6 Lessons from a Community Foundation Leader

posted on: June 28, 2011

On June 21, I attended the latest Emerging Leaders Salon, hosted by the Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP) D.C. Chapter, of which I am a proud Steering Committee member.

Our featured speaker, Terri Freeman, president of The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, shared personal and professional philosophies, described her career path and answered questions posed by young philanthropic practitioners. During the course of Freeman’s 14 years at the foundation, assets have grown six-fold, earning the foundation the distinction of being one of the top 50 foundations nationwide (by total assets), with grants of nearly $59 million in fiscal year 2010.

Although she shared a wealth of knowledge and perspective, I found her six take-home pieces of advice most memorable:

  1. “Question the status quo.”


  • “Sometimes it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission.”



  • “Being nice goes a long way.”



  • “Be humane and have a life [outside work].”



  • “Know what you know; know what you don’t know; and know when to ask for help.”



  • “Don’t run from controversy.”


Over the years, did someone’s words of wisdom help guide your career or life path? Conversely, what wisdom did you learn the hard way (through life experiences) that you wish someone had told you? Either way, do you often share the wisdom you heard or lived with others?

The next Emerging Leaders Salon will feature Aaron Dorfman, the executive director of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP), on July 28 at the office of Grantmakers for Effective Organization (GEO). Come and your bring questions.

Christine Reeves is field associate at the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP).