It feels like just yesterday that we wrapped up the 2020 Dodge Poetry Festival (which ran from October 22 – November 1 this past fall), but it’s been a few months now, and it’s time to start thinking about 2022!
We’re excited to announce that we are now accepting submissions for the next Dodge Poetry Festival, which will take place in the fall of 2022.
If you’re interested in submitting to read at the Festival, check out our Submission Guidelines and Submission FAQ pages for detailed instructions and information and to find a link to the submission form. Here are some additional helpful tips:
Audio and/or video clips are really important One component of a complete submission is 1-3 audio or video recordings of you reading your poems aloud. Don’t worry–we’re not demanding professional-quality recordings. Since we are curating a live event, it is important for the review panel to have a chance to see and hear you reading your work.
As you know, experiencing poetry out loud is very different from reading it on the page. A poem can take on a whole new layer of meaning and energy from the poet delivering it. There’s nothing like seeing and hearing how a poet connects and engages with their audience in-person. If you have a video or audio of you reading in front of a live audience, that would be ideal.
We don’t expect every poet to be a performance poet. Over the years, Festival Poets have had many different reading styles. One thing they have in common is being attentive, engaging and connecting to audience and other poets.
Show us a work sample that best represents you We ask for a sample of up to 20 pages of your poetry that best represents you and your work as you would like to share it at the Festival. If you have work published, such as books or a chapbook, why do we ask for this sample?
You may have published work that you’re proud of and want us to see, but have other poems you’ve learned are more effective with a live audience. The reading sample is an opportunity to not only share some of the work you’re most excited about and proud of, but also the poems you would like to read aloud to an audience that will likely include many who have never heard you read before. (We understand that what you are excited to read may change by 2022, so you’re not beholden to these poems.)
This sample also provides an opportunity for poets who do not have a published book or chapbook to show their work and put their best foot forward, alongside the audio or video materials.
Take your time with the short responses Instead of asking for a formal cover letter and resume, we decided to simplify things a bit and ask you a few specific questions to help us get to know you.
It’s a good idea to take some time and be thoughtful with your responses to these questions to help paint a picture of who you are, what’s important to you, what you want to bring to the Festival, the types of conversations you would want to have there, and how you would connect with other poets, students, teachers and poetry-lovers.
Reading poems aloud is just one aspect of the Festival–participating in rich conversations across many different boundaries of identity, and connecting with others through poetry and conversation, are at the heart of the Dodge Poetry Festival. Your responses to these questions help to show how you would want to show up, connect and engage at the Festival, as well as what would make you feel most connected and included there.
These are just a few things to consider when putting together your submission materials. Please review the Submission Guidelines and FAQs before submitting to make sure you have all of the necessary materials–and be sure to submit by the deadline of October 15, 2021.
Thank you so much for your support and interest in the Dodge Poetry Festival! Feel free to share this post with anyone you think might be interested in submitting to read at the next Festival.
Valentine’s Day is a special time for poetry–a day when many people turn to poets for help expressing their love to someone special.
Of course, romantic love doesn’t have a monopoly on great poetry. Poets can help us find words to express our affection and appreciation for friends, family, animals, the natural world and ourselves.
If you want inspiration for your greeting cards, or are simply looking to infuse your day with a little more love, here are a few 2020 Dodge Poetry Festival sessions you might want to check out this weekend. Simply visit www.dodgepoetryfestival.org, click “View Passes” and pay what you can to access all of the Festival videos.
HOLD MY HAND: ON INTIMACY AND POETRY with Natalie Diaz and Ada Limón, moderated by Ysabel Y. González (Aired on Saturday, October 24)
Natalie Diaz and Ada Limón discuss their collaborative project, Envelopes of Air. They talk about their friendship and the ways in which intimacy, landscape, and bodyscape show up in their poems. And they explore the role poets play in cultivating intimacy and breaking down walls—with other writers, with readers, and within their own communities. Moderated by Ysabel Y. González
THE BELOVED, a poetry and song collaboration with poet Gregory Orr and alt-folk group Parkington Sisters (Aired on Saturday, October 31)
…because of the beloved, I come into being under her touch, all of me shudders
FESTIVAL POET READING featuring Zeina Hashem Beck, Kai Coggin, Jessica Jacobs, John Murillo, Ladan Osman, Emily Skaja (Aired on Saturday, October 31)
In this series of readings by several poets at the 2020 Festival, you’ll hear poems that speak to different types of love:
Zeina Hashem Beck‘s poems touch upon love of place and language, as well as love for her husband. In “Fools Rush In,” she shares snapshots of young love from their school days:
Kai Coggin‘s “Constant Before Picture” speaks to learning self-love, and Jessica Jacobs‘ poetry from Take Me With You Wherever You’re Going, explores the complexities of love and long-term commitment, including an ode to her wife’s hair.
Black poets have played a pivotal role in shaping the landscape of American poetry. In honor of Black History Month, we’re sharing a list of just some of the 2020 Dodge Poetry Festival videos to revisit or watch for the first time this February, including sessions curated by Cave Canem and the Academy of American Poets.
Visit www.dodgepoetryfestival.org to register and gain access to all of the Festival session videos by paying what you can. Educators and students register for free.
Once registered, you can find all the Festival readings and conversations organized by the day they aired. (We’re working on an even more user-friendly website with more search features. Stay tuned!)
2020 Dodge Poetry Festival Sessions to watch during Black History Month (and every other month of the year)
THE SKIN YOU’RE LIVING IN: Reginald Dwayne Betts, Kyle Dargan, Cornelius Eady, Tyehimba Jess, Cyrée Jarelle Johnson. Moderated by khalil murrell (Aired on Sunday, October 25)
In “Blink Your Eyes,” Sekou Sundiata’s poem about a traffic stop, he writes that what might happen in the blink of an eye, “all depends on the skin you’re living in.” Poets Reginald Dwayne Betts, Kyle Dargan, Cornelius Eady, Tyehimba Jess and Cyrée Jarelle Johnson explore questions about the evolution of their aesthetics, how they tie into issues of identity, and how they do or don’t feel compelled to write as “black male poets” in this time. Moderated by khalil murrell.
