Conference Program


The Art of Flocking: Creating a Shared Vision for the Future

Now is the time to co-create the futures we want to see for our sector and our world, and it is possible through incremental shifts in our daily work. As philanthropy strives for equity, what can we learn from the long social justice history of creative, reflective uprisings in community? How can we collaborate in our visioning to go beyond the horizon of what we currently know and embody the radical change we wish to see right now, in this very moment. No matter how small or seemingly insignificant, these small changes will reveal a larger impact over time.

In this future-oriented conversation, we will explore the human side of making change and discuss how philanthropy can learn from the emergent patterns all around us to build a collaborative vision for the future, which holds our common humanity at its core.


  • adrienne maree brown, Emergent Strategy Ideation Institute
  • Trista Harris, Minnesota Council of Foundation
  • Isaiah Oliver, Community Foundation of Greater Flint

The 2020 Census: Why Philanthropy Counts

The 2020 Census is a social justice issue, with huge implications for communities on the fringes of society. The lack of sufficient funding, a growing climate of fear in immigrant communities, and congressional attacks on federal data collection could undermine the next census, especially in historically undercounted communities. Data from the census drive key decisions made by government, businesses, nonprofits and philanthropy, which in turn have implications for communities across the country. From the number of government representatives to the amount public services provided to a community, the census guides how critical decisions and resources are allocated. Yet, decade after decade low-income people, people of color, those experiencing housing instability, immigrants, LGBTQ idividuals and other oppressed communities are undercounted on the Census - meaning federal funding and political power remain entrenched in the most privileged communities.

During this plenary, several non-profit and philanthropic leaders will lead an action-oriented conversation about why the census matters and how through taking collaborative action, philanthropy can leverage the collective power of multiple partners to ensure a fair and accurate count.

Suggested Speakers

  • Eric Marshall - Funders Committee on Civic Participation (Moderator)
  • Stephania Ramirez, California Community Foundation 
  • Meredith Freeman, Fisher Foundation
  • Donna Murray Brown, Michigan Nonprofit Association

Emerging Leader Salon: A Seat at the Table - Creating Space and Sharing Power

Historically, institutional funding decisions were made without input from those most affected. Decisions have been made in a vacuum, leaving the work of leaders on the frontlines unrecognized and the lived experiences of the communities served as an afterthought.

As disparities persist for many historically marginalized communities, the complexities of social issues require funders to evolve and adopt new practices. Funders require a new definition of leadership. One that is collaborative in nature, grounded in inclusive practices, addresses the inherent power dynamic between grantmaker and grantseeker, and works in deeper partnership with community leaders and other stakeholders to create positive lasting change.

During this Emerging Leader Salon, several leaders who embody this type of leadership will share lessons learned from their own journeys and discuss how they are creating space at the table for other voices to inform their work.

Suggested Speakers:

  • Manuela Arciniegas, Andrus (Moderator)
  • Marco Antonio Quiroga, Contigo Fund
  • Edgar Villanueva, Schott Foundation and author of Decolonizing Wealth
  • Jennifer Lockwood Shabat - Washington Area Women’s Foundation
  • Kim Dempsey, Kresge Foundation (Detroit), Deputy Director, Social Investment Practice


