Jennifer Ford Reedy

Note from Jen: Supporting staff to grow and go

May 11, 2020

We had a big milestone moment at the Bush Foundation earlier this year when our last active Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellow completed their fellowship. Awale Osman landed a job as a Program Associate with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to our absolute delight!

We are proud of our part in creating the Ron McKinley Philanthropy Fellowship. Beyond bringing a lot of talented people into the field of philanthropy, for us at the Bush Foundation it helped to establish our own internal commitment to leadership development.

The Bush Foundation has invested in leadership development as a program priority for decades. It is only in recent years that we have brought that same intention to our own staff. We published a reflection paper a few years ago about what we have done. To us, developing our staff for future roles is an important way we advance our purpose and live our values.

We have a few recent staff transitions that reflect the success of this approach, and also remind us how hard it is to lose wonderful colleagues.

Carly Bad Heart Bull was recently named the Executive Director of the Native Ways Federation. We are thrilled about this both as an opportunity for Carly and because the organization she will be working to build has so much promise for impact in Native-focused philanthropy. We are providing start-up grant support to Native Ways Foundation and also office space — which means we will get to continue to enjoy Carly’s company.

Naaima Khan is leaving to grow her own consulting practice. We supported Naaima going part time a while back to test the market as a consultant. Now that she has taken the leap we are one of her first clients. Her firm is called Create Good, and she is focused on writing, evaluation and diversity/inclusion coaching.

And Duchesne Drew was recently named president of Minnesota Public Radio. When I first met Duchesne to recruit him to work here, we sat in a coffee shop and talked about his long-term career aspirations and how coming to work at the Bush Foundation could help get him there. As Duchesne is leaving to lead one of our most important civic institutions, it is sad but it also feels like victory!

When folks leave us, I confess that it sometimes makes me question our strategy. It is hard emotionally to see people go and it is hard operationally to continuously find and onboard new people well. But I think the return for the individuals and the region outweigh the downsides (even when it doesn’t feel like it in the moment!) We will continue to hire talented people, invest in their development and support them as they consider and aim for other roles of influence in the world.

With the recent departures, I’ve had a number of people reach out to me about whether we will be hiring. The answer is: not right now. With all that is going on in the world, compounded by some strategy changes we will be working on at the Foundation once this crisis has passed, this does not feel like a good time to bring on new folks. We’ll keep you posted!