EPNO Alumni and Friends,
It is an understatement to say that this has been a difficult couple of months for us. The loss of Sharree Walls, our friend and first EPNO Executive Director, was sudden, tragic, and heartbreaking. The impact of this loss is yet unfolding for each of us. As a Board, we are all better for having known Sharree. Likewise, EPNO is profoundly stronger for having experienced her leadership. In my mind’s eye, I can see her smiling and hear her saying: “Get to it, you’ve got work to do!” So, that is what we will do. We will get back to work––the work of EPNO––and through that work, we will honor Sharree’s legacy, her lasting impact on our organization, and her deep love for our city.
It is in this spirit of remembrance and honor that we open applications today for the 2019 EPNO class, Monday, April 15, with a closing date of Tuesday, April 30. Given this shortened recruitment period, we will need your help to spread the word. We also invite you to join us on Wednesday, April 24, to learn more about EPNO and the impact we are making within the New Orleans community.
Following Sharree’s vision, we have streamlined the application and selection process for the incoming class. We have also chosen the annual philanthropic sectors to more effectively address issues that challenge our local community. These sectors of interest are data informed and crucial to our community’s holistic prosperity. They include: Arts & Culture, Environment & Sustainability, Health, Housing, and Human Rights & Justice. By focusing on these issues, we aim to advance your understanding of what it means to be a philanthropist and of strategic philanthropic investment practices with an equity lens and a focus on long-term impact.
Even as we continue to mourn, we are joyful for new beginnings. We are very much looking forward to welcoming a new class that will carry on the valuable work of EPNO. Our mission is to inspire a cadre of young professionals to become effective, lifelong philanthropists; to impact the Greater New Orleans region by tackling the city’s and region’s most pressing issues; and to connect emerging leaders with non-profits and community members dedicated to the hard work of both systemic change and individual transformation. Our resolve is strong; we remain committed to fulfilling the mission of EPNO.
Over the next month, the Board will also be working to identify the best way to institutionally honor Sharree’s legacy within EPNO and the city of New Orleans. If any alumni are interested in assisting, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org for ways to become involved.
Finally, we thank you for all of your messages of condolence and support. We cannot adequately describe what they have meant to us, as well as to Sharree’s family and friends. Our cup runneth over.
In gratitude and with expectant joy,
David W. Robinson-Morris, Ph.D.
Chair, EPNO Board of Directors