The Clinton Foundation Millennium Network brings together the next generation of young leaders and philanthropists. We asked Joanna Spilker, a member of the Clinton Foundation Millennium Network Host Committee, a few questions about the importance of philanthropy to her generation and why she joined the Millennium Network. The next Millennium Network event will be on October 8, 2012 in Los Angeles, CA.
1. Describe yourself in 140 characters (a Tweet!)
Strategic Consultant. Attorney. Former Clinton Foundation staff. Native Angeleno.
2. Why did you decide to get involved with the Millennium Network?
I’ve had the pleasure of working for both Secretary and President Clinton, and have seen firsthand how they inspire and lead others to do tremendous things. During my time at the Clinton Foundation, I was regularly reminded of President Clinton’s credo that we were “private people doing public good”—a theme that ran through all that we did, hand in hand with the philosophy that we take a business-minded approach to our nonprofit work. I was totally enamored by the insistence that we not just talk about the world’s most pressing problems, but take tangible, immediate, market-based steps to solve them. The Clinton Foundation, accordingly, is not just a group of well-intentioned people shining a light on various challenges. Rather, the Foundation gets things done. Big, important things. From a charitable and/or humanitarian standpoint, I don’t think you could get a bigger return on your investment. Supporting its efforts is a no-brainer.
3. Why do you think it is important for your city to be a part of the Millennium Network?
President Clinton often talks about our world’s increasing interconnectedness. Los Angeles is a small microcosm of this. It is one of the most population-dense cities in the U.S., if not the world. Symbolically and literally, we are the last frontier of westward exploration and one of the biggest melting pots in the world. A wonderful mix of immigrants, different cultures, varied traditions, and distinctive heritages. We are also a hugely important economic force; between the entertainment industry, real estate opportunities, and wildly expanding tech scene (including Silicon Beach), we play a vital role in the world economy. We are leaders in our respective fields, and we want to be part of the conversation.
4. What inspires you to give back to your community?
I was lucky enough to have been born into a family that believes very much in the importance of giving back. My grandfather was Chairman and President of several international and local charities. My sister and brother in law work in the nonprofit sector. We are all charitable in our own ways. For me, it is not only a moral obligation to participate, but also a great source of pride and joy. I respect the tradition of each generation taking care of the next and helping steward them through life. This can happen at any level-- family, community, or even nationally and internationally. President Clinton notes that there is an equal distribution of intelligence, hard work, and ability but disparate amounts of opportunity across communities. I want to do my part to make sure as many people as possible are given the opportunity to succeed.
5. Why is this generation important to philanthropy?
I actually think philanthropy is a sector in which we can really see people across different age groups working together. We are all motivated by the same desire to give something back. President Clinton shares the stage with members of all age groups—from college students brimming with new ideas at the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI-U) to retirees seeking to give away fortunes during their lifetimes. I wouldn’t necessarily parse out what one age group does versus another, but what the charitable community is doing as a whole. I would say that this current generation of givers understands—perhaps better than any other before it—the power of the group. It embraces ideas like crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, and sharing of both benefits and responsibilities. Our collective potential dwarfs what each of us can do individually. Facing them together, the world’s problems are less insurmountable.