Every quarter, I celebrate the opportunity to report on the work that comes from our Quarterly Grants meeting. This report provides a space to bear witness to the diverse, creative, life-changing efforts undertaken by nonprofits and their teams across our region every day. Their commitment to the common good and to helping every individual and family have opportunities to flourish and thrive is truly inspiring.
These quarterly reports also provide an opportunity to reflect on the “big picture.” What is happening in the sectors we serve? How are communities thriving, or not thriving? What challenges and opportunities lie ahead?
July 2022 will mark a significant seasonal moment both for myself and for the Murdock Trust as I officially “pass the baton” and we welcome Romanita Hairston as our new CEO. I am energized and inspired as I prepare for this next season in my own professional and personal journey, providing counsel and support to leaders and encouraging generosity and service in new ways. But I am also excited for what lies in store for the Murdock Trust.
This is what Jack Murdock envisioned when he set the framework for the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust more than 50 years ago. He framed and envisioned a mission of serving and uplifting the needs of our region in diverse ways. But he also knew those needs would evolve and change over time. Sitting in his office at Tektronix, he could not imagine what the world would be like 40, 50, 60 years later and so he set a north star he wanted future leaders of the Murdock Trust to pursue.
In business, in philanthropy, and in nonprofit service, the organizations with which we partner seek to take the long view. When we step into a role, it is our responsibility to serve as wise stewards of the organization’s work and mission. I have never felt like the Murdock Trust was my organization, nor did it belong to any of our staff, our adjunct faculty, or even a Trustee. It is the expression of Jack Murdock’s generosity, wisdom, mission, and legacy. I and those I work alongside are stewards of that mission.
The prophetic words of Oscar Romero say it beautifully:
We plant seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted, knowing that
They hold future promise …
We cannot do everything and there is a sense of
Liberation in realizing that …
We are prophets of a future not our own.
A key pillar of effective stewardship is in the moments of transformational growth and change. We all stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. Leaders such as Sam Smith, Neal Thorpe, Jan Kennedy-Ferguson, Lyn Swanson, Julie Cieloha-Whitney, Jim Martin, and many, many others labored and built foundations and charted the way for the Murdock Trust. Strong, thoughtful transitions are part of the Murdock Trust’s DNA. When I shared my plans for retirement, our Trustees engaged with our constituencies, set forth to pursue a thoughtful, mission-driven search for the right leader to advance the work of the Murdock Trust into the next decade. I am honored to pass the baton to Romanita Hairston, a gifted, wise, and experienced leader who will steward our work, our people, and the mission and legacy of Jack Murdock with esteem and care.
Our Spring 2022 Grants Meeting, my last as CEO of the Murdock Trust, was an inspiring, humbling day as our Trustees approved 76 grants totaling more than $32 million to organizations across Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington (we’ve included some examples of the powerful work underway in our communities below and you can find a full list of grants here).
As we started our Spring Grants Meeting day, I referenced the poet John O’Donohue whose words inspire me and perhaps will inspire you:
May your work fit the rhythms of your soul,
Enabling you to draw from the invisible
New ideas and a vision that will inspire.
May your work be worthy
Of the energy of your heart
And the light of your thought.
May it challenge and refine you,
Bringing you everyday further
Into the wonder of your heart.
I couldn’t help but sit at that table in our grants meeting and feel invigorated about the future and full of joy about the honor to serve the Murdock Trust over the recent years. I am inspired for the future of the Murdock Trust which will continue its legacy of serving the common good as it has for decades before and decades to come in innovative, creative, and thoughtful ways.
In closing, I would like to express my gratitude to the Trustees of the Murdock Trust who have entrusted me with the honor of advancing Jack’s legacy, the amazing and gifted Murdock Trust team whom I have had the opportunity to work alongside for these 16 years, the community leaders whom I have been able to partner with and learn from, and most importantly my incredible wife, Thanne, and our adult children, Madison & Chandi, Maegan & Jon, and Mollie who have all embraced our life at the Trust.
Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, In Gratitude
Immigrants and refugees will receive increased support as new staff help strengthen Alaska Institute for Justice.
Native entrepreneurs in rural and underserved Southeast Alaska communities will receive increased support as Spruce Root adds new staff.
Individuals experiencing homelessness will gain increased access to valuable services and support as United Human Services of SE Alaska builds the new Teal Street Center.
New staff will help Lutherhaven Ministries reach and serve youth, teens, adults, and families from across the Pacific Northwest.
Children and teens will have increased mental health support as new staff at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Big Sky Country help grow the nonprofit’s Youth Mental Health First Aid program.
Students at Carroll College will enjoy a more robust learning experience as the school conducts an extensive library renovation.
The new Midtown Arts Center will allow Eugene Ballet to expand its youth educational offerings and improve the process through which it prepares performances for the Eugene community.
New staff at Girls Inc of the Pacific Northwest will help provide valuable academic and social-emotional support to at-risk girls.
Families in crisis will gain critical support from new staff at MountainStar Family Relief Nursery.
New technology will help the American Red Cross of Northwest Oregon create and utilize a national blood management system.
New staff at SMART Reading will allow the children’s literacy nonprofit to grow and strengthen its expertise and familiarity with early childhood education.
A new facility from Union Gospel Mission will provide shelter, support, and recovery services for women and children experiencing homelessness.
Alatheia Therapeutic Riding Center will be able to serve more children, teens, and adults with special needs through equine therapy in a new facility.
Children and teens will gain valuable education in business and entrepreneurship as Junior Achievement of Washington adds staff.
A new, full time nurse will allow Lahai Health to increase service to low-income and uninsured adults in King and Snohomish counties.
New technology will help Refugee Women’s Alliance engage with supporters more efficiently as they work to serve immigrants and refugees.