Letter from Morgan Dawson, Strategic Partnerships and Programs Manager

I love rollercoasters, and my time at the Foundation has been one of the best rides of my life. Now that the ride is ending, I wanted to thank you for helping me grow and learn. 

When I started as a part-time office coordinator, I had planned to stay for a year, tops.  At 24, new to Seattle, and the first Black employee at the Foundation, I committed to this work fully. Over four years and a couple of pandemics later, here I am finally saying goodbye.  Working at the Foundation has been a pleasure, but at times, it has also been harmful and traumatic. 

I wrote this letter after 30-minute lunches with members lasted 3 hours. I wrote this letter after reading birthday cards and receiving thank-you flowers. After you asked if I was okay and what I needed. I wrote this after my first Discovery Days, so excited to be a part of such a world-changing group of brilliant community members. I wrote this earlier this year after the Philanos Conference, beaming with pride at the astounding job we did of bringing together hundreds of women and giving them tools to make change. I wrote this when the pandemic started and when y’all didn’t ask us to explain to why Black and Brown folks would be the most impacted, but instead, asked how you could help and what actions you could take. I wrote this letter with gratitude.  

I wrote this letter on days when I was burnt out, undervalued, underpaid and over-worked. I wrote this on days you called me articulate and defensive, after you touched my hair and walked out of rooms I was in, assuming you were in the wrong place. I wrote this when, tragedy after tragedy, instead of asking if I was okay, you asked why I was not doing more.  

You welcomed me, questioned me, and taught me how to be a leader.  You took the time to explain and show me the heart of philanthropy.  While doing this work, we discovered that building community-driven relationships can get messy.  You continued to show up and engage in the “difficult” conversations, and for this, I thank you.  Thank you for allowing me to be your teacher, a curator of resources.  Thank you for making me a leader and then giving me the power to lead.   

I knew it was time to leave, because I still worry that you won’t do this work if I’m not here, so it’s time to let you try. Your growth will be evident when I am no longer here to guide you.  I am looking forward to seeing your continued progress in the community. I’m proud of the work we’ve done. I proud of the community relationships we’ve built and the way we have made philanthropy move forward.  

The first thing I plan on doing when I leave you all is rest. I plan to slow way down for my health. Hearing last week at Intersect that healing isn’t seen as productive shook me to my core. I plan to do some healing. 2020 made me realize it’s time for me to change tactics; I no longer want to invest my time and resources into educating. I want to directly work with Black and Brown activists and communities, providing them with resources and access. I want to ask them what they need, and then do it. I want to be accountable to them. This is completely new for me. I don’t know how this will go, but working at the Washington Women’s Foundation has given me the confidence to try something different and innovative.  

I hope through this work to remain committed to the communities we love. You will see me around, because I’m excited to continue working with you all as a member! 

9 responses to “Letter from Morgan Dawson, Strategic Partnerships and Programs Manager

  1. Morgan, what a moving transition message! Thank you for your contributions to WWF as an organization snd to its individual members. Know that you have made a difference- – even as you too were grief g and learning. Best wishes to you sissy’s.

  2. Hi Morgan. I am excited about your new opportunities. I appreciated your honesty about your role in
    educating whites like me about racial injustice and
    the toll it took on you personally. In the forums you led I felt safe to speak up about my own lack of experience with racism but my interest in learning more. I plan on reading more books, participating on the human services grant committee and trying not to judge people of color unfairly without understanding their circumstances. I am so glad you will continue by being a member. I look forward to interacting with you.

    Warmly, Anne Ward-Ryan

  3. Best wishes, Morgan. You’ll be a great activist because you’re an excellent listener. That plus your teaching skills. I hope to watch you become a powerful leader and know I was lucky to interact with you back when.

  4. Warmest wishes, Morgan. You are an inspiring young leader. Thank you for your honesty and dedication-it has made a difference. Please take time to rest and restore.

    Ann

  5. Dearest Morgan – I am feeling so hopeful for all of us that you want to explore and be part of a more activist way in the world. You’ll write a book, have a podcast and encourage all of us to see clearly our past and potential. Your clarity is bracing and embracing. There is poetry in your thoughts and actions. Thank you for being a force in all our lives. Please take the time you need to heal, rest and revive yourself. I’m always up for pizza and a glass of wine. Warmest wishes – see ya around.

  6. Gosh, Morgan, talk about bittersweet. I miss you already. You are so correct when you say that we’ll only have made progress if we can keep it up after you’ve moved on. I have no doubts that you have changed this organization root and branch–we’re more thoughtful about our community and our purpose; we are more focused and more willing to take personal risks in service to that purpose–in large part because of you. I have no doubt you have great challenges and wonderful successes in front of you. But, please, rest up first, and every now and then along the way!

  7. Morgan, I am so happy that you are taking this step into health, happiness, and the beautiful unknown. I can’t wait to see what you do next!
    You are a remarkable human being and a Phenomenal Woman. Thank you for all you’ve done for so many, and for me.
    “May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be always at your back…”

  8. Morgan – thank you for your leadership and your inspiration. Thank you for challenging us (me) and helping us as we grow. I wish you health and healing, and I know you will do great work in the days ahead. I look forward to working with you as a member.

  9. Dear Morgan, Thank you for your open and honest letter, a gift and a powerful statement. Healing is the call of these times – Deep traumas are surfacing to be healed – the work is difficult and necessary. May your rest replenish you, may your health flourish. I appreciate your clarity about where you’ve been with WWF and where you are headed in your life – it’s exciting, to see you honor yourself and to take wing. I missed the opportunity to work with you, but I see and feel your influence. Your letter confirms my sense of the powerful changes within WWF, and you are correct, the work will go on. All my best on this next part of your journey.

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