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A Voice from Philanthropy

Why aren’t there more leaders of color in the nonprofit sector?
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on September 14, 2017

Leading with Intent: 2017 National Index of Nonprofit Board Practices, a report recently released by BoardSource, had as its first finding, “Boards are no more diverse than they were two years ago and current recruitment priorities indicate this is unlikely to change.”

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Daughters of the Dream – or – What I Did on my Summer Sabbatical
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on September 5, 2017

In February 2012, I started writing a manuscript intended to capture my lifelong friendship with seven women. Most of us started Albert V. Norrell Elementary School in Richmond, VA, together.

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White people, it’s time to act
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on August 21, 2017

Racism and racists have been put on the table in a powerful way since the recent events in Charlottesville.

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Racism isn’t just in America: Three Degrees of Separation in Italy
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on July 10, 2017

Lucy Lawless and I are both in Lucca, Italy, a city in Tuscany about an hour south of Florence. I suspect that we are both here for the same reasons: rest, relaxation and renewal in a city known for its beauty.

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Will Sabbaticals Be Commonplace in the Social Profit Sector One Day?
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on June 5, 2017

Is it time for you to consider a sabbatical request? If so, determine when your organization can best accommodate your absence. (There is a month or two, really. You can find it.) Think about how you will use the time.

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Jordan Edwards
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on May 3, 2017

Another unarmed, black child killed by the police. Another. Jordan was 15 years old, leaving a party in Dallas when a police officer, called to investigate underage drinking, shot him.

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My racial identity, deconstructed
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on April 24, 2017

Racial identity – how you see me and how I see myself – is influenced by so many factors, but one of the most significant influencers is how your family perceives race. And, of course, if your family perceives race at all.

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Using WRAG’s Voice on Issues That Matter
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on March 20, 2017

On March 14, 2017, the WRAG Board of Directors voted to sign on as a supporter of the New Social Compact, a statement of values, practices, and actions being promulgated by professor john a. powell of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at UC Berkeley.

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Poor, Black and on Trial in DC
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on February 14, 2017

For two weeks, I served on a jury in the District of Columbia. I don’t know if our Putting Racism on the Table work over the last year made me more sensitive, but what I do know is that I responded to this case very differently than the three other times that I have served on a DC jury.

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Civic duty takes different forms
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on January 23, 2017

“I’m sorry” has uniformly been the response when colleagues and friends have learned that I currently have jury duty. I think I understand that reaction.

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January 17th is for racial healing
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on January 17, 2017

Here at WRAG, not only do we recognize the power of philanthropy to lead, we share the Kellogg Foundation’s belief in the need for truth, racial healing and transformation.

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What does a trip to California have to do with racial equity?
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on January 10, 2017

On Monday, December 2, 2016, I flew to Carlsbad, California with fourteen philanthropic leaders to attend a week-long summit hosted by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

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What does Santa look like?
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on December 12, 2016

Long ago, I started collecting Santas to decorate my Christmas tree. I would buy them whenever I traveled as a memento of the trip. My tree is adorned with a Santa on a bicycle, a Santa on an alligator, and one hugging a pink flamingo.

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Are you putting racism on the table? Let WRAG know!
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on December 6, 2016

When WRAG launched Putting Racism on the Table: The Learning Series, we focused narrowly on building a local cohort of informed philanthropic leaders who understood the many aspects of racism and were committed to addressing it.

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If You See Something, Say Something: Post-Election America
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on November 22, 2016

It has been two weeks since the election. Like many of you, I, too, have been thinking about what this means. With a new president whose party will control both houses of Congress – not to mention appointments to the Supreme Court – the potential for change – significant change – is high.

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Racial Profiling is Real. It Just Happened to my Son.
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on November 17, 2016

Yesterday, my son was stopped by the police as he came out of our home at 4 p.m. in the afternoon.

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Addressing Racism Has Gone Viral: Introducing “Structural Racism Theater”
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on October 31, 2016

2016 was the year in which race and racism went public, so to speak. Whether it was talk about implicit bias in police actions, or broader structural racism in the criminal justice system or the housing industry, or even comments from presidential candidates, racism has been front and center this year.

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“One Very Powerful Episode”
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on September 27, 2016

With this past weekend’s opening of the much-awaited National Museum of African American History and Culture, we have one more powerful episode, but there is an important, noteworthy difference.

