DianaKatz headshot WCGN copyDiana Katz This is an interview with Diana Katz, who recently established the Latino Engagement and Achievement Fund (LEAF) with the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia. Diana is also a co-founder of the Giving Circle of HOPE.

Diana, you founded the Giving Circle of HOPE and now LEAF. Can you tell us why you wanted to do this, what giving means to you?

To me, philanthropic giving – like civic participation – means that we have a duty to leave the community better than we found it.  Those of us who feel strongly about this have to lead by example. I feel an obligation to both encourage others to give and to make it easier for them to do so. 

The GCH was born out of this desire to make others see that everyone can give, and that it is more powerful when done in community, strategically and with common purpose.

LEAF was born out of learning, through my current professional experience and from the Aspen Institute’s report, that the Latino immigrant community lags other immigrant communities in civic participation. Applying to LEAF what I learned about collective giving and grant making with the GCH, can make it possible to increase Latino participation in philanthropy and through it, civic engagement. 

Why did you choose to partner with the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia?

When we founded the GCH in 2004, the Community Foundation was very small and local, just like us. Even then, the staff was friendly, it was a good value, they were personally engaged in our venture, and their services were what we needed at the time. As the years have gone by, both the CFNV and the GCH have grown together and the GCH benefitted from being with an organization that is innovative in its thinking, and shares our values and goals for the community.

For LEAF, I wanted to make giving by Latinos part of a mainstream organization. Many Hispanic or Latino foundations are by and for Latinos and Latino causes. I believe that, even as we preserve the valuable parts of our heritage, we should all be part of ONE community, and that includes the philanthropic community. The obvious approach was to go with what I know, respect, and trust, and that is the Community Foundation for Northern VA.