BLACK FUTURES, BLACK PASTS presented by Cave Canem: Yona Harvey, Cherene Sherrard. Moderated by Kush Thompson (Aired on October 25)
Yona Harvey’s You Don’t Have to Go to Mars for Love investigates Black futures and possibilities via the supernatural and Afro-futurism, while Cherene Sherrard uses one of the earliest cookbooks published by an African American woman to memorialize the past in her newest poetry collection, Grimoire. Presented by Cave Canem, in “Black Futures, Black Pasts,” Harvey and Sherrard read from their recent books and talk with Cave Canem fellow Kush Thompson about centering Black womanhood in their work. Introduction by Malcolm Tariq, Programs and Communications Manager, Cave Canem.
POETS FORUM: POETRY AND POEMS IN SUPPORT OF BLACK LIVES: Kwame Dawes, Terrance Hayes (Aired on Friday, October 30)
Academy Chancellors Kwame Dawes and Terrance Hayes continue their long-standing commitment to celebrating the value and persistent relevance of art, and especially poetry in our world today. For both poets, the poet’s obligation to record, to leave a record of experiences (ordinary, human and sincere) and of their bodies’ existence in the historical moment is as radical and revolutionary and urgent as any protest poem might be.
AMERICAN POETRIES: Cornelius Eady, Nikky Finney, Edward Hirsch, Paisley Rekdal. Moderated by Martin J. Farawell (Aired on Saturday, October 24)
Adrienne Rich wrote that there is no such thing as an “American Poetry.” Instead, there are American Poetries—so many divergent schools that no single style or aesthetic can be singled out as the definitively “American” one. Cornelius Eady, Nikky Finney, Edward Hirsch and Paisley Rekdal consider what we gain from this diversity and by listening more closely to each other. Moderated by Martin J. Farawell.
I AM NOT FREE WHILE ANY WOMAN IS UNFREE: Vievee Francis, Paisley Rekdal, Emily Skaja, Monica Sok. Moderated by Naomi Extra (Aired on Sunday, October 25)
Poet Audre Lorde once said, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” Almost forty years later, her words are still poignant and relevant. What does it look like when women writers are in community with each other, writing for and with each other? How does this continue to transform the poems that they and others write, the canon, the poetry community and other communities? Participating poets include Vievee Francis, Paisley Rekdal, Emily Skaja and Monica Sok. Moderated by Naomi Extra.
ON CRAFT: Vievee Francis (Aired on Thursday, October 29)
Vievee Francis considers and discusses questions related to the craft of making poems. What is the larger purpose of craft? What are the rewards of trying to master it? How do work schedules, patterns of revision, the uses of traditional forms, the subtleties of line breaks or the place of sound and phrasing in composition come into play when considering craft?
Main Stage reading with Reginald Dwayne Betts and Nikky Finney (Aired on Saturday, October 31)
Main Stage Reading with Cornelius Eady (Aired on Friday, October 30)
Main Stage Reading with Tyehimba Jess (Aired on Thursday, October 29)
We are excited to welcome Marianna Schaffer as Vice President of Programs and Jennene Tierney as Vice President of People, Culture, Equity — two new senior leaders who will help guide the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation in embedding racial justice and anti-racism within the organization and achieving its vision of an equitable New Jersey.
“Dodge’s transformation to become an anti-racist organization and design a new model of philanthropy is a testament to the resiliency, self-awareness, and dedication of its staff and board and network of partners,” said Tanuja Dehne, Dodge’s President and CEO. “We are thrilled to have Marianna and Jennene join the Dodge team and help us explore ways to build the new, live the new, and change the rules as we work to better equip ourselves, the nonprofit sector, and our communities for activating people for social change and racial justice.”
As Dodge’s Vice President of Programs, Marianna (she/her/hers), a philanthropic leader with nearly 20 years’ experience, will lead our grantmaking activities as we transform our program priorities to focus on equity, anti-racism, and justice. She will work to create new ways to power build and share decision-making, as well as develop and implement new program areas and initiatives to expand the Foundation’s reach and impact.
Jennene Tierney (she/her/hers) joins us as our new Vice President of People, Culture, and Equity to oversee the Foundation’s human resources, culture building and internal and external communications strategies. In this role she will guide the implementation of an overarching diversity, equity, and inclusion vision, ensure continuous learning and values alignment within the Foundation’s culture and practices, and work in deep collaboration with staff and leadership as the organization continues to evolve and adapt its capacity to center equity and justice in all that we do.
Diversified Search Group assisted with the search for the two positions, both of which are newly created roles.
At the Dodge Foundation, we challenged ourselves this year as we focused on the opportunity to lead and live into equity. 2020 invited us to explore the intersection of risk and opportunity and to take responsibility for our collective safety as the global pandemic, racial uprisings, and threats to the foundation of our democracy brought into focus who we are and what we stand for. We leaned into what the year brought with trust, transparency, and compassion for each other and our community.
As people navigating the pandemic ourselves united by our collective vision of an equitable New Jersey, we have become more grateful than ever before, counting our blessings, cherishing our loved ones, consuming less, and adapting to our new realities. We are more resilient, flexible, and agile than we ever thought we could be. Amid the chaos, this collective pause allowed us to appreciate those moments of Zen and “check in” as we rediscovered our shared humanity.
The dual crises of racial injustice and the global pandemic accelerated the Foundation’s imperative to Imagine A New Way and commitment to transform our work and the construct of philanthropy itself. We deepened and built new relationships, experimented with different ways of working, and embraced the boldness of what it means to us to explore this new mindset’s two interdependent components:
Imagine a New
Way is Dodge’s transformation to
become an anti-racist organization as we center our work with intentionality
and action on racial equity and justice.
Imagine a New
Way is also Dodge’s transformation,
role, and leadership in designing a new model of “philanthropy” by
democratizing power, redistributing wealth, and shifting economic control to
communities that is just and regenerative for people and the planet.
Imagine a New Way is the lens with which we have operated internally, externally, programmatically, and financially this year. Drawing from the Just Transition framework, over the next year at Dodge we will begin to build the new, live the new, and change the rules. Below are just a few highlights from this past year that are informing the activation of the next phase of our transformation.
