In Crisis and Conflict, Values Lead the Way

News | 06/02/2020

A Statement from Dan Futrell, CEO and Tillman Scholar: 

The Pat Tillman Foundation’s mission is to unite and empower the military community as the next generation of leaders, committed to service beyond self. The events following the death of George Floyd call us to reinforce that commitment to service beyond self by considering how we as an organization—and through the work of our remarkable Tillman Scholars—can lead through action to support racial justice and equity.

Our Tillman Scholars, myself included, served our country in times of war and peace. Recent events underscore that for communities of color, there has been no peace. This will not change overnight, and it will not change without intentional action from organizations like ours. In the past year, we have made changes to both our hiring and scholarship selection process to ensure our organization, and the Tillman Scholars we support, reflect our communities and show how diversity strengthens us. We know this is just a start.

We are committed to building a community of diverse leaders and developing them to apply their experiences and leadership to seemingly intractable problems, including those that disproportionately impact communities of color, across disciplines like education, law, social work, and business. This includes Tillman Scholars like: 

  • Keidrick Roy (2017 Tillman Scholar) As a Teaching Fellow at Harvard University Keidrick helped students examine the concept of race in the context of colonialism, climate change and ecocatastrophe and produced research that contributed to structural change in his institution’s curriculum on race and ethnic studies.
  • Jennifer Esparza (2018 Tillman Scholar) A recent graduate of Georgetown University’s Law School, Jennifer turned difficult moments into fuel for positive change by advocating for those who have faced systemic inequity in the criminal justice system.
  • Adrian Perkins (2015 Tillman Scholar) As mayor of Shreveport, Louisiana, Adrian is working to create an inclusive environment that enables all Shreveporters to thrive by championing community-oriented policing reforms and an equitable economic development strategy.

We see the potential that not just these three, but all 635 remarkable veterans, service members and military spouses in our community have to conduct difficult conversations and lead difficult work to change the reality that justice is not available to all in our country. Through the work of this community—inspired by our values of service, scholarship, humble leadership, and impact—we can address this inequity and leave the world better than we found it.