Meet our newest Board Member, Edward M. Jones!

Posted on February 18, 2020 | Edward M. Jones

The Weissberg Foundation is pleased to announce that Edward M. Jones has joined our board of directors!

Edward is the vice president of programs at ABFE: A Philanthropic Partnership for Black Communities. Prior to joining ABFE, he was the director of conference programming at the Council on Foundations, where he worked for 12 years. Edward is a founding member of Black Benefactors, a social investment club/giving circle comprised of individuals, local businesses and organizations that are dedicated to addressing the societal ills facing Black people in the DC region. He is also a founding member of Black Philanthropic Alliance and Us Helping Us, People into Living, Inc. a regionally-focused HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment & overall health & well-being organization. Additionally, Edward serves on the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers Racial Equity Working Group, is an active member/volunteer of Zion Church in Landover, Maryland and founding member of its Justice League. Born in Los Angeles, Edward is a graduate of the University of Akron (OH).

We asked Edward a few burning questions. Check out his responses below.

Why did you decide to join the Weissberg Foundation’s board of directors?
I have happily known Hanh Le, the executive director, for several years. I’ve had the pleasure of working more closely with her and Nina Weissberg through our collective work with the WRAG Racial Equity Working Group. I’ve appreciated observing how they navigate this work and want to use Weissberg Foundation to improve the communities where we live. As a long-time resident of DC, I see this as another opportunity for me to collaborate with a great organization and work to strengthen support of the region where I live, so that is a place where there is opportunity for all people to thrive. I believe that Weissberg is working to tackle issues of inequity. I see alignment in my ideals and organizations they fund.

What are you looking forward to learning and contributing through this new role?
When done right, philanthropy can be a powerful tool in creating a more just and equitable society. I’ve learned a lot about the importance of trustees’ in advancing philanthropic strategy and effectiveness. I look forward to lending my voice and thought to the work at Weissberg AND having a receptive ear to the things I can learn from this role and through the relationships I hope to build. This field hasn’t been as good as it should be to Black people and other people of color – internally, in staffing, or externally, in funding. I hope to help strategize with the board and staff on these fronts. I will learn and I have some things I’m sure I can teach, too.

What conversations are happening in the broader social sector right now that have your attention?
Racial equity & racial justice are key topics that are, currently, rising to the top in the national discourse. These issues are perennially important to me; unfortunately, that’s not everyone’s priority – although I wish more would step up. That’s not to say that these issues have been any less important since this country’s formation, but we know the issues ebb and flow in a nation and sector that shifts priorities with the latest headlines.

If you could ask advice from any historical figure, who would it be? What would you ask them?
There are so many people who have walked this earth who have brought wisdom and purpose during their time here. I’ll cheat a little, and want advice from James Baldwin and Muhammad Ali. Both were fighters. Baldwin fought with words and Ali with his gloves. Both were powerful wise and powerful forces, in their respective right. Both fought the bigger enemy, called racism. Look at their past recordings. Their brilliance scared their opponents. I’d ask both: Did you know you were building a long-lasting legacy when you started your pursuits? Who did you look to for encouragement? If you had enough presence of mind before you transitioned, what advice would you give as a “parting gift”?

What are some fun facts about you that might surprise people?
I love music and love to sing, but most people don’t know that I used to play clarinet. Once upon a time, I took piano lessons – I thought it was a good idea at the time.

If you had a theme song, what would it be? Why?
Come Sunday, by Jennifer Holiday (or Duke Ellington – its creator). As a person of faith, it gives me hope. It’s a song that urges us to be calm and know that there’s hope and new beginnings. It’s a reminder that we aren’t alone in our journey. It’s the first day of the week. A day of “rest” and reset. That’s the day.

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