Seattle Foundation Blog

Honoring Pillars of this Community

“Liberated relationships are one of the ways we actually create abundant justice, the understanding that there is enough attention, care, resource, and connection for all of us to access belonging, to be in our dignity, and to be safe in community.” ― adrienne maree brown


August 29, 2022

By Alesha Washington

As I reach my three-month mark with Seattle Foundation, I am reflecting deeply on the concepts of truth, joy, liberation, change, and growth. This has certainly been a period of change and growth for me, as well as the incredible team that enables this organization to do the work we do in partnership with our entire community, including our philanthropists and grantee partners. I have been learning so much from many different voices across the Seattle region, and I am grateful to have been welcomed into this community and organization with openness, grace, and passion for the Foundation’s mission – to ignite powerful, transformative, and just philanthropy in this region.

I fully believe Seattle Foundation is well poised to be a leading driver of philanthropic impact in this region by reimagining what it means to be a community foundation in this moment and for the future. My belief is underscored by our vision – our Blueprint for Impact – that imagines shared prosperity, equity, and belonging across a thriving region. For me, this means that any child in Greater Seattle will have equitable access to a joyful, safe, and whole future.

As I reflect on where this organization has been and our aspirations, I believe there are a core set of values that guide us:

  • Racial equity, inclusion, and justice are fundamental to Seattle Foundation’s work.
  • Fostering connection, trust, and belonging with this community is core to our mission. 
  • We have the courage and expertise to address the challenges and seize the opportunities that will create shared prosperity for our community, especially for those who have been historically and systematically marginalized.

We aim to go further in our racial equity journey, in partnership with our philanthropists and funding partners because it is our pathway to investing in the work and movements that will create the joyful future we all long for. We strive to be in right relationship with community, and we invite the same in return from our community partners, to help us achieve our best as a philanthropic institution. We will commit to fully and unapologetically living our values as an organization because it will keep us honest and focused on the work we must do to foster the joyful future we envision. We are so fortunate to have two trailblazers at Seattle Foundation who, for decades, have worked tirelessly to push us forward in living out our values – Michael Brown and Alice Ito. We are at an important moment as an organization to honor what they have brought to us and learn from them as we chart our path ahead.

To continue the work of living up to our commitment to racial equity and being in right relationship with community, we have elevated Michael and Alice’s roles to fully capture the knowledge, expertise, influence, and value they bring. Both will continue to report to me and serve as members of the Foundation’s senior leadership team.

Michael Brown, currently Civic Architect for Civic Commons, will serve as the Executive-in-Residence for Community Partnerships – in this role he will be my strategic partner and a thought leader, locally and nationally, on building authentic relationship and shared accountability with those we support through our work. Michael will continue to manage Civic Commons and we are going to be working to ensure the work of Seattle Foundation and Civic Commons are aligned to capture the full value of our collective efforts.

Alice Ito, currently Senior Advisor for Equity, will serve as the Executive-in-Residence for Racial Equity & Inclusion – in this role she will be my strategic partner and resident expert on racial equity, social justice, and inclusion, including how they inform our strategy, operations, and board governance. This is also an opportunity for Alice to advise and support our evolving work around reimagining community philanthropy through a racial equity, anti-racism, and justice lens both locally and nationally.

Michael Brown has been with the Foundation for over 20 years and in that time, has quietly worked to cement racial equity, inclusion, and belonging as a core part of our community impact work. Alice Ito has been with the Foundation officially for eight years, but has a long history with the institution, including joining organizing efforts many years ago to push Seattle Foundation to address our lack of financial investment in communities of color. As staff of the Foundation, Alice and Michael worked as a team to build the strategy that undergirds our Blueprint for Impact, which calls for us to advance efforts that foster greater racial equity, shared prosperity, and belonging in the Greater Seattle region. I am excited to work in partnership with them as we evolve as an organization and strengthen our community impact.

I hope that you will join me in congratulating them on these new roles and thanking them for their ongoing commitment to our mission.

Yours in partnership,

Alesha Washington
President & CEO
Seattle Foundation

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BIPOCRacial equityCenter for Community Partnershipscommunities of opportunityCommunity foundationsNeighbor to Neighbor

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