Pilot House from the harbor

Matt Conti

Strategic Communications at Barr

Exploring how Barr can more fully leverage communications to advance its mission.

In my most recent President’s Message, I noted that one of my early priorities for Barr was to explore how we could more fully leverage communications to extend the Foundation’s impact, complement our grantmaking, and amplify the work of our grantees. I want to share an update on that work here.

With a planning process on the horizon for Barr in 2015, it was the right time to initiate this work for two reasons: first, I arrived at Barr with a strong conviction that communications—when strategically and selectively deployed—can help advance our mission and deepen our impact beyond what is possible by grantmaking alone. A close look at foundations that do this well reveals one common feature: they possess a communications mindset. By this I mean that, more than a set of tactics for disseminating news or ideas, strong communicating foundations bring disciplined ways of thinking about challenges and potential solutions—a discipline we will fully integrate throughout our planning next year.

My second reason is that, with the encouragement and support of the trustees, the Barr Foundation is prepared to step away, even more fully than it has in recent years, from its origins as an anonymous, quietly effective institution, and to embrace communications as one of the important tools at its disposal.

We will share more in the months ahead about the role of communications at Barr, but for now, I am delighted to announce the appointment of Stefan Lanfer as Barr's first director of communications, effective today. Since 2010, Stefan has ably served as Barr’s knowledge officer with a range of communications responsibilities; however, this change acknowledges the strategic leadership role communications will play in Barr’s work in the future.

In addition we will soon initiate a search for a communications project manager in order to deepen our capacity to pursue a more ambitious agenda. We will post that job description here in the coming days.

Finally, in the spirit of communications being about engagement, and not just one-way transmission of information, I invite you to email me at president[at]barrfoundation.org with comments, advice, and observations about this message or any other facet of Barr’s work.

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Jim Canales

James E. Canales

President & Trustee