising is just one little link of that whole chain. It’s really talking about the work and educating people. And I’ve always found it energizes one, you know?
Tonia: It is. It doesn’t feel like a chore at all.
Denver: No, no.
Tonia: It really is telling the story of the people in the community who are resilient, and smart, and hardworking, and making the case that we should continue to support and uplift them.
“It’s hard to do community development work from the comfort of your home. There are some things you can do, and there’s certain teams that can do more community… more of their sort of functions in a hybrid workplace. But in community development, you need to be with people. You need to understand what’s happening, and that’s people… whether it’s fundholders and donors, or whether it’s community members… to understand the kinds of needs that exist. And so it’s challenging.”
Denver: In light of what’s happening over the last three years, Tonia, how do you think leadership has changed? What kind of attributes do we need now more than ever, and particularly more than three or four years ago?
Tonia: Oh gosh, there’s so many. I think leaders today just have to be good dancers because we just never know what tune is going to be played, what’s going to happen both in our economy, in our community, with your staff and your teams. It’s so dynamic.
I wish one day looked like the prior day, and it just doesn’t. So I’ll talk about quickly hybrid work, and both the beauty of it and the challenges of it in community. It’s hard to do community development work from the comfort of your home.
There are some things you can do, and there’s certain teams that can do more community… more of their sort of functions in a hybrid workplace. But in community development, you need to be with people. You need to understand what’s happening, and that’s people… whether it’s fundholders and donors, or whether it’s community members… to understand the kinds of needs that exist.
And so it’s challenging. We’re figuring it out. I just had an amazing staff meeting today in person and just reminded, one, that food is a great comforter and icebreaker.
But two, like just how rich conversations are when you’re able to touch someone and you get all of the… sort of the interaction and the exchange and flow of ideas… that we’ve got to continue to know that it is important that we are in person with each other, and with our broader community. But, you know…
Denver: That can be a tough sell with certain generations, as you know.
Tonia: It is a tough sell. It’s a tough sell, but it’s important for this specific kind of work. When I worked in international development, we were doing remote work 20 years ago. Everyone could work from everywhere.
You fly into a place; you spend some time there. Some people are on the ground; some people are at HQ. Hyper-local work is different, I believe. And it requires a little more boots on the ground.
“And we’re touching people, again, in community writ large. I work with our fundholders in the community that also need touch, touching, because… just because people have access to capital doesn’t mean that they are connected to community in a way that we get to offer and bring to bear.”
Denver: Yeah. Yeah. And I would have to think that also during these times, the people you’re trying to help and serve, they’re lonely. They need a touch. They need to see somebody because a lot of people don’t see many people.
Tonia: That’s right.
Denver: Saw research the other day that 72% of the global workforce is lonely on a monthly basis.
Tonia: I can imagine.
Denver: And 55% weekly. And sometimes when you’re looking at the mission of your organization, I know what you’re saying, that’s part of what we’re doing, we’re touching people. And…
Tonia: And we’re touching people, again, in community writ large. I work with our fundholders in the community that also need touch, touching, because… just because people have access to capital doesn’t mean that they are connected to community in a way that we get to offer and bring to bear.
Denver: Another aspect of leadership that I think is more critical than ever before is having the leader of the organization, the CEO, show some vulnerability. And you’ve had to do that in light of some of the personal things that have happened in your life. Tell us a little bit about that.
Tonia: Sure. So let me just start by saying I was hired in March of 2020, so I always refer back to that important time in our shared history because we all endured a crisis, a global crisis together. And I feel like my tenure has been one of having to wear lots of hats, both personal and professional, making decisions about where we were going to go, what we’re going to do, how long we would be out of the office, what our protocols would be.
And then I’d say, Denver, the very next year, in May of ’21, my partner suffered an aneurysm and completely threw our family for a loop, was sick for a long time, and I had to take time away from my job. It was amazing because I had such an amazing team to be able to step in and continue to drive our agenda just after our strategic plan had been approved, interestingly enough. And then three months later, my father passed away.
Tonia: So 2021 was pretty unkind to me…
Denver: Yeah, tough year.
Tonia: …in a lot of ways, and I couldn’t hide it. Like you can’t fake your way through the pain and suffering that goes along with family illness and death. It strikes you in a very, very tough way. My husband is doing well now, and I get to reflect on the amazing life that I got to live with my father, my parents, our family often now.
It doesn’t feel as harsh or punitive in reflection, but certainly a time for personal vulnerability and sharing, and really relying on the strength of both the vision that we had set forth for the organization, the amazing team that I’ve been fortunate to have begun assembling to continue to work.
Denver: Yeah. And that kind of modeling, too, then really allows everybody on that team to show vulnerability as well, when the leader has done it. And that can create a much closer, tight-knit organization who just watches out and cares for each other.
Tonia: Absolutely. And I tell you, people everywhere, like here we are two years later almost, and they’re always asking about my partner, my husband. They share a story about a person that they might have lost, especially during the time of the pandemic where there was so much loss.
So it actually makes it easier now that I’ve been so public about my own struggles and sufferings to connect with people on the issue of death, and death during a time when it was hard to have funerals or memorials because of all of the restrictions that were in place at the time.
Denver: Yeah. Yeah. Well, thank you so much for sharing that.
Let me close with this, 50th anniversary. Well, you don’t have a 50th anniversary without having a gala, and you got one coming up. So tell us about it. Tell us who’s going to be honored.
Tonia: Sure. We are so excited. On May 3rd, we will be celebrating in grand style the 50th anniversary of the Greater Washington Community Foundation at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Denver: Yeah, right. What a spot!
Tonia: Yeah. I’m so excited by that. And our honoree, our Spirit of Philanthropy honoree is Terri Freeman.
Denver: Oh, there you go.
Tonia: Terri Freeman, the longest standing CEO…
Denver: For 17 years. Yeah.
Tonia: …first African American woman of The Community Foundation. Yes.
Denver: Are there any tickets available?
Tonia: So it’s going to be an exciting event. Pardon? Yes, tickets are available.
Denver: Okay. Tell us a little bit about your website, the information people will find there, and how they can maybe pick up a pair of tickets.
Tonia: Sure. Yes, please visit us anytime at thecommunityfoundation.org. We’re very lucky, Denver, to capture that URL, thecommunityfoundation.org. There you’ll learn about our strategy, our plans for the future, and you can grab tickets to our 50th anniversary celebration on May 3, for May 3.
Denver: Well, sounds fantastic. If you’re having trouble raising that $50 million, just sell that URL, and you’ll get a big piece of it.
Tonia: I don’t know. I think it’s worth more than that.
Denver: There you go. Well, thanks, Tonia, for being here. It was such, such a pleasure to have you on the show.
Tonia: Thank you, Denver. Thanks for making the interview easy and comfortable for me. I really appreciate it.
Denver Frederick, Host of The Business of Giving serves as a Trusted Advisor and Executive Coach to Nonprofit Leaders. His Book, The Business of Giving: New Best Practices for Nonprofit and Philanthropic Leaders in an Uncertain World, is available now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.