National Nonprofit CEO Roundtable
JENNIFER CHANDLER: Thank you for joining us today. I'm Jennifer Chandler, head of Philanthropic Solutions for Bank of America Private Bank. Together, we're driving impact and change to better our communities. Whether you're a donor or leading a nonprofit or in some cases both, you're making a positive difference and we thank you. In the same way you live your life with impact and purpose, we at Bank of America are also engaged in a social mission. At Bank of America Corporation, through our grants and our strategies, we're supporting jobs, housing, small business and the environment. And as I hope you've already heard, we've committed 1.25 billion over five years to advance racial equity and economic mobility. We bring this longstanding commitment to our work with foundation and endowment investment management clients each and every day across the country. And Bank of America Private Bank has been serving philanthropic clients for over 150 years. As of December 31st, 2021, we oversaw $129 billion in philanthropic client assets. In addition, through the trust we administer, Bank of America Private Bank is one of the largest grant makers in the country. We distributed 498 million in 2020 alone. When combined, these experiences give us a unique ability to anticipate and address the distinctive needs of both donors and the charitable organizations they support.
Today, we have the honor of hearing from three nationally recognized, deeply respected nonprofit CEOs. They'll share how they lead their teams to achieve bold goals on a range of topics, including board diversity, economic mobility, racial justice and transformational gifts. And I'm so pleased to be joined today by our very own Dianne Bailey. She's the National Philanthropic Strategy Executive for Philanthropic Solutions right here at Bank of America Private Bank. She leads a team of professionals who provide custom consulting services for our foundation endowment clients across a range of topics, including board governance, high impact grant-making, strategic visioning and much more. You've likely seen her speaking publicly as a thought leader, or maybe you've caught her. TED talk on fierce optimism.
Dianne will moderate our discussion today to ensure we hit on all the key topics that are timely and important to you. Today's event is the second of a series, so stay tuned after the panel and we'll tell you more about what to expect for the remainder of 2022. Thank you again. Without further ado, I'll turn it over to Dianne Bailey.
DIANNE BAILEY: Thank you, Jennifer. I am thrilled to be here today to facilitate this conversation. Our guests need no introduction. Please join me in welcoming Priscilla Almodovar, who serves as the president and CEO of Enterprise Community Partners, which, as you know, invests in but also operates affordable housing nationally, with over $54 billion in its 40 year history deployed to build resilience and upward mobility. Priscilla has been recognized many times for her leadership, including as one of Fortune's 50 most powerful Latinas and one of Hispanic business’s 100 most influential Hispanics.
We're also joined by Dr. Carol Folt. She's the 12th president of the University of Southern California, where she holds the Robert C Packard President’s Chair. Carol's leadership is widely recognized nationally as innovative and built on a culture of trust and accountability. Her leadership during the pandemic has drawn praise for her rapid deployment of novel and effective remote teaching strategies, and also her focus on health and safety not only on campus, but also in the broader Los Angeles community.
And Derrick Johnson. Derrick serves as the president and CEO of the NAACP. And during his tenure, he's led the organization through a period of reimagination and reinvigoration, which you likely know because he's frequently called upon by the national media and others to advocate on behalf of the black community and all those who are affected by systemic oppression and prejudice. So let's get started with the conversation. So the first question I have today is how would your team describe your leadership style? And most importantly, how does that make you the right leader in this moment for your organization? And Carol, I want to start with you, please.
DR. CAROL FOLT: Great. Thank you. It's so much fun to be here. I love seeing all of you and thinking about these important issues of leadership. It's just really a treat. You know, I think that most people that have ever worked with you would say that my leadership style is what we would call authentic, principled leadership. I try very hard to be me in all places, to have it be authentic, be accountable for what we say, and to really be very much there for the people in my community. I do think leadership is interesting. It needs to fit with the mission. So I'm in a big university. I need to be able to work with students, faculty, staff. I have to work with their ability to learn with discovery and with our community so that I think about a lot. And why I think that works for me when it's working really well is that I do care deeply about students. I think you have to really be the person that you say that you are. They look for an authentic face all the time. You have to be listening that that's really important to them. I think also you have to learn from them and you have to earn their respect every day. So it's a very much in the moment you're not a static leader. You're a responsive leader. That is so critical in my kind of environment. They want character, not charisma, but charisma, of course, helps. You have to find your way through your own personality to be there, be with them, be able to laugh, be able to share in their troubles. That, I think, is something that you learn in the job and you bring to the job. And then the last two, I think, are that you have to be able to give sympathy, not anger. You know, we have very complicated jobs. People have so many opinions, but you can't be first to anger, first to empathy. And then I guess you just can't take that personally. You need to be able to step back and say, this is about so much more. How can I be a leader if I'm so worried about each of the things people are saying, rather than how do I help get through it? So that's kind of my top five right now.