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Racism fatigue?
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on September 20, 2016

I’ve been cautioned not to talk too much about racism. “You don’t want to cause racism fatigue” is what I’m hearing, primarily from African-Americans.

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Eviction in DC: What is the Full Story?
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on August 29, 2016

I’m still haunted by the August 9th Washington Post story, “Facing eviction over $25.” I just can’t get it out of my mind.

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The New Philanthropic Village
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on August 1, 2016

“It takes a village to raise a child” is a popular and often used phrase. Apparently that village isn’t only needed for children. It takes a village to support philanthropy.

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Do we need an X Prize to address affording housing in high-cost areas? Yes!
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on June 1, 2016

My father owned a small real estate business. He used to say that real estate was the best investment because you could live in it, borrow against it, or rent it out.

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Nonprofits Need to Talk About Race, Not Just Diversity
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on May 12, 2016

I am not minimizing the importance of diversity. I’m simply suggesting that if we don’t also dig deeper into the issues of race and racism and their impact on our day-to-day lives, we will have only touched the surface of the social and racial inequities that continue to plague this country.

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Is the power of philanthropy enough to move the needle on racism? Yes, it already is.
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on April 21, 2016

In January, the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers (WRAG) started an intensive exploration of racism called Putting Racism on the Table.

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When was the last time you talked about racism?
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on March 15, 2016

This post is about why you – whoever you are – should be putting racism on whatever table, literal or metaphoric, at which you sit.

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The penny isn’t always shiny and new
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on March 7, 2016

On Friday, the Washington City Paper featured a major article on the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the District of Columbia.

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Why we are pursuing a “culture of evaluation” at WRAG
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on February 11, 2016

How do you know if your work is making a difference? Sometimes the methodology can be relatively simple. Just ask.

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Op-Ed: Philanthropy Must Understand Racism Is Not Dead
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on January 21, 2016

On Monday, Americans from all walks of life joined together to celebrate the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday with volunteer projects and other commemorations reflecting his teachings.

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How will philanthropy respond to the Roadmap for the Washington Region’s Future Economy?
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on January 15, 2016

It was just last January that WRAG said “count us in” to Bob Buchanan and Stephen Fuller as the 2030 Group joined with the Center for Regional Analysis to develop a roadmap for the region’s future economy.

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Making a Difference | A Fourth Quarter Report to the Community
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on December 14, 2015

In my third quarter report to the community, I referenced our mission statement. I’d like to do that again: “The Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers promotes increased, effective and responsible philanthropy to improve the health and vitality of the region and all who live here.”

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Can we speak our truths in a conversation about race?
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on November 16, 2015

It all started on my neighborhood listserv: A neighbor was seeking information about why police cars were at the corner. The dialogue wasn’t too emotional, at least initially, but the floodgates quickly opened.

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Thoughts and prayers aren’t enough
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on October 6, 2015

Last week, President Obama stood before the American people and again professed great sadness at another mass shooting in America.

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Addressing some of the real issues that plague our region | A third quarter report to the community
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on September 30, 2015

WRAG’s mission statement reads, “The Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers promotes increased, effective and responsible philanthropy to improve the health and vitality of the region and all who live here.”

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Has the American Dream become an affordable apartment?
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on September 22, 2015

For several years now, the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers (WRAG) has been discussing affordable housing.

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“Social” profit: so much more than semantics
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on August 3, 2015

Last month, at the annual conference of the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers (WRAG’s membership organization), I was asked to respond to the opening plenary speaker.

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Has philanthropy forgotten abused children?
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on July 14, 2015

Earlier this year, I witnessed an incident of child abuse. A girl of nine or ten was leaving school when an adult outside in a car with three other young children – her mother, I assumed – began to yell at her.

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Promoting effective philanthropy for Greater Washington | A second quarter report to the community
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on June 29, 2015

A few years ago, there was a lot of talk in the social profit sector about moving from good to great. Some in that sector may be surprised to learn that folks in philanthropy have been having a similar conversation.

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The importance of seeing the impact of philanthropy
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on June 8, 2015

On May 31, The New York Times published an op-ed entitled “Who Will Watch the Charities?” written by David Callahan, the founder and editor of a site called Inside Philanthropy.

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Information Overload: The Victim, the Culprit, the Solution
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on May 11, 2015

Piled on my desk are several issues of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, a few copies of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Bruce Katz’s The Metropolitan Revolution, the latest report from the Democracy Collaborative and assorted articles that I should read.

