Living Our Core Values

As a purpose-driven B CorporationTM, our values are the heart and soul of our company. They drive our growth and inform our hiring processes.  But it’s easy for those words to become empty promises if we’re not holding ourselves accountable to them.

So, this fall, we decided to go a layer deeper on the values that guide our work. We led our staff through a process we often do for our clients.  And in doing so, we were able to solidify certain key values while strengthening others. I’m proud to share them with you here:

  • We value people first.We are more than what happens during our office hours. We are people first, and we strive to show a deep respect for human beings inside and outside our company.
  • We value equity. We acknowledge that our current social, economic, and political systems are unjust, predominantly due to a history of racism and oppression. We marshal our resources to advance equitable opportunities and outcomes for all.
  • We value integrity. We are honest, open, ethical, and fair. People trust us to adhere to our word, and we work hard to earn and maintain that trust.
  • We value kindness. We are guided by gratitude, and we take extra measures to appreciate one another.
  • We value courageous leadership. We act with courage, challenge the status quo, and find new ways to grow our company and each other.
  • We value progress. We are continuously moving forward, innovating, and improving.  We do this work because we believe in it and we allow that belief to inspire our actions.

We know with certainty that when we live these values—fully and universally across our team— we can achieve our greatest impact, and 2019 was a solid reminder of that.

  • We supported more than 30 nonprofit organizations, foundations and social enterprises who are advancing breakthroughs in children’s health, housing, education, journalism, technology, and the workforce, and who share our commitment to building a more just and inclusive society. Read more about our work here.
  • We re-engineered our own financial investments to be impact-oriented, in line with our core values and with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
  • We hosted a powerful community conversation on the soaring maternal mortality rates among Black and Brown women in the United States—led by and featuring the experiences of Black women. Learn more about Hear Her: A Call to Action on Maternal Mortality.
  • We created communications tools designed for social impact professionals to lead systems change efforts through an anti-racist framework. Stay tuned for opportunities to access these tools in 2020.
  • We partnered with Slack, The Last Mile, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation who trusted us to document the findings from their inaugural cohort of Next Chapter, a bold and transformative initiative to help formerly incarcerated individuals secure wealth-building jobs in tech. Read their powerful story in this week’s edition of The Atlantic.
  • We launched an application-based Social Impact Fellows program at Loyola University Maryland. Ten students agreed to a year of vulnerability as we worked together to identify inequities where we live, learn, work, and serve, and then spent the rest of our cohort year using Design Thinking to address and advocate for more equitable programs and policies within their institution. Learn more and listen to the students closing presentation here.
  • We cemented our commitment to build a more just and inclusive society by joining on as a founding signatory of #WeTheChange, 400+ women leaders of certified B Corporations and other purpose-driven enterprises who share our belief that capitalism should work for everyone, and for the long-term. Read more about our commitment to building business as a force for good at wethechange.net.

The work we do each day— on behalf of our clients and partners— is at its most powerful when we live these values. In 2020, we intend to go deeper still, working to align our business intentionally with the UN Sustainability Goals, and further advance our commitment to high-impact initiatives that lead to a more just and inclusive society. If you’re interested in doing the same, I hope you’ll drop me a line (carrie@mission.partners) so we can take on this important work together.

To each of our clients, and to every one of you, I thank you for your impact and for the purpose you bring to our work, every day.

Wishing you peace and love in the New Year.

Carrie Fox

On behalf of our clients, friends and colleagues, Mission Partners has made a monetary contribution to The Next Mile and The National Birth Equity Collaborative for their transformational impact on us, and our year.


Out of Office

Photo of 2 young girls in front of Colorado Mountains

Carrie Fox

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”

Anne Lamott

If you know me even a bit, this next line won’t surprise you.

I work a lot.

It’s not a bad thing, on most days.  I like to think it is quite the opposite.  I feel completely blessed that I get to enter every day at Mission Partners enthralled and excited by the purpose of our work, and the potential of the day ahead. Especially amid the weighty issues we take on, I realize the place of privilege in which I sit.  I am full of gratitude for the people in this with me, and the assignments I am invited to take on, in support of causes that matter deeply to us. The only challenge, for me, is turning it off.

But this week, I will.

This week, I’ll be up in the mountains of Colorado, taking in never-ending views and star-filled skies with my husband and our growing-too-fast little girls.  I’ll be riding horses with my newly minted five-year-old, who wants to be a cowgirl when she grows up, and paddle boating with my eight-year-old, who I am certain is far more coordinated than I ever will be at such activities.  Without the buzz of technology, and the pressures of this day’s deadlines, I hope to sink back into a slower pace, knowing that this trip is just as much for my good as it is for my family, and my business.

