Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about building new relationships – mostly because this is Sharon Gary-Smith’s first week here as MRG’s new Executive Director!

I’ve actually known Sharon for nearly eight years. We first met when she was on the board of the National Network of Grantmakers, an alliance of progressive foundations. I was attending their annual conference as a brand new funder and Sharon welcomed me with open arms. She encouraged my leadership – in other words, she recruited me to facilitate small groups – and introduced me to other funders she thought I should know – seeding relationships that have stayed strong throughout the years.

More recently I’ve worked with Sharon at the local level as we both sit on the board of the Partnership for Safety and Justice. Here I’ve gotten to see her in action as one of the most effective community organizers in Oregon. Sharon is always thinking about how our work impacts communities throughout Oregon – and making sure that we are in close relationship with the people who are most affected by this issue.

I’ve known Sharon in her role as a national leader in progressive philanthropy. I’ve known her as a local community organizer. And now I get to build a new relationship with her in her role as MRG’s Executive Director.

I’m excited about this opportunity because Sharon brings a wealth of experience, skills and passion with her to MRG. She also brings a wealth of relationships that she has built on the national stage and here locally in Oregon. I’m excited to get to work so closely with Sharon as she broadens MRG’s family and deepens the ties we have with one another.

We all get to build a new relationship with Sharon. Whether you have known Sharon for years or are looking forward to meeting her for the first time, I invite you to think about your own community relationships. Are there people you would like to bring into the MRG community? Are there people here at MRG you would like to deepen your relationship with? What better way to start then by coming to Peace and Pie in the Park, our big annual summer party in Eugene? And later this month we’ll be announcing a welcome event for Sharon in Portland in August.

I look forward to seeing you all later this summer as we start this new chapter in MRG Foundation’s history!

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