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Celebrating Our Philanthropy Fellows: A Spotlight on Tyler Parlor

CMF’s fellowship program, sponsored by CMF members, is designed to support emerging leaders with the experience and skills to advance their careers in the sector.

Tyler Parlor, CMF Philanthropy Fellow

CMF’s fellowship program, sponsored by CMF members, is designed to support emerging leaders with the experience and skills to advance their careers in the sector while making meaningful contributions to their home foundation and the larger nonprofit community.

Our current cohort of philanthropy fellows is supported and sponsored by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation (RCWJF). The cohort’s three philanthropy fellows have been embedded in the RCWJF’s program team, supporting the grantmaking activities of the foundation while receiving professional development through CMF.

As the philanthropy fellows reach the end of their fellowships, we’re celebrating their two years of contributions, exploring the work they led, what they valued most and what’s next in their professional journeys.

Tyler Parlor, a CMF philanthropy fellow, supported RCWJF’s Active Lifestyles, Preparing for Success, and Nonprofit Innovation and Support initiatives across Southeast Michigan and Western New York.

“The fellowship created a seat for me at tables that I otherwise would not have access to. The most influential lessons came from experiences like CMF's Annual Conference where I was able to absorb the culture of philanthropy, gain a better understanding of 'how the sausage is made' and learn how to be impactful in the philanthropic arena,” Parlor said.

According to Parlor, RCWJF supported her in navigating the intricacies of philanthropy.

“Foundation and program staff certainly helped guide and mentor me. I learned the processes of grantmaking, how to engage intentionally with communities and how to sustain coalitions.” Parlor said.

Parlor shared the value of engaging in fellowship with a cohort of emerging leaders.

“I couldn’t imagine this fellowship experience without the cohort. It’s great to have peers to lean on knowing you will continue to grow together,” Parlor said. 

The fellows recently presented the findings of their capstone projects to the CMF Board of Trustees.

The main goal of Parlor’s capstone project was to explore meaningful involvement in environmental decisions that are impacting the communities of Southeast Michigan.

“I came into this fellowship with the want to understand how I, as a community member, could be more involved in the decisions around land acquisition and green space development throughout my neighborhood. I looked across the greater Southeast Michigan region, specifically Detroit, to find examples of where community members are at the helm of this work,” Parlor said.

Parlor shared that she was glad to find many examples of community members being meaningfully involved in land acquisition and green space development projects. Through conversations with community members and a variety of other stakeholders, including government officials and foundation staff, Parlor learned of revitalized vacant lots, accessible green spaces and greenways, land repurposed for composting and crop growth, community parks and more.

“Through the capstone project, I found answers to my questions of 'is opportunity available in Detroit? How can I participate? Where do I start?’” Parlor said.

Parlor shared that the fellowship offered a different perspective on community engagement.

“Creating space for emerging community leaders to learn and to have influence as systems are reimagined and as philanthropy examines its relationship with communities is essential,” Parlor said.

Parlor will apply her fellowship and capstone learnings to a civic action plan she’ll create as an inaugural member of Civic Nation’s Change Collective Initiative, a community leader development program focused on bridging divides and solving problems at the community level across the country.

In addition to RCWJF’s ongoing support of CMF philanthropy fellows, the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation is also sponsoring CMF fellowships. The new philanthropy fellows will support the Erb Family Foundation in leveraging the work already underway in Southeast Michigan. One fellow will be embedded in the Great Lakes grantmaking program team, and one will support the Arts, Sustainable Business and Environmental Health & Justice grantmaking programs.

Want more?

Learn more about CMF member-sponsored fellowships.

Read more about Sarah Truax, a CMF philanthropy fellow from our current cohort.