Fundraiser Knows The Color of Money

Servant leader Tanya Downing tackles Dallas’ disparities in health care access

Tanya L. Downing’s work as director for the Emergency Medicine Foundation and founder of The Color of Money, a network for fundraisers of color, has taken on new urgency amid the COVID-19 pandemic and renewed focus on racial injustice. 

Downing has worked in the fundraising, non-profit management, and program development space for more than 20 years, including for the American Cancer Society and Texas Health Resources, before joining EMF, which is the philanthropic arm of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP). 

“I’m proud to work and fundraise for a foundation that’s committed to expanding quality healthcare and improving access for all.”

Tanya L. Downing
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“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed disparities in health care access, even in our own backyard,” she said. “I’m proud to work and fundraise for a foundation that’s committed to expanding quality health care and improving access for all. Reducing racial and ethnic disparities in health care requires true patient-centered care, but it also requires access to resources and funding.”

Since the pandemic struck, Downing said EMF’s fundraising has focused on COVID-19-related research and mitigating healthcare disparities brought to light by the crisis.

“I just love being in the health care space and providing service to those in the community that are in need, especially now with the focus being health disparities, and then providing services to people who look like me, and so that has always been kind of a desire for me,” she said.

Downing also served as a co-chair for the virtual Greater Dallas Chapter of Association of Fundraising Professionals’ 35th-annual The Stars of Texas celebration for Dallas’ National Philanthropy Day this year. She’s been a member of the AFP since 1995. This was her second time to chair National Philanthropy Day. She became the first Black leader to do so in 2011. 

When she’s not involved in philanthropy, Downing is heavily involved with Concord Church, where she typically serves as a barista on Sunday mornings and with the medical ministry team.

She said her fundraising interest started when she worked as a volunteer at the Zachary Scott Theatre in Austin, serving on the board.

Q: What are some fun facts about you? 

Tanya: I love being a doggie mom. I have a 13-year-old cockapoo named Brownie. I have no children, and so that’s why I feel that I have the time to give and serve as a servant leader and work in the community and helping others and volunteering because I have the time. My dad was in the Army, so I’m a military brat. We traveled around the world. My dad retired in 1978, and I moved to Dallas in 1978 and went to my senior year of high school here, and then I went off to college.

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Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at

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