A Note from GEO CEO, Marcus Walton, on COVID-19

  • By Marcus Walton, March 20, 2020

Our thoughts and prayers are with each of you during these unique times of uncertainty and change. Indeed, as new realities associated with COVID-19 or the novel coronavirus become more apparent, we wish you and your loved ones renewed patience and focus on whatever is most essential to your well-being. Thank you for your gestures of generosity and encouragement as we have joined the ever-growing number of organizations who have adopted new ways of doing business to preserve the safety of our members and stakeholders.

As we work together with our colleagues on field-wide reactions to the immediate impact of COVID-19, we are seeing an overwhelming number of strategies to increase awareness and support resilient grantee organizations. We are pleased to see the speedy adoption of principles that reflect our Vision for Smarter Grantmaking that provide optimal flexibility while promoting grantee effectiveness during this unprecedented crisis.

As we continue to “zoom in” on emerging details, we encourage you to protect yourself against “coronavirus-fatigue” by staying connected with a peer community, and “zooming out” periodically to re-calibrate your thinking about what is most essential to your organization as well as your personal well-being. As a network focused on supporting you with resources and coaching for effective implementation through cohort learning and peer connections, we remind you to take comfort in the fact that you are never alone.

Though this is proving to be the largest global crisis we have faced in a generation, we draw confidence from our ongoing committment to fostering a community of practice and learning that has reliably revealed the collective genius needed to respond during similar moments of adversity. I want to take this time to point you to our most recent resources on Change Management, Race Equity, and the Learning in Philanthropy Guidebook, that examine the benefits of embracing risk and experimentation in moments such as this one. In spite of the uncertainty that characterizes this moment, our community of grantmaking professionals is informed with ample lessons, frameworks and, most importantly, people, for producing results that align with our highest aspirations for the philanthropic sector.

Marcus Walton

President & CEO


Marcus F. Walton joins GEO with over a decade of practice in both nonprofit management and the ontological learning model. He specializes in operationalizing conceptual frameworks; racial equity facilitation and training; leadership and management strategy; stakeholder engagement; program development and navigating philanthropy.

In his previous role as Director of Racial Equity Initiatives for Borealis Philanthropy, Marcus lead the Racial Equity Initiatives team and worked in partnership with 18 nationally-networked, philanthropy-serving grantee organizations to move past the “transactional” nature of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to a unified movement which prioritizes strategies that close gaps in access to opportunity, resources and well-being (across all categories of gender, identity, sexual orientation, class and ability).

Before that, Marcus served as Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for the Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE), where he oversaw its operations, HR and staff development functions, including the overall strategy, conceptualization and administration of racial equity programming. Prior to ABFE, he combined his organizing experience and passion for public service in the role of Program Officer of Community Responsive Grantmaking with the Cleveland Foundation and Sr. Program Officer with Neighborhood Progress, Inc.

Marcus is a Newfield Network-trained ontological coach, with additional training in the Action Learning systems coaching model. He promotes coaching as a tool for personal mastery, racial equity & systems change, social sector excellence and transformation within marginalized communities.

Marcus received a Bachelor of Arts in History and Political Science from Bowling Green State University and has continued graduate studies in public administration at Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Public Policy as well as Rutgers University’s School of Public Affairs and Administration.