Kris Hermanns five years of impact

Five Years of Impact

By: Kris Hermanns

Dear Friends,

In a spirit of appreciation, I am writing to share that I will be leaving Seattle Foundation at the end of December, concluding five years of service to, and partnership with, so many members of this remarkable community.

This chapter has been among the most rewarding of my professional life. And as I prepare to depart, I do so buoyed by gratitude for all we have accomplished together.

From the day I arrived at Seattle Foundation in January 2019, our community has been challenged to think differently and adapt quickly to a compounding series of once-in-a-generation social and economic emergencies: a global pandemic, a national reckoning on race and justice, dual crises of income inequality and housing affordability, and so much more. Yet amid this challenge and upheaval, much has been achieved. Three accomplishments in particular stand out in my mind:

  • We launched some of the nation’s first Covid-19 response funds within weeks of the initial outbreak, including both the Greater Seattle Covid-19 Response Fund and the transformational statewide collaboration All In Washington. Our combined efforts raised $100+ million from thousands of individual and institutional donors, enabling us to make over 1,200 grants supporting emergency assistance, rent and food, childcare, mental health, and more. Together, we made a commitment to resource communities most impacted by the pandemic, those rooted in BIPOC communities, and to decrease barriers to ensure resources were moved quickly to support vulnerable families and workers in the region.
  • We also created the Evergreen Impact Housing Fund, an innovative financing product helping address our region’s affordable housing crisis. This first-of-its-kind, social impact fund partners with corporate and private investors, including Microsoft and several area credit unions. To date, it has committed more than $50 million across five projects, leveraging $420 million in additional private and public investments, and building more than 1,100 affordable housing units for hard-working Washington families navigating our region’s economic and wealth inequities.
  • We deepened our engagement as a civic leader, harnessing the foundation’s voice, resources, and relationships to strengthen our democratic institutions and in support of community-led policy priorities. This work has helped to advance systems change within housing, early learning, economic security, decennial census, and climate justice.

Through these, and many other initiatives, the resilience of our community has been a singular constant. Seattle Foundation, like the families and children we serve, has shown an unequalled capacity to adapt and respond, rebound and innovate, endure and ultimately thrive. What’s more, the programs we’ve stood-up and the methods by which we quickly sourced and deployed hundreds of millions of dollars for hard-hit Washingtonians, have become a roadmap for other community foundations across the United States.

When I joined Seattle Foundation, I became part of a team of committed, compassionate, and caring people. I was welcomed into a community who would do anything – give anything – for the greater good and the fight for racial, gender, and economic justice. Fortunately, the organization’s resolve has only deepened during my time here, and our team is better positioned than ever to navigate the complex social, economic, and cultural challenges ahead.

Lastly, to work and learn alongside such dedicated and loving grassroots community leaders and advocates has been a highlight of my life. Thank you for your tireless belief in the possibility to do better and be better people. The lessons are too numerous to list, but the impact is deeply imprinted on me. You have been an inspiration. I will be forever grateful for having been on this journey with you.

Transitions are never easy; we all know that. Anyone who knows me well, however, also knows that I believe healthy organizations periodically require new inputs to achieve maximum impact. Seattle Foundation is no exception. That’s why I am excited to pass the baton at what feels like a logical inflection point—for me and for the work.

I have been working closely with Alesha Washington, Seattle Foundation’s President & CEO, to plan for this transition. We have decided that after the first of the year, I will serve in a part-time consultative capacity supporting the organization’s executive team as they evolve my portfolio and plan for the next chapter of growth. I could not be more excited about that process, and I look forward to exploring new creative pathways with you.

With gratitude,

Kris Hermanns