I don’t share any of this to flaunt a family vacation. In fact, the whole idea of this post feels very uncomfortable. I share it because I have, for far too long, lived by a self-imposed rule that I not be disconnected during the week.  I commit to be always on, and always ready….which means always juggling and always walking faster than I should. Generally, it works. Surprisingly, it often works very well.

But this week, I need a different focus.

I realize that life at its best, is happening right in front of me.  But, its not on this screen, and it’s going by way too fast. There are two little girls and one very sweet man who deserve far better than a multi-tasking, marathon-working mom.

So, give me a few extra days to get back to your last email, and hopefully next week we can pick right back up where we left off.

This week, I’m happy to say, I’m booked.


The Women We Admire Most

By Carrie Fox

“We all move forward when we recognize how resilient and striking the women around us are.”
Rupi Kaur

Every day, I enter a workplace surrounded by women I admire; women who press for progress on issues that matter to them—not for them, but for the greater good of communities around them. It’s a remarkable community to be part of, and to watch in action. It’s a community that allows me to live out ideals that I find important as Brian and I raise two young girls—girls we want to be courageous, caring, and confident in their voices and actions.

And, every day, as I get to know my colleagues more, I see that this group of women with whom I work each possess just the ideals I wish for my own daughters; and that the people and experiences that shaped each one of them have in turn made them some of the most special role models for me and for my girls.

For that reason that I knew I would get remarkable answers when I asked each of them this week, as part of International Women’s Day, who they each admire most. Here’s what some of us shared:

Carol Tyson is the reason I feel so compelled to do this work every day. She represents everything good in this world. It was hard to understand just how much she was sacrificing for me and my siblings when we were little, but it became abundantly clear as I matured, and then became a mother myself. My mom has a deep sense of purpose, a drive to learn something new every day, an ability to connect with everyone she meets in a meaningful way and a commitment to leave this world better than she found it. I learn something important from my mom every day, but perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned (though I can’t say it’s always easy in practice) is that anything is possible when you enter every day with an open mind, and an open heart. (Carrie Fox)

• I’m lucky to be surrounded by so many admirable women, but today I’m going to go with my mom, Margaret Pooley. She’s brilliant, funny, inspiring, beautiful, and strong. Most importantly, though, she is always 100% her confident self. (Bridget Pooley)

• The woman I admire the most is my mom, Bernita Marshall. I can’t quite put my thoughts into words afraid that I will get emotional, but I admire her strength and the love she shares for her children. (Bayonia Marshall)

• Lisa Schmidt is the woman I admire most. And while there are tons of things I admire about her, one of them that stands out the most is her heart – she’s the most caring and genuinely selfless person I know. (Sarah Schmidt)

• Without question, my grandmother, Rose Silvan. Grandma Rosie was the last of 3 children and the only one of her siblings to be born in America. Her family immigrated from a town called Brody in Austria-Hungary (now the Ukraine) to flee Russian pograms in the about 1902. The town, once home to thousands of working class Jews, was essentially wiped out 40 years later in the Holocaust. She was born in Brooklyn, shortly after the family arrived through Ellis Island…Grandma lived in Greenwich Village, and never worked full time. She volunteered constantly, both in formal and informal ways. When my mother was sick for many years as a child, Grandma essentially raised me – the youngest of my 2 siblings. We would walk and walk and talk and talk in NYC (she never bothered with bus or subway unless it was more than 60 blocks), and she stopped to help every homeless or needy person on the street asking for money. Except she didn’t give them money – we’d take them to lunch, or coffee, or the grocery store. Sometimes she’d bring them home with us for a shower and a meal, dress them in my grandfather’s clothes, and send them on their way. From my grandmother I learned that people are people – and that trappings make no one person “better” than another. She taught me about mutuality – both by her example and with her words. She died in 1994 – about a month before Josh was born. His middle name is Ross – for her. (Carolyn Berkowitz)

• When you ask who I most admire, it is hard to narrow down the list. From my childhood best friend to my current roommate, from my first intern coordinator to my current bosses, from the women I have met in places from rural West Virginia to Ethiopia, I admire so many women. The two that I most, most admire are my mom, Becky Lee and younger sister Grace Lee. They both inspire me every day when I chat with them on the phone. I could go on and on about their character, courage, and brilliance. (Hannah Lee)

As I embrace the theme of this 2018 International Women’s Day, and carry it with me for the year forward, to #PressforPress to accelerate gender parity, I want to honor and personally thank each of the women that we at Mission Partners most admire. Margaret, Bernita, Lisa, Becky, Grace, Grandma Rose, and my mom, Carol, for it was their courageous and caring actions, their sacrifice, and their sense of purpose that fostered this remarkable group of women for whom I call colleagues, friends, and role models.


