President’s Message: Imagine a new way

Photo by Dan Hofmann

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.   

While there is much more to deeply understand, the collective work and learning of the board and staff over the last four years has positioned the Dodge Foundation to take responsibility for becoming an anti-racist organization and reimagining the role of philanthropy in New Jersey. 

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.

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