"But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—
Till I scarcely more than muttered "Other friends have flown before—
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before."
Then the bird said "Nevermore."
Edgar Allan Poe "The Raven"


Upon my early arrival in Baltimore and checking into the Exponent Philanthropy Conference, my first order of business was a trek across downtown to Westminster Presbyterian Church, where Edgar Allan Poe was laid to rest. As a lover of literature and poetry, the opportunity to pay homage to the poet overlooked in his lifetime but beloved in death was too good to pass up. After a chilly walk around Baltimore with plenty of opportunities to take in the city, it was a delight to arrive at the uniquely beautiful Westminster Hall and Burying Ground located on the campus of the University of Maryland's School of Law.

This visit set the stage for a literacy and book-filled week. While attending an evening reception, I was introduced to a Johns Hopkins student interested in philanthropy who shared about being gifted a book by his Uber driver that morning. This random interaction allowed me to engage in conversation about The Patterson Foundation, my path to philanthropy, and my love of literature. Our discussion also led to sharing about the impact of Poe on the city of Baltimore, extending from the Baltimore Ravens professional football team with their mascots affectionately named Edgar, Allan, and Poe to the gothic legends surrounding his death and legacy.

The overlaps in my work in philanthropy and my passion for reading became more apparent in my conversations throughout my four days in Baltimore and the sessions I engaged in throughout the week. Community engagement consistently came up, and so did my work with the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading and the When You Wonder, You're Learning Book Circle Project. Sharing this work highlighted the value of words bringing people together to build connections and community.

After a busy week of building connective tissue, I was able to wrap up my conference experience with a first. I had the opportunity to join the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Panel at the Exponent Philanthropy Conference to discuss The Patterson Foundation and the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Readings overlap with the Digital Access for All initiative. This opportunity to listen and share alongside Joe Manko of the Abell Foundation and Elliot Weinbaum and Amanda Charles of the William Penn Foundation in the name of the value of literacy and the importance of investing in this effort reminded me of why we engage in this type of work. Connecting with more than seventy people during this session about an initiative that I truly believe in was an experience I will not forget and was one that brought my week full circle, starting with a literary giant and ending with a giant in the nonprofit field of literacy.


  • Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.


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