RGK Center Faculty Fellow and Associate Adjunct faculty Dr. Becky Lentz has been selected to participate in the 2022 cohort of The OpEd Project Public Voices Fellowship, a nationwide program that seeks to give greater public voice to historically underrepresented leaders and thinkers with the intention to “increase the range of voices and quality of ideas we hear in the world.”
The OpEd Project partners with leading universities and foundations, including UT Austin, to show that knowledge and thought leadership can and does influence the quality of important public conversations. As one of only six public institutions in the U.S. involved with the program, UT’s mission as a participant is “to increase the number of women faculty and faculty of color sharing their work with the public” to “change who writes history.”
Dr. Lentz wants her work through this program to advance conversations about the critical but oftentimes unseen or misunderstood role of philanthropy in policy and social change, with a specific focus on the funding of digital rights, justice, equity, inclusion and opportunity both in the U.S. and globally.
As a former Ford Foundation program officer in media technology and policy, Dr. Lentz has deep field experience in using grantmaking as a methodology for policy change, having invested more than $30 million during her tenure. As a scholar and educator, she is concerned that the role philanthropy has played in advancing digital rights, justice, equity, inclusion, and opportunity is both understudied and undertaught in higher education.
“The role funders play in policy change isn’t as visible as it should be, given how powerful their influence has become,” said Dr. Lentz. “Nor is the role of the thousands of nonprofit organizations that philanthropy unevenly supports. My goal as a participant in this year’s cohort is to use my voice to make this influence more visible.”
This year marks the seventh cohort of the Public Voices Fellowship at UT Austin, with 120 previous Fellows producing impactful work across various types of media and publications, including op-eds, interviews, TV and radio interviews, and more. According to UT Austin, “many of these successes have led to expansive impact in the academic and public sphere, driving expert citations, demand for book contracts and sparking moving community initiatives.”
“The entire RGK Center team is emboldened that the voice and expertise of Dr. Lentz will be amplified through the OpEd Project at UT Austin,” said RGK Center director Dr. David Springer. “As an international leader in the field of philanthropy, social change, and digital inclusion, the OpEd platform aligns perfectly with the work of Dr. Lentz.”