New work, new grants, new processes, new thinking
In response to the pandemic and building upon the experiences from other disasters, Dodge awarded more than $2.55 million in COVID-19 urgent community needs and election integrity grants. We converted almost all grant making to general operating support, created more inclusive decision-making processes to evaluate and decide on new grants, and leveraged technology to deploy funds quickly and efficiently. We set aside existing grant guidelines and application processes and lived into Trust-Based Philanthropy protocols and the Council of Foundations Pledge. Our poetry team rose to the challenge of the pandemic and created the first-ever virtual Dodge Poetry Festival reaching more than 14,000 people across the globe over 11 days while providing 80,000 in COVID-19 relief to 8 poetry organizations. Finally, cross-state and cross-sector collaborations for pandemic relief led to the formation of a new New Jersey Arts and Culture Recovery Fund to support artists and arts organizations now and in the future.
In 2021, we will leverage the
lessons learned from living into and creating virtual collaborative spaces and strengthen
our new relationships. We will also examine how our current program areas
intersect and are elevated through the pursuit of democracy and justice, regenerative
systems, thriving and resilient communities and life-long learning.
Culture building in a remote work environment
Like many organizations, Dodge swiftly switched to remote work in March and will continue to work remotely through at least June 2021. We explored new ways to build culture online by incorporating wellness in our meetings with moments of gratitude, meditation, breathing and movement, and found ways to acknowledge grief and loss and celebrate life’s happy moments. We also created space for self-identified BIPOC and White caucus learning groups where we shared readings, learnings, wellness tips, or just connected.
In 2021, we will continue to explore and implement ways to evolve Dodge’s internal culture so it is more inclusive and reflective of our commitment to anti-racism.
Dodge’s strategic plan outlines our financial goals as being “responsible stewards of our financial assets, growing them to ensure future impact, and aligning our investments and expenditures with our vision, mission, and values over the long term.” The strength of our endowment provides the financial resources and stability to achieve our programmatic goals. In 2020, Dodge distributed funding above its original budget and awarded more than $2.55 million in crisis response grants.
Our ability to act swiftly is largely attributed to the financial performance of our endowment and prudent budget decisions over recent years to reverse an earlier trend when Foundation expenses outpaced investment returns. While disbursing more than $76 million to the community over the last five years, the endowment currently ranks in the top 1 percent for endowments and foundations over the same period, and has grown over $90 million.
Dodge has also made significant strides in ensuring that our current investments are aligned with our mission, vision, and values. We have made investments which specifically seek to make a positive social impact and financial returns, such as our recent investments in Newark Venture Partners and the Jonathan Rose Affordable Housing Fund. In 2020, we also dramatically reduced investments in fossil fuels to under 1 percent and affirmed that we are making no investments in private prisons, firearms, and munitions.
In 2021, we will continue to explore
ways to align our endowment with our vision as we bring all of our resources to
bear to make the greatest positive impact in New Jersey. Our strong financial position frees us be bold as we Imagine
a New Way regarding wealth redistribution and shifting economic control to
communities that is just and regenerative for people and planet.
Sharing, multiplying, and amplifying
In 2020, Dodge shared its program Theories of Change and Equity Framework through several online convenings and listening sessions with our diverse stakeholder groups and partnered with colleagues in the field to advance racial equity. We also launched a Dodge Anti-racism training series for 130 nonprofit and funding partners with more than 400 people working from where they are to turn learning into action.
In 2021, we will explore how
we can more intentionally bring people together to learn from and connect with
each other, so the nonprofit sector and our communities are better equipped for
activating people for social change and racial justice.
We are grateful to our partners, our community, and networks and friends as we use our collective influence and power to amplify, multiply, and activate the voices of many. Stay tuned as we share more about our transformation and our journey.
Wishing you health, happiness, joy, and love in 2021.
You can view a schedule of Festival events here, beginning with the 7 p.m. Opening Celebration tomorrow. These events include poetry readings and conversations on topics such as “Black Futures, Black Pasts,” “Poetry and Climate Justice,” “How to Read a Poem,” and “Poets for Teachers.”
All Festival attendees can access videos on-demand after they air or join us live for Q&A sessions with poets and events in our virtual Community Room, including Community Conversations, Drinks & Discussion, Open Mic, Gentle yoga sessions
Special programming designed for high school students will take place 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. EST on Oct. 26-30. High school teachers and students interested in attending those sessions will receive more details when they sign up for an Education Pass and mark that they are interested in High School Student Programming in the registration form.
2. Click “View Passes” in the top right corner and choose the Pass that’s right for you
3. Submit the registration form
How to reduce plastic waste and COVID-19 from home
Small changes add up to make a big impact when it comes to environmental justice — even during a pandemic.
Since 2010, Dodge has sought to live our value of sustainability, model leadership in how we run events, and be good neighbors through the Dodge Poetry Festival zero-waste initiative.
This year, we are once again proud to be partnering with Clean Water Action, through its Rethink Disposables program, to make it easy for Festival-goers to use less plastic and produce less trash during their at-home experience while reducing their exposure to COVID-19.
Here at the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, we envision an equitable New Jersey through creative, engaged, and sustainable communities. Following the development of our strategic vision, we created new equity theories of change for our program areas.
Informed by research, evidence, and best practices in the field, we also developed our new Equity Framework to deepen conversations and track progress within our grantee organizations.
We are excited to host a 75-minute webinar where we offer grantee leaders, staff, and board members a first look at the Equity Framework, share how it advances our commitment to racial equity and anti-racism, and answer questions.
Will you join us?
We invite you and your staff and board to register through the links below:
After your registration is approved, you will receive a confirmation email from Zoom containing information about joining the meeting and a preview of the Equity Framework.
Click here to forward this invitation to board and staff Click here to forward this invitation to board and staff
About the webinars
These webinars are designed for leaders, staff, and board members of grantee organizations. Please help us reach your colleagues by forwarding this invitation to colleagues at your organization.