DIANNE BAILEY: Priscilla, I'm confident that some of those themes resonate for you also. I see you nodding your head. What would you share?
PRISCILLA ALMODOVAR: Yeah. So first of all, thank you, Dianne and Jennifer, for including me and Enterprise and Carol. I just loved your answer. You know, I, too, like you. I think if my team were to describe my style of leadership, authenticity would be probably the number one descriptor. I also hold myself very accountable and I would say I'm often called a servant leader. I'm there for my team. They know that I'm there to support them and I'm willing to do whatever they need to do to get the job done. I found that is that has helped me in articulating this one vision was this one team. And it's important for me as a leader to be able to do that one because it makes everyone in the organization, regardless of their position, their status, that they're part of what we're trying to do here at Enterprise. And it also allows us to bring the full platform of this and this unbelievable platform we have to serve marginalized communities. So that one vision to me and articulating that over and over again is really important to me as a leader. I love to learn. What I've learned, people love to share what they're doing and working on, so I get great enthusiasm. I ask lots of questions. I'm genuinely interested, I'm constantly reading up and I think people see that passion and commitment to be with them and learning what they're learning. I'm also comfortable making decisions. I find sometimes leaders have a hard time with that. Being popular sometimes doesn't come with the leadership or the CEO role. And I'm comfortable and I try very hard when I make tough decisions to articulate why and my thinking of making that decision. And then lastly, I hold myself accountable and I hold my team accountable. And I find if we do that, we with all of us, we trust each other, that we're all professionals, we do our job. And ultimately it's all about serving our mission and the organization. And I feel it's helped us during the pandemic. I mean, many of these skills leading with compassion, authenticity over communicating helps build that trust that I think so many of our organizations and our teams are looking for.
DIANNE BAILEY: Thank you, Priscilla and Derrick. I've had such a great gift of being able to be up close to your leadership, and I hear many of these things echoed. What would your team say?
DERRICK JOHNSON: Well, collaborative, I think, is important to give space for many voices as a part of our leadership team, but also with membership driven operation and recognizing that some of the concerns that we are addressing, we know that we only have a piece of the answer. And as we bring all of our pieces together, we can come up with the answers. So collaborative. Secondly, transparent. Transparency, I tell our staff and particularly our leadership, is our best weapon. Hard news, difficult news sometimes is the beginning to get to the outcome that you're pursuing. Transparency only allows you to be there. I can recall when I brought in my leadership team and we went through Michael Collins’ book, Good to Great. I thought it was really important for us to go there because we always have to do an autopsy of what we're doing, how we're operating, and why we're doing those things so we can refine and strengthen our approach. I want to believe that we all have a little to give, and if we pull it together as a collective, how we get to the most tangible, solution-oriented outcomes possible.
DERRICK JOHNSON: Derrick, I'm so glad you mentioned Jim Collins and his book and you know, I'm waiting for each of your books. I will be happy and grateful to read them. We're going to get just the preview today. You know, each of your institutions recently has received an unsolicited, sometimes more than one, transformational gift. I mean, we're talking eight and even nine figures. Okay, we've got to dig in here first. Why do you think your organization earned this investment in this commitment? How have you leveraged it? And have you encountered any challenges as a result of these gifts? Priscilla, let's start with you first.
