May 8th, 2017

“As leaders we have to examine ourselves, our own beliefs, and those structures and systems that perpetuate racial inequity”

Tamara Copeland is a powerhouse of a leader who courageously and tirelessly uses her voice and professional platform to tackle one of the most challenging and charged social issues today – racism!

Tamara’s commitment to racial equity surged when Trayvon Martin was killed. Her son AJ was roughly his age; he could have been Treyvon! In this incredibly powerful, informative conversation Tamara shares her passion for racial equity and offers sage advice for how each of us can become more educated, stronger allies and advocates in this crucial social movement!

What you’ll learn

  • Stories about Tamara’s upbringing and traits she inherited from her parents
  • Lessons in compassion and social system functions (and lack thereof!) Tamara learned from her first job as a food stamp technician
  • Why mentoring in social services is so crucial for young professionals to enhance their skills and sense of empathy
  • Why Tamara doesn’t like defining her sector as “nonprofit” and how thinking of it as “social profit” better acknowledges its value to society
  • Poignant examples of structural racism and unconscious bias and their impact on individuals and communities, including the philanthropic
  • How tragic deaths of Travon Martin and Freddy Gray – and Tamara’s reflections about her own son – inspired WRAG’s body of work “Putting Racism on the Table”
  • How Meyer Foundation’s Nicky Goren helped shape the conversation by quoting John Gardner “first step in leadership is not action, it’s understanding”
  • Ways leaders can begin to use our power and voices – in whatever communities we live and lead – to create more inclusive environments and help overcome bias
  • Importance to take time to read, learn, study and try to understand “others” that we may not have had exposure to in our past lives
  • And so much more!

Links & Resources

About Tamara Copeland

Tamara joined the Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers in September 2006.  In this position, she leads a staff committed to promoting and supporting effective and responsible philanthropy across Northern Virginia, suburban Maryland and the District of Columbia.  Over the course of this time, Tamara has become one of the key spokespeople for philanthropy with her blog, A Voice from Philanthropy.  Currently, the organization is leading three major initiatives, Our Region, Your Investment focused on ensuring more affordable housing in the region; the Institute for Corporate Social Responsibility in partnership with Johns Hopkins University and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation; and a dynamic exploration of race called “Putting Racism on the Table.”  An op ed that she authored on why she feels this is not a post-racial America was featured in the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Before this position, she served as the President of Voices for America’s Children for almost 10 years.  Many believe that her vision and leadership were instrumental in transforming what was the National Association of Child Advocates, an association focused solely on supporting state and locally based child advocacy organizations into Voices for America’s Children, a national advocacy organization with member groups in almost every state in the country.

Prior to joining Voices, Tamara was Director of the National Health & Education Consortium. She also worked on Capitol Hill for Congressman Bobby Scott as Legislative Director and chief advisor on health, human services and education issues. Before that she was the Director of the Southern Regional Project on Infant Mortality, an initiative of the Southern Governors’ Association and the Southern Legislative Conference. She also understands state government, having been Director of the Office of Prevention of the Virginia Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse Services and Deputy Director of the Virginia Division for Children.  Tamara serves on several boards and is a member of the 2004 class of Leadership Greater Washington.

She received her B.A. in Sociology from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia and her M.S.W. from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.


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