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Alan and Kim Hartman

Founders’ Story

In many ways, the idea for the Fund for New Leadership was born in February of 2020 when we were visiting the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum and other Civil Rights sites in and around Montgomery, Alabama. We were deeply inspired by Bryan Stevenson’s work, the stories told by the veterans on the civil rights movements of the 1960’s, and by the young, up-and-coming leaders we met. All of whom were so generous with their time and willingness to talk with us.

We had only been there 24 hours when we found ourselves talking with our friend, Simon Greer. The discussion turned to the question of where leaders like Bryan Stevenson emerge from and in many cases why recognition of, and investment in, their groundbreaking work often comes only after decades of grueling effort. We started to wonder about people like Bryan, or Ai-Jen Poo, the leader of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, who have recently gained notoriety, prestige, and resources but had toiled for 20 years unrecognized – which meant fewer resources and less impact. What would more, very early support have done for them, for the issues they work on, and for the people they serve?  Maybe, we began to wonder, if we searched for talent and invested early, we could help dedicated emerging leaders and their organizations have greater impact more quickly.

The other crucial motivation for FNL came from our adult children. As our country was contending with the disparate impacts of the pandemic and shaken by the racial reckoning highlighted by the killing of George Floyd, our children were more and more vocal in urging us to extend our philanthropy far beyond the very worthy organizations that are closer to home, where we have more traditionally been involved. We took the humble steps to do just that, knowing that our actions would need to match our intentions and acknowledging how much we didn’t know.

Taken together, these inspirations and this approach have led us to make these 13 initial investments in emerging, social change organizations and their inspiring leaders, who are working in their local communities to tackle the very real problems our country is facing. We are thrilled to be partnering with them early in their development to support their on-the-ground work, advance their innovative ideas, foster their bold visions, refine their approach and bring their solutions to scale – by investing in their organizations and connecting them with other leaders and potential support networks.

We didn’t know who we would find when we teamed up with Simon, recruited 10 advisors, built a network of 80+ talent scouts and managed a process that included 133 applications and more than 70 interviews. We had no idea when we set-out how much we would be moved, impacted and changed by the amazing people we have now had the privilege to meet. They are doing phenomenal work in their communities every day, in every corner of the nation. These amazing leaders, who we are now proud to call FNL Fellows, and the crucial work of their organizations, are a profound inspiration to us. We trust they will be to you as well.

In gratitude,

Kim and Alan Hartman

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