Brains, Heart, and Experience

January 28, 2013

A network like HEFN is only as smart, wise, connected, and experienced as its leadership.  Trust me, it is no accident that the three new additions to HEFN’s national leadership embody those qualities!

This month HEFN is delighted to welcome Vanessa Daniel, Carolyn Fine Friedman, and David Fukuzawa onto the HEFN Steering Committee.  These three funders represent a great mix of skills, geographies, grantmaking perspectives, and connections to other funder and donor groups. They each also are a great mix of brains, heart, and experience, in beautifully varied ways.

Vanessa Daniel is the Executive Director of the Oakland, California-based Groundswell Fund.  Vanessa has worked for more than 18 years in social justice movements, including as a grantmaker, union and community organizer, researcher, and freelance journalist.  She grew a Reproductive Justice Initiative at the Tides Foundation from $500,000 to $3 million in annual grantmaking, guiding its eventual transition out of Tides to become the Groundswell Fund.  Under Vanessa’s leadership, the Groundswell Fund has helped to move over $8.6 million in new resources to grassroots organizing efforts led by women of color and youth organizations across the U.S.  Vanessa currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Funders Network on Population, Reproductive Health and Rights, and East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, and on the steering committee for Bay Area Justice Funders Network.

Vanessa’s participation in HEFN was sparked by learning from her reproductive justice grantees about their concerns that environmental hazards are affecting reproductive health in their communities, as well as their interest in connecting across social justice movements.

Carolyn Fine Friedman is the Chair of the Fine Fund, based in Newton, MA. The Fund, created in 1997, supports organizations using complementary strategies to eliminate toxic chemicals from humans and the ecosystem. The Fund gives to organizations that conduct scientific research to detect and publicize the unintended harms of chemicals, as well as movement builders who align groups with diverse interests into a network to effectively advocate for public health and safety.  And through grants for communications capacity and documentary films, the Fund hopes to amplify scientific findings and concerns about harm to the public, expecting that this movement has set the stage for a national debate on chemical policy and will lead to more protection from harm for all citizens.

Carolyn is a member of Rachel’s Network, women using philanthropy to enhance their environmental activism.  In addition she serves on the boards of Coming Clean, the Northeast Wilderness Trust, the Institute for Health and the Global Environment and is a past board member of the New England Grassroots Environment Fund.

Carolyn’s recognition of our personal health stake in reducing toxic chemicals both triggered – and was deepened by -- her participation in a 2006 biomonitoring study sponsored by Rachel's Network and the Environmental Working Group.

David D. Fukuzawa is the Health Program Director of the Kresge Foundation, based in Detroit, Michigan.  The Kresge Health Program seeks to reduce health disparities by promoting conditions and environments that lead to positive health outcomes for all.  David has worked for more than 32 years in the Detroit area including as a Program Officer with a focus on child and adolescent health at the Skillman Foundation, as the founding director of the Asian American Center for Justice, and as the Human Needs Director at New Detroit, Inc., the nation’s first urban coalition, where, among other things, he fashioned New Detroit’s position against the state budget cuts in welfare in the early 90’s and helped craft its policy on health care reform.  David just joined the board of Grantmakers In Health, is a founding member of the Health and Housing Funders Forum, and recently served as board chair of Grantmakers for Children, Youth and Families.

David’s engagement in environmental health and justice issues comes partly from his evaluations of the costs and benefits of improving daily environments as a way of improving health outcomes for children.  And partly from a moral compass which led him first to earn a Masters of Divinity in preparation for the priesthood, and eventually into a different vocation of service to vulnerable populations through grantmaking.

HEFN is grateful for the service of Vanessa, Carolyn, David, and the other fabulous funder leaders on its Steering Committee.  More brains, more heart, more experience to help philanthropy maximize its impact on environmental health and environmental justice!

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