Get to Know Shaena Johnson!

Get to Know Shaena Johnson!

By: Funders for LGBTQ Issues Staff on March 22, 2021

We are pleased to welcome Shaena Johnson who will support Funders for LGBTQ Issues as a program consultant through the spring. Shaena (she/her) is a former GUTC Fellow and bringings years of experience in philanthropy and LGBTQ movements, particularly in the U.S. South. 

Shaena joins us as we are gearing up for Funding Forward 2021 on May 5th -7th and will play a lead role in bringing the conference to life in collaboration with our Funding Forward Planning Committee and program staff. 

We asked Shaena to answer a few questions to introduce herself to our network and share her perspective on the upcoming conference.

  • How did you end up working in philanthropy?

    Since working with grassroots organizations for the past 10+ years, I have been building relationships with funders and advocating for better grantmaking practices for QTBIPOC grassroots organizations in the South.  Becoming a Program Officer felt like a natural next step in my career, as I was finally able to “practice what I preached” about grantmaking for so long.
  • Can you tell us about the first time you attended Funding Forward (or tell us about the first time you heard of Funders for LGBTQ Issues?

    The first time I heard of Funders for LGBTQ Issues was when I was asked to do an “Out in the South” photoshoot with other grassroots organizers, about six or seven years ago.  The first time I attended Funding Forward was about six years ago, as a grassroots organizer and Co-Director.  It was an “interesting” space, as it was difficult to navigate the space as an organizer in a “funder dominant” space.  Fortunately, many of the funders were very gracious and assisted me in navigating the space and making connections.
  • What is the most exciting thing happening in philanthropy right now?

    The most exciting thing happening in philanthropy right now is, for me, the growing consciousness of how much philanthropy is entrenched in white supremacist culture.  Many donors are beginning to shift from the toxic and harmful ways of interacting with grantees and have become more intentional about making their application processes more accessible.
  • What are your hopes for Funding Forward 2021? What are the biggest challenges and opportunities you envision at this year’s virtual Funding Forward?

    My hope is that attendees are able to gain knowledge of the work happening “on the ground” and in philanthropy, while networking with peers to create better grantmaking practices and less harmful working environments philanthropy.  The biggest challenge for this year’s virtual Funding Forward, is the fact that we are shifting from a mid-sized in-person convening to a fully virtual convening, while creating programming that is critical to advancing practices in the field.  However, In my opinion, the pros of shifting to a virtual convening definitely outweigh the challenges. At the top of that list for me is accessibility!  With the virtual convening, we have the ability to do closed captioning, voice descriptions, real-time translation, etc.  Attendees can engage with our convening from the comfort of their own space! This year, attendees are able to attend from any smart device, which means they could attend from anywhere at any time. Attendees can choose which sessions they wish to attend, and could even “bounce” back and forth between sessions if they’d like (not recommended).  Virtual convenings are very cost-effective, with no travel, lodging, or event space rental fees.  Virtual convenings are also more interactive than just watching a pre-recorded video.  Attendees will have the ability to ask a few questions with the speakers. In live sessions, attendees are encouraged to spend time trying to learn new things, and can interact with peers via chat, not disturbing the presentation. 

We hope that you can join us and Shaena at this year’s virtual Funding Forward on May 5-7. The conference planning committee is currently finalizing the conference agenda and we can’t wait to announce the full conference offerings with you soon. Visit the official Funding Forward website to reserve your spot today and to learn more about sponsoring opportunities.

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