In celebration of Pride Month, we asked three Dallas Foundation board members to share their thoughts about the intersection of philanthropy and the LGBTQ+ community. Chris Luna, Vice President of Legal Affairs at T-Mobile, Jeremy Smith, President of Rainwater Charitable Foundation, and Robert “Bobby” Bisor, principal of First Western Capital LLC and CEO of The Bisor Group, reflected on the charitable impact of the LGBTQ+ community to advance equity and inclusion and the philanthropic investments still needed by the community today.
As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, how would you define the role philanthropy has played, and can continue to play, in the movement to ensure equality, inclusivity, and acceptance?
Luna: Philanthropy has always been in the DNA of the LGBTQ+ community. In the early advocacy for equality and in the early fight against AIDS/HIV, it was the LGBTQ+ community that led and funded those efforts. Today, the LGBTQ+ community continues to volunteer for and donate to both LGBTQ+ organizations and non-LGBTQ+ specific organizations. LGBTQ+ philanthropy has become an integral part of the overall philanthropic fabric of Greater Dallas.
How do you view your roles as a board member of The Dallas Foundation in representing the voice of our LGBTQ+ neighbors?
Luna: There is an old saying: “If you don’t have a seat at the table, you’re likely on the menu.” I think it’s important that LGBTQ+ board members bring their background, experiences, and views to the board room. For instance, when The Dallas Foundation recently updated our non-discrimination statement, we made sure that we included sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. We also work to promote funding opportunities to LGBTQ+ supportive organizations.
While you are all members of The Dallas Foundation’s Board of Governors, you are also fundholders and donors to the Foundation across a number of initiatives. How do you envision The Dallas Foundation’s strategic priorities intersect with the needs of the LGBTQ+ community?
Smith: I view the role of philanthropy as integral in making the lives of everyone in our community better, particularly those who have been marginalized historically. We’ve seen from recent events that LGBTQ+ people are still discriminated against even as much progress has been made. I’m proud to say that The Dallas Foundation’s leadership and staff have made equity a central focus in meaningful ways which benefits not only LGBTQ+ people, but ultimately, everyone.
From your perspective, what are the current needs of the LGBTQ+ community?
Bisor: I believe the most critical need is to secure full nondiscrimination federal protections for LGBTQ+ people. Other needs include safety; economic; food and housing security; medical and mental health care; and drug and alcohol recovery. My partner and I are proud to deploy our personal philanthropy to organizations that advocate and educate for legal protections, as well as organizations that are on the front line of delivering programs and services that meet the basic needs for the LGBTQ+ people.
Luna: The Dallas Foundation is the fiscal sponsor of Texas Pride Impact Funds (TPIF). TPIF’s mission is to inspire giving and investment to secure equitable opportunities that serve and enrich the lives of LGBTQ+ Texans. Recently, TPIF conducted a LGBTQ+ Community Needs Assessment and some of the key findings were: (1) The need for statutes to protect LGBTQ+ individuals in employment, housing, and public accommodations; (2) The need to address the LGBTQ+ community experiencing disproportionately high rates of poverty, particularity within communities of color and transgender communities; and (3) The need to tackle the mental health disparities within the LGBTQ+ community, including higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide than straight individuals; and (4) The need to promote greater Health Care Provider Cultural Competency, to eliminate discourteous, biased, and offensive encounters with medical professionals when LGBTQ+ patients are open about their identity and/or sexuality.
To learn more about giving opportunities to support initiatives and projects for the LGBTQ+ community, please contact Theresa Jones, Director of Donor Services. For information about funding opportunities for LGBTQ+ focused programs and organizations, please contact Brittani Trusty, Director of Community Impact.