PRISCILLA ALMODOVAR: Yeah. Gosh, that's a great question, Dianne. So unbelievable gift. MacKenzie Scott, $50 million at the height of the pandemic. Just really incredible. Why Enterprise? I believe her team saw that we're an organization with a 40-year history. Our mission is simple. We exist to make a good home possible for the many families without one. And at the height of the pandemic, I think the power of home became critically important. Also, our ability to deploy resources. We’re close to the residents, we’re close to many of our community development organizations, which were first responders. I think part of our high capacity or scale or breadth and again during the middle of the pandemic home being so critical. So we get this unbelievable gift. Being an authentic leader, I cried, of course. And then suddenly, within like 48 hours, everyone had an idea. Our board members had ideas how we should deploy this capital. Our staff had ideas. We were getting calls from banks if they could invest the money for us. I mean, it was coming from everywhere. So very quickly, we realized that this unrestricted gift, which was so transformational for an organization, also was non-recurring. So the spend that we were going to attach to the spending we had to be responsible stewards. So responsible stewardship was really important to me as a leader. So I brought my team together and we created a framework and suddenly we found ourselves becoming an internal grant maker. And what do I mean by that? One of the first decisions that we had to make because everyone had a different opinion, is what are we going to do with the corpus? And there were many folks who thought we should create an endowment. But we as a senior leadership team. Given the urgency of MacKenzie Scott's words, we read them over and over again. They were inspiring to us. We decided as a team, and we told our board, our job is to deploy these resources and it's not to create an endowment. So again, that's I think every organization has made different decisions, but that was really important to our team at Enterprise. So then we created rules around deployment and we took a portfolio approach. What do I mean by that? We acknowledged that some of this $50 million would be grants. Again, as I mentioned, we have residents immediately in terms of food security, getting seniors to their health care appointments. Just dealing with the pandemic. That was part of the grant-making we made. We also said, let's leverage these resources however we can. So we're a financial institution also, so how can we get other investors to come with us and join us? Maybe we use this capital as credit enhancement to create new products to address the needs that we're trying to address in these underserved communities. And then we also said maybe there's an opportunity to make our own impact investment. So we took a portfolio approach overall. We also insisted that anything we do had to be aligned with our strategy. So we see this money as an opportunity for enterprise to go into some whole new, different direction. There is a housing crisis in this country. There's a lot of work for us to do. So we were just going to go deeper into the work that we're already doing, and this gift allowed us to do that. We also talked a lot about governance and created our own governance. We believe strongly that we owe accountability to our staff. We owe accountability to our board and, of course, to our funder, MacKenzie Scott and her team. What was fascinating to us and something we didn't expect about our approach is as we shared this approach with other funders, they saw our commitment and where we were directing these resources as a sign that we thought it was critically important to lean in a particular area, and they joined us. So MacKenzie Scott's gift inspired others to join her. So it's been that 50 million has turned into a much bigger number, largely because I believe that responsible stewardship on our part and to be able to articulate that framework and how we were approaching the gift.
DIANNE BAILEY: Derrick I know that MacKenzie Scott has also invested in significant and important ways to the NAACP. How does your experience align with that in Enterprise?
DERRICK JOHNSON: It's very similar. You know, NAACP, we are 113 years old and I understand that I'm a steward in this seat for a small time period. But the goal, the work, the mission of the NAACP essentially is to make democracy work for all, to ensure we have a society that's both inclusive and stable. And so for us, we looked at what are the things we need to do? How can we be stronger in terms of our stewardship? How do we build out for the next iteration of leadership who sit in the seats that we're sitting in? And it was during a time where many people allowed the NAACP to grow. I took this position in 2017, and it was not the strongest state. And so we worked really hard between 2017, I'm sorry, and up to that gift to make sure that we were properly positioned, that we were prepared to make sure that our members across the country – we have members in 47 states across the country – were stronger. That the advocacy voice could be heard, that we were pushing for a policy that was more inclusive in the backdrop of a political landscape that became rather tainted. And so we leveraged the funding to ensure that, one, we looked at an endowment. We are a 113-year-old organization, without an endowment. We think that's important. So that the next set of leaders that come behind us will have a platform to stand on. Two, we’ve regranted to our local units. And in some areas we're putting more staff so they can be stronger advocates who provide training and technical assistance. Three, we're looking at the policy issues that will make society stronger and investing in those policy issues so that we can have a very laser focus on how to enhance public policy, both on the on the state, local and federal level. And then thirdly, we must be better positioned in terms of where our staffing come together. So we're moving our headquarters to DC. We are the nation's largest and oldest African-American civil rights organization, and we’re an advocacy group, not a service provider. So we must be in the nation's capital. The MacKenzie Scott gift, along with the hundreds, I mean, tens of thousands of people who donated in the backdrop of this change in dynamic have allowed us to breathe new life so that we are prepared to be in existence for another 113 years to make democracy work for all.
