M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust
A collage of three grantee photos; two young people in a FabLab on the left; a ballerina in a studio in the middle; three girls playing at camp on the right.
Cook Inlet Tribal Council (left); Eugene Ballet (middle); Camp Korey (right)

It has been a joy and an honor to serve as CEO of the Murdock Trust over the last nine months. I am truly grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to connect with and learn from so many members of our community serving the Pacific Northwest. My heart is full as I see the ecosystem of service growing and thriving in our region. I’ve had the privilege to engage with organizations continuing generations of service alongside newly formed nonprofits that are emerging. In every case, the organizations are working to meet individual and community needs through a network of dedicated professionals. I have been so encouraged by the shared commitment to collaborate on finding solutions to the intractable challenges of our day so that every person has an opportunity to thrive. 

When I joined the Trust last summer, one of the most common questions I received was, “What is your vision for the future of the Trust?” This is an understandable curiosity given leadership changes present opportunities for the organization to review, reflect, and set new paths forward. I’ve been focused in these first nine months on developing an informed, robust, and shared vision of the future.  Listening has been a key part of developing that vision so that I can better understand the nuances of our internal and external ecosystem and gain a deep appreciation for the history of our work. 

I’ve heard a few things really clearly from our internal staff and external stakeholders. The first is that we are all concerned about the rising tide of polarization. I have been overwhelmed by the desire for safe spaces to engage across differences, spaces to both hold and share our deeply held convictions, and spaces to shape creative and innovative solutions that uphold human dignity and respect the rights of every person. The second has been about the need for cross-sector solutions and centers of excellence that demonstrate the power of integrated solutions that are working end-to-end toward sustainable outcomes for individuals and families. Finally, the pandemic accelerated everyone’s focus on digital transformation. This attention elevates the importance of our data and data sources, presenting a dual need to accelerate our competence and adoption of technology while also ensuring the integrity and accuracy of the data that informs our decision-making.   

As we live into this new season for our organization, we are focused on being a premier capacity builder. We are intent on continuing to be a good partner and a great listener. We are taking stock of all we experienced and learned in the pandemic to ensure that our strategic grants, grant initiatives, enrichment programs, and convenings increase the capacity of the individuals and organizations we support, partner with, and come alongside to improve human flourishing in innovative and sustainable ways. With this in mind, we are sharpening our sectoral focus and reviewing our initiative frameworks to ensure they help us achieve our NorthStar.   

Achieving this NorthStar vision has led us to take a season to focus more internally. The pandemic took a toll on the nonprofit sector as we all worked harder to meet the needs of those we serve. Inside of our organization we are focusing on the concept of renewal. The idea of bringing new, fresh life to something that has already demonstrated an ability to thrive. Our team is using this lens of renewal to reflect on all aspects of our work, from the structure and processes we use to invest in our communities to how we translate Jack Murdock’s donor intent into applicable values that guide our work. In the coming months, I look forward to sharing updates on our work and thinking with you. I and our team welcome the opportunity to engage in thoughtful discussions that can help guide us in our work to serve the common good of the Pacific Northwest. 

In the meantime, I thank you for providing such a warm welcome as I have lived into my new role. For those of you I have had the chance to meet in person, I am grateful for your time and input. For those I will meet soon, I look forward to having the opportunity to connect and build an intentional relationship centered on our common ground and service to the common good. 

With gratitude,

Romanita Hairston

CEO, Murdock Trust

back to top

The Trust guides nonprofit organizations through every level of their development through grants and other resources.

The Trust has a wealth of knowledge and experience that can make all the difference to you and your organization.