Yvonne’s American adventures

February 1, 2018

Our Relationships and Events Manager Yvonne Trask spent a month over the holiday break travelling the United States where she connected with a number of people from the philanthropic sector and attended a course at the Rockwood Leadership Institute.

At the PNZ office, we have all really enjoyed hearing about these inspiring people and projects so asked Yvonne to jot down a handful of highlights for the blog

United Yvonne 

I was fortunate enough to spend most of December travelling the US and I would really like to thank all of you who fare welled me with such wishes as, ‘watch out for bears!’, ‘don’t get shot!’, ‘alligators run really fast on land!’ etc. These little gems really helped me to start my journey in a peaceful state of mind as I shopped for flack jackets, bear spray and running shoes.

I have been asked to write something brief about my trip, but as my preliminary notes take up seven pages, I’ve been struggling with the concept of brevity. So I have decided to focus on three or four projects, campaigns or events that I found riveting and that I thought some of you might like to hear about, so here we go.

  1. Akaya Windwood’s Art of Leadership courses are a once in a lifetime experience and I cannot urge you enough to take the time and the trip to try this five day course on for size. I chose to study the Rockwood Art of Leadership course for Women in Racial Justice and Human Rights, out of both personal and professional interest. I learned so much from both the excellent course facilitators and from the other participants who are doing incredible work, tipping the world on its head in their quest for equality.  All of us who attended have become a closely knit group who are in touch almost daily, sharing new ideas, personal victories, resources and of course, jokes.  Visit the Rockwood website to learn more.
Philanthropy Summit 2017 Wellington-New Zealand

Akaya Windwood, Rockwood Leadership Institute (USA)

One of the conversations I joined at Rockwood was on the bias against indigenous peoples and people of colour in the media, in employment, in housing and so many aspects of life.  It’s a bias that impacts upon the day-to-day lives of those raised without the privilege I, as a Pakeha woman, enjoy.  I was introduced to the remarkable online platform: Color of Change which challenges that bias in corporate America, the American Government and the media, campaigning against this bias in all its forms and holding so many accountable for this often unrecognised injustice.  I believe it’s time for Pakeha to take a few moments and reflect on what we know to be true and then challenge ourselves as to where we learned these truths and if they are fact or the result of the media or the education system amplifying long defunct stereotypes.


  1. In Dallas, Texas I met with Dena Jackson of the Dallas Women’s Foundation (who many of you will remember from the 2017 Summit) and Diane Hosey from the Embrey Family Foundation. The two foundations have been working together for several years as partners in the Dallas Faces Race project, a collaboration that shines a light on racism in their city and works with a huge range of partners in the philanthropic and not for profit sectors as well as academia, local government and churches to address this issue.

The Embrey Family Foundation are now also involved with Solidaire funders who are looking at the effective philanthropic support of people led movements and Dallas Truth Racial Healing and Transformation in conjunction with the Kellogg Foundation, a massive collaboration that looks at creating a seismic shift in established racism at a systemic level.  Their resources online are definitely worth a read.

  1. In New York, I met with the BUILD (Building Institutions and Networks) team at the Ford Foundation. This is a billion dollar, five-year capacity building and mentoring initiative that is incredibly comprehensive. I enjoyed hearing about the networks they have created among their grant recipients to ensure peer learning. So many New Zealand funders are addressing multi-year funding similarly but naturally not on quite the same scale!

– Yvonne Trask