About me

A friend told me once that I can see possibilities in every situation.  I took that as a compliment but she didn't mean it as one.  This was her way of telling me that she found my possibility thinking to be exhausting.

For me, however, when the possibilities are about people and what happens when people get together, my experience is the opposite of exhausting.  I am exhausted by the gigantic stacks of professional studies and strategic plans that clog up the corners of my office and my dropbox folders that miss those possibilities and recommend big bets on strategies that my experience tells me have demonstrated the limits of their usefulness over and over again.  It's not that they are not useful at all.  It's only that they are can't do it all.

Beginning with my own experience in the Memphis neighborhood where I found myself as a young mother, and continuing with lessons learned over my twenty-five year career in philanthropy, I have had reminder after reminder about the possibilities that show up when people see themselves as the solution - and bring that sense of personal and community agency into the room with others who are working away to solve problems for them instead of with them.  I am convinced that no matter how much money is invested in programs and projects that are intended to turn around bad neighborhoods, improve our schools or move the needle on health indicators, unless people - feeling and acting powerfully individually and together - are in the picture, we're treading water.

My path is to use my gifts - my possibility thinking, what I've learned through my successes and failures, and my personal radar that has helped me find and connect with people who are or want to be on a path of discovery about how people in their private and professional lives can act in ways that open up the possibility door for more people and more communities.

I do this through my this blog, by seeking out and building relationships with others who are on my journey so that we can learn together, and through serendipitous opportunities to experience and grow in community with others.

If you are looking for my professional credentials, you won't find them here.  My most valued credential is that I have been in the trenches with my neighbors, on a lofty perch as a funder, and in places in the middle - and am inspired by opportunities to help people connect possibilities with practice.

Janis Foster Richardson