Individuals need not register for both. In an effort to include as many people from our partner organizations as possible, we are offering two options to attend. Each webinar is open to the first 300 people that register on a first-come, first served basis. A recording of the session will be available on our website.
We look forward to working with you for our shared vision of racial equity and anti-racism in New Jersey. Together we can learn, grow, and improve our practices for a more equitable state.
You may send registration questions or questions for the Q&A session prior to the webinar to: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation has built a learning
community to gain a shared understanding of what Culturally Responsive
Education (CRE) and Culturally Responsive Arts Education (CRAE) look like in
action. This work requires a mindset shift that can’t occur without first
understanding the structural and historical inequities in our education system
and how our own individual identity shows up in our work and lives.
The Dodge Foundation’s Culturally Responsive Arts Education and Anti-Racism 25-day Challenge was designed to help us all “know better” so we can “do better.”
Through daily activities and an online learning community, the Challenge is designed to help you create dedicated time and space to build your social justice habits and look at issues of race, culture, identity, gender, power, and privilege, and their effects on schools, classrooms, and youth.
We hope you will share this challenge with your staff, board, and constituents as a shared inspirational activity as we head into the new school year.
How it works
After you sign up for the Challenge, you will receive a welcome email and then daily emails for each day after. If you sign up after the Challenge launch on Sept. 14, you can follow along at your own pace through the link to the whole challenge in the welcome email.
The daily Challenges include videos, articles, and
reflections on topics including unconscious bias, structural racism, culturally
relevant education, and the power of arts and identity.
You will also receive a link to a handy Reflections Log and an invitation to a NJ CRAE Facebook group to connect and learn from your Challenge companions.
Why we’re doing this
The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation has recently deepened its
commitment to holding ourselves accountable to anti-racist values and
Our new Education goals are aimed at addressing how educators can advance equity in their schools, and specifically how arts-based, culturally responsive and relevant education can improve school culture and student learning.
On the eve of my first anniversary as the first woman of color president and CEO of the Dodge Foundation, I reflect with solemnity on an unprecedented year while I imagine with hope the possibilities of a new future for the Dodge Foundation.
As the dual crises of racial injustice and the COVID-19 pandemic have revealed, the systems built to serve society are yielding dire outcomes and require urgent reformation. With crisis comes opportunity and we embrace this opportunity to imagine a new way of bringing all of our resources to bear – including our power, privilege, and voice – to make the greatest impact in service to our community.
We know effecting change takes time and we know it takes resolve. The critical strategies developed by Dodge’s dedicated and experienced staff, fully supported and endorsed by our board and our board’s Leadership Transition Committee, continue. As we near the end of the first year of our three-year program theories of change, as we continue to share our Equity Framework with current and potential future grantees, and as we develop our next phase of COVID-19 response and recovery, we move forward on our equity journey.
However, we are still an aspiring anti-racist organization. We have much more work ahead of us to better understand and embed racial justice and anti-racism in our mindset, goals, and systems. Today we share the next actionable step since our declaration of intent in June with the announcement of the search for two new senior leaders to join the Dodge staff on our transformation to becoming an anti-racist organization.
Vice president of programs will lead the Foundation’s grantmaking activities as we transform program priorities to focus on equity, anti-racism, and justice. The vice president will be well versed in issues of equity, justice, advocacy, organizing, and movement building with experience in creating new and different ways to power build and share decision-making, particularly as it relates to grantmaking and resource allocation.
Vice president of people, culture, and equity will lead the implementation of the over-arching diversity, equity and inclusion vision of the Foundation and will ensure continuous learning within the organizational culture and practices, as well as engagement with community and external stakeholders.
Both leaders will have experience and familiarity working with organizations in transformation and will have demonstrated ability to lead major organizational change initiatives with tact, empathy, and alignment with the vision and values of the Dodge Foundation.
Both positions will have an annual base starting salary of at least $160,000 and will be eligible for the suite of competitive benefits available to the Dodge staff. Assisted by the Diversified Search Group, the Dodge Foundation is committed to an open and transparent process. We invite anyone who wants to be part of our transformation and imagining a new way and role of philanthropy to apply for these new positions, including all Dodge staff no matter their current roles. To apply for either position, to offer suggestions or nominations, or further inquiries please send an email to DodgeVP@divsearch.com and see the links for vice president of programs and vice president of people, culture, and equity for the full position descriptions.
Transforming any organization, including the hearts and minds it comprises, is no easy task. We have put in the work and have become more resilient and self-aware as we approach the next phase of our journey with curiosity, humility, compassion, and determination.
I am grateful for the support, expertise, and leadership of the Dodge staff and board over this past year. I am also grateful for the encouragement and advice from our community, partners, grantees, advisors, and many new friends I have made while we have been sequestered at home. Thank you for your support as we embark on the next phase of our journey.
Tanuja Dehne is president and CEO of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.
The 2020 Census is almost over, but almost 1 in 5 New Jersey households are not yet counted. If they are not counted, our communities, especially communities of color, risk missing out on the federal and state funding and the political representation they deserve.
Even a small undercount will leave our entire state without the fair funding and political representation they deserve. At stake for New Jersey: more than $45 billion a year in federal funding and 12 Congressional seats.
Census takers are knocking on doors right now, but many of the communities you serve may be unwilling or reluctant to open the door to a federal employee, especially during a pandemic.
You, as a trusted messenger and member of the Dodge grantee community, can encourage turnout in a way that “official” sources might not.
Please consider these easy action steps to help assist in your local Census count.
1. Send the below email to your network, encouraging them to be counted. (You’re welcome to adapt the wording to make it your own.)
2. Call or text your service population asking if they have been counted. A simple message of “Just checking to see if you completed your 2020 Census yet” can make a difference coming from a trusted source.
3. Host a Mobile Questionnaire Assistance site. The Census Bureau will send its representatives to a physical site to help people complete the Census. Examples of events have included a parked ice cream or food truck, community meetings at apartment complexes, food distribution sites, or outdoor house of worship gatherings. Email New.York.firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to host a questionnaire assistance site.
Thank you so much for all you are doing for our communities!
