Field Foundation’s Angelique Power leaving for Detroit’s Skillman Foundation
Nationally respected philanthropist Angelique Power transformed The Field Foundation’s funding structure to center on racial equity and strategic partnerships enabled Field to double its giving and expand programming.
Angelique Power remembers when talking about racism in the powerful spaces she has occupied within the immutable landscape of philanthropy was taboo.
As president of The Field Foundation the past five years, she made it her mission to change that, gaining national recognition for steering the foundation toward its focus on racial equity.
“When I started at Field, it was definitely much more dangerous to talk about racism and racial equity, and to try to hack philanthropic systems,” said Power, who is stepping down in July, headed to Detroit to lead the education-focused Skillman Foundation.
“But we were so thoughtful in approaching it, so that in many ways we were training up for 2020,” she said of the racial reckoning she was leading — before the May 25, 2020, murder of George Floyd, a Black man, by a white police officer turned a spotlight on systemic racism.
Field will begin a nationwide search for its next president, its Board of Directors announced Monday. Power, a Chicago native, takes the helm at the 61-year-old, private Stillman Foundation, in September.
“Angelique Power is a once-in-a-generation leader. She will be deeply missed. There is no doubt that her impact and footprint will continue to strengthen Chicago for years to come,” said Field Board President Gloria Castillo.
“After a tough year for our communities, the urgency to support Chicagoans and elevate the call for racial justice has never been more important.”
Power is credited with transforming Field’s funding structure to place racial equity at the center, developing innovative strategic partnerships that enabled the small foundation to expand programming and double its giving to $4.5 million annually in grants, in its program areas of art, justice, media and storytelling, and leadership investment.
Her 25 years in philanthropy include the Joyce Foundation, where as program director, she co-founded Enrich Chicago, a nonprofit tackling racism in the arts. At Field, she led an innovative Mapping COVID-19 Recovery Project illustrating the historic disinvestments and structural racism in BIPOC communities that drove COVID-19 disparities.
“Angelique’s legacy in Chicago includes not only her advocacy and thoughtfulness in the racial equity movement, but her genuine perspective to see how pieces of a broken system can once again work better together for the good of our community,” said Monique B. Jones, president and CEO of Forefront.
Jones and Power, members of WOC, Women Of Color In Fundraising and Philanthropy, iuttps://www.woc-fp.com/, are among the rare breed of powerful Black women leading philanthropies nationwide, increasingly steering grant-making through an equity lens.
“I applaud her growth while at the same time acknowledging the space she will leave for us ... to manifest all she’s spoken into existence in her work in Chicago,” said Jones.
Power has been noted for championing and adding mission-related investing to Field’s endowment. Established by Chicago retail baron Marshall Field III, Field has been providing support for community, civic and cultural organizations in the Chicago area since 1940.
Stillman said its selection committee launched a nationwide search and considered more than 100 candidates, interviewed eight finalists and unanimously selected Power.
Power, 50, said she hadn’t been looking to leave, but Stillman offered an opportunity to hone in on her passion and commitment to uplifting Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) communities — at the heart of Field’s grantmaking during her tenure.
“I think there comes a time for all of us — and it’s coming faster and more collectively now that we’ve all been through this incredible year of the pandemic — where we do sort of a life audit. We ask ourselves, ‘How do we make sense of this complicated, beautiful life?’” said Power.
“In those moments, we do what we feel we are called to do. This is that moment for me. The opportunity to center Black and Brown youth voices and Black and Brown youth power is what I am called to do.”
Mark Murray, most recently vice president of programs and administration at Field, and now promoted to chief operating officer, will steer the foundation in the interim. Power said she will miss Chicago but looks forward to continuing the racial justice work that Field and partners like the Chicago Community Trust and MacArthur Foundation have focused on.
“I think we’re in this critical moment where we have to decide if we’re serious about racial justice,” Power said. “Will these shifts in these appointments and all these racial equity statements pass, and next year we’ll just go back to business as usual? Or are those who have these positions truly ready and willing to make real and lasting change?”