Since 2020, the most consistent theme of work and home life has been that everything will continue to change in new and surprising ways. In 2021, we experienced “soft launches” of in-person life — flirting with a return to face-to-face human interaction before COVID variants and natural disasters vaulted us right back into a mostly virtual environment.

What can we learn from 2022, the first full year of re-emerging into the “new normal?” We asked our staff for their takeaways. Some of the lessons are programmatic, others are personal.

We’d love to hear from you about your greatest lessons either through email or in the comments on our Facebook page.

Michael Tipton – President of the Blue Cross Foundation and Head of Community Relations

 Prior to the pandemic, I’d gotten pretty good about guessing the outcomes of things – particularly in the philanthropic/ non-profit space. For example, I could usually accurately guess what attendance would look like at a community event or, when reading a program plan, where we might hit a snag in implementation.

And then things changed. What I’ve experienced in 2022 is that we’ve solidly entered a new normal, but many of the old approaches don’t work in the same way they once did. Events we expected to exceed capacity were only half-full; others where we expected little interest sold out. Some strong programs faltered, and weaker programs thrived.

Going into 2023, I’m holding on to my assumptions about what will work very lightly. I’m doubling down on my willingness to adapt and try new approaches to solve problems, and will continue to learn from those results in service of finding the best way forward.”

Chloé Wiley — Foundation Initiatives Manager

“This year, I had the honor of participating in Philanthropy Southeast’s Hull Fellowship program, where I connected with other program officers and staff from funding organizations. Many participants, including myself, have spent time on the ‘other side of the table’ as grant recipients.

Much of our time together was spent examining and interrogating the practices that have an inequitable impact on grantees. We heard first-hand from grantees and learned from other funders how grantmaking processes can be improved to move from an inherent power dynamic to a partnership. We looked at the full picture and compiled our learnings into a guide to equitable grantmaking strategies you can view here.

At the Blue Cross Foundation, we aim to improve our process to make things easier and better for our grantees. Being more equitable throughout our processes will allow us to widen our engagement pool, bring more great ideas to the table, and raise the tide for all of the people we serve. Like everyone, we have work to do in this area, but making the space and time to learn from others in the field has been such a valuable lesson this year.”

Tanja Foil — Foundation Initiatives Coordinator

“Now that COVID lockdowns are hopefully a thing of the past, I learned just how important it is to actually interact face to face with my co-workers.  It really does make a difference in terms of productivity and reminds me that I am part of a team.”

Kellie Duhon — Corporate Giving Manager

“The most important lesson that I learned in 2022 is that slowing down and (re)building relationships are important and necessary for our health and wellbeing. COVID-19 secluded us from each other and we adjusted to the ‘new’ way of conducting business.

Like many others, I missed the in-person interactions with our nonprofit partners, our employees, and the community. Fall 2022 gave me a taste of the ‘old life,’ as we had many sponsored events for the first time in a few years. But I felt busy and rushed, and left drained.

Busy-ness is not our friend. I want to focus more on listening and being present in 2023 in order to better serve the people of Louisiana.”

Natalie Wesley — Employee Giving Manager

“My biggest lesson in 2022 was that sometimes you have no clue where your life is going. Take a deep breath and trust the timing, not everything has to be figured out right away. Let things unfold on their own.”

Ben Mahoney – Communications and Special Projects Manager

“I’m walking away from 2022 with two lessons. First, it felt as though when the world opened back up, we took it as an opportunity to try and re-create things almost exactly as they were in 2019 — often leaving behind the best practices to keep people engaged that we learned the hard way over the last two years. It’s almost as if we all needed to test the hypothesis that things really had changed. And they have. Really, truly, and irrevocably. So, it’s okay to leave behind the way things were and get right with how they ought to be going forward.

Second, one of the most liberating things I can do is to not take anything personally. I struggle with insecurity constantly: Am I bringing value? Are people getting what they need from me? Do they like me?

I surprised myself (not in a good way) by having some really anxious reactions to feedback and critique this year, things that I knew were meant to be helpful and were delivered by people with good intentions. I filled the spaces between words with the ugliest suppositions my Goblin Brain had to offer. I’m really trying to detach from that, and take people at face value. Putting this into practice has been so freeing and given me so much more peace of mind. I’m still working at it – but it’s maybe the most important human lesson in my personal and professional lives this year.”

As always, if you have a project you’d like to discuss, lessons to share, or more, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Michael Tipton
President, BCBSLA Foundation
Head of Community Relations