Defining Moments

Two years ago, I sat at a small table in New Orleans across from the Heron Foundation’s Clara Miller. We were together at the invitation of Mauricio Lim Miller, of the Family Independence Initiative, who had invited us to New Orleans to meet a vibrant community of families who were running businesses, improving the health of their communities, preserving their heritage, and working together to strengthen their community from the inside out.

Following that trip, I wrote this reflection to Mauricio:

“A few times in my life, I’ve been lucky enough to feel like I was on the ground floor of something very special — something that had the potential to change the way people think, or act, or engage, in an effort with the aim to improve our world in some way. Not until New Orleans did I feel that I was on the ground floor of something that could change the dynamic of this country in such a powerful way.”

That trip was a defining moment for me. By showcasing the value of investing in initiative, it directly influenced how I approach my own work and philanthropy. What I hadn’t realized on that trip was just how much Mauricio’s big idea has helped to define the work of others, including Clara Miller.

Earlier this summer, I came across this commentary,  in which Clara Miller wrote: “It wasn’t that our mission (to help Americans help themselves out of poverty) needed revisiting; regrettably, that was more needed and relevant than ever. What needed some fresh thought was how we expected to achieve it, and what progress we had been making thus far, if any.”

It’s a hard – but necessary – question for any organization to ask itself: what progress have we been making, if any?

Both Millers have been adamant about asking themselves that question, and they’re working hard to ensure the answer is a good one. Clara is blazing new ground in how her foundation invests in and measures success in tackling poverty. And Mauricio continues to build momentum around his unorthodox approach to poverty alleviation, which is helping hundreds of families double their savings and increase their income.

These two social innovators are at the forefront of the impact investing movement, from two unique perspectives. They are defining what it means to drive a mission forward, which is why I am so excited to host an intimate conversation with them next month at The Chronicle of Philanthropy here in Washington, DC, as part of our ongoing #MissionForward series.

A limited number of seats remain for you to join us on September 15, and I hope you’ll accept this message as an invitation to attend, and to be inspired, as I know I will be.