Incoming Brooklyn Community Foundation President and CEO Dr. Jocelynne Rainey says there are two clear areas she wants to focus on as she steps into her new role.

“Increasing engagement with donors of color, who are the fastest growing group investing in racial and social justice, and forming partnerships with local businesses to follow the incredibly successful model of our Etsy Uplift Fund,” Rainey told BK Reader.

But first: “My immediate focus will be on learning from, listening to, and connecting with the Foundation’s partners and community members across the borough.”

Brooklyn Community Foundation announced that Rainey, formerly President and CEO of Getting Out & Staying Out and EVP and Chief Administrative Officer of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, will take over as president and CEO of the foundation on Dec. 6, replacing Cecilia Clarke, who has held the role since 2013.

Board Chairs Nicole Gueron and Harsha Marti, who led the search for the new CEO, said Rainey, a longtime Brooklyn resident, was a Brooklynite through and through with “nonprofit management expertise, commitment to racial justice, and visionary leadership.”

“[These] make her the perfect person to direct the Foundation and lead us in advancing equity and social change in Brooklyn and in the philanthropic sector more broadly,” the pair said.

Rainey said she had followed the foundation’s work for well over a decade and had “marveled at how the Foundation completely transformed what philanthropy can look like in Brooklyn and beyond.”

She said that the foundation had long put the community first by going to them and hearing exactly what their needs were and how to address them, and by holding a participatory grantmaking process.

“It’s an exciting and really powerful way to ensure equity and justice in grant-making,” she said.

“As someone who has led nonprofits and who sits on the board of several, I also appreciate the Foundation’s approach to their grantees: first, Brooklyn Community Foundation encourages applications from small, grassroots nonprofits that don’t have a chance with larger foundations; second, the application process shows a deep respect for the applicants’ bandwidth; and third the foundation centers racial justice.”

She said that people of color represented nearly 70% of all Brooklyn’s residents, yet there were significant racial disparities in the distribution of power, resources, and opportunities in the borough’s communities.

“Brooklyn Community Foundation believes that addressing systemic racism and injustice — specifically anti-Blackness — is the first step to building a more fair and just Brooklyn for everyone.”

Rainey said the foundation had always met its mission by responding to the needs of Brooklyn communities and evident in its response to the disparities and injustices that surfaced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With the staff team and Board I will continue this legacy, and prioritize listening to and learning from the community to ensure that our work remains impactful and relevant,” she said.

“I also want to grow our relationships with individual and corporate donors and donor advised funds to fuel our mission, and partner with our board to explore how we tap into the power of our financial assets through impact investing.”

Rainey said Brooklyn it was no surprise that Brooklyn was the only borough that has its own community foundation.

“I think there’s a common sense of independence and community in Brooklyn. Perhaps it’s historical — since we used to be our own city — or maybe it’s from this gorgeous mix of people who call the borough home.”

New York City Mayor Elect and current Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said the foundation was “in good hands” with Rainey’s appointment.

“Dr. Rainey has a long track record of working towards the betterment of our borough and I cannot think of a more appropriate role for her to continue her commitment to empowering all Brooklynites.”

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Anna Bradley-Smith

Anna Bradley-Smith is Brooklyn-based reporter with bylines in NBC, VICE, Slate and others. Follow her on Twitter @annabradsmith.

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