Equity Summit leader calls for “radical imagination"

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Angela Glover Blackwell, who is stepping down from her leadership of PolicyLink (the organization she founded 20 years ago), exclaimed that it will take “radical imagination” to solve our most critical problems, during her opening keynote at the Equity Summit in Chicago this month.

Deborah Aubert Thomas, Laura Smith and I were fortunate to be among 70 Ohioans attending the summit (thanks to funding from the Ohio Regional Convergence Partnership). Ohio’s philanthropic community made up much of the state’s delegation, including staff and trustees from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, Interact for Health, Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation, Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland, St. Luke’s Foundation, United Way of Greater Cincinnati and the Raymond John Wean Foundation. I’ll feature some of their insights in our June Philanthropy Review news magazine, so stay tuned.

From Angela’s opening keynote to 4,000 attendees to the closing panel two days later, diverse voices called for us to come together, out of siloes defined by ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, to work toward an equitable America.

The summit included inspiring speakers in plenary panels, including: Edna Chavez, a high school student in south LA whose action lead to a bill that will bring $300 million to underfunded schools in her district; New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu who spoke about his work to take down monuments as captured in his book, In the Shadow of Statues; and john a. powell, who suggested enough books to keep me busy for the rest of the year.

There were so many breakout sessions that it was really difficult to choose what topics to explore:

  • Creating messaging frames for communicating about equity issues;
  • The role that the tax code, Federal Reserve and financial markets play in building equity;
  • Delivering equity through philanthropic action;
  • Criminal justice campaigns; and
  • Championing boys and men of color.

And, the summit embedded cultural elements beautifully as they started off plenary and breakout sessions with music or poetry that set a tone not often experienced at conferences. This practice also followed during evening events, including the event honoring Angela’s leadership, An Evening with Roger Guenveur Smith, where the acclaimed actor performed his one-man Frederick Douglass NOW show.

 Kate Keller, Teleange Thomas, Adrienne Mundorf, Jamie Love, Heather Torack & Merle Gordon – members of the Ohio cohort at the 2018 Equity Summit.










The 2018 Equity Summit was an amazing experience, from start to finish, one that I will not soon forget.


Claudia Y.W. Herrold
Senior Vice President, Communications & Public Policy, Philanthropy Ohio

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