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A job – the right job – may be key to preventing other Baltimores
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on May 4, 2015

With Friday’s announcement by Maryland State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, a feeling that justice will prevail in the Freddie Gray case has begun to emerge.

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Rioting in Baltimore: A Plea for Justice
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on April 28, 2015

As media coverage on the riots in Baltimore continues, WRAG president Tamara Copeland asks us to look deeper into the plight of those on the forefront of the unrest.

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Business and Philanthropy: A partnership whose time has come
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on April 2, 2015

Last week, Bob Buchanan, principal of Buchanan Partners, a real estate development company, and president of the 2030 Group, an association of business leaders focused on regional issues and solutions, came to speak to WRAG member CEOs as part of our CEO Coffee and Conversation series.

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Growing philanthropy in our region | A first quarter report to the community
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on March 26, 2015

Most of the time, at WRAG, we wear the hat of the convener, or the voice of philanthropy, or the information aggregator. For the first quarter of 2015, we have elevated another aspect of our work – fund developer.

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Why I’m asking WRAG members to Get on the Map
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on February 23, 2015

In the eight years that I have been at WRAG, there has been one resounding refrain from our members: we need to know who is funding what, we need the information to be easily accessible, and we need it to be up-to-date.

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From Vision to Reality
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on February 18, 2015

Over the past year, we have provided periodic updates on the planning phase of the Metropolitan Washington Community Wealth Building Initiative (CWBI) led by City First Enterprises (CFE); however, none of those updates compares to this one.

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Understanding Black History as One Step on the Road to Racial Justice
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on February 2, 2015

Years ago, my neighbor Jim Myers wrote a book called Afraid of the Dark: What Whites and Blacks Need to Know about Each Other. In it, Jim, who is white, suggests that one of the reasons that African-Americans and whites don’t understand each other is because we spend so little time in each other’s homes.

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A Letter to Foundation Trustees and Execs Considering Closing a Foundation
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on January 13, 2015

Closing a foundation is not a choice most executives and trustees arrive at easily. However, if you do make the decision to sunset, you couldn’t have a better roadmap for doing this gracefully and effectively than the closings of The Summit Fund and The MARPAT Foundation.

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What does it take to launch a new initiative?
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on October 14, 2014

It was 2011 when I first learned of the Evergreen Cooperatives from three local grantmakers – Linda Howard of the Summit Fund, Kristin Pauly of Prince Charitable Trusts, and Margaret O’Bryon then of the Consumer Health Foundation.

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From Walking to Marching
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on September 9, 2014

In nine months, I will put on heavily cushioned socks and my best walking shoes and challenge myself to the most rigorous walk that I’ve ever done – 60 miles in three days.

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The place that power has forgotten
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on June 11, 2014

Yesterday, I addressed a group of national funders as part of a panel discussion on the power of place. I welcomed this opportunity to speak at the Council of Foundations’ annual conference because, to me, it feels that our region is really the place that power has forgotten.

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A Voice from Philanthropy: Celebrating the legacy of the Freddie Mac Foundation
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on June 4, 2014

“Honoring our Partners, Celebrating our Legacy” was the theme of Monday night’s final gathering of the Freddie Mac Foundation. This culminating event poignantly captured all that the foundation has meant to the community.

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A Voice From Philanthropy: A Call to Action for Tomorrow’s Philanthropic Leaders
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on May 29, 2014

Years ago, Julie Rogers of the Meyer Foundation told me, somewhat wistfully, that there used to be a time when a core group of funders in the region could come together and make big things happen.

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An Open Letter to the Greater Washington Region’s Congressional Delegation
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on March 4, 2014

This week is Philanthropy Week in Washington. On Wednesday and Thursday, foundation leaders from across the country will meet with their members of Congress as part of an annual event called Foundations on the Hill.

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Fighting for the people who fight for the people: Dan Pallotta
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on February 26, 2014

It was early 2009 when I first heard of Dan Pallotta. His book, Uncharitable: How Restraints on Nonprofits Undermine Their Potential, transformed how I thought about the nonprofit sector.

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What you should expect from WRAG in 2014
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on January 22, 2014

Yesterday, as I sat at home looking at the beautiful snowfall, I had to think about a problem caused by the weather. This Thursday is the opening session for our new Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility.

