5 Questions with The Wayfarer Foundation’s Laura Herrick
Started by Steve Sarowitz, philanthropist and Founder and Chairman of Paylocity, Wayfarer Foundation launched in 2021 as a Baha’i-inspired organization with the mission to “advance humankind spiritually towards a future peaceful world civilization.” The foundation funds and supports spiritually rooted and justice-oriented nonprofits, including EmbraceRace.
We sat down with Laura Herrick, Executive Director of The Wayfarer Foundation, to learn a little more about her work and perspective on the field:
When you envision the ideal future impact of your foundation's work, what does that look like for the communities you serve?
We are still new, but I would love to see our nonprofit partners, who have the on-the-ground experience in their communities, gain the resources they need to contribute greatly to society-building work in their communities. Then in turn they will have the bandwidth to share insights with those that can impact groups doing similar work for the betterment of humanity.
As you consider the broader landscape of social change, what areas or issues do you believe need increased attention and investment from the philanthropic community?
Wayfarer Foundation is motivated by the simple principle that we’re engaged in co-creating society-building work. Because of that, we invest our time and resources into four societal issues that represent what we call the Wayfarer Way:
Advancing Justice – Wayfarer will work with partners to shine a light on justice, craft and implement root-level solutions to our most complex problems, and bring us closer to appreciating an idea of the oneness of humanity.
Nurturing Spirituality – Faith plays a vital role in animating our work and helping us to build deeper connections with ourselves, others, the creation, and the Divine.
Embracing Community – Society-building work is a two-way street between Wayfarer and our partners. We cannot operate in a bubble isolated from our partners. We are committed to working closely with them and co-creating the best solutions.
Cultivating Resilience – Throughout history, examples of resilience have been great sources of inspiration and learning for all of us. Wayfarer wants to share the lessons from resilience to support our partners in cultivating their strengths and building more sustainable organizations that can navigate trials.
How do you see the intersection between philanthropy and advocacy playing a role in driving systemic change and addressing root causes?
While forces such as racism, nationalism, sexism, classism, and religious animosity are weakening the foundations of democracy on every continent and pitting nations and peoples against one another, we see a growing global movement to build communities characterized by understanding and cooperation among diverse people that are committed to creating systemic change.
As a Baha’i-inspired institution committed to advancing the idea of the oneness of humanity, Wayfarer Foundation is well positioned to join with our nonprofit partners in efforts that offer programming in education, the arts, youth development, racial education, and community building to tear down the walls that keep us separate and disunified. We do not know the answers, but if we work together, shoulder to shoulder, we can co-create a world where all people work together for peace, justice, and prosperity.
What message would you like to share with fellow supporters and partners of EmbraceRace as we continue our mission together?
EmbraceRace's work in introducing racial learning programs to young children strives to build community and promote unity, concepts central to the mission of the Wayfarer Foundation. The research shows that their work makes a difference in bringing up a generation of children who are more thoughtful and informed about race. Wayfarer is proud to partner with EmbraceRace in supporting their society-building work. We encourage all who share the passion for co-creating a more unified society and agree with their noble work in racial education to support EmbraceRace in any way you can.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I am meeting incredible leaders like Andrew and Melissa. The organizations that we support did not become amazing by chance. Most of them have brilliant, passionate leaders who have sacrificed a lot to make them what they are today. I have worked in the nonprofit industry for over two decades and raised hundreds of millions of dollars for some fantastic nonprofits. So I know a tremendous nonprofit and a great nonprofit leader when I see one. Supporting organizations like EmbraceRace, led by Andrew and Melissa, makes my heart happy.