Click on each workshop title to learn more

  • Emergent Strategies Ideation Institute — adrienne maree brown, Emergent Strategies Ideation Institute 
  • While the world remains in a continual state of flux, there is much we can learn from the emergent patterns around us. Join social justice facilitator and author, adrienne maree brown, in a conversation about her latest book Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds. Inspired by Octavia Butler's explorations of our human relationship to change, Emergent Strategy is radical self-help, society-help, and planet-help designed to shape the futures we want to live.
  • Operational Equity: Choosing tools and structures that echo your values — Francesca Dulce Larson, Partner, Mosaic and Deanna-Marie Norcross, Senior Associate, Mosaic
  • How can funders make intentional operational choices for themselves and their grantees that support their collective commitment to equity? Together, we’ll answer this question. Strong leadership begins with living our values. Every day leaders make small decisions that not only help fulfill our mission, but can also serve as authentic markers of our values. (For example, you’re funding new school uniforms - how do you decide who makes them?) This session will focus on how funders can evaluate their own operational practices and those that they suggest to their grantees through the lense of equity and inclusion. Each participant will experience a series of common managerial scenarios found in the nonprofit and philanthropy community. From exploring human resource practices to technology provider challenges, participants will walk away from the session ready to help connect grantees to resources that best align with their overarching values.
  • Just Transitions: When Social Justice Principles Guide Leadership Transitions — Rye Young, Executive Director, Third Wave Fund and Rajasvini Bhansali, Executive Director, Thousand Currents
  • Leadership transitions are where the rubber hits the road in terms of values, priorities, and how we see ourselves as employers. Transition moments reflect us in our truest state and mold our future selves. Yet, it is rare to see the topic deeply explored. This session will feature an interactive workshop and discussion between two outgoing Executive Directors, Rye Young of Third Wave Fund and Rajasvini Bhansali of Thousand Currents. Rye and Rajasvini will share honest and personal insights, lessons learned, and practical tools to benefit attendees’ own career transitions and the reciprocal learning they can enjoy with grantee partners.
  • Hear Our Voice - People at the center of place-based philanthropy — Jillian Rosen, Vice President of Community Investment, Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation (AAACF) and Katie Van Dusen, Community Investment Associate, Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation
  • In any community we are part of we crave opportunities to be heard. That we have input in decisions that affect our lives and our community is at the heart of our sense of belonging and ownership in everything from our neighborhoods to our democracy. As philanthropy explores what it means to involve the voices of those that are most impacted, it must find new means of engagement that establish trust and reciprocity and are focused outside of traditional networks. The Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation has begun to address this through several Community Voice Projects over the past year. “Hear Our Voice” will  share learnings from these projects while simultaneously taking you through a brainstorming process about how a Community Voice Initiative could be implemented at your institution.
  • Centering Black Women and Girls: How Do We Elevate Black Voices in the Women and Girls of Color Advocacy Space? — Renee Joslyn, Founder and Principal, Philanthropy Unbound / Executive Director, PowHERful Foundation, Jordan Sanchez, Strategic Partnerships, Philanthropy Unbound / Executive Director, Puerto Rico SBPUSA and Ragina Arrington, Community Development, Philanthropy Unbound / Director, Recruitment Partnerships, Teach For America
  • As we speak about equity in uncertain times, we want to consistently uplift the voice and role of Black women and girls to pose the question, “In the quest for funding and advocacy of Girls and Women of Color spaces, are we forcing the populations that fall under this umbrella to fit into a monolith?” During this session, we will think actively about how institutions can support Black Women and Girls and ensure that our issues, while at times analogous to, are not conflated with White, Chicano, Latinx, AAPI, Native, LGBTQ, Transgender, and gender non-conforming voices.
  • Sex Work IS Work: Centralizing the Leadership of Trans Women and Gender Non-Conforming Sex Workers in Movement Building — Isyss Agaiotupu Honnen, TRANSform Washington Community Engagement Coordinator, Pride Foundation Finance Associate, TRANSform Washington, Pride Foundation, Jade Dynasty, advocate, dancer and multi-disciplinary performing artist and Monica Renee Jones, Founder, The Outlaw Project
  • Transgender women and gender non-conforming (GNC) sex workers of color face extraordinary levels of violence and marginalization, borne from intersecting forces of sexism, racism and transphobia. Despite this, they are often excluded from conversations among funders because their experiences and politics are deemed unpalatable to cisgender audiences. Nonetheless, they are implementing their own strategies to support and protect each other, largely without support from foundations. This session will educate grantmakers on innovative ways to partner with and support frontline leaders of color from the trans women and GNC sex worker communities. This session is co-sponsored by the Pride Foundation and Funders for LGBTQ Issues.
  • Un-collaborative Collaborations — Nathalie Al-Zyoud, Senior Mediator, Communities in Transition (CIT)
  • Power, in the field of conflict resolution, is defined as the ability to bring about a preferred outcome. Traditional leadership has typically relied on directive strategies to manage employees, fearing that shared decision-making risks a loss of one’s chosen solution. To help create a cohesive team based on the inclusion and respect for diverse value systems, future leaders will be challenged to recreate institutional structures that weave together a number of different threads instead of relying on the status quo to guide their path. In this session, participants will practice finding common ground that honors a broad range of experiences.
  • "Finding Your People" for Survival, Reflection and Transformation in Philanthropy — Ryan Canney, Program Officer, Children's Economic Security, Wellspring Philanthropic Fund, Kiti Kajana Phillips, Program Officer, Access to Medicines and Innovation Initiative, Open Society Foundations and Arianne Shaffer, Director, Indie Philanthropy Initiative / Facilitator, EDGE Funders Alliance / Communications Director,Kindle Project
  • To partake in collaborative leadership, philanthropy professionals regardless of stature within their foundations have to “find their people.” Many of us who work in philanthropy have complex relationships with privilege and power, and some of us ‘migrate’ when entering philanthropy - through class mobility, a geographic move or specific professional training. Also, some of us are activists and find ourselves on “the other side.” Join a fishbowl conversation with three philanthropy professionals from the first ever EDGE Funders Alliance Global Engagement Lab who are each continually “finding their people” as a means of personal survival, collective learning and reflection and organizational and political transformation, and contribute your own stories of “finding your people.”


