Kristen Corning Bedford, program partner

When Kristen Corning Bedford talks about investing, it’s not all dollars and cents. “Attention,” she quotes, “is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” The Simon Weil quip is a pertinent one. Kristen, philanthro•be retreat facilitator,  will return to the Institute from March 7—9 to guide a group of women on the path toward “informed, intentional and joyful” giving, and she’ll be talking about energy, passion, and talent as well as cash and volunteer hours.

“Philanthropy is a daily practice, encouraging us to appreciate others, use our whole selves to impact our communities, and clearly see the many ways in which we’re able to strengthen our generous hearts, beginning with ourselves,” Kristen writes on her philanthro•be retreat page. “We each carry a unique portfolio of currencies, including time, money, and skills.” As a mother of two, Kristen sees giving in the large context of how we nurture our families and our next generations as well as in the context of what organizations we support.

Marnie Jones, Communications Manager, spoke with Kristen about the upcoming retreat and the philanthro•be concept. “At the beginning of the weekend, we jump right into values or passions work,” Kristen explained. “What do you want to see a change in? Where do you feel you can make a difference?” The weekend isn’t about coming out with a heavy financial worksheet, she said, but about understanding how to be real with yourself, make values-informed choices, and map out a joyful mission for giving back to the world.

Kristen holds an MA from Antioch University in Whole Systems Design and a BA from Western Washington University in Film Studies and Production. She credits her education in the arts for enhancing her skills in creativity, strategic thinking, and collaboration. She advocates for arts in education, serving as board president of ArtsEd Washington. She’s also the co-founder of The Ruby Room in Seattle, WA, a Women Investing In Tacoma founding member, and former Vice President of Community Philanthropy at The Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, where she explored “non-profit sustainability, collaboration, and innovation while managing the grant making process and donor education initiatives.”

Kristen inspires and is inspired by the many people with whom she interacts each day. “I find myself daily being re-inspired,” she said. “I find myself constantly making connections back to gratitude, to how we act and how we treat people. Everyone you come across is a role model or a mentor in some capacity.” This power within each of us to be a teacher and a leader is part of what fuels her philanthro•be work.

Kristen’s choice of the Whidbey Institute as a venue for her work was instrumental in the retreat design. “At the core [of philanthro•be] is the mission of being in connection with yourself in order to better serve.” The environment, she said, is key: “There’s an underlying, sometimes missed component. It’s intuitive, and you have to step outside of manmade structures to really be able to quiet yourself.” Continuing, Kristen explains how her vision for the retreat first coalesced. “It went beyond just a philanthropy retreat. It was very much about women meeting in the woods to talk about what they’re passionate about, and nurturing their own generosity for themselves and for each other.”

To join Kristen at the Whidbey Institute, check out her upcoming March retreat! To learn more about her work, visit

February 4, 2014

People & Partners