Superwomen can be found all around us. From our mothers, mentors, teachers, and coaches – the women who raise, train, educate and advocate for us have long been the glue that holds entire communities together. The introduction to the President of The Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE), was another such superwoman using her influence and access to ensure under-resourced communities have the resources, tools, and trainings needed to thrive in career and life.

If you don’t know who she is, allow me to introduce to some and present to others the bold, dynamic, and transformative leader — Susan Taylor Batten. An over 20-year veteran in the philanthropic industry, Susan’s dedication to using philanthropy as a vehicle is exemplified in the work ABFE does every day. With a membership base of over 800 individuals working in philanthropic institutions, corporations and nonprofits advising over $100 billion dollars in assets, ABFE sheds light on the root causes of the disparities that continue to plague communities of color. Susan believes, “the investments that build on collective responsibility, self-help, and cultural pride, along with those that address the systemic exclusion of Black people and communities of color from opportunity and advantage, are truly wise investments.”

ABFE uses its position and networks — with member organizations like Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ford Foundation, and W.K. Kellogg Foundation — to help ensure philanthropic investments are solid in Black communities. Their commitment to the Black community and more broadly communities of color extend beyond financial allocation advisement. ABFE’s intentional focus on training tomorrow’s leaders today led to the creation of the Connecting Leaders Fellowship Program (CLFP). Now in its 13thclass, 11 philanthropic leaders that are dedicated to affecting change in black communities joined Susan and ABFE to experience the initial week-long Leadership Summit in Chicago, IL in preparation for the year-long experience. The program was specifically designed to sharpen the skills and strengthen the leadership capacity of emerging foundation and philanthropic leaders. Each Fellow has the opportunity to learn from seasoned grant-makers and peers with a heightened awareness on understanding how to be more effective change agents within their institutions. The focus on innovative community solutions allows Susan to broaden the effectiveness of ABFE’s reach, addressing present issues and equipping future advocates with the tools necessary for greatest impact. In truest fashion, Susan is reaching back as she pulls up serving as one of the strongest advocates for the black community.