Moving the Needle with Opportunities for Impact, Beginning with Trust and Conversation

Moving the Needle with Opportunities for Impact, Beginning with Trust and Conversation

Posted on September 21, 2022 by Kellie Alexander, TPF Fellow 2022/24

The Patterson Foundation (TPF) believes change moves at the speed of trust. Trust was one of the biggest themes from this year's Grantmakers in Health (GIH) Conference, included in the opening plenary, "50 Years Together and Focused on the Future," as well as quick takes and networking sessions.

Jump back to June 2022 with me. I was living in North Carolina and preparing to move to Sarasota, FL, for a fellowship with TPF. Weeks before my first day, TPF offered me the opportunity to attend a conference focusing on health, a large interest of mine. Thanks to the generosity of TPF, I attended the conference and heard about many concerns within health philanthropy, including mistrust, silos, and the need for a long game, all before even starting my position. Throughout the three-day conference, I was overwhelmed and overloaded with information. However, it was an incredibly influential three days. By being quickly exposed to the barriers and challenges impacting philanthropy from thought leaders in the field, I could better apply myself to TPF's values come July.

Weeks have come and gone since I started, and I already see how TPF is using innovative forms of philanthropy to address many of the main themes mentioned at GIH, including cultivating trust.

But how do we grow trust? At TPF, this is done by fostering wide participation and focusing on opportunities for impact that work towards lasting change. TPF encourages us not to arrive with answers but instead optimize discovery and exploration with questions and collaborative conversations.

Robert K. Ross, president and CEO of The California Endowment, shared during the opening plenary, "the surest path for community wellness for all is through robust, inclusive, participatory democracy, with the most marginalized at the center." Moving from scarcity to abundance and silos to systems brings diverse voices and perspectives, encouraging wider participation and new possibilities. During several GIH sessions, including "Networking Breakfast on Philanthropy's Role in Ensuring Access to Reproductive Health," focus was placed on building capacity in organizations with experts who have been doing the work while acknowledging communities are also experts on their own needs.

Since hearing these words, I have attended community conversations through Aspirations to Actions. This TPF initiative strives to provide space for discussions while creating purposeful engagement within communities. Leadership and healthcare professionals gathered at Desoto Memorial Hospital to discuss their community. Identifying opportunities for impact, these conversations provide space to grow abundant connective tissue, shift focus from problems to possibilities, and encourage working together across systems instead of alone in silos. 

My experience at the foundation has shown me that TPF's innovative forms of philanthropy are working to change many barriers faced – not only in health philanthropy – but across the spectrum.

Moving from a closed system to one that fosters wide participation and trust doesn't happen overnight, but seeking opportunities for impact and lasting change can create a more desired future.

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