Michele Kumi Baer

Philanthropy Project Director | Race Forward
Pronouns: she/her/hers
Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, the ancestral and unceded lands of the Ohlone people, Michele is a social justice practitioner, scholar, and strategist. At Race Forward, Michele is developing the organization’s strategy and portfolio of work advancing racial equity in and racial justice through philanthropy. A person of mixed racial ancestry, Michele is a multiracial Asian who has both Japanese and mixed European ancestry. She is a proud Yonsei (fourth generation Japanese American), and it was learning about her family’s incarceration during World War II that propelled her into critical inquiry at a young age.

Presentations from Facing Race 2020

Presentations from Facing Race 2018

Beyond Lip Service: Aligning Racial Equity Frameworks and Impact in Philanthropy

Racial equity has been en vogue in philanthropy for several years. However, recent research shows that the philanthropic landscape continues to be inequitable, with less dollars flowing to African/Black, Latinx, Asian/Pacific Islander, Arab/Middle Eastern, and Native American-led, community-based organizations than to White-led, Eurocentric institutions. Knowing that systemic change is neither quick nor easy, how can both grantmakers and grantseekers better understand the entrenched inequities in the philanthropic sector, and make commitments to help course correct in our current cultural moment? This interactive workshop will provide attendees with the opportunity to workshop solutions with philanthropic practitioners. Questions to be explored include: How is it that philanthropy is talking so much about racial equity (e.g. recent “ALAANA” and “DEI” initiatives) while the funding landscape is actually getting more inequitable? What strategies exist to address how philanthropic frameworks (and their resulting practices) perpetuate racial inequities within/through philanthropy? Grantmakers and grantseekers alike will leave this session with an understanding of current racial equity initiatives in philanthropy, barriers to and opportunities for change, and skills and strategies for interrupting inequitable practices and promoting equity in/through philanthropy.

Speakers: Michele Kumi Baer, Keecha Harris