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Philanthropy’s Role in Cross Sector Leadership

Thursday, Mar 17, 2016 Category Education

by Kristen Cambell

Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement (PACE) is a network of foundations and funders that believe America will be healthier, stronger, more resilient, and more productive if democracy is strong and the office of citizen is treated as central to how the country functions. This is more than a vision or value statement—it is a commitment to recognize and embrace philanthropy's role in empowering all people to use their civic and Constitutional rights and responsibilities in pursuit of the public good.

This commitment will only be realized if people and the institutions they collectively embody understand their civic power, influence, opportunity, and responsibility through collaboration. When philanthropists, academics, business leaders, and public servants work together, they forge a vision for shared leadership, impact, and mutual benefit. This collaboration works best when each understands the unique assets they bring to a partnership and can utilize each other's strengths to overcome their own limitations or challenges.

This is why PACE has partnered with the Presidio Institute to convene a discussion exploring philanthropy's unique role in cross sector leadership. This online discussion will take place March 24 at 2 p.m. Eastern (11 a.m. Pacific). Featured speakers—including Allison Barmann (Bush Foundation), Christina Garcia (James Irvine Foundation), Jenefer O'Dell (W.K. Kellogg Foundation), David B. Smith (Presidio Institute)—will join me to share their real-life learning and engagement in cross sector leadership in philanthropy, and draw on experience in their prior roles within the corporate, government, and nonprofit sectors.

Together, we will have an honest discussion of both the opportunities and challenges philanthropic institutions face when engaging in cross sector leadership. While the concept and value of such collaborations is gaining momentum, how it is tangibly implemented within internal foundation strategies and through external activities can still be unclear. We will discuss elements of culture, expectations, communications, and structures that can foster or inhibit collaboration.

Our goal is for our colleagues in philanthropy to engage in dialogue and learn about cross sector partnerships, and for other sectors engaged in this work to consider how to partner and engage with philanthropy most effectively.


Kristen Cambell is Executive Director of PACE (Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement) and leads our mission to inspire interest, understanding, and investment in civic engagement within philanthropy and to become a voice for philanthropy in larger conversations taking place in the fields of civic engagement, service, and democratic practice.