Philadelphia native and corporate philanthropy veteran Dominique Goss is the new executive director of the M&T Charitable Foundation.
Utilizing her decades plus experience in philanthropy, she will now oversee the day-to-day operations of M&T Charitable Foundations which in partnership with M&T donated $33.9 million to nonprofits in 2021. Goss was most recently a senior group manager with TD Bank’s charitable giving, and a familiar face among Philadelphia’s philanthropic and community giving organizations. She’s stepping into a big role; Goss is replacing a 50-year veteran of M&T and the role requires a relocation to Buffalo, New York.
She’ll leave a network in Philadelphia and is an important voice in Black-led philanthropy. Generocity asked her five questions.
How do you define power in philanthropy?
I define ‘power’ in philanthropy in 3 ways. Actively listening to community members, making a conscious effort to relinquish the desire to control or prescribe solutions, and helping to connect resources to people who have been doing the work. Oftentimes, there’s an assumption that solutions are directly linked to philanthropy. Philanthropy in many ways can be the financial catalyst to helping find solutions, but that problem solving exists well before we arrive.
Why does this role excite you?
M&T is such a community-focused bank; It’s been a fantastic experience working collaboratively across the organization. [Since taking the role], I’ve met with teams in Buffalo, Baltimore, Vermont and Connecticut. The partnership the bank fosters between elected officials, nonprofit leaders, and other private institutions warms my heart. I’m really excited to embark upon this work.
What excites you about your move to Buffalo?
I’m a military brat so moving around is actually far more natural for me than remaining in one place/city. Buffalo is a place I’m very familiar with as my mother is from there. In many ways, this feels like fate, and I’m excited to learn more about a community that I’ve always been connected to. Love the fact that my children will be able to spend time with Grandma and all our aunts, uncles, and cousins.
What steps can other funders take to be more “community-centric” – listening and working with a given community?
Dismiss preconceived notions about our communities, be conscious of language, and seek to learn about the history of our communities before attacking the issues.
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What have you learned from your time in philanthropy?
I’ve learned the philanthropic collective “we” do not have all the answers. Once I stopped leaning into the “build it and they will come” philosophy I began to see how our community partners have solved many things on their own with little to no resources. I realized philanthropy can’t do it alone and we should have a more active role in partnering with the private, nonprofit, and public sectors.
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