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2017 Conference Highlights

2017 Forum Annual Conference - July 17-19 in San Francisco, CA

The Forum’s 2017 Annual Conference will be the nation’s largest gathering of the CEOs and staff of regional and national philanthropy-serving organizations (PSOs) in the field.

It's a Wrap

Our 2017 Forum Annual Conference was a success in so many ways!

It was our largest conference yet with more than 250 attendees and a record-breaking level of sponsorships, but we measure our real success in the conversations, community and courage that it generated. Our goal was to provide a space for our members and colleagues from across our field to convene, learn, be inspired, grow and have fun. 

Powerful messages were delivered by many of our presenters including Dr. David Williams, whose data showed the wealth and health disparity that is literally killing people of color in this country, and by Dr. Robert K. Ross, who shared a direct call to action for philanthropy to rescue the civic soul of the nation. About half of the concurrent or plenary sessions focused on racial equity issues and called on philanthropy to lift its resources and voice to address the disparity and foundational inequity in our communities. Our other sessions focused on partnership and collaboration for PSOs and our field, and on building professional and personal skills, balanced with peer exchanges and topical hubs. 

We were thrilled to co-host two sessions with our member Emerging Practitioners In Philanthropy (EPIP) for emerging leaders working at infrastructure organizations. In the first session, participants shared their leadership challenges and identified resources that could help. In the second, we brought together emerging leaders and infrastructure group CEOs to discuss those challenges and identify areas of common ground. We will release a summary of the session and are considering ways to build on this work. 

We look forward to sharing your feedback through the evaluation summary and additional conference highlights in the coming weeks.

#ForumCon17 brought together the leadership and staff of all organizations serving the nation’s philanthropic sector, including regional philanthropy-serving organizations (i.e. regional philanthropy associations) as well as national philanthropy-serving organizations, primarily issue-based, identity-based and practice-based national affinity groups. It’s the only conference where we can delve into our unique role as CEOs and staff of regional and national PSOs, connect with others in similar roles, and explore how we can work together to increase philanthropy’s impact.

Conference Resources

  • Don't miss the materials from the sessions now available in the online agenda. Click on the "+Details" link to see a session's description, speakers and materials if available or click "+ Expand All Details" at the top for all sessions. 

  • Check out our photo highlights from the conference.

  • Head over to Twitter for short highlight of the action on our conference hashtag.

  • See who attended by accessing the online event roster. Remember to update your profile with a picture and up-to-date contact information. You must be logged into the site as an attendee of the conference or a member of the Forum to access the event roster.

Conference Reflections on Our Blog

Please use #ForumCon17 for any social media posts around the conference.


Questions about the event?

Please contact Courtney Moore (202-888-7428) with any questions about the conference or if you need help registering.


Program Highlights

  • Keynote presentations by Dr. David R. Williams, Professor at Harvard University, Dr. Robert K. Ross, President and Chief Executive Officer of The California Endowment and Lateefah Simon, President of the Akonadi Foundation.
  • A CEO Summit for the chief executives of regional and national PSOs to come together with your peers for in-depth learning, sharing and reflection.

  • Sessions for each of the Forum's Peer Communities to take a deep dive into your work and to connect with those who share your job responsibilities.

  • An Emerging Practitioners Conversation for attendees with 10 years or less in philanthropy in partnership with Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP).

  • An opening reception at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA), one of the nation’s most innovative contemporary art centers.

  • A selection of highly practical and interactive sessions covering issues relevant to our unique roles at PSOs including communications, creating a positive workplace culture, impact investing, future of membership associations, collaboration within and among our organizations, internal REDI work and more.

  • A conversation with Peter Nicks, the director, producer and cinematographer of “The Force,” for which Nicks won the 2017 Sundance Film Festival documentary prize for Best Director.

  • A plenary session with a group of foundation leaders on strengthening philanthropy's voice around issues of race, poverty, equity and injustice.

  • A spoken word performance from YouthSpeaks.

  • Launch of our new organization name and brand!


Speaker Highlights


Dr. David R. Williams, Harvard UniversityOpening Keynote: Dr. David R. Williams

Monday, July 17

Our opening keynote speaker will explain why race and ethnicity matter so profoundly when addressing issues of equity. Internationally recognized Harvard professor David R. Williams will demonstrate how race and racism impact health outcomes, and explain why moving a health equity agenda forward is critical to the personal and national interests of all Americans. He will offer guidance for what philanthropy can do to reduce racism and improve health equity for all Americans.


Keynote: Dr. Robert K. Ross

Tuesday, July 18

Join Dr. Robert K. Ross, President and Chief Executive Officer, The California Endowment, for a conversation about the intersectionality of health, poverty and racism. Dr. Ross will share his thoughts on the current state of the philanthropic sector, his work at TCE and his philanthropic journey.


Peter Nicks

Tuesday, July 18

Join us for a special conversation with Peter Nicks, the director, producer and cinematographer of “The Force,” for which Nicks won the 2017 Sundance Film Festival documentary prize for Best Director. The documentary goes inside the Oakland Police Department as it struggles to rebuild trust in the community and shed its corrupt image while being challenged by fresh accusations of brutality and harassment and by an increasingly organized and urgent Black Lives Matter movement right outside its doorstep.

Closing Keynote: Lateefah Simon

Wednesday, July 19

Lateefah Simon, President of the Oakland-based Akonadi Foundation, will end the conference on an inspiring note with a closing keynote presentation that will bring together the conference’s main themes and offer her own perspective on how to take what we’ve learned at the conference and move forward with our work.