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#FORUMCON17: Things I Didn’t Know I’d Learn

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Honored to attend thanks to an Emerging Leader Scholarship.A guest post from our member, Kalisha Bass, Member Engagement Manager, Arizona Grantmakers Forum.

While I am still new to this world, I was happy to represent one of more than 60 philanthropy-serving organizations (PSOs) from across the United States during the Forum 2017 Annual Conference in San Francisco.

My hope for this conference was to learn more about this world of PSO’s and how to better serve our members. However, this experience awarded me far more.

The conference began for me in the “Emerging Practitioners Conversation” where I learned the challenges my fellow peers (those with less than 10 years’ experience) were facing within their organizations and in their professional careers. Our challenges included: lack of professional development opportunities, lack of leadership advancement and most importantly, the lack of diversity, equity and inclusion efforts within our communities.

I was inspired after the many sessions I attended and the calls to action during the breakfast and lunch keynotes.

For instance, what makes a great leading philanthropic serving organization? We had the good fortune to find out during a breakfast plenary with Dr. Robert K. Ross, President and CEO of The California Endowment.

Brainstorming common challenges during Emerging Practitioners ConversationFrom Dr. Ross, I learned five ways philanthropy can play a moral and civic role in the community that ensures meaningful opportunity, inclusion, social justice and equity:

  1. Begin our efforts using the organization’s values and principles.
  2. Stand tall on inclusion.
  3. Double our current efforts of civic engagement.
  4. Support the work of a positive shared narrative of our community and nation.
  5. Increase efforts of engagement with millennials/youth.

Before concluding, Dr. Ross asked everyone to think about the day before our first day in philanthropy. He then talked about the current state of our nation and asked us to reflect on the hardships our ancestors faced to provide better opportunities for future generations. Without a dry eye in the room, he challenged us to go beyond ourselves and take a stand towards making change.

It was certainly an honor to engage with and listen to Dr. Ross and other experts in the field of philanthropy. Here is a quick list of the other experts and sessions, which caught my attention at #FORUMCON17:

  • Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP) - Emerging Practitioner Conversation Part I & II
  • Dr. David R. Williams, Harvard University – Race, Equity & Philanthropy: 11 Ways Philanthropy Can Change
  • Jeff De Cagna, Foresight First LLC - The Next Rules of Association Value Creation Part I
  • Kris Putnam-Walkerly, Putnam Consulting Group - Inside Out: Doing Racial, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Work Internally
  • Jara Dean-Coffey, Luminare Group - 5 Questions a Healthy Organization Can Answer

Learning about “The Next Rules of Association Value Creation Part I” with Jeff De CagnaAll of these are interesting, right? But the real question is: what do I do with the information I learned? Here is my commitment:

  • I will commit to becoming an expert in the field of philanthropy for our members.
  • I will provide value to members in a way that is issue based.
  • I will commit to helping make DEI efforts more of a practice.
  • I will commit to using data that informs our members to make funding decisions.
  • I will commit to making a difference for our members.
  • I will commit to making change in the community.

Finally, I want to congratulate the Forum on their new name: United Philanthropy Forum! I would be remiss if I did not express my gratitude to them and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for awarding me attendance to this wonderful conference. It was an incredible week getting to meet, laugh with, cry with and learn with my peers. I hope I have the pleasure of attending again next year!Cool swag after the announcement of the Forum’s new name!

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