DIANNE BAILEY: Carol, you know, on the heels of this conversation, I mean, Derrick and Priscilla, thank you so much for sharing your experience. Yours is similar, but a little different, right? Tell us about the Lord Foundation and the incredible investment they've made in USC and I would say also your leadership.
DR. CAROL FOLT: Well, you know, when I came here within about three months or four months of my arrival at USC, I found that the Lord Foundation had made a decision that it was going to dissolve and it had decided to give its endowment to four institutions. Four institutions that had had historically supported in our business and in technology. That by itself was so unprecedented, completely unexpected, and it wasn't really anything required of them. They did this in this beautiful way because it turned out that Thomas Lord had believed that the best way to make real social change, real advance was to give to, in his opinion, private universities or institutions that could actually advance in major areas without the bureaucracy of the government. A little bit like the way the investments were made in both of my panelists’ decisions. Somebody thought they could do something wonderful with that money. We received over to almost $250 million, unrestricted funds. Never in my life will I ever see that again. I, too, felt like I was going to cry. I was so taken with the generosity, but also the responsibility. That was really important. I knew, of course, that if we just put it out there, I would... I did not want it to turn into peanut butter. There were so many things you could do with that kind of resource. And yet unrestricted, I needed it to do something really big. I needed to do something that could be lasting. And I wanted to use it to leverage what I thought could increase it three or four fold. You know, and for a philanthropist, I know that's important. That's how we go from ‘Good to Great.’ That's how philanthropy often helps us it. It helps us build. So I went out immediately and said, I'm not going to make a statement about what we're doing about this. It's going to be a moonshot for us. It's going to address a great societal issue and an opportunity. And we're going to take time to do it, to make sure we do it properly, because like everyone else, everyone has a good idea about how to do it. You know, there's a lot of background in it bringing people in, talking about it, but we knew we were going to do it in the area of technology and health. And we started looking at the biggest disrupters in society. And I think everyone would say advanced technology and its impact in every area is one of the greatest disruptors between now and ten years from now. Everything is changing. So we saw that is our home. We also thought we need to educate a balanced, diverse workforce to actually take on this issue because we were failing miserably in that area. In America, what is it? 67% of our people right now are not educated enough to handle the digital age, and we are not diverse in that educational workforce. So that became the home or the idea that we have really built out. It's ready. It'll lead to what I think is going to be for us a billion dollar investment. But remember, USC is huge where 80,000 people, you know, that's big. We're the biggest employer, private employer in Los Angeles. So we see this as going into every neighborhood from K through 12, up to quantum computing, building out a new center in the developing economic center in Los Angeles, and have it be truly in the message of Thomas Lord doing our best in social good to bring forward the developments and needs of the of the times. So, you know, it was wonderful and people have really been with us. But I think one of the important parts was pretty early on and it sounds like that's what everyone else said. We had to let people know that this isn't just something to be picked apart, even though there were good ideas. We'll find other ways to do those ideas. But let's try to make this one have meaning way beyond what it was initially set up to do. That seemed like how I too, could keep faith with Thomas Lord and with our public mission. But one other thing I want to say about this is that I sometimes think of every gift that we get as an unsolicited gift, because, you know, for all of us, these are all people's money. There's something people cared about. And we might have said we had an idea, but we take so seriously that each one of them is giving us something because they believe in us. So one thing I've seen, and I think this has been so interesting to me, is that our giving has actually gone up during COVID. And when I talk about this for USC, I'm not necessarily talking about the big gifts. Our undergraduates, graduates, the small gifts, the participation has increased. And I think that tells me people are listening. They see what we're doing and they believe that any gift that they give is going to be treated with respect. And that's certainly what I want to do. So the unsolicited ones are amazing, but in a way, every one of them is amazing.
DIANNE BAILEY: Wonderful. Thank you. So going back to your missions, right at the core of each of your organizations is this commitment to economic mobility, racial justice and systems change. And, you know, that theme is critical to our next topic, which is diverse and inclusive boards of directors. We know that they are critical to the success of all nonprofit organizations. You've grappled with this in each of your organizations. Priscilla, share some of what you've learned.