EMAIL TO SEND TO NETWORKS:
SUBJECT: Have you done your Census yet?
You STILL have time to respond to the 2020 Census. This takes less than 10 minutes and can make sure all of us are seen, heard and counted.
Over $1.5 trillion in federal funding is divided up based on who is counted in the Census.
Margaret Waldock, Dodge’s Environment program director, will leave the Foundation on Sept. 4 to lead and evolve the stewardship and sustainability practices at the nationally recognized Duke Farms.
Margaret will become the executive director of the Hillsborough-based center, a 2,740-acre native landscape for public exploration, outdoor activities, education, and research for ecological sustainability.
“Margaret has not only led our environment program at Dodge for nearly a decade, she has connected Dodge’s work in sustainable water infrastructure to national philanthropic partnerships and co-led the Foundation’s disaster response after Hurricane Sandy and the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Tanuja Dehne, Dodge’s president and CEO. “We are sad to see her go and thrilled that she has found the perfect opportunity to build from her experience in conservation and bring a focus on equity and inclusion to the programming and experience at Duke Farms.”
Since joining Dodge in 2011, Margaret has overseen the distribution of more than $20 million in grants to environmental organizations in New Jersey, most of which provided general operating support to organizations focused on land and water resource protection and stewardship, improving environmental public policy, and supporting community-driven sustainability.
Working with Naeema Campbell, Dodge’s Environment and Informed Communities program associate, Margaret developed a racial equity-focused strategy to increase funding to grassroots organizations working with and reflective of communities of color and low-income White communities and collaborative, cross-sector campaigns and partnerships led by environmental justice leaders, particularly leaders of color.
“I could not be more grateful to and proud of the Dodge Foundation for its legacy of supporting healthy, sustainable communities and its shift to racial equity,” Waldock said. “Duke Farms is an extraordinary opportunity to engage the public and the professional environmental community in developing and implementing solutions for a sustainable, inclusive, and resilient future.”
Before Dodge, Waldock was the executive director at Hunterdon Land Trust and also worked at the Trust for Public Land, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and the American Farmland Trust. She has served on the steering committee for Jersey Water Works and on affinity groups for the Funders Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities’ Urban Water Funders and Council of New Jersey Grantmakers’ Environmental Grantmakers group. She is also on the board of the 1772 Foundation.
“Margaret is an exceptional leader who has helped make Dodge a philanthropic leader supporting the power of community to drive solutions,” said Preston Pinkett III, Dodge’s board chair. “We look forward to intersecting and building our partnership with Margaret through her work at Duke Farms.”
The Dodge Q&A series is designed to share what Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation staff are learning and thinking about as they engage with social sector leaders from throughout the state. They’ll also reveal a few things about themselves you might not have known.
Today we talk to Ysabel Y. Gonzalez, Dodge Poetry Program assistant director, about what’s keeping her moving forward in a time of multiple crises, how she is prioritizing racial justice, the virtual Dodge Poetry Festival, her hidden talent, and more.
Before we jump into the conversation, how are you navigating the multiple crises we’re experiencing, namely the COVID-19 pandemic and community uprisings demanding justice?
It’s been a really difficult period for us all. This spring and summer have been particularly difficult for me since I lost my uncle to COVID. But I have been grateful for my community, and family, gathering together around the pandemic as well as standing in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. A group of poets and I are working on a project entitled, Broadsides for Breonna, where we will be offering broadsides by local and national poets for large donations that support organizations doing work with the Black Lives Matter movement, particularly in support of Black women. I’ve also been lucky in that I’ve been able to create new work during this time that is in conversation with this period of our lives — including poetry and an essay. So, I’ve been busy, however, I do think it’s important that we acknowledge that if we’ve been unable to create during the last few months, that’s okay, too. I know some folks are simply trying to survive right now, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
What is important to keep in mind right now?
In terms of social justice and the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s important to remember that this is more than just centering a conversation around a historically marginalized and impeded group of Black and Brown lives, it is also about stepping aside and supporting those lives by serving as co-conspirator. We keep hearing the word ally, but it’s much more complex than simply standing by Black and Brown people’s sides. It’s taking the heat, it’s doing the work, and it’s giving up power. These are all incredibly difficult things to do, so if it doesn’t feel hard, then you may not be putting in the kind of work to grow, develop, and challenge the impediments that exist preventing Black and Brown lives from thriving.
What is something you are proud you helped achieve?
I’m so excited to have helped the Dodge Poetry Festival go virtual this year. It was a difficult decision for us because we cherish the DPF in-person experience and have some fantastic poets lined up for this year’s Festival. We are working hard to think about ways we can re-create what makes the Festival feel unique, such as the connections that occur off the stage, along with the incredible conversations that occur in sessions amongst a diverse set of poets. And I’m very excited about making the Festival accessible to more people. This is really important to me. I’m excited to see folks who may not have been able to join us due to lack of resources or location, now be able to find us online. We are offering live sessions at no cost to our public, so I hope that’s encouraging to people who have had the price of a ticket held as a hurdle. I’m also excited about being able to provide accessible programming to individuals who live in other wards of Newark and other parts of the state of New Jersey — heck, I’m excited about us providing poetry to other parts of the world! It’s an opportunity for Dodge Poetry to provide engaging, interesting poetry and touch someone who maybe has thought, for years, that poetry wasn’t for them. Or provide a reading and conversation amongst poets who people typically wouldn’t see in conversation with each other. It’s an exciting time to host a Festival because there are so many possibilities. I think if audience members remain hopeful and positive, they will get something new out of this year’s virtual Festival. I’m excited for our audience to engage with a very special experience we’re putting together.
What is an example of how you have prioritized racial equity and inclusion in your work? What was the most challenging part of that work?
I’m constantly challenging myself and my colleagues on how we can place equity at the forefront of all the things that we do at Dodge. Sometimes, the reason it’s so difficult is because we’re used to doing things the way we’ve always done them. I applaud my colleagues who, since we’ve begun the DEI journey at Dodge, have questioned processes that have been in place for years. It’s quite difficult to push the question around why we do things. It’s difficult because sometimes dismantling the why is rooted in things much deeper and far more grounded in a larger more complex system.
