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May 12, 2011 / Christian Clansky

We are all change agents

Last night, Tamara participated in a protest for D.C. voting rights as a private District citizen. Below, she writes about how her experience gave her a new perspective on her job.

By Tamara Copeland, President (@WRAGprez)
Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers

Yesterday I was arrested for protesting the lack of voting rights for Americans like me who happen to live in the District of Columbia. A reporter asked me why I chose to do so at this time. After reflecting for a moment, I told him how affected I had been by watching the thousands of people in countries around the world being celebrated by US leaders as they protested for their rights. Yet here in the Nation’s Capital, 600,000 American citizens do not have the same rights as people in Idaho, Georgia, Virginia or Oregon.

This really isn’t a D.C. issue, it is an issue grounded in the number one American value: fairness. It simply is not fair that Americans living in the District of Columbia do not have representation in the United States Congress and that Congress controls the funds of the District. These are realities for only one group of American citizens: the residents of the District of Columbia.

So why am I sharing this personal experience with my colleagues in philanthropy? Beyond Dollars. For me, the Beyond Dollars message is really about power, the power that you as philanthropists have that goes beyond your investment of grants, but it’s really about the power that we all hold – individually and collectively – to be a part of the change that we want to see.

I posted the picture above on my Facebook page with the caption “LGW ’04 classmates protest lack of D.C. voting rights; 4 arrested.” The post was quickly picked up by friends and friends-of-friends. More people understand the situation in the District because of one small action that I took. Change is incremental and we can all play a part in changing something that is important to us.

Yesterday, I took a small step for the change that I think is important. I hope you will realize your power and take that step for the change that you want to see.

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