Resurging Challenge, Renewed Hope


As we wind down work for 2021 and look towards the new year, I find myself reflecting in this natural moment of transition – a literal and proverbial turning of the calendar page – with fresh eyes, and renewed conviction.

2021 found us navigating renewed hope and resurging challenge. And if moments of change open windows of possibilities, Catalyst members cast the shutters open wide in 2021. This was evidenced in grantmaking efforts, where we saw funders challenge themselves to not go back to what was, but to keep accelerating forward with a tremendous outflow of funding, flexibility, and multifaceted support that the pandemic demanded (and continues to demand).

This was also true in racial equity efforts, where commitments made in 2020 were put to test and the real work of equity in our organizations evolved, continued, and for some, began for the first time. At Catalyst, our board and staff continued our racial equity journey with meaningful retreats facilitated by Dr. Azadeh Davari for a deeper look at the next steps in our now five-year journey towards embodying an antiracist organization. Our future is to embrace purposeful discomfort, deepen relationships with our members, community organizations, and others, and serve as a hub in the ongoing work that one participant called “anti-despair,” and we all agreed means centering justice in a space for growth.

At All In, Catalyst’s Annual Conference, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations President and CEO Marcus Walton noted that “change happens at the pace of trust; but progress happens at the pace of change.” The trusting relationships that are built in the Catalyst network are accelerating the pace of change for our region.

Catalyst collaborative groups and fiscally sponsored partners moved more than $1 million this year to advance work for women and girls; power-building for racial justice; small businesses; homelessness advocates; and more. We have ushered $1.2 million to the region through statewide partnerships to support redistricting and immigrant support. And we welcomed 17 new members to our Catalyst fold and incredible new leadership in our region’s social change capital community – Chris Sichel, Grant Oliphant, Roque Barros, Laura White, Marisa Aurora Quiroz, to name several.

I close out my first year as your president and CEO with a heart full of gratitude for each of you and what this work represents. The Catalyst network of funders, nonprofits, community members, and partners who have shown up for one another this year are igniting a bright future for our region that I can see clearly, and I am energized and motivated by our forward momentum together. We work towards that future as we build trust in simple yet radical ways: by joining working groups; showing up at one another’s events; taking time to have coffee together; or simply reading something new. By keeping the windows of possibility open.

The Catalyst offices will be closed from December 24-31 to give our staff much needed rest and connection time with loved ones. As we enter 2022, my collective hope for our network is that we stay near to what motivates our work, and double down on interrogating what holds us back. Together, we are building a vibrant region. Thank you for showing up in this work and thank you for bringing the Catalyst network to life.


In Community,

Megan Thomas
President & CEO