Marcus White, who has led the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s community engagement efforts for the past decade, is launching a new independent consulting venture to help nonprofit organizations and philanthropies.
White left his position as vice president of community engagement with GMF on Jan. 11. While at the foundation, he helped lead “On the Table,” a community forum that convened thousands of people from across Greater Milwaukee in 2017 and 2018 to discuss ideas for improving the region. The event has been a catalyst for several community initiatives to bring some of those ideas to fruition.
Prior to working for the foundation, he was executive director of the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee for seven years.
White is now looking to draw from 27 years of working in Milwaukee’s nonprofit and philanthropic sector to help organizations that are working to drive “meaningful social change.”
“One thing I’ve seen throughout my career is that, by definition, nonprofits are problem-solvers,” White said. “Almost every nonprofit is meeting some kind of need, whether that is a direct need for people who are, for example, homeless, or a community’s need for a vibrant performing arts sector. Nonprofits help all of us in society to meet those needs. And they by definition have to be innovative to be that. And at a time where, nationally and at the state level, we’re divided politically, it’s important to have social innovators who can really move things forward.”
Specifically, he said he is looking to strengthen the nonprofit sector with data-informed strategy development and building organizations’ advocacy voice and civic involvement. He said he would also like to work with other community foundations around the country, especially those that are looking to have a racial equity lens in their work.
Marcus began his career working for anti-apartheid organizations in the late 1980s in South Africa, including a stint with the office of South African human rights activist and Nobel peace prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
White is also beginning work on a book concept he has been planning for a few years. The book will focus on “how to build an effective team towards advancing a vision,” he said.
The book will draw from his experiences in South Africa, along with his work in Milwaukee.
“There will be a chapter that examines key lessons from On the Table and what that means for those of us trying to advance community-based work,” he said. “Each chapter will include food for thought about how to be more effective and, at the heart of it all, how to ensure work is truly inclusive and effective, recognizing that you cannot be truly effective without being authentically inclusive.”