President’s Message: Living Our Vision

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Two years ago, Dodge outlined bold goals in our Strategic Plan, and 2020 is about living our vision.

Living our vision is just that — living, doing, being. Centering our work on equity means centering all of our work on equity, including our internal operations, how we work, our policies and procedures, communications, financial management, and our grantmaking.

To do things differently we won’t be able to do everything the exact same way we did them before. We have to make room, make space, including head space, and make time. This requires a mindset shift — a different way of thinking about and deploying our resources, time, and talent.

During my first 100 days as Dodge president and CEO, it was important to me that we set ourselves up for success by beginning to create structures that will help promote the mindset shift required to do things differently and to live our vision. We began by setting intentional goals that aligned with overarching organizational goals and personal development plans. We then created interdisciplinary and diverse teams to advance these goals and shifted roles and perspectives giving us new opportunities to flex our leadership muscles as well as our listening, coaching, and mentoring skills. We also designed a budget that included resources for additional learning, collaboration, and grantmaking as we welcomed our newest team member, Dodge Chief Financial Officer Camilo Mendez, who brings with him new perspectives and experiences. We tried to remove some of the traditional internal roadblocks for making the shift.

And now we work on time. Mindset shifts and making time are no easy tasks and are deeply personal. During the first staff meeting of the year, I invited staff to observe how we manage our time and energy levels, and am encouraging them to take back the power and control so we can make the shift — and hold ourselves accountable for how we use our time. Thirty days into the year, we still grapple with how we will fit it all in or not.

During that same first meeting of the year, we were also intentional about our intentions for the new year. We gave ourselves the time and space to be aspirational on how we wish to live and be, and how we will show up. My personal intention is to have grace and compassion towards myself, my team, and to everyone we encounter in our work and on this journey. Change will not happen overnight or even 30 days into a new year.

We have a lot ahead of us in 2020 and our journey continues. Our aim is to share with you our story of what we are doing to center all of our work on equity and what has worked and perhaps what has not. Many in the field are on similar pathways.

Over the next months, I will be sharing updates about the progress we’ve made on our program-level theories of change and how we will practice living our vision this year through our grantmaking, practices, and how we hold ourselves accountable.

We hope that sharing our updates and story — both the “a-ha” moments and the mistakes we are bound to make — with transparency and humility will inspire you to share yours.


 

tdehne1Tanuja Dehne is the President & CEO of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. Established in 1974, the Dodge Foundation has distributed nearly $500 million in grants and technical support to New Jersey nonprofits, with a focus on the arts, education, the environment, informed communities, and poetry. As a former Dodge Trustee, Tanuja helped shape the foundation’s new strategy, which envisions “an equitable New Jersey through creative, engaged, and sustainable communities.”

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