Philanthropists in Green

Posted by seattle — March 12, 2014

With a growing population, shrinking natural resources and a rapidly changing climate, the need for strong environmental leaders is greater than ever. Through SVP’s Northwest Conservation Philanthropy Fellowship, nine Partners embarked on a three-month journey to sharpen their focus and develop their ability to drive lasting environmental change.

The program helped Fellows:

  • Increase their ability to be strategic advocates for environmental causes, becoming more effective in leveraging their time, money and influence to make a significant impact.
  • Deepen their knowledge of the complexities, nuances, challenges and perspectives around environmental issues in which they are involved.
  • Align their core values with their actions and decisions.

The Fellowship was experiential and hands-on, including activities that resulted in a clear vision, theory of change and action plan for each Fellow.  Fellows were also matched with an individual mentor whom they met with regularly, and the program allowed time for reflection and connecting with other participants.

Conversation Fellowship Diagram Resized

One Fellow wrote: “I loved the structure you put together – enticing readings that seduced me into more; and the field trips – visits to groups actively, professionally, impactfully making a difference.  And of course, putting it all together in a strategic plan of our own.  I especially loved how you held the space for whatever might happen, encouraging all of us to stretch, and cheering us on with your positive, but discerning comments.”

The value of the Fellowship also extended beyond the curriculum.  There were only three formal meetings scheduled, but Fellows enjoyed the experience and insights of their cohort so much that they began meeting bi-monthly on their own to support and encourage each others work.

Building on that momentum, SVP added a 4th module to the program.  Four months after the Fellows finalized their theories of change and action plans they met again to discuss their progress, gather input and collectively tackle the problems they’d encountered.

The reconvening confirmed the importance of the strong bonds that were developed during the course of the Fellowship – cultivating not just individual environmental leaders in philanthropy, but a powerful cohort.  A cohort that will grow as we bring in new Fellows each year.

As one of our mentors put it: “What a great, fresh-looking bunch of passionate, environmental go-getters!  The future is definitely in good hands.”

Tangible Results

One of our Fellows, Stephanie Solien has already taken steps to embrace her role as an environmental leader.  Governor Jay Inslee has recently appointed her to serve on the Puget Sound Partnership’s Leadership Council.

“I have to give the SVP conservation fellowship some of the credit for this appointment,” says Stephanie.  “Martha Kongsgaard who serves as Chair of PSP and who was my mentor encouraged me to apply.  Over the course of the fellowship Martha and I had several opportunities to talk about our passion for Puget Sound and protecting it from the effects of climate change and growth.  Our mentorship conversations were intellectually rich, fun and we developed a stronger bond as environmental colleagues and friends.”

Who Was Involved

The Northwest Conservation Philanthropy Fellowship was developed by SVP Seattle, with the support of the Brainerd Foundation, Harder Foundation, Bullitt Foundation and The Seattle Foundation.  It was managed by Janna Rolland.

Our nine fellows included:  David Bangs, Byron Bishop, Sharon Chen, Linda Archer Cornfield, Jane Harvey, Arlene Levy, Susan Crane Lubetkin, Kyle McCoy, and Stephanie Solien.  Our mentors were: Jabe Blumenthal, Julie Davis, Keiki Kehoe, Martha Kongsgaard, Ann Krumboltz, Jim Owens, Kay Treakle, Todd Vogel and Doug Walker.  We are tremendously grateful for their invaluable contributions of time and energy to the Fellowship!

Next Steps

SVP Seattle plans to move forward with a second cohort of the Fellowship in fall 2014. Our focus is now on considering potential fellows and mentors for the second cohort, enhancing the curriculum based on participant input, and raising funds to support the program.