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The New Age of Philanthropy with Shantel Wilkins
Episode 45th December 2022 • Be & Think in the House of Trust • Servane Mouazan
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In the House of Trust today, I am speaking to Shantel Wilkins, an advocate for and supporter of an inclusive culture where differences are leveraged. She welcomes uncomfortable conversations that will address and remedy institutional racism and racial and gender bias.

Shantel currently serves as Deputy Managing Director of the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation, a regional foundation investing in initiatives and 501(c)(3) organizations in Bandera, Bexar, Comal, and Kendall counties of Texas.

Shantel has a unique perspective, having worked in Philanthropy at a global corporation, in a global bank and in a private foundation.

During this interview, Shantel shares valuable insights into diversity and representation in investment strategy. So if you think you are a business or investor with diversity at its heart, this episode will leave you with a few thoughts!

Highlights from this episode:

(01:37) There’s no secret to philanthropic investment

(04:53) Diversity is listening, reflecting, and understanding

(07:33) A willingness to be vulnerable

(11:56) Change is hard... especially in corporate funding

(14:38) You think you get it, but do you really?

Useful links

Shantel Wilkins on Linkedin

Kronkosky Foundation

Connect with Servane:



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Welcome to this new episode of The House of Trust. My name is Sivan, and together with you and my uh, guest, we're exploring and thinking out loud about the conditions and mental models that help impact leaders and people who love to invest in positive social and environmental change. To collaborate, to trust each other and to do more great work.

The world changes fast, and on top of that, we face the heavy burden of uncertainty. We can't control everything. Well, that's not new. And yes, there are times where investors themselves also have to acknowledge this and relinquish power and control. And how do we do that to explore this topic, my thinking partner today is Chantel Wilkins.

She's an advocate and supporter of an inclusive culture. She works for the empowerment and advancement of children, young adults and women of color, early childhood education, youth character development, non-profit, capacity building, and STEAM initiatives. STEAM stands for Science, technology, engineering, arts and Math, Chantel.

TE experience in private foundations and charitable trusts. For 11 years, she worked at the Boeing Company in San Antonio as the global corporate citizenship community investor. She's now contributing to the efforts of the Konkowski Charitable Foundation Original Foundation, investing in initiatives in several counties of Texas


So Chantel, this philanthropy investment have any secret for

you? Oh my gosh, what a great question. I don't think there's a secret. I just think there is an understanding, right? It's all about showing up for people and listening intently and intent. And hearing their stories. Cause at the end of the day, it's their businesses not ours.

If we truly trust them to do the work, then we should allow them to do the work without making it cumbersome. Wonderful.

So listening and trust that's coming up straight away is at the core of what we're trying to, uh, to discuss here. So tell me what, what, what's emerged from all your, your time spent in philanthropy of GF Stories that stand out, that they really, really, you know, have your eyes wide open and as if you were learning something new.

Okay. You

have, sorry. Yeah, I, you know what? I learn something new every day in this space. Uh, whether it's with nonprofits, um, administration, board members, staff, even with my colleagues and others at other investment, um, organizations. I call 'em investments because that's what we're doing. Investing in things.

We don't, we don't give out money. We don't donate, we invest. Okay? And so I learn new things every day. The challenges that some of them are facing, the challenges that philanthropy is going through right now, this is some of the. Quick turnaround. I think we've seen when it comes to philanthropy, you know, philanthropy used to be really slow.

you know, especially corporate philanthropy, things used to move extremely slow. You just kinda got used to the pace uhhuh. Uh, now things are moving quickly, so you know, you see. Organizations understanding that they need to reflect the communities they serve, right? And so those conversations directly having those with agencies and other funders has been very interesting.

And the acknowledgement that they know they have to do it, but then also saying out loud to you, cuz you feel this trust based relationship, I don't know how we do it. I don't know how we become more. I don't know how we become younger. I don't know how we start to reflect the communities that we are looking at.

Hmm. I don't know how we connect with the next generation of funders because the ones they're used to working with are retiring, you know, are moving on to other interests. And so the next generation, their, their, the things they're interested are just not the same as their parents and grandparents. So there is a struggle right now for leaders and, you know, I had one conversation, I'll give you one story.

