2020 was a surreal year the world over, yet while the pandemic in some ways exposed the systems and arguable decline in what America is and what it stands for, other countries rallied through with a strong leadership and collective spirit that sought to protect their brothers and sisters both figuratively and literally.
I look back on this year, this election and the countless messages from my friends and family back home in Australia saying “whats going on over there? It might be time for you to come home now”. If they are seeing something is amiss, why can’t we, and why can’t we move forward with a new purpose and camaraderie that is geared to repairing and rebuilding the very fabric of our country, not just those industries that have either moved overseas or just aren’t financially viable anymore.
While these two paragraph’s offer a less than positive view of the future for the United States, and while it brings instant thoughts of that memorable scene in the first episode of Alan Sorkin’s ‘The Newsroom’ where Jeff Daniels character sought to drop the mic and rattle off a whole bunch of statistics as to why the country wasn’t the best country in the world any more, there is no other country I could see make such a stellar comeback both politically and economically.
Alan Sorkin nailed this possible global renaissance in ways I just can’t, so here was that part of the script in all it’s unabridged glory
“We stood up for what was right. We fought for moral reason. We passed laws, struck down laws, for moral reason. We waged wars on poverty, not on poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were and we never beat our chest. We built great, big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases and we cultivated the world’s greatest artists AND the world’s greatest economy. We reached for the stars, acted like men. We aspired to intelligence, we didn’t belittle it. It didn’t make us feel inferior. We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election and we didn’t scare so easy. We were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed… by great men, men who were revered. First step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one. America is not the greatest country in the world anymore.”
America has provided my family and I an abundance of opportunity. If I didn’t move to the US I would never have forged a career in philanthropy and I sure as hell wouldn’t have written this book. But coming here via both England and Australia, I am served by the ability to look critically at current practices and look back at my experiences on how other countries have approached the same issues.
What I’m pitching here is for philanthropy in this country, despite being the pioneers of the field, despite all of the amazing work it has done, and despite of all the impact it has had, that it must be more open to other approaches to advancing the common good, looking outside of its inherent bubble and realizing that other countries might have something to offer. That means looking to see what trends and approaches are working, listening to alternatives strategies, rather than dictating perceived best practices, and showing a willingness to collaborate on global issues such as ocean conservation, natural disasters and realizing new trends (for example social impact bonds originated in the UK a decade ago).
This feature piece will be a chance to take stock of what will be shared in this book and begin to look outwards in regards to how philanthropy is helping transform communities.
While there are still some obvious similarities, I’m sure you will be inspired by what is going on outside of our immediate view and ultimately hopeful about the ability of philanthropy to link arms across continents to tackle some of the travesties that continue to plague communities worldwide.
We are excited to share that the book will look at the advances and approaches of both Australia and Saudi Arabia from a philanthropic perspective and through the thoughts and experiences of Krystian Seibert and Laila Bukhari.
Krystian Seibert – is a researcher, educator and advocate focused on public policy, philanthropy and the not-for-profit sector.
He has particular interest in the regulation of philanthropy and the not-for-profit sector, the legitimacy or ‘social license’ of philanthropy, and the role of not-for-profit sector advocacy as a driver of social innovation.
Krystian teaches units in the Graduate Certificate and Master of Social Impact programs offered by the university’s Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship, and is an active participant in public policy debates in relation to philanthropy and the not-for-profit sector.
He was previously the Advocacy & Insight Manager at Philanthropy Australia, the peak body for philanthropy in Australia. His work there focused on advocating for public policies which support more and better philanthropy in Australia, and contributing to the promotion and sharing of innovative practice within the philanthropic sector. He retains a strategic advisory role with Philanthropy Australia focused on its advocacy and thought leadership work.
Prior to this, Krystian was an adviser to a former Australian Assistant Treasurer. In this role he was responsible for the delivery of major not-for-profit sector reforms including the establishment of Australia’s first independent charities regulator, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), and the passage of Australia’s first comprehensive statutory definition of charity, the Charities Act 2013.
Krystian is a frequent media commentator and is regularly asked to provide expert commentary on philanthropy and the not-for-profit sector in Australia and beyond for print, radio and TV. He has provided commentary for ABC News, The Age, The Australian, The Guardian Australia, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the New York Times. His writing has featured in publications such as The Age, The Australian, The Conversation, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Alliance Magazine and Pro Bono Australia News.
He is a member of the Australian Taxation Office’s Not-for-profit Stewardship Group, the Advisory Council of the International Centre for Nonprofit Law, and the Editorial Advisory Boards of Alliance Magazine, the Third Sector Review and Pro Bono Australia News.
Krystian also serves on the Board of Mental Health First Aid Australia, a Melbourne based organisation with global reach which is focused on providing high quality, evidence-based mental health first aid education to everyone.
He has completed a Master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science focusing on regulatory policy, and a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Commerce (Economics) from Deakin University. He is currently undertaking a PhD at Swinburne University of Technology focusing on the regulation of structured philanthropy.
Laila Bukhari – Laila is a Senior Manager at Cognizant Technology Solutions (Middle East), responsible for growing Cognizant’s footprint within the commercial Banking & Financial Services sector in Saudi Arabia. As a field leader, she builds and fosters strategic partnerships to solve real-life business problems, land innovative solutions and create lasting value. Formerly, Laila was a Technical Strategist at Microsoft working closely with the Financial Services sector as well as the Energy & Manufacturing sector in various roles.
While at Microsoft, Laila has volunteered to land DigiGirlz, Microsoft’s female-centric STEM-based initiative within the Saudi subsidiary as its first Program Manager. Laila is passionate about career mentorship, STEM-based outreach, traveling, and philanthropy; she is an active member at Al-Nahda Philanthropic Society and Lean In Saudi. She completed her undergraduate studies from Northeastern University, in Boston, MA, USA with a B.S. in Information Science. Laila is a certified Pro-Sci Change Manager, and a self-proclaimed Crisis Manager. Laila was also a Y20 Delegate representing her native country in the G20 Working Group at this year’s G20 Summit. She is also an alum of the Swedish Institute’s SHE Leads program (2019).
It won’t be long until Krystian and Laila will be making waves here in the U.S. too given their deep knowledge, strong and established U.S. networks and of course their passion for change. They truly are representative of a new dynamic and diverse global philanthropic community, ones that are savvy enough to establish foundations in the U.S. to leverage the support of expatriates, yet smart enough to learn from our mistakes.
Let’s hope our next generation help steer the country away from another gilded age and one where progress and partnerships see our neighbors as ones with a common set of goals and values and not just those in our own backyard.
We are also thrilled to announce that nonprofit author, master trainer and tech advocate Beth Kanter will be providing the final thoughts for our book. Beth importantly highlights the pitfalls of tech and that we mustn’t forget that we are people, not machines and that we must take time for our own wellbeing if we are to be the champions of the future I know we can all be. That’s why we end the book with Beth providing that much needed pause and reflection – knowing that burnout is real and that computers aren’t the only ones that can fry their circuits.