November 16, 2016
Dear Foundation staff,
It has been a pleasure to have been associated with this foundation since the very beginning. About 16 years ago, Gary Severson organized a small group to discuss a new foundation that would spin off of the Casey Family Foundation. What should the focus be? The early discussion was a focus on prevention and over the years the work evolved to what you now see.
The “Severson group,” had high hopes. But we never could have contemplated the wise, sustaining leadership of Luz or the tireless passion of the team she assembled. You are in the midst of an historic movement.
Be pleased with the evolution. It is a foundation different from the usual, with a focus on the long term, rather than a 5 year or even 10 year plan. It is a foundation that takes its ideas from the field and then trusts people with general purpose grants for an extended period. You truly give voice to people not previously asked for their opinions. You identify young people and encourage them and train them to become leaders. You identify and celebrate things that are working and you carefully study the results of grantees who have completed the work they agreed to do. You explore new ideas, such as a membership organization and you exploit the revolution in communications to allow participation and exchange of ideas.
In short, be happy with your important and productive work. As I told the Board in my farewell remarks, when the history of poverty is written, the tipping point will be recognized as the work of this foundation.
Thanks for what you do.
cc: Board members