Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Tyeshia Wilson, director of engagement for Philanthropy Together.
1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?
Working in philanthropy is one of the most rewarding and self-fulfilling careers, ever. I’m altruistic, I’m a humanitarian, and I’m passionate about service. Looking back, I only wish I had been exposed to the idea of a career in philanthropy earlier. If I was aware of this alignment between my heart and the work of this field, I would have started in this profession much sooner and likely pursued philanthropic studies in school.
2. What is your current greatest professional challenge?
A huge piece of our work in philanthropy is restoration because we pour so much into our communities. As a working professional, mother of five and wife, as well as someone committed to self-care, my greatest professional challenge is finding the right balance. I am so passionate about my work and community that I often bring it home with me. As rewarding as this profession is, it’s a heavy lift and requires a healthy work/life balance to avoid burnout. You can’t pour from an empty cup, right? To ensure that I show up and pour into others everyday, I have to remember to fill my cup and always strive to strike a healthy balance.
3. What inspires you most about your work?
I am inspired by the people I get to work with to advance the giving circle movement and the power of human connection. My work at Philanthropy Together emphasizes the importance of connecting like-minded individuals to create a more just and equitable society, and I’m constantly inspired by the lives, personalities and stories of the communities we serve. I find so much joy being in community with people, loving and supporting mankind in spite of our differences. It truly is a treasure and pleasure to be part of a people-centric field.
4. How does your gender identity inform your work?
I am a woman first. My work is informed through this lens. Women are leading the giving circle movement and blazing the trail in this space and across the philanthropy sector at large. When I show up to work each day, I bring my perspective, experiences and thoughts as a woman, which is especially relevant in a women-led movement.
5. How can philanthropy support gender equity?
Philanthropy can support gender equity by investing in and supporting Black women in leadership. We must address the persistent gender inequities as well as the racial inequities in the charitable giving field. Black women are at the helm of running grassroots nonprofit organizations, yet research shows us that organizations supporting Black women and girls have been neglected. Less than one percent of philanthropic giving goes toward organizations that specifically target minority women and girls. Philanthropy can step up and not only support Black leadership, but also organizations specifically supporting Black women and girls. We need to get comfortable with calling it out to raise awareness and then do the work together to address and change the narrative and disparity.
6. In the next 10 years, where do you see gender equity movements taking us?
I see the gender equity movements flourishing and promoting a balance for better living, bridging wage disparity, offering paid maternity leave, promoting better policies and investing in young women and girls. As we march toward the next phase of gender equity, we must eliminate the barriers women face and rid ourselves of boxes that limit our potential. If we keep doing the work, 10 years from now, the next generation of young women working in everything from philanthropy to sports to policy, will be set up and paid equitably to do the necessary work in our country without jumping over hurdles.
More on Tyeshia Wilson:
Tyeshia “Ty” Wilson (she/her) is a spirited entrepreneur, philanthropist and social good advocate with more than 15 years of experience as a relationship manager. Wilson is passionate about people and service. She currently serves as Director of Engagement for Philanthropy Together, a global nonprofit democratizing and diversifying philanthropy by strengthening and scaling collective giving, and is a founding member of the HERitage Giving Fund, one of the first African-American giving circles in Texas that serves Black-led nonprofits serving Black women and girls. She holds a B.S. in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Texas at Arlington and a M.S. in Public Leadership with a concentration in Nonprofit and Community Leadership from the University of North Texas at Dallas.
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