I was talking to one organiz. And I said, you know, I said, what are you doing to diversify? And the organization said to me, oh, well we have, and it was an arts organization. We're bringing in a, a bunch of black shows. I was like, that is not, that is not what I asked you. That is, that's adding, that's diversity.

Okay. And they were proud. They were literally proud of that statement. And I was like, yeah, okay. We're gonna have to, let me rephrase the question, , and perhaps we can get you an answer. So how do you, how

did you rephrase it? What, how did you pass on the message?

So I said I, I was very direct and I said, look, that's not diversity.

I said, diversity is when you look at the audience and you actually listen to what they're telling you and you reflect what they want, not what you think is best understanding an arts organization, but there's different narratives and stories to tell who's telling the story. Who are the storytellers? Mm.

That's what you wanna hear. There's a lived experience that's unique to storytelling that you don't get it, you've never been through. And at some point they were like, oh. And I mean all of the people in the room were white. They, there were no people of color on the staff or on the board. So for them that was diversity cuz they had no one with the live experience, I could tell them otherwise.

Hmm. So I took that to mean, to me, it is my duty because I have this seat at the table to help them understand that's not what that means. Mm.

When you have this conversation, I heard you say the word trust based, you know, relationship and, and by extension, trust based philanthropy. How does that work in practice?

But it's a trend, isn't it? But I hope it's there to stay. But how do you materialize that? How do you make it stay? How do you implement that trust based

philanthropy? Well, there's a sense of vulnerability, right in. You know, for us, you know, you come in as a funder, people see you as, you know, the big fat funder.

They wanna put their best show forward. It's a dog and pony show you, they're cleaning up, they're doing all these things to present to you what they, what they think you want to see. Mm. Um, and a lot of times they're not showing up authentically who they are as individuals. Mm. Right. They're showing up as the organization for getting that, hey, you're the people on the front lines doing the work.

So when we show up, it's different to ask somebody how your day is going versus how are you doing? So we asked the question, how are you doing? Oh, you know what? The organization's doing great. I was like, no, that's not the question. How are you doing? Because we know the burden of this work, and it's hard not to take it home sometimes, depending on the space they're in, in the nonprofit world.

And we've had people cry. We've had people like start crying in the meetings because they're like, no one's ever asked me that. And we're like, well, if you don't take care of your. You can't take care of the populations that we're investing in you to serve. So you kind of have to make sure that you're at your best in order for you to really honor and to do what your mission states you have set forth to do.

So then very interesting human conversations and not business conversations. We get to the business aspect, but we have to deal with the human first. And I think that's how you build a trust, is you show up vulner. As a human, they show up vulnerable as a human, and then you have a human conversation that eventually leads to the business side of it.

Mm. So what does it take for the investors, eh, or the philanthropists, to do more of these human conversations? To engage more

in them, in your Oh, they have to be willing to be vulnerable. Um, they have to be willing to be open, and they have to know that at the end of the. These are people running a business.

And if you put an investment into an organization, it's not your job to be in the day to day, just like the board director's not their job to be in the day to day. That's why you're hired president, ceo, and Ed to do that work. But you have to give them the space just like you would any trusted. For example, a parent and a child, they're gonna make mistakes cause they're human, but you don't penalize them for those mistakes.

You don't go in looking for Aha. You have to manage. At the end of the day, they're trying to do good work and it is a struggle and the struggle is real. And we as investors in Philant have to understand that and be willing to meet them where they're at, you know, and show up and say, Hey, have you thought about this?

These are some things you need to think about. Again, this is your business and I'll tell you how to run it, but we're making suggestions and it's up to you what you wanna do with this information. But you have to show that you trust them. Cause if you don't give them that, that space of trust and, and the ability to fail.

Because you learn from failure. No one's perfect. So give them that space and well, I call it, you know, the gracious space. I don't like to say safe space. Cause my space, my safe space is very different from everybody else's. But give them the grace to, to have failure and to learn from it. It's hard, but you have to do it.

