Senior Program Officer Message
Greetings from The Harder Foundation!
Despite the many challenges this past year has created and revealed for our grantee organizations and society at large, my first 6 months serving as Harder’s new Senior Program Officer has been a source of true joy. And although I’ve had few opportunities to connect in person due to safety precautions brought on by the pandemic, it’s been quite amazing how hospitable our community has been by Zoom, email, phone and even good old fashioned snail mail. THANK YOU for the very warm welcome to our work together.
This unusual start has brought some unforeseen blessings, most notably, the gift of time. It’s been very helpful to be able to slow down and fully absorb Harder’s values and origin story from the beginning, as well as our long-term commitment to the conservation priorities we’ve become known for over the last 50 years. This time is also allowing me to better absorb the details and nuance of our longstanding geographic and programmatic areas of focus – Alaska, the High Divide, the Olympic Peninsula, Public Lands, State Policy, and Fossil Fuels – and realize the full weight of our grantees’ work and impact. From continued success of the groundbreaking grassroots campaigns stopping fossil fuel infrastructure, to reinstatement of Endangered Species protections for the Grizzly Bear, to the game-changing proposal to eliminate 4 salmon-killing dams on the Lower Snake River… the results our grantees achieve is paramount to the preservation of a healthy world with intact wild places and protected creatures for all, and forever.
Looking ahead, we clearly face many continued uncertainties in year 2 of COVID-19. We don’t yet know the full extent of the pandemic itself, let alone it’s long-term impacts on donor behavior, remote work, and much more. As we move into the next phase of recovery, I’ll be focusing intently on building resilient relationships rooted in trust, so that I can work with grantees most effectively to address their needs. I look forward to meeting you if we haven’t already connected – and fingers crossed we will even be able to do it face to face sometime soon!
I’m so grateful to be in this role and supporting this work. Please reach out anytime if you’d like to connect.
Given the Covid-19 pandemic backdrop and all the related implications, 2020 was not a normal year for anyone, let alone the Harder Foundation. Against this challenging backdrop, we also had to contend with the untimely passing of our former Executive Director, Kay Treakle. Nevertheless, I am pleased to report that we did end this past year with several positive outcomes.
After a thorough recruiting process, we made a successful job offer to our top candidate, Cathy Lehman, who accepted and is now ensconced as our new Senior Program Officer. More on Cathy, her background and her own communication is included on this website.
We did end the year with our highest portfolio value yet — $42.5 million — after a surprisingly constructive year in global equity markets. And while our grant budget last year was reduced from 2019; we are anticipating an appreciable increase in our 2021 grant budget – maybe are largest grant budget yet – as result of our recent investment success and growth in assets this past year.
We have started the process of incorporating a Program Advisory Panel (PAP) into our Program area stewardship. Over time, we expect this PAP to help provide depth and added strategic thinking to our program work. Our initial members to this PAP are great grandsons of our Foundation’s founder, Del S. Harder, and both have followed our work and orientation for many years. We welcome them to this role and are excited that they will work more closely with our staff.