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The Collaboration Conference 2015

November 16–17, 2015

Houston, Texas

C5 Case Study Conversation: Coalition of Funders, Infrastructure Groups Sets Out to Increase Diversity in Philanthropy

Monday, November 16, 2015 at 2:45 PM–4:30 PM Central Time (US & Canada)
Arboretum 3-4 (Second Level)

Join this conversation to discuss the challenges and opportunities of managing a collaborative effort aimed at influencing change within a limited time frame and with little formal authority. Hear how partners who committed to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in the sector stayed nimble with their strategies and moved from a bounded coalition to a network-based approach.

In 2010, a group of funders and infrastructure groups came together based on a shared concern about the lack of diverse voices and equitable outcomes in the field of philanthropy. Called the D5 Coalition, the group set out to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in the sector, with a focus on gender, ability, race/ethnicity and sexual orientation. Priorities included: helping grantmakers recruit diverse leaders to their teams; identifying and sharing best practices for advancing diversity, equity and inclusion inside foundations; increasing funding to diverse communities; and improving data-collection capacity to measure progress. With a five-year timeline and little direct influence over grantmaking dollars and hiring practices, D5 recognized early on the need to expand its reach and restructure the coalition using a more fluid networkbased approach. Members worked to create new ways to engage a wider range of stakeholders and capitalize on changes in the external environment, such as increased awareness and conversation about diversity in the philanthropic community and the nation. Though issues of diversity, equity and inclusion are gaining more attention nationally, D5 is in its final year, and coalition members face an array of questions, including whether, how and where this work should continue.


Collaboration fast facts:

Primary Points Of Contact

Meghan, McVety

Session Designers


Mae Hong, Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors

Mae Hong is the Vice President of the Chicago office of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, where she serves families throughout the Midwest in developing and implementing their giving programs and strategies through grantmaking, planning, and facilitation.  She has also been actively involved in RPA’s leadership on the issue of diversity in philanthropy, particularly among families and individuals.  She currently serves as the board chair of Grantmakers for Effective Organizations and is a board member of Illinois Humanities.  She completed her graduate work in social service administration at The University of Chicago.  Prior to entering the nonprofit sector, she worked in the publishing industry for several years following her graduation from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.


Kelly Brown, D5 Coalition

Kelly Brown is Director of the D5 Coalition, a five-year effort to increase philanthropy’s diversity, equity and inclusiveness. Ms. Brown was Director of Programs and Evaluation at Marguerite Casey Foundation, and Grants Director at the Vanguard Public Foundation.  She has also served as Director of Marketing and Industry Relations at OpNet and as Administrative Director for TransAfrica/TransAfrica Forum, national foreign policy organizations at the forefront of efforts to secure a peaceful transition to a multi-racial democracy in South Africa.  

Ms. Brown has lived and studied in Nairobi, Kenya where she worked on Kenya Women Finance Trust, one of the continent's first micro-loan funds for women.  She has an M.B.A from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, a BA in Sociology and African/African American Studies from UC Santa Barbara and was a Sloan Foundation Fellow at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School.  Currently, she is pursuing a PhD at the University of Chicago. 

Karen Gahl-Mills, Cuyahoga Arts & Culture (moderator)

Karen Gahl-Mills was named Executive Director of Cuyahoga Arts & Culture in 2009. Under her leadership, the agency remains one of the nation’s top sources of local public funding for arts and culture. In total, CAC has granted more than $112 million dollars to 237 local arts organizations, big and small, throughout Cuyahoga County. Gahl-Mills’ career began in Los Angeles where she worked as part of a team creating national and international advertising for many well-known global brands. Her work then led her to Chicago and back to her roots as a musician, first as a development officer for the Ravinia Festival, summer home to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and then as Managing Director of The Rhythm Cafe, an advertising music production company. She went on to serve as executive director of the Westchester Philharmonic and then as President and Executive Director of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra. Gahl-Mills holds a Bachelor of Music degree from DePaul University and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. A vocalist and former cellist, she currently resides in Cleveland Heights, Ohio with her husband.


Session Materials