Shaping the future
As the new board chair of Initiatives of Change, I am excited about the opportunities that lie open to us together if we have the wisdom, the courage, and the faith to grasp them.
Initiatives of Change has a record of achievement spread over eight decades and much of the globe. Documented contributions range from playing a role in Franco-German and U.S.-Japanese reconciliation after WWII, to helping improve the racial climate in Richmond, Virginia, the one-time capital of the Confederacy. These and other history-changing achievements happened because of those who committed themselves to living lives of conscience and self-giving service that inspired others to do likewise.
Today, the need to bind and heal is as great as ever, and I invite your help as we move strategically to grow our capacity to make a difference.
Since we cannot tackle every divide in our country, we have decided to focus our efforts in these key areas:
- Racial reconciliation: Known as a national leader in this field and a flagship program of Initiatives of Change, Hope in the Cities has received a W.K. Kellogg grant to continue offering public programs for community leaders. In addition, we have successfully parlayed our experience into training for executives of Bon Secours Health Systems and other institutions, and we intend to develop this fee-for-service program for businesses, government agencies, and school districts to help support our operations.
- Economic renewal: In this decade, perhaps the most urgent challenge to our democracy is making our economy work for all, regardless of class, color, and creed. A new initiative in Richmond, Virginia, Unpacking the 2010 Census: the new realities of race, class and jurisdiction is serving as the focus for honest conversation on this issue. This will provide a model for other regions of the country to generate greater understanding across the widening economic divides and constructive proposals to narrow them. The business community must be at the table in these discussions.
- Religious understanding: A key concern for peace and security is building understanding between Muslims and Christians, and among other faiths. Our Washington-based team is skilled at engaging people of all faiths in the common challenge of living up to our professed values. We have effectively used two widely acclaimed IofC-produced films, The Imam and the Pastor and An African Answer, as touchstones of our continuing work in this field.
- New leadership: The Caux Scholars Program celebrates its 20th year of equipping next-generation leaders to take the IofC approach into leadership positions in a multitude of professions. A recent survey of alumni confirms the life-changing impact of the program and the experience gained to carry into real world situations. As Zeke Reich (CSP '04) of New York put it: "Nothing in my professional life would be the same without the inspiration and provocation of CSP - its vision of a connection between individual personal transformation and global social change has structured everything I've done since."
On behalf of the board and staff of Initiatives of Change USA, I invite your feedback on IofC's direction, your active involvement in its work of trustbuilding, and your financial support.
H. Alexander Wise has led a varied life as educator, public servant, lawyer, and social entrepreneur. Since 2007 he has lived in Memphis, TN where he currently serves as director of development for the Church Health Center. It was his vision to create the American Civil War Center in Richmond, VA, as a place of dialogue where the Union, Confederate, and African American stories could be told under one roof, and he served as the center's first president/CEO and chief fundraiser.