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Dispatch from #ForumCon22: Emerging With Boldness

Monday, August 22, 2022

This is a guest post by Hazel Paguaga, Program Associate at The Funders Network.

#ForumCon22 in Seattle was an exciting return to being in person. There were several people who I finally got to meet after only knowing them virtually. I also made some new connections and felt incredibly welcomed as a first-time attendee. After entering the philanthropy world over two years ago there’s still so much to learn and the conference was full of amazing sessions and calls to action to lead by being bold.

I started off the conference with the Emerging Practitioners workshop led by Elyse Gordon and Laura Collier. The workshop focused on leveraging our roles as emerging practitioners to advocate for changes while navigating our day to day and supporting our members. They acknowledged the formal and informal roles we play at our organizations and highlighted the informal roles in particular that may often go overlooked. Roles like cheerleaders, IT support, catering experts, Chief Morale Officers, and more. It was encouraging to hear from my peers on how they are managing relationships in a changing world dealing with a pandemic, racial reckoning, climate change and more. We brainstormed on how we might change the sector and voted for our top ideas. Some of the top ideas were four-day work weeks, organization wide vacations, proper compensation with benefits, and flexibility. Emerging practitioners are leading by disrupting outdated practices, fighting burn out, embracing creativity and new ways of learning.

During the Future of Philanthropy plenary, speakers shared their thoughts on the past few years and what’s ahead. Carmen Rojas challenged folks to talk about failures in a sector that is incredibly risk averse. She urged funders to make it as easy as possible to get money. Sara Lomelin reflected on bringing the voices of people on the ground and lifting up their ideas as imperative. Going back to basics and building trust by moving from the transactional to the transformational. Dwayne Marsh emphasized the role of PSOs as making the inconceivable irresistible to make way for powerful transformations. Ann Mei shared her predictions for the future of philanthropy, as a sector that will become reborn to be more trust based, more transparent and shift power. Hearing from these insightful leaders gave me hope that the sector will learn from its past mistakes and do more to hold each other accountable.

Dr. Eddie Glaude was the closing speaker and pushed us to challenge ourselves. “Philanthropy is not a synonym for justice…the scale and scope of the problems we face require us to step outside of the box.” After his remarks, the room was charged with optimism. I left motivated by all the leaders’ experiences and enthusiasm for the bold work ahead. Thank you to The Forum for bringing us together.

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