Valentine Foundation values the voices of diverse trustees. So much so, it actively seeks them to serve on the board, make grants and oversee all aspects of the foundation’s mission.

Phoebe Valentine inherited her wealth when her father died.  The source was Smith Kline Pharmaceuticals. At the time, she was a young woman raising her four children. She took a back seat to the management of her money. When Phoebe was in her late 40s, she received a dire cancer diagnosis. Phoebe decided to take action and mobilize her wealth to help others.

Trustees are nominated and interviewed with an intentional preference for people of color and those living in the communities that our grantee organizations serve. The value of this approach is that the folks making the decisions about the foundation are the people closest to the issues. This influences how the foundation is run, the grants process, and grants made to better support the community.

Valentine was looking into a potential mission aligned investment in a community trust. One of our trustees lives in the neighborhood, and is close to community organizations that serve drug users and sex workers. She was concerned about gentrification, and forcing that population out to another poorer part of the city.

This trustee met with the planners of the community trust, and is in talks with them about protecting these vulnerable populations, while still improving affordable housing, and helping small business owners in the community. Adding this layer of thinking to the community trusts’ planning would not have happened if our board were still all White suburban women. This dialogue will make our potential investment and the community more inclusive and stronger.

Diverse trustees have better access to and relationships with community leaders of color who know how to best address pressing issues. When the Valentine Foundation supports organizations run by community leaders, they’re more effective than programs designed by those on the outside, who may not fully understand the problems or solutions.

Over the past 35 years, Valentine Foundation has had White, Black and Brown trustees of varied sexual orientations, economic backgrounds, and some that learned English as a second language. Their insights, passions and perspectives allow us to evolve and grow, and hopefully direct our resources and grants in the best way possible. We are committed to continue seeking a diverse group of women to help guide our work and create social change for women and girls.

Read the full article about trustee diversity by Alexandra Frazier at Exponent Philanthropy.