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CNPE eNews: A message from Ann Coffey, CNPE’s CEO (June 1, 2020)

I am grieving. The CNPE team is grieving. And I know you are, too.

I grieve for Breonna Taylor, for George Floyd, for David McAtee, and for their families. I grieve for the countless numbers of black men and women and children harmed by racism. I grieve for our communities now in so much unacknowledged pain that it is spilling out onto the streets.

I grieve because this has gone on for far too long. I grieve because so many of us still don’t know our own history and what must be righted. I grieve because, from points of privilege, it’s hard to see how we perpetuate the very systems that cause so much pain and inequity.I worry because the job of eradicating systemic racism is hard work. It requires laying bare a dark, shameful history and acknowledging how much of it persists today. I worry because we often shy away from confronting pain that deep.

And yet. I am hopeful because we have so many passionate leaders in our community who are up to the task. I am hopeful because the drumbeat I hear is demanding that we respond and devote this community’s resources to finally securing equity and compassion that extends to all. I am hopeful because responding to inequity and injustice is at the heart of what our nonprofit sector does – and we are strong.

As our community steps forward and commits to rooting out systemic racism, there will be opportunities for each of us to learn, to reflect, and to lead in new ways. CNPE has long valued diversity, equity, and inclusion – and, like many of our member organizations, we are on a journey to do better. As we take our journey, we stand ready to help you on yours. I hope you will reach out and let us know what you need. It’s okay to be honest and vulnerable – we’ll learn together.

Here on our team, we’ve decided that our learning together includes reading White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. If you’d like to join us in that learning, let us know, and we’ll create an opportunity for virtual conversation and sharing.

As I begin this week and grapple with the emotions this weekend evoked, it’s helpful for me to acknowledge that moving forward requires an honest reckoning with where we’ve been and where we are. I hope we seize this moment to move to where we want to be. Together.

I hope that we all emerge from these trying times stronger and more united.


Ann L. Coffey, CEO