Judicious and Intentional: reflections from Ed

Ed Fields is a member of the Birmingham Change Fund, and Managing Director of Projects Unlimited, Inc. Ed offers the following after reflections after serving as Chair of BCF for two years in 2011-2012.
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What did you learn about giving back during your two years as Chair?

file photo: Ed at the Penn Center, St. Helena Island, South Carolina.

file photo: Ed at the Penn Center, St. Helena Island, South Carolina.

During the course of my two year tenure as Chairman, I was reminded that taking on a leadership role in a small group like the Birmingham Change Fund can mean being further removed from the softer side of giving back. I spent more time on administrative projects and membership management than dealing with strategic giving issues. Therefore, it felt more like I was giving back directly to the organization and its members rather than the community.

How does BCF spread duties across multiple leadership roles? How did you all figure this out?
We struggle like most circles to get more participation from more members. While we do have an organization chart and respect pre-determined roles, I tended to work with whomever demonstrated the most interest and put forth the most energy, irrespective of experience. I also took my counsel from past and upcoming leaders because they have the the greatest amount of connectivity with other members.

Of all of BCF’s achievements, what is one that you are most amazed by?
Our prominence in the Community Investment Network. We could not have planned or predicted our excellent relationships with other circles. CIN member circles respect us because we respect them and are truly inspired by what is going on in our collective communities.

Marsha Morgan is BCF’s Chair now, and the first woman to serve this role. What is the significance of this to you?
This has little significance to me because the African American community has been carried by dynamic women like Marsha for years. What has been missing is us – men of color willing to spend time to take on leadership roles in places and organizations we don’t typically show up in. I think it was more novel for BCF to be led by men. Equally important, I’m excited about the fact that there seems to be so much balance in the composition of men and women in both BCF and CIN. We need to continue to support Marsha and focus on letting the next leader – man or woman – come to their position because of their actions.

What are three (or more) ingredients to how BCF builds leadership amongst members?

  • Camaderie
  • Challenging each other
  • Willingness to take on tough issues

How has the time, talent and treasure that you’ve given your circle impacted (or changed) other dimensions of your life?
It has made me much more judicious and intentional.

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