Our 2017 Staff Retreat: Committing to Core Values, Digging Deeper with DEI

Every two years, our team ventures offsite for a two-day staff retreat to pause from the urgent tasks on our to-do lists and reflect on our long-term organizational priorities — sustaining a healthy, connected culture, living out our core values in our work (both internally among our staff and externally alongside our partners) and ultimately furthering our mission and vision to better serve our community. On October 12 and 13, we did just that. And this year, we formalized our commitment to a highly important topic: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI).


Our core values were informed by our founder Stewart Bainum and were officially established in 2012 by the family and leadership team to honor his legacy. Even though we shifted our strategy and continually evolve our work, the same four values — Continuous Learning, Integrity, Collaboration and Commitment — guide us. And after a thorough discussion about these core values at our retreat, we affirmed that they are still the heart and fabric of our culture. Our next step? Together, we will further refine and embed them.

When the work of a foundation’s staff is aligned with the values of the organization and those values are evident in relationships with the grantees, networks, and communities necessary to create change, trust and loyalty are established. Only then can the authentic collaboration that is required to achieve transformational change occur.

— Amy Celep, Sara Brenner, Rachel Mosher-Williams, “Internal Culture, External Impact: How a Change-Making Culture Positions Foundations to Achieve Transformational Change,” The Foundation Review

We were grateful to have Floyd Mills (Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the Council on Foundations) and Andrá R. Ward (President and CEO of The Khafre Ward Corporation) join us to lead and facilitate our dialogue about DEI. Paired with our in-depth discussions about how we will intentionally align our core values with our behaviors and norms, and with inspiration from our own Barbara Bainum (Chair of the Board, CEO and President), Rozita Green (Chief Strategy Officer) and David Daniels (Vice President of Operations and Organizational Effectiveness), this retreat served as an intentional point for inflection and will inform the journey ahead of us.

None of our work would be possible without a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment built on authentic conversations and mutual respect. At our retreat, we opened ourselves up in a way we’ve never done before. This vulnerability led to a deeper understanding of each other and a richer celebration of our differences and diversity. In the coming year, we plan to continue these conversations, embracing and celebrating DEI as a critical component of our mission and vision. We’re proud of the Foundation’s culture, but we’re always ready to learn how we can better support our team to carry out our mission for the communities we serve.