All of us at the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation are thrilled to welcome two new staff members who will help us advance our equity work and that of our grantee partners. Both chief equity officers will serve on the equity, program and management teams, enhance our programs, learning and culture, and manage grant portfolios. Given their backgrounds and expertise expanding equity in the South, they will help further refine their own roles, which will complement each other and diverge in a few ways:
As Chief Equity Impact Officer, Dwayne Patterson will focus more on our external equity work. This includes supporting our grantee partners as they set and advance their equity goals, helping us document and share our equity journey, and refining the way we capture our partners’ outcomes and demographics to guide our understanding of their work. Patterson also will serve on our investment committee, an important role as we strive to invest our endowment in ways that advance economic opportunities for Black and Latinx communities. He will join our team in October.
As Chief Equity Learning Officer, Danielle Spratley will focus more on our internal equity work, in coordination with staff and board members. She will design and facilitate our learning to ensure our culture is strong, and our work is guided by the fullest understanding of our Southern context and issues that affect the people and places we care about. Spratley will join us in November.
Why are we adding two chief equity officers?
The history and ever-changing context of the country and Southern states and regions strongly affect our grantee partners’ work and the communities they serve, for better or worse. We are witnessing these phenomena in sharp relief today. From rampant voter suppression to COVID’s health and economic devastation, to police and ICE violence, this season is spotlighting the harms wrought by centuries of systemic racism against Black and Latinx people. More equitable systems and policies would not only alleviate these scourges; they would benefit Southerners of all races. It is vital the Babcock team stay abreast of these factors, listen to our grantee partners and adapt our support accordingly, while nurturing a strong culture and effective relationships in our own house. And while equity is the whole team’s responsibility, we feel it is important to increase our own emphasis on it by adding two management-level leaders to shepherd this work.
About Patterson and Spratley
Before joining the Foundation, Spratley served as the Director of Programs and Strategy at Village of Wisdom, a nonprofit organization that works to eliminate racial disparities in education. There, Spratley led program development, organizational development and strategy, and training design. For several years, she has also worked as a consultant helping organizations develop anti-racist strategies and analysis. Prior to her work at Village of Wisdom, Spratley was a program manager and AmeriCorps Program Director for MDC, where she co-founded and co-led its racial equity team.
“I believe the South can be a lever of liberatory change for the entire nation,” Spratley said. “My upbringing in Virginia and my racial and social justice work have taught me the importance of supporting the self-determined leadership of marginalized communities. In this time of urgent crisis, I’m humbled and honored to join the Foundation in its support of communities working to create a just and equitable South.”
Spratley was a Friday Fellow and a North Carolina Arts Council Fellow. She studied comparative literature at Princeton University, and received her MFA in creative writing from Hollins University. She enjoys playing and coaching roller derby, writing poetry and fiction, and spending time with her partner, Becca, and their dogs, Goosebumps and Cedar.
Patterson comes to MRBF after more than a decade at the Atlanta-based Partnership for Southern Equity, an organization that promotes racially equitable health, energy, development and economic opportunities. As Vice President of Strategy and Engagement, he advised on racial equity, social justice and organizing, and fostered community-based solutions all over the American South. Patterson coordinated organizational and programmatic strategy, led program and management staff, strategy development, alliance building and relationship management. He helped organizations grow and improve performance. Patterson also served as PSE's first Director of Civic Engagement and Regional Organizing.
“I started my career as a scholar activist in the American South. Over the years I have focused on supporting organizations and leaders in their efforts to address economic inclusion, structural racism and white supremacy with passion, strategy and power,” Patterson said. “I am encouraged to join a team with a track record of tackling systemic challenges and confronting outdated narratives of the South. I look forward to doing my part to move people and places out of poverty and support the timely and critical racial equity work of MRBF’s grantee partners.”
Through his consulting firm, The Sixth Group, Patterson has provided training and strategic impact guidance to many nonprofit organizations and foundations. He holds a Bachelor of Science from North Carolina A&T State University. Dwayne has served on the boards of ProGeorgia, the Fund for Southern Communities and the Latin American and Caribbean Community Center. He lives in Atlanta with his wife of 24 years and his twin daughters.