To commemorate Hispanics in Philanthropy’s 33rd year, we honored 33 Latino leaders who inspire as our 2017 HIPGivers. Read HIPGiver Diana Bermudez’s story below.
Diana Bermudez deeply understands the power of making connections, forging partnerships and fostering alliances. As a grantmaker and nonprofit/foundation consultant, she has worked closely with organizations to help them communicate the importance of their work to funders, and how their work fits into the broader framework of philanthropic programs. This experience as “translator,” as she puts it, has cemented Bermudez’s philosophy of giving that transcends the financial gift.
Giving, she explains, also means mentoring, volunteering, connecting people and sharing information. “In the philanthropic and nonprofit world, we also share information to improve practice; that’s what we do,” she said. “Now as a consultant, I continue sharing knowledge and information to advance efforts in the third sector.” Two of her mentees, she proudly reports, are now elected officials and others are in senior level positions at nonprofit organizations.
Bermudez believes it is human nature to want to be a part of solutions in society. “People can be inspired to give by helping them “get connected to issues; to see and feel both the challenges at hand and the people working to address them,” she said, “ [to be] in constant touch with the issues we care about, and invite them to be engaged one way or another.”
Prior to her role as an independent consultant, Bermudez worked as senior program officer at the Ford Foundation where she managed grantmaking in the Urban Poverty/Community Development Program. From there, she went on to the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund where she supported San Francisco Bay Area nonprofits focused on neighborhood improvement, affordable housing, workforce development, and food security. She also has managed nonprofit organizations and programs for preschoolers, youth, working parents, elders, as well as for neighborhood improvement. Bermudez attributes her experience as a young adult serving farmworkers in rural areas of California with igniting her interest in giving back to her community.
Bermudez’ entry into the philanthropic sector was serendipitous. “There’s something exciting about falling into opportunities and seeing where that leads when you follow your heart and inspiration. I feel very lucky to have loved what I do and to simultaneously do good in the world.”
Bermudez has a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a master’s in public health from the University of California, Berkeley. In the early stages of her career, she worked at The Unity Council in Oakland, starting from an entry-level position in resource development, to special assistant to the executive director, to deputy director. She was in that position when she caught the attention of the Ford Foundation during a site visit by its officers, which led to her hiring as Program Officer in the Urban Poverty Program.
Shortly after joining the Ford Foundation, Bermudez became a board member of Hispanics in Philanthropy. As a longtime advocate for underserved and Hispanic communities, Bermudez said she was always looking for opportunities to support HIP and its efforts to bring more philanthropic resources to Hispanic/Latino communities.
Whether she is serving on boards, strengthening nonprofits with her individualized expertise, or supporting communities through neighborhood improvement, Bermudez constantly pursues the best and most effective ways to give.
I’ve come to understand from an intimate perspective of my work with philanthropists and foundations that it’s not the accumulation of money and wealth that is the eureka of it all, but rather, in the satisfaction of giving away wealth to make a difference in the lives of people and in society.
To Bermudez, each person can be philanthropic and help to heal the world:
We can always ask ourselves, ‘What can I do to make things better?’.
Feeling inspired? Read fellow HIPGiver Norma Bastidas’s story and let the uplifting vibes continue!