Presidents’ Update: The Future of LAFF
As we get close to marking one year of our global struggle with the coronavirus pandemic, we are ever grateful for our far-flung LAFF network of colleagues and friends. We have heard from many of you informally and through the grapevine, and serendipitously encountered others on Zoom screens together. We hope you are all staying safe and well and that we will meet in person again soon.
We want to use this newsletter to share with you some thinking we have been doing with the Executive Committee and with Foundation staff about the future of LAFF.
The LAFF Society has come to a moment in its evolution when we need to be more vigorous in attracting new members, more efficient in meeting their needs and more effective in communicating with each other.
As an informal network, LAFF has demonstrated remarkable durability. Over the last 30 years, LAFF has evolved from an association of retirees based in the U.S. to a multigenerational and increasingly global network of individuals actively engaged in their professions. With about 400 members and a variety of well-attended events, LAFF is a testament to the indelible imprint that Ford Foundation service has had on the lives and careers of its alumni.
While enthusiasm for maintaining LAFF is high among members, it has proven challenging to sustain LAFF in its current structure. It is led by a volunteer executive committee and has a widely dispersed set of members, very few of whom have the time to devote to planning and leading LAFF events and maintaining communications platforms.
In order to ensure the long-term viability of an alumni network, we are in discussions with the Ford Foundation’s leadership about the creation of a new relationship with the Foundation to support LAFF. We believe having a full partner at the Foundation to help recruit new members, sponsor events and support communications will help ensure that LAFF remains a lively network, including programs and annual holiday parties at the Foundation’s headquarters in New York, reunions in various corners of the globe and contacts through social media groups.
One important and often unsung value of LAFF is our global alumni network’s willingness to provide mentoring, share contacts and offer advice to Ford Foundation colleagues and other alumni. Who among us has not benefitted from this treasure trove of colleagues?
To ground our discussions in the interests and energies of the people that make LAFF what it is, you will shortly be receiving a brief survey. It is really important that we hear from you! Please take a moment to complete the survey.
We will present the findings to the Executive Committee and then to the Ford Foundation’s People and Culture group (formerly Human Resources), we hope before the end of March. We will keep LAFF members informed of our progress as we explore the possibilities and work to maintain LAFF’s founding purpose and the culture that has evolved over the last 30 years.
With all our best wishes,
Betsy Campbell and Suzanne Siskel
Co-Presidents, LAFF Society