Lightning Sessions & Micro Learning

Debuting for the first time at our conference, Lightning Talks present three consecutive 15-minute presentations that offer participants the opportunity to spread knowledge and share ideas in a new way.

Session 1

  • Lightning Talk 1: Blockchain & Cryptocurrencies - New Frontiers in Social Justice? — Ingrid LaFleur, Chief Community Officer, EOS Detroit and Heather Lord, Founder, V&H Social Impact
  • Governments, foundations, activists, financial institutions and impact investors are devoting significant resources to exploring blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Philanthropists have often been first-mover funders in new technologies with social impact potential, and Michiganders Ingrid La Fleur and Heather Lord will demystify and explore the potential of emergent technologies like blockchain and cryptocurrencies for advancing equity, financial inclusion and social justice. What lessons might we learn from blockchain that could serve as a blueprint and inspiration for more collaborative philanthropy? How can decentralized finance strengthen a collective mission to create a more just world, especially for oppressed communities
  • Lightning Talk 2: Getting Comfortable with Discomfort - Flow Funding and Why it Works — Arianne Shaffer, Director, Indie Philanthropy Initiative / Facilitator, EDGE Funders Alliance / Communications Director, Kindle Project
  • Flow Funding is one of the most democratic, accessible, mailable and power-shifting models of philanthropy. It has a transformative impact on individuals, institutions, communities and our field. At Kindle Project, we have been Flow Funding for ten years. Join us for this Lightning Talk where we will get into the details of what Flow Funding is, why it’s important and explain how others in various kinds of foundations can and are using it. This talk will get you excited about what collaborative action can look like when you share power, or maybe even give it up.
  • Lightning Talk 3: Move Money Quickly: Surge Funding as a Rapid Response tool for Advocacy — Charmel Gaulden, Vice President of Public Safety Grants, Baptist Community Ministries
  • What happens when a newly formed funder collaborative decides to “do philanthropy differently?” In 2017, the Criminal Justice Action Table of the Greater New Orleans Funders Network took on that challenge & created a surge fund to support advocacy connected to Justice Reinvestment. This talk will focus on the process used to organize funding, the structure used to disburse funding, & the outcomes achieved by our partners & participating foundations. Through grantmaking (pooled & aligned), advocacy & messaging, philanthropy worked to support the work of community partners while actively challenging each other to operate differently.

Session 2

  • Lightning Talk 1: From the Bottom Up: How Your Organization can Invest in You — Madelyn Schorr, Content Associate, Exponent Philanthropy
  • In 2017, Exponent Philanthropy started the Next Gen Women Program, which gives women in entry to mid-level staff positions (around 40% of staff) extra professional development opportunities and skills training. What started as brown bag conversations with successful women leaders from the nonprofit/association world has morphed into a program that provides career development, mentorship opportunities, and a safe space for collegial connections. This Lighting Talk will explore the successes and ongoing challenges of working with organizational leadership to develop this program and create space for employees to learn and grow outside of the traditional context.
  • Lightning Talk 2: Leading from (the Full Depth of Your) Center — Mikaela Seligman, Executive Director, AchieveMission
  • We exercise leadership by speaking to and acting on what is most meaningful to us and by mobilizing the resources to make a difference on our toughest challenges.  Sounds simple. We all know from experience that it isn't easy. The distractions are great, and the challenges acute at present. Through humor, real-life examples, and personal vulnerability, this Lightning Talk will offer participants the opportunity to see the Adaptive Leadership framework in action and to bring home some approaches to address their own homegrown issues.
  • Lightning Talk 3: Your Role in Diffusing Power and Democratizing Philanthropy — Tyler Nickerson, Philanthropic Consultant
  • Strategies for grantee inclusion in grantmaking strategy design and decision making are emerging in strength and impact. Addressing the power dynamics must happen in order for philanthropy to reach its fullest potential and allow us to fully step into a collective vision – across movements and philanthropy – for how meaningful change can happen. EPIPers are the future of this sector and have a role in seeding changes in their institutions to be in greater integrity with the communities they wish to serve. This talk will focus on what EPIPers can do in their seats to further democratize philanthropy. It’s not just the CEOs job to take the lead, as EPIP members are ready to take actions that help widen the influence of their institution’s strategy. Come ready to learn about how you can use your role in your organization towards to build a stronger, more inclusive philanthropic sector!