So that's

wonderful because it gives me, uh, yeah, another look for something that's quite prevalent. Or if we talk about outcomes and sometimes you. You know that some philanthropists are very focused on certain outcomes, but based on what we see and what you've just said as well, you need to give grace to uncertainty.

And we can't control outcomes all the times, and we've got a direction, but we can't control outcomes. So we can control activities and outputs in a way, but the outcomes, no. So what

What's your take? Yeah, so I think everybody has goals, right? I think for us as investors and funders, you need to make sure that you're addressing aspirational goals versus realistic goals, right?

Okay. So some organizations, there's, we know there's founders out there that are very passionate about their work and you know, they're the only ones doing it. You're like, no, you're not the only ones doing it. There's other people doing the work. Maybe a little different, but you're not the only one in the space.

So I think just helping them understand, it's okay to have aspirational goals, but you need to be, be real realistic about what you. And there's certain things you have to think about as an organization, right? We're in this whole point where people are reevaluating their lives, they're having these epiphanies of, God, I dunno if I wanna continue to do this work, and this has become a mental strain on me and my mental health has, you know, been impacted by this and what am I doing?

Why am I still doing this? You know, why in this rat race? So I think for. We have to start understanding the, again, we have this, the human piece of it at the end of the day, right? And how do you give grace for that human factor? You can't, as you said in so true, you can't control it. Now, you can put what you think's gonna happen in place and you can work toward it.

But if you don't get there, you have to look at it as a, as a lesson learned. Not that, oh my God, we're, you know, we didn't accomplish it. The funder's gonna be. But you as a, as an organization have to level at the beginning and state to the fund. These are our aspirational goals, but here's the realistic approach that we're looking to take to get there.

And hey, funder, we get, we're in our own niche, we're in our tunnel vision sometimes. What do you see now For us, we see things in our region. We get to talk to other funders across the globe. So we say, Hey, these are things we're seeing. Have you thought about? Hmm. So it really needs to be, the outcomes are great, but what are the realistic way for you to reach these?

Is it even possible? Especially with the pandemic and people leaving and people resigning and people retiring? These are impacts to your business and to what you're trying to accomplish that they don't anticipate sometimes. But you need to make sure that your investors know that this could potentially happen while we're doing this project that you so graciously.

Right. So it tells us a lot about letting go of control, especially when systems and contexts change. And are we still talking about the investors here, as

well? Yes. Yes. I think definitely. We're talking about change change's A hard thing to do it is, especially for corporate funders, you know, being in Boeing.

Bank of America, the corporate aspect, it's hard to do because corporate's very cut and dry. You know, it's very, you know, black and white. We do this, we don't do this. Right. Foundations are different because there's, they're people's personal passion, so you're able to do religion. Other things you can't do in corporate philanthropy,

passions are messy.

They don't stay in the containers. Right. ? Yeah.

I love that. Yeah. We're

okay. Chantel, what we met earlier this year at, at the Biomed conference in Texas. Here, there is a topic that we, we shared and it was all about how to, you know, if we reimagine what philanthropy dialogues could look like and, and I think it's, I'd love to ask you again this question based on what you've just said.

You know, if then philanthropy is reimagined and this dialogue and this conversation where grace shows up and we relinquish. Control in a way. Right? So what does philanthropy dialogue looks like when we imagine it?

Oh my gosh, there's so many possibilities. Philanthropy is starting to take a new and fresh look, right?

There's a new generation of philanthropists that are, that are coming forward, and for them the parties are different. And you know, previously you'd see their parents and their grandparents. It was all about. Right. You know, there's your symphonies and those things and you, you invested in programs because you wanted your name on it, or you want it to be associated with great programs happening.

Hmm. That's not the case so much anymore. Right. I think for us to be man of the conversation, we have to go in and ask organizations and their leaders and their board, what is it you need? Where are the. And what you're doing or do you have challenges in, in recruiting and retaining human capital? Are you having challenges raising funds?

What does it look like for you? Right? And then, then those conversations around diversity and you know, everybody always thinks diversity has to do with ethnicity or you know, sexual rotation, all these other things. No diversity. It comes in how you do business as well. We ask, are you looking at your. Are your suppliers diverse?

