Resolving to live our values, now more than ever

by Jennifer Tolle Whiteside

January is traditionally the time to look forward and plan for the days and months ahead. This month always feels like a fresh slate, new opportunity and new energy and perspective. The clean sheet of paper, the chance to start at the very beginning and to set my course for the year. It has always felt satisfying and fulfilling to start the month with a fresh journal, new pen and renewed focus.

This year is very different. 

As much as I would like to turn over a new fresh page and start anew, that is simply not possible. We cannot erase what has been happening in our country over the last weeks, months and years.

Last week, we held orientation sessions for our affiliate board presidents from across the state. 53 individuals representing 60 counties were invited to participate in information sharing, discussion and an orientation for some and a refresher for many. One of the main topics we discussed was leadership. Leadership not as a concept but rather as a value and as a responsibility.

We are not just a philanthropic organization. We are a collection of philanthropists, of ideas, values and leaders. It is up to us to act both independently and collectively in ways that support our values and our belief in a stronger future, out of our intention to ensure we are leaving communities stronger. We are planting seeds for the future.

We cannot take the trust that so many have placed in us for granted. We must recognize our responsibility.

We must reflect and revisit our values as individuals and as a collective. It is no longer acceptable to view events in our country and say this is not who we are. We must each examine how we are contributing to this larger narrative, either by our silence or our involvement. We must decide to act in the way that we want the nation and world to be.

We are a collection of our history. The values that built this organization, including local leadership, involvement, generosity toward all, are our history and our future. We know that where you live should not determine your life’s outcome. We hold the value that the greatest assets of this organization are truly the local leadership and people.

We must face that so many of our people and communities have not been valued and have not been heard, especially Black, Native and communities of color who so often bear the brunt of harm in our country.

We must demand more from our leaders.

You must demand more from each other.

Our children are watching. Our community requires this.

One of our goals this year is to make clear which values we as the North Carolina Community Foundation board, staff and affiliates will commit to as we execute our work.  

We believe that to solve the challenges facing our country and communities, we each need to be part of the solution. All of us. We are committed to be values driven and honest as we work together to create a healthier and more equitable future for all people.

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