PRISCILLA ALMODOVAR: Yeah, yes. And I actually credit our funders and our donors asking about the boards because that's really where the leadership starts. And they set the tone and they empower the CEO and the senior leaders to really lean into diversity and inclusion. So I think it starts with the board and we're responding to what our donors are asking of us. So in the case of Enterprise, we started with our board chair and he made it a priority. And as a board, as that body, we they did an assessment of themselves. And are they diverse? Are they inclusive? Even among the existing board members? And through the assessment, we the board, we learned a lot. And it's been two years and we're working on how to take that feedback to manage the dynamics of the existing board in terms of how committee assignments are made, chairmanships, the dynamics between the executive committee and the full board, how they make decisions as a body but also board cultivation. So part of the assessment and the survey they did was what are the needs and who do we serve? Does it represent the communities we serve? And this is cross-section. Housing touches so many other adjacent areas. So what are the other sectors and the voices we need at the board table? And now we've taken that assessment and the board cultivation, which is an ongoing thing, is more intentional because of this prioritization of having a diverse and inclusive board. And the one thing we're looking at now is the voice of the resident. And I, too, want to thank you, Carol, for raising belonging, because an Enterprise, our ultimate mission is how do we make housing a place of pride? Power and belonging. We talk a lot about belonging. So we're thinking about can we bring a resident voice to the board? We acknowledge it's not that easy. We want them to feel that they're part of the board and that they're contributing to where we're going. But it's only by then do we really understand what people need to make their homes and communities, places of pride, power, and belonging. So we understand that the residents and the people that we serve might not be available when typical board meetings are. So we're thinking about when does the board meet? Do we have to pay some of these residents? Usually they are people of low income and low means they have families. So just tackling those issues I think is the next iteration of this. But I really just want to commend donors and funders for asking that question because it really the tone really starts at the board.
DIANNE BAILEY: Priscilla. That perspective means so much. And Carol, you've done a ton here also, including how you define diversity. Please share some additional perspective there.
DR. CAROL FOLT: I'd love to. And I just want to say, Priscilla, I feel like I'm following your life and Derrick’s life. This is so amazing listening to you and to Derrick, just our different perspectives but we share so much. I, too, came in with a board that had made the decision to do their own look at this, and what a gift that is. And I think you can get boards there. And of course, it's important. But the fact that they wanted it themselves makes the partnership so wonderful. And so we, too, needed to really think about that. USC had a board of more than 70 people, and that was because they had all been a part of it, really loved the place. There was no one on that board that you wouldn't want on a board. But they said, we need to do it in a way that we can be more nimble, we can be more responsive. And in exactly what you were just asking. They also said, are we really covering the areas that we really do need expertise? For us, this advancing health sciences, we needed people that could really help in that area. We needed more diversity. We had we have identity and religious and diversity. We also have political diversity on my board. I think that is really critical because if your own board is thought to have a single mindset, then the people that you're trying to work with will not go with you. But they thought about all those aspects. We also thought about age, you know, do we have young board members? Do we have more established? Do we have people that have been philanthropic, people that have come through business? So every aspect that you can imagine that leads to the amazing culture of our lives. We wanted to think that we had board members that could be real experts there. So building it out, meant making it smaller. But when you made it smaller, we realized and I think this is related to what you probably hear from Derrick as well. We also had more opportunities for leadership. You know, you don't want to tell people there's one way only to help your organization. So we have 22 schools. We can have boards in each school. We have centers, we have alumni groups. And I tend to think, don't stop all that involvement, but make sure that you can keep people aligned on that involvement, that they honestly feel that they're a part of change that can really happen. And you have to look at each board because each board has to be diverse. You don't want pockets where they're going away from a central belief in the mission and vision. But I think as a result of that, even though the big board got smaller, the other boards got larger, and everybody is getting more diverse and interactive. And I'm not going to say it's easy. It's not easy to get belonging either. But the good news is that everybody's part of that. And I think we're seeing some very clear areas where it's made a difference, like you were mentioning earlier, Priscilla. Our board also took DEI training. They started their own diversity component. They put that into the health sciences. They are leading on sustainability. And so when you think about it, those are where you really want your board, not trying to figure out how many hours different people work and all these little kind of thing. You want that 10,000 foot view. But I think I think that elevates them when it when it goes really well.
DIANNE BAILEY: Derrick, I want to end with you because you have been at this work the longest. Right. And part of it is it predated your tenure as CEO because it emanated from the membership really requiring that the full breadth of perspectives be represented on your board. What would you add to the reflections that Priscilla and Carol have offered?
