Skip to content
Search

Latest Stories

Top Stories

Meet the reformer: Dorian Spears, pushing the importance of counting all Tennesseans

Dorian Spears. of Momentum Nonprofit Partners
Dorian Spears

Dorian Spears has spent her whole life in Memphis. After college she worked for a social services agency, on a mayoral task force to curb gun violence and as a county economic development official before joining Momentum Nonprofit Partners, which coordinates local philanthropic efforts, three years ago. As chief partnerships officer, her current focus is coordinating efforts to assure a comprehensive census count of Tennessee, especially its cities, to maximize government aid and political power for the state's Black neighborhoods. Her answers have been edited for clarity and length.

What's the tweet-length description of your organization?

An intermediary that strengthens nonprofits from the inside out through training, peer learning, advocacy, public policy and cross sector partnerships.


Describe your very first civic engagement.

As a 7-year-old, I accompanied my parents and grandparents to vote at the nearby public library. I held their hands as we advanced in the line, listening to their discussions about candidates and their advice to me: "When you become an adult, you will have the right to vote. Ancestors came before you, suffered and lost their lives to make this right possible. We will remind you to sign up around your 18th birthday." That is exactly what happened after I obtained my driver's license. I went to the post office, registered to vote — and have not missed an election since.

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter

What was your biggest professional triumph?

Getting 10 of my city's nonprofit and philanthropic organizations into one room for an eight-month effort, led by Beloved Community, to create racial equity action plans that anchor their policies and practices. It took almost a year to make that happen, with a few organizations almost backing out of the contract. While my goal was 20 organizations, including from government and business, I was thankful the institutions that signed on took this initiative seriously. We wrapped up a few weeks before Covid-19 arrived and have remained connected as we work through solidifying our respective plans.

And your most disappointing setback?

Most setbacks have arrived in my life when I did not take heed to my intuition or I took myself too seriously. I give myself grace in those moments and keep it moving.

How does your identity influence the way you go about your work?

I am Black woman in a senior professional role. When I grew up, little was expected from residents of my ZIP code. Now I recognize I am in a privileged space, invited to tables where I can influence change — and able to invite colleagues and younger leaders who would benefit from access to these rooms so they, too, can shape positive change.

As a practitioner of equity, diversity, and inclusion, I understand how setting the foundation of anti-Black racism and white dominant culture is important before we can arrive at this conclusion: Actions must be taken to allow for a thriving of communities that have suffered for generations, under systems not intended for marginalized identities. Knowing our current systems were not meant for all to benefit makes me angry often. At best, this makes me hopeful and engaged to create opportunities to shift that narrative.

What's the best advice you've ever been given?

Trust people to be themselves. It lessens surprise and disappointment.

Create a new flavor for Ben & Jerry's.

As a fan of the Atlanta based hip-hop group OutKast, it would be called "So Fresh, So Clean" — a citrus fruit mix sorbet with a hint of rosemary.

What's your favorite political movie or TV show?

"The Daily Show" with Trevor Noah. Or "House of Cards," but post-Kevin Spacey.

What's the last thing you do on your phone at night?

Check my calendar for the next day's schedule, play a crossword game — and meditate.

What is your deepest, darkest secret?

I would love to go to Colorado to visit the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park in Canyon City. I would get on the Royal Rush Skycoaster, ride the Aerial Gondolas and try the "Cloudscraper" — the highest zip line in the country! I do love adventure.

Read More

Flag being held out in front of Trump tower

Donald Trump supporters demonstrate in front of Trump Tower in New York a day after the former president was injured during shooting at campaign rally in Pennsylvania.

Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Democracy 2.0 will focus on compassion, not violence

By Sam Daley Harris

Daley-Harris is the author of “Reclaiming Our Democracy: Every Citizen’s Guide to Transformational Advocacy” and the founder of RESULTS and Civic Courage. This is part of a series focused on better understanding transformational advocacy: citizens awakening to their power.

Keep ReadingShow less
Secret Service agents covering Trump

Secret service agents cover former President Donald Trump after he was wounded in an assassination attempt July 13.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

It takes a team

Molineaux is the lead catalyst for American Future, a research project that discovers what Americans prefer for their personal future lives. The research informs community planners with grassroots community preferences. Previously, Molineaux was the president/CEO of The Bridge Alliance.

We love heroic leaders. We admire heroes and trust them to tackle our big problems. In a way, we like the heroes to take care of those problems for us, relieving us of our citizen responsibilities. But what happens when our leaders fail us? How do we replace a heroic leader who has become bloated with ego? Or incompetent?

Heroic leaders are good for certain times and specific challenges, like uniting people against a common enemy. We find their charisma and inspiration compelling. They help us find our courage to tackle things together. We become a team, supporting the hero’s vision.

Keep ReadingShow less
USAID flag outside a building
J. David Ake/Getty Images

Project 2025: U.S. Agency for International Development

Breslin is the Joseph C. Palamountain Jr. Chair of Political Science at Skidmore College and author of “A Constitution for the Living: Imagining How Five Generations of Americans Would Rewrite the Nation’s Fundamental Law.”

This is part of a series offering a nonpartisan counter to Project 2025, a conservative guideline to reforming government and policymaking during the first 180 days of a second Trump administration. The Fulcrum's cross partisan analysis of Project 2025 relies on unbiased critical thinking, reexamines outdated assumptions, and uses reason, scientific evidence, and data in analyzing and critiquing Project 2025.

South African divestment is the most famous, and likely most successful, global pressure campaign in recent memory. The enemy was the minority white elites who conceived, implemented and perpetuated apartheid, the incomprehensibly malevolent scheme of legally sanctioned racial separation. These racists got their just desserts when company after company, government after government, and individual after individual pulled their resources. Eventually, the South African economy strained, leaders were toppled and the country began its long march toward moral reclamation.

Keep ReadingShow less
American flag
SimpleImages/Getty Images

Quite simply, fairness matters

Sturner, the author of “Fairness Matters,” is the managing partner of Entourage Effect Capital. Meyers is the executive editor of The Fulcrum.

This is the first entry in the “Fairness Matters” series, examining structural problems with the current political systems, critical policies issues that are going unaddressed and the state of the 2024 election.

Our path forward as a nation requires that we send a resounding message to Washington that fairness matters. That proportional representation needs to be the heart and soul of our political system because, right now, the far left and the far right are disproportionately represented. Meanwhile, "we the people" are not nearly as polarized as our legislatures, and that is by design.

The absence of fairness (some real and some perceived) is driving the political dysfunction in our country today. The vast majority of the American public wakes up every day and we go to work. We are moderate in our views on most issues, mostly just to the right or left of center. Most of us value common sense in our lives and strive to find a way to peacefully get through our days, to enable us to care for our loved ones while trying to make better lives for ourselves and our children.

Sign up for The Fulcrum newsletter

Keep ReadingShow less