E12S10 A Career in Philanthropy, Social Justice and Innovation with Darius Graham

Summary & Key Takeways

Curious about trust-based philanthropy and participatory grant-making?

Take a listen to Episode 12, Season 10's Podcat Episode with Darius Graham, Program Director, Baltimore, at the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.

Darius shares tips on how to get hired for non-profit and social impact roles and emphasizes the importance of being skilled in problem-solving and managing unpredictability. He also discusses how his legal training has been useful in his career and his journey from Law Associate, to Founder of the DC Social Innovation Project, to Founding the Social Innovation Lab at Johns Hopkins University to his current role in philanthropy.

Listeners will learn about topics like foundations' funding processes, successful proposals, and the strong social entrepreneurship ecosystem in Baltimore. Darius stresses the importance of networking, developing skills including writing and synthesizing information, and the need to involve communities in decision-making.

Timestamped Overview

[00:00:19] New podcast episode featuring Darius Graham on philanthropy, social impact, and careers.

[00:08:25] Lawyer to social innovator for impact.

[00:14:04] "Skills for social impact: listening, writing, analyzing"

[00:22:04] Foundations have different processes for funding requests.

[00:27:29] Various ways of hiring, impact-based candidates preferred.

[00:33:05] Nonprofit boards serve as governance structures. Finding them involves networking and skill matching.

[00:37:28] Advice on joining a board: network first.

Key Topics

- Importance of problem-solving skills in hiring

-Focus on impact in cover letters and applications

-Speaker's journey from law firm to director of Social Innovation Lab

-Importance of entrepreneurial spirit in creative roles

-Understanding funding priorities and processes of foundations

-The importance of storytelling and data in successful proposals

-Baltimore's strong ecosystem for social entrepreneurs

-Board service in nonprofits and how to get involved

-Trust-based philanthropy and participatory grant-making as growing movements-

Nonprofits should involve marginalized communities in decision-making processes


Darius Graham is a lawyer and leader in the areas of philanthropy, social impact, and innovation. Across roles and sectors, Darius innovates within institutions, engages and centers impacted communities, and helps organizations achieve transformational change. As a director at one of the largest private charitable foundations in the U.S., Darius helps guide the distribution of over $30 million in grants annually to nonprofits working across the areas of housing, health, workforce development, and education in Baltimore and beyond. Darius is a Civil Society Fellow with The Aspen Institute and ADL and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.

At the Baltimore Museum of Art, Darius serves as a trustee, chair of the public engagement committee, and co-chair of the search committee. Darius previously served as board co-chair of Community Law In Action where he led an executive search, a merger, and an increase in net assets. Previously at Johns Hopkins University, Darius was the founding executive director of two university-wide innovation and entrepreneurship programs (the Social Innovation Lab and FastForwardU) where he helped students, faculty, and local residents transform novel ideas and new technologies into viable ventures.

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