May 30, 2018
Lever Fund board member Connie K. N. Chang is an advisor, consultant, and public speaker for clients in government, academia, and the private sector, and the co-owner of Graphicacy, a creative analytic design firm.
When friends ask you what the Lever Fund is, what do you tell them?
Usually I start by asking them how they are supporting local nonprofits. So many of my friends are so focused on global or national issues that they overlook the fact that we have an income gap right here in D.C., and a lot of people in need. Personally I like to see my philanthropy in action, so local is the way to go. A great example is the organization we’re celebrating at our Generosity Dinner on June 7. (There’s still time to RSVP.)
What do you think matters most for a nonprofit to be effective?
In a word, leadership. Nonprofits have to do more with less, so it’s important to be resourceful, creative, and collaborative. The people leading our partner organizations are so smart, and their passion is contagious.
How does the Lever Fund spill over into your professional work?
I spend a lot of time speaking to and with government workers and research scientists and engineers, who also have to be resourceful every day. They are talented, hardworking, and so, so underappreciated. At the same time, they have to be held accountable for performance. Taxpayers and grantmakers have a right to see the impact of their investments.
Why do you serve on the board?
I’m thrilled with our first grants and eager to share our mission with friends and colleagues. As a board member, I get to be an ambassador for our metrics-based approach to fighting poverty locally and especially for our Jobs of Tomorrow campaign. It’s a win-win—the people in the programs get job skills, and local companies have better talent.
What do you envision as the future of the Lever Fund?
We have a solid portfolio of grants, and we need to build upon that. For me, it’s not about getting huge or having the most talked-about-gala of the year. It’s about scaling our impact by engaging more champions, one at a time. It’s a joy and a privilege to build awareness, to find partners who share our enthusiasm, and to discover new ways to make a difference. We wouldn’t be doing this if it weren’t fun.