Are you sticking with the same people that you always go with? And those are people that look like you because you're comfortable in that space and having those conversations and that really forces people to think, oh my, especially some of the bigger nonprofits. Oh my gosh, I never thought about, you know, diversifying my business.

I'll give an example. We had one organization, That focused on autism here in San Antonio. And they were talking about, and they had, they had pretty diverse, they had one woman from Mexico and there were a couple of other staff members that come from different backgrounds and different walks of life. And they said, you know, we, we really want you to come in as you Chantel and talk to us about what diversity, look I representing your organization.

And I said, okay, I can do that. And they said, well, we don't understand. We're having a challenge, I would say Understand, but having a challenge with diversity in autism's faith. I said, well, do you know the history of the American disabilities? They're like, oh, yeah, yeah, we know it. I said, but no, no, no. Do you know the history?

And I'm like, yeah, we know it. So sure enough, I show up and I open up the history and I said, did you know that the American Disabilities Act, the foundation was, came off the Civil Rights Act? No one in the room knew that. No one in the room knew that, but they were adamant that they knew that. Of which the organization they have was founded on the American Disability Act.

I said, do you know some of the early pioneers in this space? Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. No, we know them. No. Do you know like all of them in their, no, we didn't know. So I brought up some names of people that that worked alongside those trying to establish American Disability Act in which the civil rights law was built on and how they had to partner in order to get traction.

No one in the organization had any idea. I said, do you realize when you go to meet someone with a disability that they're coming from a different lived experience? A person of color with a disability is gonna have a different experience than someone that is not. And they're like, yeah, we didn't, we didn't really think about them.

I said, yeah, yeah, yeah. That's what I'm trying to explain to you is there's more aspects to this diversity piece than you are giving attention to. Mm. So when you reimagine what the conversation's like, it's changing the. And empowering those that know it and. To speak their own truth. You don't need to speak it for them.

Yeah. I had one CEO who's, who leads a major organization here. I won't say the name, and he said to me, you know, I'm working with this organization and was the white man. He goes, I'm working with this organization of, of women, they're called links and this organization of, of black women of color, just, they're judges, they're lawyers.

They're like, these are career women. You know, their, their boss is in their own right. He goes, I'm trying to, you know, give them a platform. I said, I'm. Did you know? Do you know the history of this organization? They don't need you to give them a platform. What they need to do is get outta the. They can speak very well for themselves.

They can articulate their struggle. They can articulate the narrative themselves. What people have, start realize is that give people control of their own narratives. Mm. So when you're talking to other people, let them tell their own stories. If you're going to tell their stories, then ask them how they want their stories to be told.

Right? Nowadays, people don't want to hear, I'm impoverished. Low income. So low socioeconomic. Those are dehumanizing and institutionally racist. Mm. This is not something most people choose to be. Right? So you people want to be known as underrepresented, un underestimated, undervalued, under resourced, cuz that is the truth of their situation.


Yes. Chantel, this is so true. And, and there's that the, the, the precision of language, uh, stands out from what you're saying, having the right language. It's also a grace in itself, isn't it? Yes, it is. So I, when we, when we met like earlier this year, there is something you said you had, um, the five Rs, uh, tool it, if you want to reimagine and then I guess you reiterated that in in through your, your stories today.

If you want to imagine what philanthropic dialogues could look like, you need to reasses. Reimagine, redefine, reeducate and reenergize. And God, I love that last bit because this is what you were personify. .

Reen, thank you.

And the be firmly that firm presence of yours. So I wonder, Chantel, if you've, you've, you've had a, a sort of a, you've been run the block and back going in philanthropy and uh, and took different, different streets around.

And I wonder. For your next, you know, your next 10 years, I wonder what question would you like to, to, to hold to , you know, to guide you and, or at least for the first block of the next walk around philanthropy?

Oh, gosh, that's such a great question. There's so many, oh, oh, its my handed had to pick one. I would say the one thing I would want to, um, the question I would have is I have an 11 year old.

So I would look to him and his friends and his generation. Again, I don't know it all right? I know, I know what's happening in this space, what I experience right now, but my question would be to ask the generations that are, that are coming after me, what do you see? You know, what are your passions? What are, what are things that, that sometimes we ask our agencies, what keeps you up at night?

