This post originally appeared in the PLACES Connection December 2022 newsletter.

BY Sheena Solomon, PLACES Advisory Board Chair 

As many of us know, the last few years have not been the easiest; however, they’ve come with opportunities, challenges and small wins.  As we all enter into a new year with new challenges, new opportunities and new wins, I encourage everyone to take time to breathe.

As I continue my leadership journey, I have realized the importance of breathing, the importance of being, and not always doing. Life has us on roller skates, just going and going all the time. Not taking time to celebrate small wins, birthdays and anniversaries. Not taking the time to take a real vacation and just enjoy family or alone time. They say, “don’t put for tomorrow what you can do today,” but I say, “don’t get consumed by fake urgency.” Time waits for no one, so don’t say, “Oh, I’ll take a vacation next year,” or “I’ll go visit that family member another time,” because the work will always be here, but there is no promise that you will be here to do it.

The message is to take time for yourself, your family, your friends, and those who love you because they are the reason you do the work. Take time out to breathe…



PLACES — which stands for Professionals Learning About Community, Equity and Sustainability — uses learning, coaching and reflections to explore structural racism, community empowerment and equitable grantmaking practices. In addition to the PLACES curriculum, Fellows learn from the people and places we visit. Our Fellowship Cohort, selected annually from a highly competitive pool of applicants, embarks on year-long journey that includes four site visits to communities across the U.S. and Canada.

The PLACES Fellowship concludes with a capstone presentation and graduation — but that rarely marks the end of the PLACES experience. As any PLACES alum will tell you, the deep bonds and professional connections forged by the Fellows extend well beyond the end of their cohort year. Learn more about the PLACES fellowship and alumni here.


About the Author

Sheena Solomon is executive director of The Gifford Foundation and vice chair of TFN’s Board of Directors. She was a PLACES 2012 Fellow and currently serves as chair of the PLACES Advisory Board and is a member of the Partners for Places Governance Committee. 





A Space to Breathe” by judy dean is licensed under CC BY-SA