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Living our Values of Equity & Opportunity

New senior advisor on equity, Alice Ito, to guide our journey


August 02, 2018

By Tony Mestres, President & CEO

Three years ago, Seattle Foundation embraced “equity and opportunity” as core values. We began a journey to imbue these values across the organization, with full support of our Board and a clear appreciation that creating a stronger more vibrant community for all requires us to address structural and institutional racial inequities. Fighting inequality is the clarion call of our time, therefore addressing racial inequity is a priority of the highest order. We all know that the American dream is out of reach for far too many people in this country, with families stuck at the bottom of the economic ladder, unable to climb up.

We have a collective responsibility to change that reality, and we can, by working together.

As Seattle Foundation furthers our commitment to racial equity, we have made an important change on the team to reinforce our deep engagement around this value. Today, we announce that Alice Ito has stepped into a new role as Senior Advisor on Equity. Reporting directly to me, Alice will partner closely with and advise the Management Team and Board during this critical period of organizational evolution and change. The addition of this role on our team is an approach to organizational design we have observed in some of the most respected foundations across the country, including Ford, Rockefeller and Raikes Foundation, as well as many other organizations.

Over the past few years, we have begun examining our policies, practices and organizational culture with an equity lens. This includes transforming our grantmaking to focus on improving systems and policies to create better outcomes for vulnerable communities. It includes a focus on our human resources practices, contracts and vendors, as well as how we invest our assets. This work is ongoing and involves assessing our entire organization to explore how we can improve and where we can do more.

This new role is just one part of Seattle Foundation’s deep commitment to living our value of racial equity, in both our internal operations, as well as external programs and partnerships. Alice will work with the full staff to integrate the organization’s commitment to racial equity into all areas of the Foundation’s work. I am grateful she has agreed to take on this new role and incredibly excited to work with her in this new capacity.

As many in the community know, Alice is a deeply respected leader who has spearheaded work to advance collaborative, systemic change to achieve greater economic and racial equity throughout her career. She has guided the Foundation’s work on our Communities of Opportunity partnership with King County, and overseen our grassroots grantmaking program, Neighbor to Neighbor. Alice has also co-led Seattle Foundation’s efforts to increase diversity, equity and inclusion over the past two years, in partnership with team members.

Prior to Seattle Foundation, Alice served as a Distinguished Fellow at the Center for Community Change. She has worked for and consulted with community-based nonprofits and philanthropic organizations for over 25 years. Alice also co-founded the Asian Women’s Shelter in San Francisco and API Chaya (also known as Asian Pacific Islander Women & Family Safety Center) in Seattle. She has served as a board member for numerous organizations, including OneAmerica and Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees.

As many others before us in the philanthropic and social impact sectors have done, we will continue to ask questions, learn and humbly pursue this critical goal of advancing equity. Alice is the perfect person to guide us on this journey, and I am delighted to move forward with her thoughtful advising. I am well aware that we have a long way to go, but we are guided by a north star: our commitment to equity and opportunity for all.

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For Philanthropists

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communities of opportunityeconomic opportunityRacial equitySystems and policy change

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