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The Community Foundation Blog

Local Black Leaders Share Why They Give Back
By The Community Foundation / February 16, 2023
Local Black Leaders Share Why They Give Back

To celebrate the Black history being made in Greater Richmond right now, we asked four of our region’s Black leaders: “What inspired you to give back to the community and why do you do it now?” Here’s what they had to say:

David Harris, Jr.
Vice President, Liquid Inc. and Community Advocate

David Harris, Jr is the Vice President of Liquid, Inc., a family concrete and excavation business in Richmond's Fulton area. David is the nephew of Arthur Ashe, and successfully advocated for the re-naming of the Boulevard in 2019.

"Faith, inaction, silence, and a lack of fiscal responsibility inspired me to get involved and give back to the community. I'd seen and heard suggestions, but an unwillingness to act from the community and the words being spoken were falling short. There was a compromise to be had, so I looked at simple, fiscally responsible and executable solutions.

The youth are my biggest inspiration for giving back, we've got the ability to make things better now, waiting is not an option. In discussions with my colleagues, we discovered some in the philanthropic community were splintered and not partnering in ways that made impactful change. So, I continue to find projects that will be intentional, impactful and purposeful. We all have something to contribute. As my friend Dontrese Brown says, 'Together we can!'"


Ashley Kenneth
President & CEO, The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis

Ashley is the President & CEO of the Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis, which advances racial and economic justice in Virginia by advocating for public policies that are designed in partnership with people most impacted, and shaped by credible, accessible fiscal and policy research.

"I have deep roots in Virginia. I descend from generations of resilient people who were enslaved and brought here to work the land and build up this Commonwealth. I feel strongly that I have been called to be my ancestors’ hopes and dreams in action and to do my part to make Virginia a more welcoming, equitable, and just place for all of us."


Joeff Trimmingham and Paitra Russell
Co-Founders, Philip Reese

Spouses, Joeff and Paitra, are the co-founders of Philip Reese - a consumer research company that brings the human story into the heart of important customer and stakeholder decisions through qualitative research. Both have been active in our Black giving circles, Ujima Legacy Fund and Sister Fund.

PR: "There’s so much talent and hard work and giving going on within the community already, and I wanted to be part of that effort—to do my small part to amplify it. It’s the same effort that has always been present in the community that has led to many of us, myself included, having opportunities that would not otherwise have been available. Folks saw potential in me and took the time, felt enough love, to nurture it, to help me. I want other people to get what I received myself."

JT: "Growing up, my family didn't have a lot of money, but throughout my childhood, I realized that there were people who supported us and opened doors, so we could have what we needed. My first memorable inspiration happened in high school, when a couple of other students lent my brother and me pants, so we could participate in marching band. A simple thing, but we really couldn't afford to buy those pants, and their gesture was really meaningful. In college, I volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, taught drumming to kids at a local community center, and helped organize an annual on-campus musical event. It was the founder of that event who helped me to understand that I had a lot to offer. He invited me to help launch what is now a major 33-year-old arts festival. Saying "yes" to that led to many other opportunities to give of myself and my resources."

PR: "Why do I give back today? Two reasons come to mind. First, it’s an act of humility. No “successful” person is where they are strictly because of their own hard work and merit. That’s a pervasive and dangerous myth. Giving is one way to acknowledge that we benefit from the gifts of others.

The second thing that comes to mind is that it’s an act of faith. We are surrounded by abundance, but it seems easier than ever to behave as if there’s not enough of anything. I once heard a speaker say that America is like a condo building where no one wants to pay their association dues: we put a lot into our personal spaces while neglecting the common areas, the common good. But I believe we’re better than that. People in the community are already doing more than their share, with way less external investment than is fair or wise. So, giving is a statement of confidence, of belief that we can build “common areas” that reflect what is truly available to us if we work together."

JT: "I firmly believe that we have a responsibility to help each other to the extent that we can. There is need all around us, both visible and hidden, large and small. I'm definitely the beneficiary of many others who opened their hearts to my family and me, who blessed us in countless ways. I feel it's my duty to pay those gifts forward."



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