“The two most important days in your life are the day you were born
and the day you find out why”
-Mark Twain

Why did you get out of bed this morning? Why do you do what you do?
My WHY is to explore with people what they care about and engage them in meaningful ways so that they connect with depth to themselves, each other, and society; and live a more fulfilled life of purpose and passion.
Getting clear on your why is a process. Learn more about my journey here.

What I’m Applauding: Inspiring Acts in Philanthropy- Deeds & Words
As someone who believes strongly in the power of scholarships to access education and opportunity, I was inspired by Robert Smith’s pledge to pay off the $40 million in loan debt of the graduating class of Morehouse College. Smith recognized himself as a community-made man, and as such, is both from the community and for the community. He deeply understands each juncture of opportunity that was presented to him and ultimately where “Bus #13” has taken him. His gift and challenge, by its very act, encourages the young men in the Morehouse Class of 2019 to continue to pay it forward. Read here for an astute analysis of his gift.

Kudos to Sasha Hochman, Valedictorian of Central High School’s 278th class, for using her commencement address to lift up the issue of equity in education. Sasha, like Robert Smith, has recognized her “buses”, the policies, initiatives, schools, mentors, networks, familial assistance, friendships, institutions, and programs that benefit certain groups or individuals more than others. Click here to read her inspiring speech. Special shout out from the daughter of a Central alumnus (205) and the mother of two Central graduates (274 and 276).

What I’m Debating: Philanthropy Up Close
Philanthropy, at its root definition, is the love of mankind. The Oxford Dictionary defines philanthropy as the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially through the generous donation of money to good causes. In recent years, however, there has been light shed on a darker side of philanthropy. As in any sector, there are inefficiencies, misuses, and abuses that have lent itself to criticism and a call for greater scrutiny. With the great wealth transfer on the horizon, we have entered a new era of philanthropy and need understand both the possibilities and limitations of a philanthropic society. Phil Buchanan, President of the Center for Effective Philanthropy, aptly captures the debate in his recent opinion piece.

What I’m Sharing: Knowing Your Why as a Philanthropist
I had the great pleasure of speaking at the International Association of Advisors in Philanthropy’s 2019 Conference in Washington D.C. last week. I engaged participants in an interactive session, “It’s Ok to Play: Eliminate the Fear of Using Tools in Your Philanthropic Engagements”. I shared with wealth and tax advisors, financial planners, and others that there are multiple ways to explore what matters to those with whom they work. I am grateful for being included in this powerful conference and for what I learned by sharing, listening, making soul sustaining connections, and for dining with our nation’s Constitution at The National Archives.

Discovering Your Why
I work with people to connect with their essence
and understand what motivates them to do what they do.

I coach individuals and multigenerational families
on their philanthropic and community engagement strategy.
Together, we explore their values and develop a plan to leverage
their time, talent, treasure and ties.
Click here to connect with me and start our conversation.

“You can either leave something for people or leave something in people”.
-Viola Davis, Commencement Speaker, Barnard College 2019
see here for full speech


Amy Tress Holdsman
President and CEO
Essential Leadership

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