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Celebrating Christmas a bit differently
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on December 19, 2013

Whether we’re celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or another holiday, we each have our own holiday traditions. Sometimes the difference may be the religious or cultural underpinning, the foods that we eat, or the decorations that adorn our homes.

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Celebrating success as we strive to do more
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on December 3, 2013

At our annual meeting before Thanksgiving, keynote speaker Dr. Emmett Carson of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation issued a challenge to philanthropists to fully embrace their position as change agents. Dr. Carson suggested that many funders don’t realize their potential to change the world.

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Stormwater, lettuce, and the promise of community wealth building
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on November 1, 2013

When thinking about starting a business, one typically focuses on two key elements: the market potential for the proposed product or service and its profitability. Funders in the Greater Washington region are thinking about starting businesses. But they are approaching the task in an unusual way.

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Philanthropy can’t replace government
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on October 15, 2013

It has been over two weeks since the government shutdown. Finally, there seems to be serious talk about ending the impasse.

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Reflecting on the commemorative March on Washington
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on September 23, 2013

That expression, “a picture is worth a thousand words” has been on my mind for the last few weeks. I’ve been wondering what impression the visual image from the recent commemorative March on Washington gave to those who watched the coverage on television.

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Have we had enough? Philanthropy can lead the charge to reform mental health care.
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on September 18, 2013

I’ve been listening to the discussion since the tragedy at the Navy Yard earlier this week. The conversation seems to have transitioned to one focused on how Aaron Alexis secured a “secret” level clearance from the federal government. Certainly, it is important to delve into that question.

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Raise your voice in August
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on August 6, 2013

Years ago, I worked for a member of Congress. The pace was always hectic. Always. Many thought that we lived for the August recess. But for us, August was just as hectic, only in a different way.

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Two national issues, two different responses. Social media matters.
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on July 10, 2013

Late last month the United States Supreme Court decided on three cases that directly impacted many in our country and indirectly impacted all of us who care about social justice.

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A chance to show national funders the other side of our coin
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on June 13, 2013

Soon our region will have an opportunity to present our needs and our successes before a national philanthropic audience. In June 2014, the Council of Foundations (COF) will host its annual conference in downtown D.C. Representatives of foundations from across the country will be here.

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A Voice from Philanthropy: The Invisible
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on May 13, 2013

We charge into every day ready to tackle the next challenge. We are virtually on auto-pilot as our cars almost drive us to work or as we automatically walk down the same streets.

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A Voice from Philanthropy: Uniting to address challenges facing boys and men of color
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on April 24, 2013

At the Council on Foundations conference earlier this month, 26 foundations pledged to address issues facing boys and men of color in the United States. To my knowledge, this is an unprecedented recognition of the disparities facing this community, and of the need for a visible, coordinated, and focused plan of action.

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A Voice from Philanthropy: Can a push for collective impact change our region?
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on April 10, 2013

When I talk with my colleagues around the country about the philanthropic work going on in the Greater Washington region, they often seem to be a bit in awe. The foundations in their regions just don’t have the same culture of collaboration that we do here.

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A Voice from Philanthropy: What sequestration means for philanthropy
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on March 4, 2013

When the sequestration proposal was made in August 2011, no one thought that it would ever happen. The consequences were simply too dire.

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A Voice from Philanthropy: “Opportunity” knocks
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on February 13, 2013

Last night, like many of you, I listened to President Obama report to Congress and to America on the state of our country. He touched on many issues, but the overall frame that resonated with me was opportunity.

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A Voice From Philanthropy: When was the last time you read Ebony Magazine?
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on February 6, 2013

Recently, a colleague came to me and commented about the monthly delivery of Ebony Magazine to our office. While addressed correctly to our suite, it was not addressed specifically to anyone who works here.

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In With the New, Out with the Old…Really?
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on January 14, 2013

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few months visiting with my 96 year old aunt who has been hospitalized. One day, I suddenly realized how young her doctors and nurses looked.

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Transportation policy – it’s not just about roads
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on June 27, 2012

Bumper-to-bumper traffic. Metro breakdowns. Bus routes being cut. Transportation is high on the list of issues of concern to our region.

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Region Forward: Is the Plan Making a Difference?
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on June 18, 2012

Well, the goals outlined in the plan are set to be achieved by 2050, so we can’t quite answer that question yet. But, kudos to the Council of Governments for its release of a Region Forward Baseline Progress Report.

