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Black Philanthropy Month: Marlies Carruth ChicagoCAC Board of Directors 3019

Black Philanthropy Spotlight: Marlies Carruth

Did you know August is Black Philanthropy Month? We are blessed with many powerful Black voices on our Board of Directors and Advisory Board, and we are honored to spotlight Marlies Carruth during August as one of our essential Black philanthropists. She has been a ChicagoCAC Board Member since 2019, and her responses to our questions about philanthropy inspired us deeply. Thank you Marlies, for all you do, and we look forward to spotlighting more Black philanthropists next year!

What does philanthropy mean to you?

Philanthropy, to me, is a conscious choice to provide support in some way, to invest in a specific outcome through a third party, beyond self-interest. It can be time, or money or advice or networking, but it is behavior and investment that is offered through an intermediary invested in achieving a certain outcome, and it requires trust of that intermediary. I choose my “philanthropies” carefully because in these uncertain times, there are so many distractions and competing demands on our time.

Why do you feel it’s important for the Black community to be involved in philanthropy? 

While I strongly believe that EVERY community has an obligation to participate in philanthropic efforts, I believe that the Black community has a unique perspective on the act of giving back and sharing. We are a community which has been raised in community. It is a characteristic that we understand culturally. We have survived oppression and violence on the shoulders of others who have lifted us up and protected us and invested in us and in the vision of a future that was better than the present in most cases. Survival was, and still is, a collaborative effort, so I am always heartened when I have the chance to support initiatives that I care about and see others like me doing so.

What about ChicagoCAC keeps you coming back as a board member? 

ChicagoCAC does very challenging work. The staff sees intense trauma among the youngest amongst us; what I call “strong stomach” work. It is imperative that we do what we can to intervene to heal those impacted and prevent childhood sexual trauma from becoming a perpetuating cycle. I enjoy challenges and problem-solving and I think a history of engagement in a variety of spaces—government, private, entrepreneurial, artist and non-for-profit spaces—gives me some useful perspectives from which to approach, in original and compelling ways, the challenges of design and implementation that confront ChicagoCAC every day.

I urge others from wherever you reside, in the Chicago community and beyond, to join me in this effort. Our community and shared future will be stronger for the investment we make today in repairing the foundation upon which tomorrow must stand.

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