As far as my own work, I believe that transparency and accessibility are two really important values for me at Dodge. I have been working with our Poetry team here in thinking about ways that we can be more transparent with our different constituents so that there is more understanding around Dodge Poetry’s values and decision-making, particularly around the work we do with poets in the schools. I also continue to think about ways the Festival itself can be made more accessible to those that wouldn’t typically be engaged or involved — either as performers/readers or as attendees. There are lots of challenging parts of equity work, but getting it wrong, and being okay with getting it wrong and learning from that, is challenging, especially when perfectionism is embedded in our everyday culture.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
Between the ages of 8-18, I was a virtuoso accordion player! I’ve won many, many trophies in my accordion-playing days and loved to play everything from polkas to pop music. I competed in bands, in combos, in a duet and, of course, as a solo instrumentalist. The accordion remains a very important instrument to me, although I haven’t played in years. I learned after I picked it up that my grandfather used to play. I’m determined to pick up the accordion again one day and play for enjoyment!
What do you love most about New Jersey?
I love New Jersey’s expansive landscape. It’s such a large state and you can find pine barrens, lakes and oceans, and city life, moving from one county to the next. I grew up in the city of Newark, riding mass transit to Jersey City and NYC easily. I also have lived closer to the shore in Old Bridge, then the bustling little city of Somerville; and now, finally I reside in Warren County. I never would have expected to own a home so far from city life. There is just so much land here and I’m privileged to have a large backyard filled with a peach tree and fig trees and lots of flowers that the deer love to eat! Living in New Jersey, you can have many different experiences with the state’s geography. This great state’s land produces such fresh produce — lots of homegrown fruits and veggies available at the tips of our fingertips.
Do you have a question for Dodge staff? Leave it in the comments or send us an email at email@example.com.
Pennsylvania went into “lockdown” first. Within a week, New Jersey, and New York had followed suit.
My conversations with board members and executive directors started on March 13, the day Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf announced that the Commonwealth would go on lockdown.
The conversations kept coming, and have yet to stop. Very quickly, it became apparent that there were two dominant modes of operation for nonprofit boards: stepping up and leaning in or they went (or remained, as they had been) AWOL.
As recently as last week, I have had more executive directors than I care to count tell me they haven’t heard from a board member, let alone the board president, since this whole thing started.
What can we learn from the differences between these two
To start with the obvious, boards that were at the less engaged or disengaged end of the continuum — doing perfunctory things with minimal effort or feeling as though they were working hard but were working on the wrong things such as doing management’s job — before lockdown orders are likely to be the ones who have remained so or to have become even more so.
The boards in the middle of the engaged spectrum were likely to have remained engaged and/or stepped up their games.
Thus, it came as no surprise that many of the boards that were working on themselves and that had a higher degree of self-awareness are among those that have stepped up.
Successful engagement isn’t a switch that can be readily flipped.
There are lessons to be learned from this experience and others that have transpired over the last several months that can inform the next phase of adjusting to life in a time when a pandemic is a reality. This list of lessons is by no means exhaustive.
Virtual board meetings work.
Virtual board meetings where everyone has a camera and the camera is turned on so everyone can see one another live work even better.
While I’ve not seen data to support my hypothesis, it goes like this: virtual board meetings are convenient. In pre-COVID-19 days, a 90-minute board meeting easily became at least a two-and-a-half hour chunk of a day between driving to and from, parking, traffic, and parking lot conversations. That’s a big difference.
Someone with limited resources, such as lack of childcare or transportation, can more easily attend a virtual meeting. Replicate this time commitment for committee meetings, and you can see why some board members might be doing a better job of engaging.
As an aside, the dynamic of a meeting where 100 percent of participants are attending virtually is very different than a meeting where some are face-to-face and others are attending virtually. Do not equate the two.
Whenever we move back to being able to have face-to-face gatherings, consider a meeting schedule that is a mixture of face-to-face and all virtual.
Board leadership really and truly matters.
This is no news flash, but leaders make a difference. As Jim Collins put into our lexicon: the right people in the right seats is part of the equation for exceptional organizations.
The board president who understood their true role and responsibilities and fulfilled them before COVID-19 continues to do so during the COVID-19 pandemic. The failure of board presidents to step up and rally others to step up underscores the lack of care and attention that too many boards bring to the selection of their leaders.
Choosing a board chair/president should never be about “who” but always about “what.” What are the skills, talents, and attributes that are needed in this position now — in the times in which that person is being elected and for the period of time they will serve?
While there are some constants — like being a good listener, a facilitator, a strong communicator, well-respected, having the time, and being willing to commit the time — there are some things that will vary depending upon where the organization is in its current lifecycle and its current strategic priorities. For example, if an organization is engaged in activities that demand garnering wide-spread support — such as a major fundraising campaign, building/renovating new space, branching into a new community — the board president should be a strong public speaker, and comfortable glad-handing.
If the focus is on internal concerns — such as strengthening the organization’s business model or handling an executive transition — the board president should be both detail- and process- oriented, while also have the ability to move things to conclusion, rather than kicking the can down the road.
Going forward, don’t just select a person to be board president — identify those assets that are needed to be a superb board president and elect those assets. And, if those assets can’t be found all in one person, elect co-presidents.
Board comfort with fiduciary, strategic, and generative governance is essential for successful boards.
It is not enough that board members are present at board meetings. Presence ensures neither engagement nor that the right work is taking place.
It is imperative that boards are doing their work and working in all three modes, moving seamlessly from one to the other as the work demands.
Many boards operate only in the fiduciary mode, a mode of governance that, essentially, ensures compliance, that boxes are checked: we have the necessary policies, we are reviewing the performance of the executive director; we are approving the budget and looking at financials throughout the year, and so on. When done right, fiduciary mode ensures the status quo, nothing more.
Strategic governance, a mode too few boards employ, allows for the path forward. The strategic thinking boards may engage in during strategic planning is not strategic governance. Strategic governance is needed throughout the year, and moves the thinking from the simple question of “do we have x?” (fiduciary) to “is X the best way to do Y?”