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Why should you care about D.C. voting rights?
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on May 23, 2012

You don’t live in the District, so why should you care? First and foremost, you should care because you are an American. Not only a Virginian or a Marylander, but an American. It’s really that simple.

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Why is WRAG Talking About Regionalism?
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on May 1, 2012

Let’s think of my block as a region. I’ve lived in my house – Copeland City – for more than twenty years. For all of that time, until last month, my house has sat ten houses into the block next to a vacant lot – Vacant Lot City.

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Trayvon Martin, Silent. We Must Speak.
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on March 20, 2012

By now, you have heard about the 17 year old, African-American boy who was killed tragically on February 26th by a neighborhood watch captain. According to reports, Trayvon was on his way to his dad’s home in a gated community after going to a nearby convenience store.

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Who Are We? Where Are We? What is Our Name?
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on September 16, 2011

Greater Washington” says Jim Dinegar of the Greater Washington Board of Trade. “Ditto,” say Tim Kime of Leadership Greater Washington and Chuck Bean of the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington.

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Are Infrastructure Organizations Still Needed in Today’s Networked Society? YES!
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on July 21, 2011

When we stand outside of the Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC and gaze across the Potomac at Ronald Reagan National Airport in Northern Virginia, we sometimes think about the congestion on the 14th St. Bridge or the constant repairs, but rarely do we think about the inherent value of the bridge or its place in an almost 50,000 mile interstate highway system.

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What is Philanthropy?
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on June 27, 2011

The easy answer is that philanthropy is the awarding of grants to worthy individuals or causes. That answer is clear, concise and incomplete. It captures the facts, but not the soul of philanthropy.

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Region Forward Coalition: The Work Begins
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on June 16, 2011

When the WRAG Board endorsed Region Forward: A Comprehensive Guide for Regional Planning and Measuring Progress in the 21st Century, they knew that the plan was an important breakthrough.

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We are all change agents
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on May 12, 2011

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.

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Be a Budget Advocate: Speak Up for Our Region
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on April 15, 2011

For months now, local elected officials have struggled with how to maintain services – ranging from housing for low-income people to keeping libraries open and keeping our communities safe – while grappling with insufficient funding.

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Learning some new steps in 2011
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on December 3, 2010

I hope that everyone who attended our 2010 annual meeting was able to keep a paper dancer as a souvenir. Did you notice that each dancer’s core is a map of some part of our region? Mine is from DC, around the Tidal Basin. Yours might be from Gaithersburg or Chantilly or Old Keene Mill Road in Springfield.

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We need you in the picture!
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on October 27, 2010

Our Annual Meeting festivities will start early this year! We invite all member CEOs and Trustees to join us for a cocktail reception at the Phillips Collection on Wednesday, Nov. 17—the evening before the meeting.

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Thinking like a region–and acting like one
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on June 8, 2010

Last month at WG, the Urban Institute’s Margery Turner touched on a dilemma for those working in the social profit sector.

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Notes from yesterday’s briefing on Haiti
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on January 21, 2010

Here are some of highlights and tangible recommendations from yesterday’s briefing on Haiti, co-sponsored by Leadership Greater Washington and the Board of Trade.

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Beyond dollars for *BIG* change
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on November 12, 2009

Today’s a big day for Washington Grantmakers. As our members gather at the National Housing Center for our annual meeting, we’re also releasing 1) new survey results, which show the effect of the recession on grantmaker assets and 2) a new report, which reveals how grantmakers can continue to effect “Big Change.”

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Your Summer Reading List?
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on July 8, 2009

Remember when you’d leave school in June ready to enjoy the summer and then your mom or dad would remind you of the dreaded summer reading list?

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Giving grantees an earlier decision?
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on April 30, 2009

Here’s a note I just received from Mary Hallisy of WG member Cafritz Charitable Trust.

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Can you collaborate more?
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on March 11, 2009

That’s a question that nonprofits say they hear frequently from grantmakers, particularly in the current environment.

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When categories fail–good health is about much more than “Health”
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on May 22, 2009

Your neighborhood, education, and income. Your race. Whether you rent or own. Even your perception of the control you have over your life. All of these factors directly affect your health and your life-expectancy.

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D.C. education reform: A regional concern
By Tamara Lucas Copeland on September 10, 2007

The region’s children are all now back in school… and Washington Grantmakers is preparing to join them. We have three teams of members getting ready for the DC Voice community audit, as part of the learning agenda of our Public Education Working Group in collaboration with the Community Foundation.

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