Looking back on an excellent Philanthropy Forward ’19 conference

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

This past September, 235 Philanthropy Ohio members, presenters and plenary speakers convened in Cincinnati for Philanthropy Forward ’19 and left energized to implement new ideas and practices into their work.

Attendees connected with each other at networking events like the Signs of the Times Welcome Party at the American Sign Museum (sponsored by the Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation,) the Thursday Cocktail Reception (sponsored by Donors of Color Network) and Dine Arounds.

According to attendees, the plenaries were a major highlight. Pia Infante of the Whitman Institute encouraged funders to envision a world where they authentically partner with grantees to advance the work and build an equitable nonprofit sector.

Andrew Plumley of Equity in the Center described the race equity cycle – the journey of change where organizations can become more committed, knowledgeable and skilled in analyzing race, racism and equity – and how to bring these issues to the forefront of operational strategy.

Dan Pallotta; activist, humanitarian and author; closed out the conference with his provocative talk – Uncharitable. Dan challenged funders to leverage their assets to help nonprofits fundraise and innovate.

Deborah Aubert Thomas shared her first president’s report at the annual meeting with a theme of “weaving the fabric of philanthropy.” She shared how fabric has played a large part in her life, how we all weave in our communities and how we are woven together as the Philanthropy Ohio network.

This theme continued through the conference with the Social Fabric DNA Weaving Experience with artist Geralyn Sparough, sponsored by the Haile Foundation.

Diversity, equity and inclusion were additional themes that wove throughout Philanthropy Forward ’19 beginning with the Groundwater Racial Equity Training that we’ve helped bring to communities across the state and ending with the two-part Allyship Workshop.

Philanthropy in Action Tours & Site Visits sent attendees on walking tours to visit local neighborhoods and funding projects. The Collective Approach to Housing tour group visited the Over-The-Rhine neighborhood to learn how housing has changed over the last 100 years and how philanthropy has helped keep it affordable.

Attendees visited a school-based health center during the Redrawing the Intersection of Health, Student ACES and Education tour to see a health collaborative in action working to solve problems around the whole child (photo below by Interact for Health). Funders also visited the CityLink Center to see how it has evolved to become a centralized social service access point.

At Philanthropy Forward ’19, we also celebrated the 2019 Philanthropy Award winners and their outstanding contributions to the sector. Geoffrey Gund received the Ohio Philanthropy Award; John E. Moore, Sr., received the Michael G. Shinn Award for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Philanthropy; Rachel Goodspeed received the Emerging Ohio Philanthropist Award; and bi3 received the Ohio Philanthropy Innovation Award.

Special thanks to all conference sponsors, co-chairs, exhibitors and planning committee volunteers, as well as speakers and attendees, who made Philanthropy Forward ’19 a success. And thank you to our members who shared their experiences from the conference:

Philanthropy Ohio leads by example in showing up as whole selves: In philanthropy, we’re challenged to balance analytical acuity, relational skills and passion for social good. Philanthropy Forward offered the opportunity to hone and strengthen each, notably through the theme of weaving it together, as in the Social Fabric DNA experience and Deborah Aubert Thomas’ address.

I have a responsibility to be an ally for racial justice: As a white woman in philanthropy, I am aware of my privilege, so I was thrilled to participate in Whitney Parnell’s Allyship Workshop, challenging us to be ACTIVE allies in our quest for shared humanity.

Change happens through peer-to-peer influence: We know trust-based relationships are key to spurring change within our communities, but the same is true of our relationships with philanthropic peers. I appreciated that Philanthropy Forward provided ample opportunities to connect with peers (e.g., Signs of the Times Welcome Celebration and Eric Avner’s The Closers session).

Thank you Philanthropy Ohio, sponsors and planning committee – see everyone next year in Cleveland!

Adrienne Mundorf
Senior Program Director, Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland

The conference was great. It was a nice opportunity to meet new people involved in philanthropy, as well as catch up with old acquaintances. I really liked the New and Rising Leaders session. It was constructive to learn about the new leaders in the industry and the different ways that they approach solving problems.

Travis Howard
Fellow, The George Gund Foundation

For the seasoned and the new philanthropists, for donors and foundation staff, the Philanthropy Forward ’19 conference had something for everyone. With a focus on equity, the conference led by example and helped each of us move from where we are to closer to where we want to be. I look forward to additional opportunities to interact with my colleagues at future conferences and programs.

Emily Savors
Director of Grants Management, The Columbus Foundation

I am writing to express our appreciation and thanks to the staff and members of Philanthropy Ohio. In September, your group provided a wonderful opportunity for us to meet new friends and renew old acquaintances. Moreover, the gathering in Cincinnati served as a wonderful opportunity to learn from many others doing such great work, including great insights into "trust-based philanthropy." We look forward to leveraging our new knowledge and relationships to make even more of a difference in Lorain County. Also, looking ahead, we have marked our calendars for Philanthropy Forward ’20 and have invited our board members to join us in Cleveland!

Cynthia H. Andrews
President and CEO, Community Foundation of Lorain County

It was great to share in a discussion with so many other thoughtful community, corporate and family foundations the concept of trust-based philanthropy. I think, in all of our collective work, we strive to achieve trust-based philanthropy, but inevitably there may be times when we fall short. The concept gives all of us a standard for which to aim and I know that I’ll continue to be more thoughtful on this front in the years to come.

Alex Derkson
former Vice President, Global Philanthropy, JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Taking time to connect with your peers and learn from the field is as important as any other aspect of our work. My favorite takeaways from this year’s conference were from the plenary speakers and their encouraging thoughts on how to challenge the status quo and paths to creating a more equitable future. The experience was a success from start to finish – the conference left me feeling connected and equipped with new ideas and energized for the journey ahead.

Jesse Stock
Program Director, Athens County Foundation

See you in Cleveland, September 23 -25, for Philanthropy Forward ’20. Save the date!

Jessica Howard
Manager, Communications & Membership

News type: 
Blog Author: 
Please log in to add comment.