DERRICK JOHNSON: You know, I served on our board. In fact, I was the vice chair of the board. And the thing I like about the board, it is has always been diverse in terms of my experience. We have diversity by age. We have slots designated for individuals under 25. Currently, we have a 15-year-old on the board. Everyone has an equal voice and input. We have diversity by region, understanding that our community is across the country. And I said earlier, we have members in 47 states, so we want to make sure we have perspective from individuals. We have a board member from Hawaii. We have a board member from Connecticut. We have members in Maine. So we have diversity by region. We have diversity by gender, which became so critical. And I can recall early on when I first got started late eighties, nineties, where there was an intentional push to ensure that there was diversity by gender. And now, I think, is about half and half, By race, we've always had different individuals, racial backgrounds and ethnic backgrounds and political views. We've always had a diversity in politics. We're a nonpartisan organization, and we recognize that, from our experience, from our community, you have people that see the world, see governance difference. And what that has created as an organization is small ‘D’ democracy. And it can be messy sometimes. But I can tell you, I've learned so much. I've grown so much because of that diversity. And through my tenure, not only in this position and before, there's almost someone I can pick up the phone and say, Guess what do you know about X? And they can get access to what it is. We have board members who are retired teachers. We have board members who are corporate executives. It is the vast experience of our communities and our partners. And so board diversity becomes extremely important. And I always tell individuals in corporate America when we're talking, says, the strength of your board will live in the diversity of your board. Because if you don't have the type of voice or perspective from an emerging customer base, or the type of voice and perspectives to ensure that you don't do anything to offend, you can lose market share in a corporate space. And in our space, if we don't have the right diversity of experiences, we can miss the mark around our advocacy voice as we represent the needs and interests of our members across the country.
DIANNE BAILEY: I know that all of our guests have been frantically scribbling down or typing all of these words of wisdom related to board diversity. There's no topic in nonprofits as important to success in the current day. Not to worry. Not to worry. We have been students of your leadership up close and for some even very, very intimately. And we have captured this in a digital article that will be shared with all of our guests today. It looks at why very quickly you would want to embrace these practices of diversity, equity and emphasis on inclusion, and then looking very tactically at the cultural and the structural barriers, many of which have been mentioned, whether it's time of meetings, who are you recruiting? How are you recruiting? Implicit bias training, board training, facilitation. All of the things. All of the things are captured in this digital article that will be in our follow up correspondence. So exhale. We've got you. And that will be coming to you very, very soon. So I've got just a couple more questions. But briefly, how is the rising generation pushing you and your organizations? Derrick, you've already talked about the 25 and unders that are on your board. What great impact are they having with the NAACP?
DERRICK JOHNSON: Huge impact. We talked earlier about technology and how it really is shifting, how we think about stuff. And so as an organization, even in my staffing, we've pushed down the average age of our staff to early thirties. The average age of African women is mid thirties and that was very intentional not to discriminate against anyone but to focus on in order for us to communicate more effectively with our members and our target audience, we need to have authentic individuals who understood and understand what's taking place with younger generations. I was trained under the theory of Intergenerational Models that every organization, particularly organizations like the NAACP, must have the wisdom of our elders. We must have the energy of our young people and the continuity of those who are in between age. And through that model, we can all be more successful. And so how young people are pushing us, their energy is really bubbling up in this moment. We've seen more people want to get engaged who are under 30 or mid thirties and below. And as a result of that it has energized, our elders who have so much to offer is so much prospective. So for us it is bringing those generations together to have critical conversations as we look at strategies to move the association forward in our work to make democracy work for all.
DIANNE BAILEY: Priscilla I know these themes have hit a chord with you. I see you nodding your head. Talk a little bit about these generational shifts in the workplace as a for example.
PRISCILLA ALMODOVAR: Yeah, look, I think these generational issues for any CEO in any sector is probably one of the more exciting issues we're dealing with, but also one of the more daunting issues we're dealing with. And what I mean by that is so for example, at Enterprise, the younger generation, the Gen Zs, they're looking for more shared power, democratic structure of governing. The way they communicate, the instant channels, the way they collaborate is very different than an older senior workforce who maybe is not used to interacting that way or sharing power. So creating the space and the guardrails where we can allow for that autonomy and sharing that power, but also making sure that we're not introducing new risks into the organization if you have everyone on different channels. So again, just how they communicate and how they want to share power, I think are two fundamental differences. The other one is, and this is what really excites me and makes me very hopeful, this young generation cares about purpose. They want to work at a place that is consistent with their values. Very exciting. But that too can create some challenges because for some we're not going far enough, and for others we're going too far. So how do we manage that as leaders, especially a mission driven organization like Enterprise is something that we try to deal with day to day. Also, the new generation is really big on job leveling and their career pathways. So as leaders, we need to make sure that we provide that clarity of their growth and making sure that they see that there are organizations where they continue to grow as professionals, as individuals. So career pathways, I think also is very different how Gen Z versus an older generation might approach that.