Generative governance takes things a step further and opens the door for innovation, moving from “is X the best way to do Y?” to “is Y really the right end goal?” If ever there were a time for generative governance, it is now.
Unfortunately, a board does not move from operating in one mode to operating in all three overnight. There must be intentional recruitment of board members capable of working in at least two of these three modes and leadership that facilitates board and committee meetings that facilitate the use of the modes that are most needed for each situation. Boards must create a culture that understands and values the contributions and strengths of each mode. This is what makes the difference between being present and being engaged and leaning in.
As you move to bring on new board members, be mindful of their ability and interest in working in these three modes.
Boards must have a culture of philanthropy.
There is board member giving and there is a board culture of philanthropy — successful organizations have the latter.
Philanthropy is a philosophy of life and not a measure of one’s wealth. Philanthropy — giving/caring that incurs some degree of sacrifice on the part of the giver — is an understanding, a way of life, a core value for many.
Philanthropists join boards with the desire to share with that organization their time, talents, and treasure, and are surprised when that isn’t the expectation of them and everyone else.
As with any value, it cannot be legislated, so we must look for it in board candidates. Finding it can be as simple as asking questions that explore their understanding of what philanthropy is, their family experience with philanthropy, their approach to philanthropy. As with anything, what is not said is as informative as what is said.
It is imperative that board members deeply understand the work of the organization.
Board members can’t help, no matter how much they are trying to lean in, if they don’t truly understand the work of the organization and understand how the mission promises are translated into action. This understanding requires more than reading about it or being told about it. It requires witnessing it.
Like many of the items above, witnessing it doesn’t happen overnight, but rather over time. It begins with board candidates witnessing the mission in action, some or all, depending upon the nature of an organization.
It continues with regular witnessing of the mission. Think “Take a Board Member to Work” day, or even half day, along with opportunities to interact with clients — that’s intentionally plural.
But no matter how engaged they are, how well they can jump from generative to fiduciary to strategic, how good board leadership is, and how philanthropic they are, all efforts will easily go astray if they are not grounded in a deep understanding of the work and culture of the organization.
A board must lead the organization as it works on DEI.
As the top of the organizational chart, a board must model the behavior it expects of the rest of the organization and live the values of the organization. Nowhere is this more important than with diversity, equity, and inclusion. This was exceedingly important before the killing of George Floyd, and now it is an absolute imperative.
It has always been a best practice that a board be reflective of the constituency it serves, a constituency that is rarely monolithic.
Becoming an inclusive organization is not as simple as recruiting people who are “different,” it requires active work to make sure that the organization, and in this case, the board culture, is truly open to and ready to embrace different ideas, philosophies, ways of thinking, and doing things.
This requires that the board take a hard look in the mirror and consider how well it handles new ideas, change, and difference of opinions and perspective. Boards are best served by a civil clash of ideas than acquiescing to follow the leader or the loudest voice.
In addition, the culture must be free of structural impediments that prevent others from joining. For example, would the giving expectation preclude some people from joining the board? Would the expectation a person know and be in close relationships with wealthy people preclude people from joining the board? Would meeting times make it difficult for a someone employed or a single parent or a parent of young children to attend meetings? Would getting to the meeting location be a challenge for someone dependent upon public transportation?
Once a board is sure its culture will be inclusive, it must then make sure its recruitment process is inclusive. Instead of looking in current board members’ phones for potential new board members, the board must look in new places, and use new ways, such as tabling at events in the community the organization serves or reaching out to the communities’ civic and faith leaders, or advertising in media outlets that reach different populations. The options are quite plentiful once the importance of doing things differently is recognized.
With the possibility of the first item on this list, none of this is a new “ah, ha!”
It may feel new to some because the pandemic and protests brought them out of the shadows. Now that they are called out and named and the pandemic and protests have made visible a clear path forward, it is time to get to work so that your organization can benefit from the best board possible, in good times as well as bad.
Laura Otten, a Dodge Technical Assistance faculty member, is executive director at The Nonprofit Center at LaSalle University.
As our worlds keep changing, as we grieve what once was, and as uncomfortable truths are revealed and continue to be experienced, there is hope because our shared humanity is being activated.
The pandemic has laid bare racial health disparities in our systems and policies, leaving behind those without access to funding and aid as a result of geography, race, status, or their intentionally designed invisibility in our institutions. As the protests over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis began to mount, calling for justice for Black lives, many organizations, including the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, made statements condemning racism and white supremacy. For us, it was time for Dodge to take a public, unified, and explicit stand to commit to becoming an anti-racist organization. We are embracing this opportunity to imagine a new future as we live up to this commitment.
The pandemic has exacerbated longstanding structural inequities in the systems that we all rely on for basic human needs, including food, shelter, healthcare, and education. With curiosity and humility, and in collaboration with community leaders, we seek to understand the intersections of these systemic challenges that perpetuate structural social, racial, and economic injustices. In so doing, we are also determining what role we should play, and how we can share our resources and power to make the greatest impact toward an equitable recovery.
The pandemic has required us to communicate, engage, and work in new ways — an unexpected bright spot. The inability to be together in person has allowed us to make time to meet and get to know new partners, strengthen relationships, and to think beyond boundaries of past practices and norms. The desire for basic human connection and the permission to check in and ask how people are doing has, in many ways, accelerated relationship building. Our Zoom check-ins with our nonprofit partners and philanthropic peers, affinity group meetings, and webinars have also had a direct impact on how we are responding to the pandemic.
Below are some highlights of our COVID-19 response grants and upcoming programming as we continue to center our work on equity.
We are focusing immediate cash resources supporting immigrants and undocumented people as well as Black and Latinx people in Newark and beyond burdened by the greatest risk and giving voice and power through storytelling:
We made a $200,000 grant to the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund to provide cash assistance for undocumented and immigrant individuals and families in New Jersey. While immigrants are big drivers of New Jersey’s economy and many are essential workers, a disproportionate number of immigrant families have not received any federal stimulus support during the COVID-19 crisis and find themselves at higher risk for income, housing, and food insecurity. Given Dodge’s mission to serve people and communities of color, it was imperative that we provide support during this perilous time. It is also an opportunity for Dodge to learn and collaborate with trusted community leaders and organizations that advocate for immigrant and undocumented rights.
