Executive Director Uma Viswanathan reflects on New Pluralists in 2022
Reflecting back on the past year of New Pluralists, I am humbled and awed by the power of what we are manifesting together. Our Collaborative has built incredible momentum this year, due to the courage, commitment and generosity of funders and field partners who stand together in our purpose. This has been a year that has tested us and challenged us to step into pluralism, and as our strides have gotten bigger and bolder, we’re seeing the strong stuff we’re made of.
We are better together.
Everything we’ve done this year has been in meaningful partnership with our Collaborative – as funders, field builders, community leaders and principals. In June, we gathered dozens of field builders and funders for a retreat in Georgia, spending a week renewing our sense of hope and possibility. We walked away better able to see ourselves as a whole, to build and wrestle together with shared challenges and generate new ideas for collaboration. With greater clarity of the type of unique talent we need to manifest our vision, we attracted and welcomed in new staff to New Pluralists, and are building a team committed to excellence, collaboration, curiosity and creativity.
Greater clarity and focus is enabling us to kick into high gear, together.
We are aligned and inspired around our new theory of change (which we look forward to sharing with you!). The rigorous process of clarifying our vision for change has enabled us to step boldly into our purpose. It turns out that our funding community had the energy, expanded vision (and audacity) to galvanize $1B towards pluralism – announced by President Biden at the White House Unity Summit and written up in the New York Times. We are choosing to galvanize resources not just for itself, but for other initiatives – reflecting our Collaborative’s willingness not to be zero-sum, but to build solidarity with and support many types of funding and field initiatives that share our vision.
Community-rooted expressions and partners on pluralism are vital to our work.
Finding focus enabled us to step our grantmaking into high gear. Through our signature $10M grantmaking initiative Healing Starts Here, we have expanded the voices and perspectives that inform and advance our work, bringing our gaze from the state of the nation into grassroots communities. Each application we reviewed through Healing Starts Here taught us about pluralism, and enabled nearly 800 groups to see that they are a part of us. We’re now seeing how vast the opportunities are and how deep the hunger is for pluralism. We’re uncovering how dynamic, complex and varied are the ways pluralism is expressed across diverse ideological, geographic, cultural and economic realities. (And we look forward to announcing our Healing Starts Here awardees early next year!)
Pluralism works when we lean into tensions with courage. As a Collaborative, we leaned into two live-wire cultural issues, designed by and for Collaborative members. The first was a three-part series at the intersection of race & faith across the political ideological spectrum. The second was a conversation exploring the personal, interpersonal, and political dimensions of reproductive health and abortion, following the overturning of Roe v. Wade. It was a rare gift to fully hear each other and our honest, multifaceted and nuanced perspectives across lines of difference, on issues that can so often shut down the conversation.
I’m grateful and proud to be able to lean on the strength of this Collaborative. I know we will stand tall, be brave, smart, and compassionate in meeting the moments of challenge and opportunities that 2023 will bring. We will continue to practice the principles of pluralism to offer every American a beacon of light on the path to a stronger, more inclusive, and more vibrant future.
Executive Director, New Pluralists Collaborative