“We Are Philanthropy,” a collection of short films that feature inspiring and diverse donors, will appear on the D5 blog over the next few months. Produced by D5 and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, the films highlight how diverse philanthropists bring their life experiences to their philanthropy as they strive to achieve community impact.
This film features Ana Valdez, a philanthropist and political and media consultant based in Los Angeles. Ana uses the “pain from seeing the gap between the haves and have-nots” while growing up in Mexico to fuel her philanthropy. We spoke with Ana about what shapes her philanthropy and where she would like to see the field go.
D5: It’s National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept 15-Oct 15). How do your cultural traditions and experiences shape your philanthropy?
Ana: When I’m invited to be part of a philanthropic effort I am very clear from the beginning: I have a knowledge of minority communities that most people don’t have; therefore one of my most important goals will be to enrich results and expand our base by targeting and addressing emerging communities. Being open about it allows me to constantly get the leadership group to address such communities—their needs, their contributions, their potential, their future.
Specifically about Hispanic Heritage Month, I enjoy highlighting how Latinos have shaped our world in ways that very few people are aware of—history, politics, social fabric, entertainment, food! We contribute positive additions to the outstanding country that the USA is today.
D5: How are you currently focusing your philanthropy? What challenges in society are you working, as a philanthropist, to address?
Ana: I am now moving towards a national effort. I have been involved in local boards, and I feel I am ready to expand my reach. After some years as a trustee at Southern California Public Radio, I am now joining the board of American Public Radio Group. I am also joining the board of The Trust for Public Land, which has the mission of bringing parks and natural areas to the enjoyment of urban and underprivileged kids nationwide. I continuously work to create a more inclusive representation within the decision-making groups I’m exposed to. I’ve seen over and over again that the more diverse the management and leadership, the better business and best accomplishments.
D5: Why is it important for foundations and other philanthropic institutions to embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion in their policies and practices?
Ana: The U.S. is one of the most powerful markets of the world. In the ten largest American cities, what we currently call “minorities” are actually the majority. In cities such as Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Chicago, African Americans, Latinos and Asians make up the majority today. Not in 2020, not in 20 years. Today!
It’s Marketing 101: Effectively targeting these markets requires that you be diverse, and diversity is only achieved by being inclusive. It’s not about being fair or compassionate. It’s simply good business.
D5: What do you want to tell Foundation CEOs about why they should embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion in their organizations?
Ana: It is about demographics. Take the subway, eat at a restaurant, go to a concert—if you choose to ignore the fabric of the new mainstream America, you will be choosing to ignore the biggest source of new possibilities, expansion, and transformation.