Resourcing Liberatory Leadership
Kaytura (Kay) Felix, MD, joined the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) in 2016, bringing her technical and lived experience in leadership development, collaboration, and coaching to the Foundation’s mission to advance a Culture of Health through leadership. She heads RWJF’s efforts to develop leaders through its many programs. These programs support leaders in developing the vision as well as the conversational skills and capacities to come together—across health care settings, disciplines, and sectors—to build healthier and more equitable communities where everyone has a fair and just opportunity for health and well-being.
Lisa Cowan is the Vice President and in this capacity she helps with strategy, development and oversight of foundation programs and grantmaking. Lisa has been working with community-based organizations for the last 25 years, first as a community health educator and program director at several youth-serving agencies, then as a Senior Consultant at Community Resource Exchange. Lisa was the Co-Founder of College Access: Research and Action, where she continues to act as an advisor. Most recently, Lisa was the Principal Consultant at Hummingbird Consulting from 2013-2016.
The fourth session with Kaytura Felix of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Lisa Pilar Cowan of the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation discussed what it takes to fund Liberatory Leadership Development work. Kay and Lisa shared their individual experiences making space for emergent work, both within their funding portfolios and in the culture of their institutions. Both panelists highlighted the importance of continuous learning and boundary pushing and discussed how this impacts both grant making and internal institutional functioning. This discussion touched on power, access and accountability as well as risk assessment, absorption and distribution. The conversation left us with a series of questions, including:
- How can this be a real transformative moment for philanthropy, not just a change in language?
- What are the practical steps foundation staff doing to create greater alignment around liberatory practice?
- What does a call to rigor require, how do we continue to get deeper and more aligned around liberatory practice so it is something we can hold each other lovingly accountable to?