DIANNE BAILEY: Thank you, Priscilla. Carol, USC exists not exclusively, but in many respects for the rising generation. You could take this question in an infinite number of directions. So I will leave it to your very good judgment around the top themes to address.
DR. CAROL FOLT: I love it. I love the question, I love the answers. I love that intergenerational ideas that Derrick was bringing forward. You know, of course, universities are for everybody. I was going to say the young at heart, we are a lot different in ages than you ever really believe and all the new students coming in are coming in, but virtually everybody that comes here sees themselves purpose-driven. I do think it's more than it has been in generations, that is enormously important. And so they do. They want to have purpose and they are very determined. So they sort of have their eyes in the stars, but their feet are very solidly planted on the earth. They're pragmatic, they're impatient. And I was telling people recently that I think that impatience is what we have to expect and want from them. You know, I've got students come in, year one, they don't want to hear in eight years we're going to do that. They don't want me saying sustainability is 20 years up. They have big issues. Social justice delayed is not okay with them anymore. So that impatience along with purpose is a very powerful dual force. And I see it. It is leading all of us to be faster, to be more nimble, to be able to learn. I think we also have to work with the generations to understand that not everything that is imperfect is because bad people did it. Sometimes it is an educational, changing process, trying to bring people along because, you know, there's a lot of generational battles that go on in these big, complex societies that they're in. Yet in the end, they probably share a lot of the same goals. So it's an opportunity for us. But I do go back and say their purpose driven, they're extremely determined. They'll put in the elbow grease. This is not a generation that is not willing to work even though they want time to play. I get that. But they are not unwilling to work. But I think they have the greatest sense of non belonging that I've also ever seen. So again, you're trying to work with people to say that you can be a part of that, that the work you do together might be able to create those harbors of belonging and excitement that make them thrive in any place they go. But the worries, the pressures outside can continue to be alienating. So I think one of our biggest goals is to always be trying to help people not feel alienated while we're supporting that purpose, that amazing explosive energy. And they are absolutely concerned about people's welfare. They care about our adjunct faculty, they care about the staff. They care about everybody at every level. And they will push they will come out and really try to get answers that make sense and suggest pretty fast action. And so it's putting us all in a new mode, I think, of really listening and acting. I think it puts pressure on everybody to take advantage of what we learned in COVID, that we could actually turn on a dime if we really had to, you know? And how do we make that increasingly part of how we deal with these pressing, pressing social issues and issues of sustainability that are in every single one of their minds?
DIANNE BAILEY: Absolutely, Carol. I think we can all find great hope in the rising generation's combination, right, of that purpose and that that resonant impatience. So let's capture that energy, no doubt. So at the beginning of the conversation, I asked you about your team and how they describe your leadership style, today. I'd like to end our conversation by looking backwards as a leader. Quickly, top three Lessons Learned. And if they've changed over the last two years, maybe a little explanation about why. Carol, you’re first, please.
DR. CAROL FOLT: Okay. I'll try to do this kind of quickly. You know, I think that the most important well learned a lot of but it was a crash course in the importance of working as a team. None of us could have faced any of the things we faced if we were siloed. So we had to learn how to take what was at 20,000 classes online in three days you and then start protecting everybody. It was a crash course in teamwork, and I think over the time we did it, we learned more and more about how are you mindful as a team? I mean, there's so many things that we learn. We're a much better team than we were at the start. And we still have to remind ourselves what we learned about that teamwork was huge. A second one, I think it was communicate, communicate, communicate. And everybody knew that, but not like I know it now. And I also learned that my portfolio of communication is completely different. Like, frankly, no student reads my emails, all the parents do, so I want to talk to them. I have different things, different for students, different for faculty and staff, in-person out... And so that has. Really enriched it. And I think we need a lot of work to continue to communicate because for me and I bet for others, the main thing people say all the time is I didn't know. And you want to go, Oh my gosh, I just said that 25 different ways. But if they didn't know, they didn't hear you. So communication was one. And I think the third one is really the importance of wellness and showing up for each other. We have an exhausted, overworked, overburdened workforce and maybe more in some fields than others. But so many of my faculty and staff double triple duties, is taking care of patients, their parents, their own. You know, you all know it. I could lay it all out there. But even as we come back and the workforce wants different ways of working, the need to really think about people's wellness and the opportunity to be there for each other has jumped up to one of the… That is the top, my top priority now is our people. How do we people first? And it's always been important, but you can't do it without that. So I think each one of those has changed and I still feel like there's a lot to learn. But those for me were really important.