I mean, as my 11 year old, he, he's like a, he's 11 going on 90. He thinks sometimes like he's carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. Oh God, yes. I, we have some, yes, and we have some very, um, Interesting and philosophical conversations. You know, he's saying to him, he talks about the school system doesn't challenge him enough and he wants to figure out to start businesses at 11 so that he can not be in school because he doesn't feel like it's productive, the

trying thing they can to do that.

I'm, I've got a 12, I've got a 12 year old going on 13 . I said, yeah, I want to do this. And this is, yeah, being an entrepreneur. Cool. And yeah, but doesn't know he's got the time of his life now and doesn't know yet,

right? Yes. Mine is living his best life as well. It's very interesting. But, um, yeah, I think for me, I don't, I don't know the questions because the future, like I said, it's just so right now in a lot of spaces, including philanthropy, so I, I would have to ask those coming behind.

What questions do I need to be asking? What do I need to be thinking about? Because I know, I know my own lived experience. I definitely know it. I know what I'm, I'm up against, you know, as, as an individual, as a philanthropist, but I don't know when they see, right? Cause they're looking from a different lens than I am.

So, I, I, I don't know if I can carry a question four without asking, you know, those that are coming behind. What can I do to make this trail easier for you? That would be the question I carry forward asking those that are coming behind me, the next generation, what can I do right now to set the stage for you?


I love how you landed with the question and in all that fluidity you landed and you, you, you own the question that you will carry out. Fantastic. Chantel, it's been a pleasure, uh, exchanging with you and hearing your thoughts about how philanthropy is evolving the opportunity, uh, to, you know, let people express themselves and not give them a platform because the platform is what they build themselves and have more.

in all of this, and, and ask, keep asking question, keep, asking question without having necessarily the answers. I hope I heard

it right. . No, you was beautifully summarized. , you, you had do a wonderful job of just summarizing all of the information's, . I, I've thoroughly enjoyed it, the world. Thank you for the invitation to have a conversation.

I love it, and I'm so excited to participate in this. Oh,

thank you. Thank you, Chantel. Chantel, I would love to come back to you, you know, in a few months and, and just, and have a check in with you just to see what questions did you ask and what answers did you.

Absolutely. Yes, I would. Yes, I would definitely love to do that.


And, and I encourage people in, you know, listening to us right now, just to maybe set yourself that question, you know, ask that question, use the question that Chantel design for herself and for you and or come up with your own question. What question would you like to ask to the people who are coming right after?

Or maybe before us, I don't know which, which direction we're going right now.

I should. I don't either. I'm gonna look, I'm gonna look back and hope that I can blaze a trail for someone that makes it a little bit easier, because the one in front of me is daunting, right? Some days. So if I can make it less daunting for someone coming behind me, I'm, I'm all in.

I'm ready to roll up my speed and do.

As someone who, who I, I talked to her for this podcast. They mentioned something like Collateral Beauty, and I just, that's what you just inspired me right now.

I love that. I'm definitely gonna benchmark it. I'm gonna benchmark that term cause I love it.

Woo. Let's do that.

Chantel, thank you so much.

You're very welcome. Thank you.

Join me in the next episode of Be and Think in the House of Trust. I'll be sharing a thinking environment with Caine with aim, the founder of Diversity X. Diversity X is a seed stage venture fund to support underestimated founders of purposeless startups that seek to make the world a better place, and also take startups that seek to address issues that hinder diversity, equity, and inclusion.

And with Kevin, we'll explore how investors and funders can build something special. How they can contribute to investments that are much bigger than themselves. It's the matching investors contributing to pieces of work that could be a legacy of another type. Something like cathedrals, transcending structures that we all bring a stone to and help build collectively and rise high without expecting immediate.

Very juicy conversation. So the show is available to listen to on your usual podcast platforms for more insights, resources and opportunities. And even if you want to develop thinking environments for yourself and your team to design a new project or something different, powerful and relevant. Head to my website.

South Amazon dot cooler UK and subscribe to my regular updates. See you next time.



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