By Cynthia Choi, AAPIP Deputy Director
AAPIP is pleased to announce the 2013 Banyan Tree Honorees –Thomas C. Layton, President and Stacie Ma’a, Vice President of The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation. The Banyan Tree Award is presented to an individual or institution in philanthropy with a demonstrated commitment to Building Democratic Philanthropy (BDP). BDP is AAPIP’s core belief that philanthropy has a role in promoting a healthy democracy and should be responsive to and build on the strengths of all communities.
Banyan trees are spiritually symbolic in many cultures and represents qualities of strength, stability, growth and renewal. In some communities, the tree is a gathering place, where disputes are resolved and justice is meted out. For AAPIP, the banyan tree with its deep roots and expansive and inviting canopy serves as a metaphor for Building Democratic Philanthropy.
AAPIP is privileged to work with our many partners in philanthropy. Both Tom and Stacie were selected for their shared leadership approach as well as their distinct contributions in the field. Highlighting critical social issues and the work of their grantees has always been at the forefront while promoting the Foundation has come secondary. Tom and Stacie have also placed a high value in creating an intergenerational community and network of leaders devoted to positive social change.
Tom joined the family foundation over 35 years ago and since that time has dedicated his efforts to strengthening the nonprofit and philanthropic sector. In fact, Tom gave AAPIP its very first grant to hire a staff person. Not very many foundations would have made such an investment in a nascent organization but Tom recognized the need to address the invisibility and lack of philanthropic investments in the AAPI community. Since that initial support, Tom has been a trusted advisor and loyal partner of AAPIP and many other organizations.
Stacie joined the foundation in 2001 and oversees all their grant-making in the areas of arts and culture, the environment, community affairs, strengthening the philanthropic sector, and special projects. Stacie has been committed to promoting issues of diversity and racial equity in philanthropy. She has played significant leadership roles within AAPIP including serving as co-chair and steering committee of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter and as a member of the Lunar Giving Circle. For over 7 years, Stacie has served as an Advisory Committee member of the Civic Engagement Fund for Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian communities. And as one of the few Native Hawaiians working in the field of philanthropy, Stacie is currently working with AAPIP to better understand and meet the needs of Pacific Islanders (mainly Native Hawaiians) in Hawaii and California.
We are proud to honor Tom and Stacie with this year’s Banyan Tree Award at AAPIP’s Annual Membership meeting on April 7, 2013 in Chicago. We look forward to celebrating and continuing our partnership for many years to come.