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Part one of a two-part interview with Cedric Brown

“As President Obama said in a recent interview, learning how to get stuff done is a vital skill. Over my long history in the nonprofit and philanthropic communities, I have developed so many tools that enable me to get stuff done. In this next chapter, I want to help multiple partners to have an impact in pursuit of their missions. In the end, I want somebody to say that I made a positive difference in their lives.”

We want you to meet Cedric Brown, founder of Blue Skies Advising. And yes, he really did recently work with President Obama, as Vice President of Global Leadership Programs at the Obama Foundation. Cedric has three decades experience working within philanthropy, including collaborations with organizations ABFE – A Philanthropic Partnership for Black Communities, Color of Change, the Congressional Black Caucus, Google, Oakland Museum of California, and Blavity’s AfroTech. His story is one that can encourage people to consider working within philanthropy as a career path. As with fundraising, and work in the nonprofit sector, philanthropy is a sector where you meet amazing people who are working together for positive solutions.

Here’s Cedric in his own words, “I’ve had a long career doing nonprofit and foundation-based work across multiple issue areas. The majority of my professional work has focused on personal and leadership development–how one can be the best as a student, leader, entrepreneur, etc. I am proud of this impact work and its track record, and every so often I will hear from someone from the recent or distant past who says, ‘you helped change my life!’ For that I am very grateful and content.”

He’s a humble man who tells his story in a humble way, “I ran a Bay Area-based family foundation for a decade, and sometimes found myself needing to use extra brainpower outside of our great staff team to help harness ideas into plans. I hope to provide a similar kind of supplemental leadership to leaders in philanthropy and nonprofits, particularly as they consider “start-up” philanthropic initiatives and program development: new (or continuing) grantmaking programs, scholarships/fellowships/competitions, selecting fiscal sponsors, and conducting landscape or census surveys. Or just plain ol’ wise counsel–being a safe sounding board to think through new ideas for impact.” That foundation is the Kapor Center where they believe that diversity within all aspects of technology will help bring about technology’s promised ability to address our tough challenges and big opportunities. That’s no small feat – and Cedric was at the helm for 13 years. He has a history of challenging existing structures, investing in innovations and people, and bringing people together so the wisdom at the table reflects a multiplicity of lived experiences. After all, we can’t see what we can’t see. Cedric is always busy listening so he can help his clients and partners see better.

Next week, words of wisdom for those seeking a career in philanthropy, and the meaning of Blue Skies!

Learn more about Cedric at Blue Skies Advising. – Tell him Mel and Pearl sent you!

Copyright 2023 – Mel and Pearl Shaw of Saad&Shaw – Comprehensive Fund Development Services. Let us help you plan for 2023! Video and phone conferencing services are always available. Call us at (901) 522-8727.

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