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A Call for a New Founder’s Syndrome Part Two:

Leaving A Legacy

In honor of the Black Equity Collective's three-year anniversary, our Founder and Chief Architect, Kaci Patterson, has shared her reflections about our journey together over the past few years as well as lessons she's learned as a new founder along the way. Below is part two of this three-part reflection. To read part one, click here.


[Article begins]

build with the intention of leaving a legacy

I’ve sat on a few boards and whenever there’s a question about authority or decision-making, someone always asks: what do the bylaws say? It’s funny how you never need the bylaws until you need to figure out what can and can’t be done. As a founder, you can and should set the tone for how the organization ensures values-aligned decision-making. Don’t just use templated bylaws. Set the organization up to always affirm its values. I give a nod here to Social Justice Partners LA who undertook a painstaking process to rewrite its bylaws to be more values-aligned. You can do this from the onset. Be intentional.

If you’re fiscally sponsored (like the BEC is right now), you can create Principles that will become the basis for future bylaws. That is our planned course of action. 

Second, invest in developing your team to lead the work. I once heard a long-standing executive director say: it’s very hard to find people who have the right skill set and the right values-set. That may be true, but if you can’t find it, be willing to teach it. One of my goals last year was to position the expertise of the team (not just my expertise). That required investing in professional development, encouraging the team to participate on panels and giving them opportunities to facilitate discussions internally and externally.  Always hire for values alignment first. Skills can be taught. Values are much harder to change. 

Finally, be excellent and remember that love is in the details. (That’s an Oprah quote.) Excellence is not perfection but the pursuit of elevating to our highest selves. The quality of your work matters. Set a standard that will be missed if your organization is no longer around. When I was in my early 20s, I was randomly chosen by my boss to join her for dinner one night with a multi-millionaire. I overheard him giving advice to a protégé that I wrote down and kept at my desk for years. He said: “You’ll never get the money by pursuing it. Pursue excellence and the money will come.” I have lived by those words and his protégé is now a senior creative director at Tyler Perry Studios.  

Don't just serve. create community.

As a founder, it’s easy to put your head down and do the next thing in front of you. It’s understandable even. Serving is one thing. Creating community is another. To build for a future beyond you, create space for people to connect and build relationships. What strikes me about religion is that someone believes so deeply in a thing that they want to share those beliefs with others. They become spokespersons and ambassadors because they’ve been inspired and felt connected to something bigger than themselves. I deeply believe that all equity and justice work is, at its core, spiritual practice work. It’s not just about us but about creating a new world order where dignity and belonging prevail. 

The Collective has grown so much because funders and the BLOS in our network spread the word. People hear about our impact and want to be part of it. They’re not telling people to join Kaci Patterson. Truthfully, some of the organizations in our network probably don’t even know who I am. They’re talking up the Collective. That’s a legacy that will live well beyond me.

This article was written by Black Equity Collective's Founder and Chief Architect, Kaci Patterson. Stay tuned for part three by subscribing to our newsletter at the button below.


In Case You Missed It! Check out our three-year anniversary recap video, a special reflection of our journey together.


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