I hope you will join me in continuing to support the important work that Open Society does here in Baltimore. We still have so much work to do.
As you read this, I am in Lesotho, on a sabbatical from Open Society Institute-Baltimore. I am delighted to be spending two months working with Partners in Health, assisting it in its quest to ensure access to healthcare across this beautiful country known as the Mountain Kingdom.
I recently announced that I will use this juncture as the right time to say goodbye to OSI and take full advantage of the sabbatical to consider how I can best address social justice issues moving forward. Deputy Director Tracy Brown has stepped in as Acting Director during my sabbatical and she will continue in that role when my time with OSI officially ends in June. Open Society Foundations has already begun a national search for a new director.
The easiest part of my decision (and that which gave me the most comfort) was knowing the expert and capable people I leave behind to carry on our important work. Everyone—from our program directors and program specialists to our advisory board—is dedicated to our mission.
I am proud of the impact OSI has had over the years, which was so aptly highlighted during our 20th Anniversary events. In this newsletter, you’ll find a recap of those three events, which managed to capture the key themes of our work over the years, including pursuing justice, upholding democracy, and demanding equality for all residents of Baltimore. You can read an excellent roundup of 20 accomplishments of those first 20 years on our website (osibaltimore.org/20Accomplishments).
As I round out my last days at OSI-Baltimore, I recall the early days. The very first headquarters of Open Society Foundations’ first (and still only) U.S. field office was my kitchen table. Once I hired Pamela King to create our Community Fellowships program—of which she is still director—we moved into a small office, but among the challenges was a shortage of phone jacks. I’ll never forget how we had to scramble around the office moving the phone cord from one jack to another, depending on who was receiving a call.
In our first years, Open Society Foundations founder George Soros was a more regular presence in town. And as hard as it may be to imagine now that he has been so viciously villainized and threatened by autocrats around the world, I used to drive him around in front seat of my car (I was careful to brush away the cookie crumbs my young daughters had left behind). I recall one excursion when we went to park on the street and neither I nor my globe-trotting passenger had change to pay the meter.
George turns 89 this year, and he doesn’t travel as much as he used to, but I was moved that he took the time to record a video tribute to our work here in Baltimore, to be played at the first event in our 20th Anniversary Speaker Series. I am grateful that his commitment to advancing the values of Open Society in Baltimore and around the world remain unwavering.
My commitment to those values remains steadfast as well, and I hope you will join me in continuing to support the important work that Open Society does here in Baltimore. We still have so much to do.