I am writing my final post as Dodge President & CEO to say thank you to all the organizations and people that Dodge has supported over the past eight years. I have greatly enjoyed working together, seeing your progress, and building new — and strengthening existing — relationships.
Most importantly, I want to tell you how much I respect and admire the work you do, day in and day out. Few people have an appreciation for how hard you toil, too often for less money and recognition than you deserve. You humble and inspire me every day with your commitment to this great state.
I celebrate the many successes we have had working together. It’s been a good run and an incredible experience, due largely to your many efforts great and small.
We at Dodge are in the enviable position of having money to award in grants, and you are in the unenviable position of having to convince us to provide you with funding. It is an asymmetrical relationship, yet we strive always to be mindful of that disparity and to be discerning, fair, and transparent in our grantmaking decisions, recognizing that in the end, our resources pale in comparison to the need. Know, too, that as much as you value our financial input, we value your knowledge and dedication. We view you as partners in a collective effort to have meaningful impact.
Toward that end, as you know, we recently completed a new strategic plan that centers on equity. The new vision, mission, and goals, which you can find here, point Dodge in a direction very different from that of our past 40 years.
But, as yet, our strategic plan simply is words on paper. The words need to be turned into concrete actions that improve the lives of all New Jerseyans. We are being intentional about identifying inequities codified into systems by law, regulation, and common practice. Our aim is that those most disproportionately impacted have agency and opportunity to redesign and influence those systems, not through raising one group by pushing down another, but through helping all communities understand and value their interdependence. It is an enormous challenge that will take the courage and patience of every one of us.
With the polarizing tone and substance of the current political, social, and economic discourse in the country, the achievement of an equitable New Jersey is more important than ever. The Dodge board and staff will be working hard to implement the strategic plan at the same time they are trying to help you with your own organizations’ efforts to respond to the challenges of the times.
I hope you will embrace this new vision and provide your insights and feedback to the Foundation staff as they implement the plan. It will be vital to our collective ability to improve the state and to build community in the best sense of the word – in every block, neighborhood, and town – grounded in supportive relationships where everyone feels welcome, respected for their talents, and empowered to contribute.
Thanks again. It has been an honor to work with all of you.