A $25,000 grant supports the Center for Migration and the Global City at Rutgers-Newark. The Center’sprojects provide tools, training, media, production, and platforms for Newark residents and community organizations to share their own stories, conduct their own community-based projects, and to share Newark’s history through digital media projects. In April, the Center launched Stories from the Pandemic, chronicling the nuanced lives of young people in Newark and beyond under quarantine; how our families, friends, and neighborhoods are being impacted by the pandemic; and how our stories can connect us across the globe. The project is a collaboration between Newest Americans, the Center’s storytelling project about migration and identity, and Newark Board of Education created in partnership with Talking Eyes Media. Based in Newark, a city shaped by migration and home to the most diverse university in the nation, the Center’s projects afford a glimpse into the worlds of the newest Americans and a vision of our demographic future.
We are investing in two collaborative funds serving the arts and local news and information ecosystems:
A $200,000 grant to the newly formed New Jersey Arts and Culture Recovery Fund at the Princeton Area Community Foundationsupportscash assistance to New Jersey artists and arts organizations for short-term recovery and long-term sustainability. The mission of the New Jersey Arts and Culture Recovery Fund is to ensure the survival and strength of the state’s arts and culture sector during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The Fund was developed collaboratively by a coalition of arts funders across the state, including the Dodge Foundation, Grunin Foundation, Prudential Foundation, and New Jersey State Council on the Arts. The Fund recognizes that the more than 30,000 arts and culture workers and hundreds of arts organizations in New Jersey, who together generate more than $600 million in annual revenue to the state’s economy, are experiencing catastrophic financial losses as a result of the pandemic, yet are still using their entrepreneurial and innovation skills to play a critical role in the economic recovery in the state.
A $50,000 grant to the New Jersey Local News Lab Fund at the Community Foundation of New Jerseyprovides strategic support for journalists of color and people of color media organizations in response to the pandemic. The New Jersey Local News Lab Fund is a collaborative fund that supports people and organizations working to build a more connected, collaborative, and sustainable local news and information ecosystem in New Jersey. The Fund is locally led and is managed by an advisory group made up of local stakeholders, the Dodge Foundation, and Democracy Fund. It is housed at the Community Foundation of New Jersey. In its third year, the New Jersey Local News Lab Fund is focusing its resources to support people of color media organizations and nonprofit organizations whose work tells untold stories and shapes new narratives through a racial lens to bring voice and visibility to communities of color.
We are also proud to support Sustainable Jersey and Foundation for Education Administration to address the growing mental health crisis and technology gaps in our schools and communities.
A grant of $50,000 to Sustainable Jersey supports its new Digital Schools Program, a partnership with the New Jersey Department of Education and New Jersey School Boards Association, to provide best practices, technical support, and a certification framework for schools to address the digital divide.
A $25,000 grant to Foundation for Education Administration supports the Trauma Informed ACES Collaborative for Schools initiative in partnership with the Burke Foundation and the Turrell Fund.
We also continue to advance our equity work in other Dodge program areas, including Poetry and Technical Assistance programs.
As previously announced, the 2020 Dodge Poetry Festival will be virtual. The Dodge Poetry Festival has always celebrated the great diversity of voices that make up contemporary poetry. A virtual festival allows us to reimagine the Dodge Poetry Festival, expand the Festival community and provide greater access to contemporary poetry and poets to audiences across the globe. We will continue to support diverse poets by also providing relief for COVID-19’s impact on nonprofit organizations that support poets of color, the LGBTQ community, and poets with disabilities.
Dodge Technical Assistance is designing a “Putting Racial Equity at the Center” capacity building series that will begin with a summer/fall communal reading and three-part discussion of Ibram X. Kendi’s book Stamped from the Beginning. This reading circle will be followed by a sequential five-month anti-racism and anti-oppression learning, adaptation, and applied practice training. Organizational teams will be invited to participate in a learning community focused on understanding structural racism, building empathy through facilitated discourse, and developing action plans for an organizational shift.
In addition,Dodge created an Equity Framework as a tool to help deepen and facilitate conversations with grantees on how well their work is achieving overall equity and how well that work furthers the equity goals of the Foundation. Over the next few months, the Dodge staff will host a series of webinars to share the Equity Framework with various key stakeholders, including grantees and funding partners.
While we have made progress on our equity journey, we know we will not be able to undo racism and deeply entrenched systemic and structural impediments in our state and country by ourselves.
We will continue to listen, learn, engage, and act with partners and communities and to imagine a new way of leveraging and sharing our resources and power. We also know that by leaning into and living our core values, we will be able to imagine a new future and help build an equitable New Jersey.
Will you join us?
Tanuja 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.
We are pleased to announce the appointment of Eleanor Horne to the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation’s Board of Trustees to a four-year term.
“I am delighted to join the Dodge Board of Trustees because of its focus on New Jersey, its long-standing commitment to creative, sustainable, and engaged communities, and its focus on equity and inclusion,” Eleanor said.
Eleanor, of Lawrenceville, serves on several boards, including the Princeton Area Community Foundation, The College of New Jersey, D&R Greenway, and the Lawrence Hopewell Trail. She retired from a 41-year career at Educational Testing Service in 2010, when she was vice president of the company’s Social Investment Fund, which provides financial support to charitable activities in communities in which ETS has offices.
“Eleanor is a well-respected and much-admired community volunteer and leader with extensive governance expertise and demonstrated commitment to New Jersey,” said Preston Pinkett III, board chair.
Eleanor has been lauded by the National Urban League, who presented her with its highest honor, the Donald H. McGannon Award, and she received Princeton YWCA’s Tribute to Women in Industry Achievement Award, among others. She graduated from Howard University with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and has completed course work for a doctorate in educational anthropology at Rutgers University.
“We are thrilled that Eleanor has joined the Board at this important time in Dodge’s history,” said Tanuja Dehne, Dodge president and CEO. “Each trustee brings new voices, perspectives, and a shared commitment to an equitable New Jersey.”