Thanks to the Heroes

November 25, 2013

HEFN Director Kathy Sessions authored this post.

In this Thanksgiving week, the HEFN staff sends out a big thank-you to all of our members, colleagues, and friends who do so much to make this world healthier, greener, and fairer.  Thank you! 

We are especially appreciative of HEFN’s leaders.  If committed leadership is an asset – and it surely is – then HEFN has been one of the best-endowed funder groups around.   HEFN is stronger because many funders who helped get HEFN off the ground years ago still are actively engaged.  HEFN also is stronger because many of those veterans have made it a priority to invite and make space for new leadership.

So, in this week of appreciations, we send out special thanks to four long-time HEFN leaders who will rotate out of the Steering Committee at the end of 2013.    

Thank you Mary Tyler Johnson!   As a Johnson Family Foundation board member and environmental health consultant, Mary has played critical roles in raising awareness of the links between environmental toxins and the health of women and girls.  Among Mary’s many contributions to HEFN are several years of organizing a Women’s Environmental Health group, talent-spotting and recruitment of great new funder leaders, and gracious relationship-building  for HEFN with other funder groups interested in women’s health and leadership.   

Thank you, Heeten Kalan!  As the New World Foundation’s Senior Program Officer for Environmental Justice, Heeten has helped fundamentally shift environmental health philanthropy towards the full integration of environmental justice into strategies and investments.  Heeten’s many HEFN contributions include leadership of an Environmental Health and Environmental Justice working group, authorship of one of our most re-posted blog posts ever, and expansion of HEFN’s funder collaboration work into energy issues.  

Thank you, Anita Nager!  Through successive perches at the New York Community Trust, the Beldon Fund, and now the Jenifer Altman Foundation and philanthropic consultant, Anita has been a savvy strategist, tireless proponent, and sage counsel for the environmental health movement and its campaigns for safer chemicals.  Anita has served in many leadership roles for HEFN, including as co-chair of HEFN’s national steering committee and of its Catalysts group on chemicals.  She also has significantly advanced the art of weaving fun into funder collaboration on tough issues.

And thank you, Michael Lerner!  HEFN’s founder will rotate out of his Chair Emeritus role at the end of 2013.  HEFN owes its existence to Michael, who founded the network with colleagues in 1999.  As Executive Director of the Jenifer Altman Foundation, Michael guided HEFN’s growth from concept into a community, chairing its Steering Committee for years and then serving as Chair Emeritus.   Mirroring the depth of moral reflection in his writing about philanthropy, Michael embedded in HEFN’s culture the aim not of serving philanthropy per se but rather of serving society through philanthropy.

We just presented each of these leaders with a “HEFN Hero” jacket, as a small token of appreciation for their dedicated service and leadership.  We are glad these HEFN Heroes are still fully engaged in this community, even as they rotate into other roles. 

Best wishes to you and yours for a happy, healthy Thanksgiving!

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