Our Common Future – Day 2 In Review

Day Two of Our Common Future opened with Independent Sector’s Annual Business Meeting. IS President and CEO Dan Cardinali reported to members on IS’ 2017 achievements and plans for a new direction in the future. He also announced the names of new and departing board members. New board members are:

  • Nicole Anderson, AVP of Social Innovation and President, AT&T Foundation
  • Lisa Hamilton, Executive Vice President and Chief Program Officer,The Annie E. Casey Foundation
  • Michael McAfee, President, PolicyLink
  • Jennifer Reedy, President, Bush Foundation
  • David Williams, Principal, Deloitte LLP

Throughout the day, attendees took part in breakout sessions on a variety of issues. Morning sessions focused on topics as varied as closing the gender equity gap, strengthening communication and conflict resolution skills, cross-sector change initiatives, and the challenges and opportunities presented by the new political environment. Other morning sessions considered the use of “generative governance” to help boards achieve greater foresight and perspective to yield better and more creative outcomes, and building a sector-wide narrative that redefines how the sector speaks about our work. Feedback from this session will be used to refine a messaging framework that IS will share with the entire sector in 2018. Afternoon breakouts included topics such as increasing understanding of racial equity by challenging perceptions, building a shared sense of history, and creating a common framework; and practical tools that funders and fundraising nonprofits can use to enhance their investment in leadership talent.

Conference goers also had other opportunities to discuss issues facing the sector, including “Big Thoughts, Quick Talks,” a series of one-hour discussions led by experts on a variety of sector concerns.

On Main Stage Day Two, we first heard from Dan Cardinali, president and CEO of Independent Sector, surprised everyone with the announcement that IS is replacing our traditional annual conference with a new social change and learning experience, called Upswell. Rather than one annual event, Upswell will be an ongoing experience that will enable changemakers to participate in community-based events and action-oriented experiences to learn, network, and prototype solutions to critical social and environmental challenges with local importance and national relevance. Upswell will culminate each year in a major event, starting next year in Los Angeles, November 14-16, 2018.

We were privileged to listen in on a powerful conversation about society-level problems that included two sector leaders who are making major headway on two society challenges — homelessness and the issues facing indigenous peoples. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson moderated the exchange with Rosanne Haggerty, President of Community Solutions, and 2017 recipient of Independent Sector’s John W. Gardner Leadership Award; and Sarah Eagle Heart, Oglala Lakota, CEO of Native Americans in Philanthropy, and 2017 recipient of the American Express NGen Leadership Award.

A full evening awaited attendees – but before heading out – drinks, refreshments, and good company awaited in the Innovations Pavilion, where attendees were able to unwind and share their thoughts on the day’s discussions and events.

Then all were off to participate in one of two moving and thought-provoking evening events. Many selected the “Detroit Experience,” a dive deep sponsored by GM that allowed them to experience the glory and struggles that have made Detroit the special city it is today. Attendees engaged with Detroit artists at the Detroit Historical Museum and Museum of Contemporary Arts, which is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Detroit riots, the events preceding the turmoil that led up to July 1967, and the work since then to bring this comeback city to where it is today.

Others took part in “Breaking Bread, Dialogues on Democracy,” a series of intimate dinners throughout the city where a diverse group of nonprofit, foundation, and community leaders shared freely in conversations about how we all can contribute to a vibrant, healthy, and inclusive democracy. These “dinner guests” will gather again Friday morning to reflect on their discussions about the ways that values and ideals inform their leadership in community.

Finally, conference night owls headed to a late evening reception for those who engage with Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy (EPIP), the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN), and NGen, or folks who were wanted to learn more about these groups.

Be sure to check back on Monday for a recap of the final day of Our Common Future. Every day of the conference was jam-packed with excitement, but we saved the best — and some exciting news — for last!

Types: Blog
Global Topics: Conference