The Ally: June 2020

Note from the Executive Director

Reflecting about the first year of The Alliance is an easy task, but condensing these reflections into a few brief paragraphs is almost impossible. Nonetheless, I will give it a try—beginning with the fact that seeing The Alliance created last April after two years or more of planning was truly a dream come true, and few of us have the opportunity to see dreams fulfilled. I consider myself extremely fortunate and blessed to have been part of the design, planning, strategizing, relationship building, and fundraising that was necessary to bring the idea to reality. And, I continue to be honored that I was asked to be the first executive director.

The team of professionals and the nonprofit and philanthropic leaders I get to work with on a daily basis is truly remarkable, and I am constantly in awe of the amazingly creative and impactful work being done every day in communities across the state. It is a constant reinforcement that the decision to bring philanthropy and nonprofits together under one organization was the right decision, not only for the members of The Alliance but also for the children, families, and communities we serve.

The values that were identified for The Alliance during the planning process continue to drive our work: integrity, transparency, equity, inclusion, quality, flexibility, and customer service. It is my belief that as The Alliance has grown—in staff and organizational capacity and member services—these core values still drive the work while keeping us focused on our mission.

The Board of Directors for The Alliance has been a remarkable group of committed and concerned individuals that have exhibited incredible focus, stamina, and vision for our work. They have always insisted on best practices and results but have never shied away from innovation, creativity, and thinking outside the box. For that we are grateful.

Thanks to our visionary and generous funders we are on stable financial ground, and the multi-year funding commitments that have been received along with the growing sense that our funders are truly partners in the work is astounding. Over this past year, the sense that we are all in this business together and the understanding that the business we are in is about achieving better results for children, families, and communities has solidified.

We are on a new journey together and we still have a long way to go, but if the first year is an indication of what is to come, I can honestly say it will be an exciting, adventurous, and inspiring trip!

– Sammy Moon, Executive Director

A New Level of Collaboration and Impact

Lloyd Gray, Executive Director, The Phil Hardin Foundation

Throughout its 56-year history, the Phil Hardin Foundation has emphasized collaboration. We don’t have the luxury of excess capacity in Mississippi, so working together is a necessity.

We’ve also long believed that partnership, not paternalism, should be the guiding principle in the relationship between philanthropy and nonprofits.

Hardin Foundation grants helped start and sustain both the Mississippi Center for Nonprofits and the Mississippi Association of Grantmakers. In their time, they exemplified the best of collaboration in their spheres.
But when leaders in those separate spheres began to talk seriously about working together more closely, it seemed to us at the Hardin Foundation to portend an even more powerful partnership.

Click here to read the full article from Lloyd Gray at The Phil Hardin Foundation

Like Many Great Ideas …

Liz Brister, Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, Entergy

Like many great ideas, this one started on the back of a napkin.

It was the fall of 2016, and I was the chair of the Mississippi Center for Nonprofits. The Mississippi Association of Grantmakers (MAG) was in its formative years but already making waves in philanthropic circles. Perhaps for the first time in Mississippi history, nonprofit leaders and funders were in the same room talking openly about a shared vision and goals for advancing the state.

The two organizations successfully collaborated on a joint conference, “Positioned for Progress”, and with it, attracted new stakeholders to the table. These connections planted a seed that the two organizations might be stronger as one.

Despite this momentum, I will always credit the beginnings of the Mississippi Alliance of Nonprofits and Philanthropy to a meal with then MAG Director Sammy Moon.

Click here to read Liz’s reflection.

It Is Hard to Imagine the Success of this Groundbreaking Adventure

Mike Clayborne, President, CREATE Foundation

What an honor and privilege it was to be involved in the preliminary discussions, planning and ultimate execution of the merger of the Mississippi Association of Grantmakers and the Mississippi Center for Nonprofits to form the Mississippi Alliance of Nonprofits and Philanthropy. There were so many people that played important roles in seeing this merger through to conclusion; I am reluctant to name any names. I would, however, be remiss if I did not mention the pivotal leadership of Sammy Moon, Wendy Mullins, Aisha Nyandoro, and Jo G Pritchard. The boards of both organizations, staff, and excellent consultant support, particularly from Nancy Perret, were also critically important.

Of course, it is hard to imagine the success of this groundbreaking adventure without the encouragement and financial support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Thank you, Kellogg Foundation, from everyone in Mississippi. We are blessed to have you as a valued partner.

The relationship of the two organizations has been described as “two sides of the same coin.” Nevertheless, it was two different sides with different cultures and different perspectives on many issues.

Click here to read Mike’s reflection.

Reflections on Year One


Nancy Perret
Design and Implementation
Project Manager

The Alliance

“I love it when a plan comes together!” Three years of planning culminated in the creation of the Alliance last April, and it’s been exciting to see the plan come to fruition. As with any plan, change occurs during implementation, both because of changes in circumstances (little things, like pandemics, can influence the plan!) and lessons learned along the way. We’ve been incredibly fortunate to have developed amazing local, state-level and national partners that have helped us to achieve the dream of an organization that is truly state-wide, highly impactful, and aimed at fundamentally changing the relationship and dialog between and among nonprofits AND philanthropy.

I’ve been honored to have had the opportunity to play the role of project manager in bringing that dream to reality. For me, this has been the culmination of more than thirty years of working in and with the sector, has challenged every bit of my project management, organizational development and strategic planning skills, and has been, by far, my most rewarding project.

My partnership with The Alliance encouraged me to focus more on webinar training. I had not tried that before and was amazed at how much I enjoyed doing it, so much so, that I now have made it an essential part of my business. I was encouraged to expand into social media, which was one of the best decisions I ever made, besides consulting with The Alliance.

I have enjoyed reaching more clients and being able to serve their current needs outside of a traditional office setting. Working with key colleagues and consultants with The Alliance has given me the opportunity to expand my services throughout the country and work with other organizations in the nonprofit sector.

Because of my partnership with The Alliance I have had the opportunity to grow, learn and develop as I continue to enhance my nonprofit consulting skills while helping nonprofits clients throughout the country. That success has allowed me to build my business and is an example of the mutual benefits this partnership has provided.


Michael Dozier
Principal Owner
Carrington, Holland, & Leigh, LLC

The history of The Alliance is revealed within these reflections, but there is another perspective on our first year, that of new staff members.


Ellen Collins
Chief Operating Officer
The Alliance

I joined the Alliance because I wanted to be part of a group that is working to uplift nonprofits and bring partners together for “real collaboration” that leads to “real change.

I joined the Alliance because I wanted to be part of a group that is working to uplift nonprofits and bring partners together for “real collaboration” that leads to “real change.


Ellen Collins
Chief Operating Officer
The Alliance