Passing the Baton

Posted on November 17, 2020 | Hanh Le, Weissberg Foundation

Dear friends and colleagues,

Over the last year, the deeply entrenched racial injustices in our country have been laid bare as Black, Indigenous and people of color suffered disproportionate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic; too many more Black lives were stolen by police violence; and our government engaged in widespread efforts to suppress representation of BIPOC communities at the polls and through the Census. These conditions have fueled activism and organizing for racial justice across the nation, bringing to a head a long overdue racial reckoning.

Fueled also by this moment of intense need and great opportunity to advance justice, I am moved to step down as Executive Director of the Weissberg Foundation and step up to new opportunities.

A dear friend and mentor taught me that the work of dismantling structural racism and white supremacy is not a marathon but a relay. As I pass the baton at the Weissberg Foundation, it is worth reflecting on what we have achieved in our almost five years together:

  • We prioritized and effectively advocated for funding to and amplification of Black, Indigenous and people of color-led and centered organizations working to advance systems change for racial justice through advocacy, organizing, civic engagement, and the arts.
  • We strengthened more equitable co-creation and decision-making by our board, staff, and grant review teams by building them to be more representative and inclusive of the communities we serve.
  • We operationalized within our own foundation and pushed for in the broader philanthropic community trust-based practices, such as multi-year general operating support, soliciting and acting on feedback, and streamlining paperwork, so that nonprofit partners can focus on mission—not funder—work.

I am forever grateful to the Weissberg Foundation board and our dedicated staff for their commitment to continuous learning and willingness to do hard things; to so many philanthropic colleagues who have mentored, challenged, supported, and partnered with us through this journey, and to each and every grantee and community partner for the braveness of your leadership, clarity of your vision, and generosity of your heart.

While it’s important to acknowledge our shared progress, this year has been a stark reminder that our long relay race toward justice continues, and you have all inspired me to seek new ways to serve our community and our country. I will continue to do this work, albeit in a different role, and I have no doubt the Weissberg Foundation will continue to be a resounding force against racial injustice.

Like many of you, on November 7, 2020, I witnessed the acceptance speech of our first Black, South Asian, child of immigrants, woman Vice President-Elect – a historic milestone in the promise of our democracy. These words that night from Kamala Harris stick with me:

Dream with ambition, lead with conviction, and see yourself in a way that others might not see you, simply because they’ve never seen it before. And we will applaud you every step of the way.

Wherever I am, know that I will stand by you—every step of the way—as you live and lead audaciously in service of justice.

Please look forward to a message from the Weissberg Foundation Board in the coming days with more information about our transition, which the Board, our staff, and I are doing everything in our power to ensure is a smooth one.

In love and solidarity,

Hanh Le, Executive Director

Note: My last working day at the foundation will be December 18th. Until then, you can email me at [email protected]. After then, for foundation-related business, please reach out to Jenell Rosa at [email protected]. To reach me personally, use [email protected].