Tamir Novotny and the Emerging Generation Changing the Philanthropy Landscape

About This Episode

No need to worry about passing the baton to the next generation of leaders in the philanthropy space. In this conversation with Tamir Novotny, Executive Director for Emerging Practitioners of Philanthropy, we learn about the vision of emerging leaders and how they want to show up in the world to create change. This isn’t your father’s leadership model. Gain insight into why this generation is focused on equity as a way to change today’s philanthropy landscape.

About Tamir Novotny

Tamir Novotny became Executive Director of Emerging Practioners in Philanthropy (EPIP) in 2015, following a three-year engagement with the organization.  Starting as a chapter leader in New York, Tamir went on to join EPIP’s national team, supporting chapters in the Northeast and advising the national leadership.

Prior to his appointment, Tamir held multiple positions over nine years at Living Cities, a philanthropic collaborative focused on improving the lives of low-income urban residents.  There, he developed and led portfolios in areas including housing, smart growth, and civic technology.  Most recently, Tamir developed and launched the City Accelerator, a $3,000,000 initiative to speed the spread of municipal innovation, and the Civic Tech and Data Collaborative, a partnership to harness the power of technology and data to address issues like criminal justice and youth employment.

Tamir received a Masters in Public Administration from New York University in 2008 and a BA, magna cum laude from NYU in Metropolitan Studies in 2006.

In His Words…

“The times we live in, they really demand that philanthropy step into deeper leadership for equity and social justice. Look at who’s doing that in this country. A lot of it is young people, young people of color and young queer women of color who are really stepping up and setting the direction for progress in our nation.”

“We often talk about emerging pros as the future leadership of philanthropy. We have people who are leading now. The question is, are there institutions getting the most out of that leadership? Too often, the processing culture and systems within a foundation are set up in such a way that emerging leaders, let alone communities, which is ultimately where the learning really needs to come from, are only able to provide insight or input after decisions have already been made. That undercuts our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.”

“A lot of philanthropy is still rooted in this idea of ‘we have solutions, we just need to scale them.’ But the solutions are too often about the individuals and if the individuals just knew more or learned better or were better prepared for the economy, that systemic racism would go away. And we all know that that’s not true. So, I think that there’s a reckoning where on a surface level, we have the same values but we don’t really fully understand the impact of how our practices play out with respect to those values.”

I want to start a note of optimism here, because all of these are solvable problems, and some of the solutions are technical, and some of them require some change in little things about how we think and others require deeper self-examination. But, to me, that is what philanthropy is called upon to do in this moment and we can’t look away. My fear for philanthropy is that the folks who are fighting this fight now will get hired and leave, and we’ll be left with folks who are just going to play the game and the status-quo ante. That scares me.”

Questions Answered on this Episode

  • What are some of the areas you are seeing innovation in philanthropy, as it relates to emerging leaders?
  • What are the opportunities for change in philanthropy?
  • How do you define philanthropy?
  • EPIP works to develop and empower emerging leaders, as well as elevate philanthropic practice, in order to build a more just, equitable and sustainable world. Share with me some examples of elevating philanthropic practices that will help build that more just, equitable and sustainable world?
  • What is your vision for the members of EPIP?
  • I’ve had a number of conversations this podcast season and many of my guests cited frustration about the lack of resources available to communities of color and women. What are your views on this? How do we shift the model to be more equitable?
  • What are the three biggest concerns you see with emerging leaders, as they relate to the philanthropy sector?
  • What does the next five years look like for the sector?