The LeadersTrust’s Inaugural Executive Director, Sidney Hargro, reflects upon the surprising journey he’s had leading up to this moment, the many lessons he’s learned along the way about fostering leadership, and what he deeply hopes for with this new opportunity ahead.
As a child, having adults in my world who invested in me made a lasting difference. First, my parents instilled the importance of my education even as their personal stories of southern sharecropping and racial segregation as youth impeded their own educational attainment. Then, a handful of Black teachers in middle school and high school took me under their wings to help me achieve even in environments that told me I couldn’t.
They all saw my potential as a future leader even though they had no idea where my path would take me. When they mentored me, they were supporting my capacity and potential as a leader who loved creative processes, working with others, and problem-solving. This shaped my early understanding of the world.
Today, having the support of colleagues, peers, and foundation partners has been the critical ingredient for translating my active imagination into action. I believe everyone should have this kind of support. That fundamental belief is why leadership – and developing current and emerging leaders – is my core purpose and pursuit of social change. Therefore serving as the inaugural Executive Director of the LeadersTrust is a dream opportunity.
The incredible people leading movements for social change are on the frontlines of the most critical and pressing work and accomplishing heroic feats every day. And yet, most of them are leading change with little or no consistent investment in their capacity and leadership.
At the end of the day, the change we dream of in this world can’t happen
without deep investment and support for leaders.
That’s why so many leaders know the feeling of being a hamster running ragged on an endless wheel—managing the day to day while also trying to tap into their radical imagination to envision what could be; attending the wellbeing of their teams while attempting to find time to keep themselves healthy and whole, and attracting investment for their emerging ideas while identifying steady resources for a sound revenue model. We’ve lost far too many dynamic leaders to the realities of burnout and stress because our own sector too often replicates the very same injustices we are trying to shift in the world.
As President of Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia over the past four years, I had the privilege of working with funders and social investors desiring to bring more trust and equity into their grantmaking practice to achieve greater impact and a more equitable future. Leadership and capacity-building investments are one of the most effective ways for philanthropic institutions to put their values to work by more authentically cultivating the talent and collective power of the organizations and movements they support. That is work I’m honored to pursue as part of the LeadersTrust.
This work has never mattered more. In order to meet this moment, we must imagine new approaches to invest in and cultivate leadership as an essential ingredient for transformative and equitable change. To truly thrive, people need space to step back from the demands of immediate work to think strategically and the kind of authentic, loving support that breeds confidence, trust, and innovation. I believe that this kind of transformation, healing, and liberation is not just possible but necessary- both in our sector and in the world at large.
I’m proud that my new role with the LeadersTrust allows me a space to do this work as part of a dynamic team of leaders who design trust-based initiatives that unlock the inherent talent and power of leaders across the social impact sector. I’m joining at such an exciting time- the LeadersTrust builds on a 15+ year track record and a proven model that shows what’s possible when leaders have the investment and support. At the same time, I’m so excited that in our new iteration as an independent entity we have the chance to continue to continuously innovate and push the boundaries of what’s possible.
I’m excited to develop and strengthen relationships with everyone in the LeadersTrust village – from capacity coaches to foundation partners to the leaders we support. I want to learn your dreams for the LeadersTrust and I look forward to building this next chapter together. Join me and let’s build a social impact sector where resources are invested equitably, power is shared, and leaders have the capacity, relationships, and investment they need to boldly pursue their dreams of impact and a liberatory future.
Sidney Hargro (He/Him/His) is a nationally known philanthropic leader, advisor, speaker, and advocate for leading with racial equity and intersectionality across all philanthropic practices in pursuit of liberation. Prior to joining the LeadersTrust, he led the Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia where he implemented a leadership agenda that established onramps and opportunities for the regional philanthropic organizations to reimagine their philanthropic practices regardless of grantmaking priority to embrace intersectional racial equity.
Sidney is also a Lecturer in the School of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania, teaching Equity-informed Social Impact Measurement. Previous roles include, leading the Community Foundation of South Jersey and serving as a Senior Officer of Strategy and Organizational Learning at The Columbus Foundation, the nation’s 7th largest community foundation.
Hargro serves on regional/national boards, including the Independence Public Media Foundation, National Art Strategies, World Education Services US/CAN, Mayor’s Fund of Philadelphia, The Regional Foundation/CDC, and United Philanthropy Forum. Sidney holds a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering from The Ohio State University, a Master of Divinity degree from United Theological Seminary (Faith and Community Power), and a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from North Carolina A&T State University. Follow Sidney on Twitter @sidneyrhargro and on LinkedIn.