Michelle L. Myles Chambers
Director, FAITHS Program
Why do you do what you do?
My personal calling for being part of the universe was to work in the faith community. I live by Marian Wright Edelman’s philosophy, “Service to others is simply the price you pay for living.” I’ve always been in leadership and wanted to assist in the community when there was a disparity. When I was a child, there were no sidewalks in my community. My grandparents were part of the Oakland Community Organization, we went out to the neighborhood to educate folks and let them know the rights they had to demand the city and officials to provide the same services for a low-income community of color as it did for an all-white, upper-class community. That’s when my juices started to flow, and I got the bug to work in community.
What drew you to the foundation?
I was drawn to the foundation because they had an initiative that worked solely with the faith community, FAITHS Initiative.
How would you describe your role?
I came to the foundation as a lay leader with the FAITHS initiative, volunteering my time to get it up and running and working on the grantmaking, and race and relations planning committee representing my small congregation, West Side Missionary Baptist Church. I strongly believed in the mission of the foundation to be a social justice funder who had invested deeply in my community. After a few years, the foundation offered me a part-time position which has lasted more than 20 years.
Are you active in any volunteer activities?
I am a board member of the Episcopal Impact Fund and Sisters of St. Joseph Healthcare Foundation, a member of the Association of Black Foundation Executives (ABFE), Black Funders Network, Northern California Grantmakers, Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy, Bay Area Interfaith Leaders, and regularly volunteer in my congregation and community as well as provide pro-bono support, training, grant writing to congregations and faith-based organizations.