The Trouble With Like-Mindedness

By Carrie Fox

I used to think that one of the key pillars to success was to surround myself with like-minded people. Surely, those who thought similarly to me and who had taken similar education or career paths would be my best sources of insight and information, right?  Well, I thought I was right, until I knew it was wrong.

It started with a class I took, hosted by CommonHealth ACTION in which I was forced to examine a list of 10 people whom I trust the most. No relatives; just peers, mentors and friends could be on the list.  And what I found shocked me.  Nearly all 10 people on my identified list looked like me. They held similar levels of education. They had similar political beliefs. They were from similar socioeconomic backgrounds.  The lack of diversity floored me.  And once I saw it, I vowed to do something about it.

That experiment with CommonHealth ACTION has all resurfaced for me as I’ve started reading Bill Bishop and Robert Kushing’s book, The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America is Tearing is Apart. Using groundbreaking research, the book explores how Americans have sorted themselves into increasingly homogeneous neighborhoods, choosing to live near those who share similar beliefs, backgrounds, and socioeconomic status, somewhat unintentionally. It’s to be expected—people naturally congregate with those like them. But, as they state in the book, “we are living with the consequences of this segregation by way of life: pockets of like-minded citizens that have become so ideologically inbred that we don’t know ‘those people’ on the other side of the political divide who often live just a few miles away.”

But, if we know better, we must do better, especially when it comes to the dangers of group think. When we’re surrounded by people who tell us what we want, and believe what we do, it’s very easy to accept that something is true because enough of the people around us say it’s true. So, instead of wrestling with hard questions, or challenging norms, we simply settle for answers without ever questioning them.

What would happen if, instead of shying away from the difficult, we vowed to get comfortable with the uncomfortable? Could big change happen with little adjustments to our habits?

 In the spirit of breaking the habit of like-mindedness, here are a couple questions that helped me challenge my way of thinking and doing business, and may help you, too:

  1. Examine your peer group – Take on the trust experiment yourself. Are your personal and professional circles similar to you in their thinking and lifestyles? Do you challenge one another?  And how would someone in your peer group or work group react if you challenged their thinking?  If those challenging conversations aren’t happening often, perhaps it is time to widen your circle.
  2. Vary your listening habits– Instead of listening to the same morning news program every day, consider trying something completely different. See what you can learn when you simply listen to a different perspective.
  3. Go one level deeper– Take one topic that you hear about today on the news or in your peer group and go deeper. Force yourself to look at both sides of the issue and try to understand what might be going on with those who think differently than you. You don’t have to agree with what you learn. The point is simply to be open to learning about how people are thinking about an issue from a different perspective.
  4. Examine how you use social media– Examine the list of people and organizations that you’re following. Do they all generally think like you? Consider expanding who you’re following to get a wider range of coverage, and intentionally follow individuals and groups who think differently to be aware of the conversation from another point of view.

Breaking the group think mentality won’t happen overnight, and it won’t happen without some uncomfortable experiences.  But, as Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them.”  And with the problems in our world today, there’s no better time than right now to start thinking different.




Finding Harmony Through Tragedy

By Carrie Fox

Fifty years ago, on December 24, 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his Christmas Sermon on Peace and Nonviolence from Ebenezer Baptist Church at Atlanta, Georgia. As I reflect on the tragic events of this week, there no words that I can imagine more powerful or prophetic than these:

“All life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny.  Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality.”

He continued later in that speech with these words:

“I’ve seen too much hate to want to hate, myself…and every time I see it, I say to myself, hate is too great a burden to bear. Somehow, we must be able to stand up before our most bitter opponent and say: “We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force.”

Sometimes—and maybe especially after the most tragic of events, we need to know that people can come together in harmony.  Even when it feels no such thing is possible in our world. Sometimes, we need to see that love and kindness and pure joy can happen without interruption, or fear of hate.  For when we find ourselves working in harmony, kindness—just like the most beautiful of melodies—can reverberate throughout the world.

This week I preempt my regular blog post to share a short video sent to me by my great friend and mentor Bill Milliken.  Please watch it in a place where you’ll be able to hear it.  And sink into the music.

Then, do something about it.