DIANNE BAILEY: Capturing those, no doubt. Derrick, how do yours top three align?
DERRICK JOHNSON: Well, transparency is a strong weapon for advancement being open. Be clear with those who should know, not try to hide, because in that you have an opportunity to get inside for those you trust to advance . And so we've learned it’s a powerful weapon. Secondly, a scenario planning, scenario planning, scenario planning. The last two years have taught us that we don't know what to expect because things evolve and is shifting. And so, as always with scenario planning, it bring in some of the best thinking and allow us to look at parts of the organization that we wouldn't have considered but for what we've gone through the last two years. That's been a very good lesson that now we're carrying forward so that we don't miss big opportunities. I told a group I was speaking to one time that being positioned and being prepared is a priority for advancement because if you’re positioned well and you're prepared, then you can truly advance. And you're not prepared if you're not considering all the scenarios and you’re inviting people to be a part of the scenario planning. And then finally being okay with taking risk. You know, having that type of risk and say, you know what? No one has ever done this before and we're going to start with the end in mind. So let's go in this direction, because what we've always done may end up giving us what we've always gotten. But if you have the ability to take risk that you’re really prepared the organization to go across a field that no one has gone before, that if you open your transparent and you really willing to face the hard stuff, their reward on the other side could be huge. Some of the things we've done over the last two years have accelerated the organization. It has created a space where we can include more opportunities and have more successes. So transparency is a great weapon. Scenario planning becomes key, but taking the type of measured risk with the end in mind so that you can grow the organization. But growing the organization is all for us, for the role of protecting democracy, serving our members, and bringing people together so we can have a different platform of unity as opposed to the fringes of our society pulling us apart.
DIANNE BAILEY: Thank you, Derrick. Priscilla, the last word is yours.
PRISCILLA ALMODOVAR: Great. I love both Carol and Derrick's answers, I would say. As a leader, what has not changed? Leading with compassion. It was more important than ever. Listening. It's a skill I work on every day. And that wellbeing was important. Over-communicate. Over-communicate. Carol, I could not agree with you more. We weren't in the same office together, communicating. I chuckled when you said we would say something folks hadn't heard. How you communicate different channels, the power of communication, how we do it has changed dramatically for us, especially in our new work environment. Whatever that ends up being, communication is key. And then the last one I'll just add is celebrating the small wins of the team. I was amazed at the resiliency and the creativity. We're a national organization. We're spread out across 15 offices. Many people relocated and the creativity of our team members to celebrate one another, another to be there for each other. That neighborly part and I just was so inspired by it. So I think celebrating small wins, we sometimes forget that because we all move so fast. I think celebration is really critical. That's a new one for me as a leader.
DIANNE BAILEY: What a wonderful place to end in celebration. You know, this work is hard. You we brought you here today because of the critical investments you're making in economic mobility, racial justice systems change. And celebrating those milestones along the way is critical to the sustained energy to achieve these missions that are essential. I have learned so much today. I know I'll be watching this conversation over and over again to make sure that I really am able to understand and to deploy the nuance of what you've communicated. And I know that our guests feel the exact same way. So thank you. And now I will turn it to Jennifer for some closing remarks.
JENNIFER CHANDLER: Thank you so much, Dianne. And thank you to our distinguished panelists, Priscilla, Carol and Derrick. It was a great discussion and we can't thank you enough. To our guests, we hope this information help better equipped you with what you need to achieve your philanthropic goals. Now, I know we just scratched the surface today, but the great news is that we're all here to help. Simply reach out to the advisor that invited you today, and they're happy to connect with you and go more deeply on any of these topics. And as I mentioned, this is the second of a series of conversations. So keep an eye out for invitations, for more calls and discussions throughout the year ahead. Thank you again for joining us.
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