This last weekend, I was privileged to join many others at a celebration honoring the retirement of Joyce White, the Executive Director of Grantmakers of Oregon and Southwest Washington. For nearly twenty years, Joyce has provided thoughtful, kind, encouraging leadership to this group of foundations and its leaders.
I have deeply appreciated Joyce and her commitment as an organizational and community leader in a place and at a time that such work can be challenging. For example, Joyce would push gently but steadily against parochial attitudes that can sometimes creep in to Portland and Oregon as a community. But at the same time, she always encouraged all of us to learn from others across the region and country. We all need to be learners.
Joyce also challenged the narrow framings of what philanthropy should be focused on. She encouraged all of us to recognize the importance of diversity within the foundation community and embrace a wide range of missions, practices and priorities within the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors. In other words, there is not just one way to do things.
As kind, gentle and thoughtful as Joyce is, she has also been unafraid to get her “Tough Joyce” game on. When extremist political advocacy groups or individual activists sought to misrepresent a group, Joyce would have none of it. When leaders got “full of themselves” or their ideas, Joyce had a way of bringing them back to their better selves. Throughout her career, she encouraged people to work together and to respect differences and honor the good work others are doing even if it is different.
Personally, Joyce has had a rough year in 2017, including a family loss and a physical set back. However, her spirit is undaunted, her belief in others unchanged. Her encouragement at the celebration to all of us to be thoughtful and “lean in” to the community in which she has deeply invested called GRANTMAKERS was “vintage Joyce” and a message just right for this season of Thanksgiving. Thanks Joyce! Long may your voice and work bear fruit.
Steve Moore, Executive Director
M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust