The feeling of excitement permeated the air – an energy that Philanthropy Forward generated among attendees, presenters and staff during three days in October when the state’s philanthropy practitioners – from private foundations to corporate funders to United Way and community foundation staff – convened in Columbus to network, learn and exchange ideas. With the infusion of arts and equity work, attendees proclaimed this was the best Philanthropy Forward conference yet.
Day 1 of the conference kicked off at the Hilton Downtown Columbus with learning tours related to place-based funding and social entrepreneurship, a community foundation basics workshop, racial equity training and more, deep dives that extended learning opportunities at Philanthropy Forward ’18. About the racial equity training one participant said, “This is, without a doubt, the best presented, most dense, and most informative session I have ever attended at a conference.” Coming in 2019, we have plans to bring this training to more communities around the state.
As philanthropy strives to advance equity, many acknowledge the role of arts and culture. “Arts and culture are critical elements of an equity framework: they reflect the assets of communities and enable cohesion in a pluralistic nation. The tools of arts and culture can accelerate equity, build communities of opportunity, and design for broadly shared prosperity.”
PolicyLink’s Creating Change through Arts, Culture and Equitable Development – A Policy and Practice Primer
Philanthropy Forward ’18 infused the arts throughout the conference by having attendees experience the work of local artists, emphasizing the role arts and culture have in an equity framework, starting with touring the Harlem Renaissance exhibit during our Welcome Celebration at the Columbus Museum of Art (CMA).
Central Ohio is currently honoring the legacy of the Harlem Renaissance, a cultural and artistic explosion born in New York in 1918. Tying it in, CMA just launched an exhibit, I, Too, Sing America, commemorating its 100th anniversary. Attendees at the welcome party had the opportunity to visit this exhibit as well as observe Richard Duarte Brown’s Live Painting and enjoy music from Urban Strings Columbus Youth Orchestra. Elements of arts and culture lifted spirits, grounded discussions and inspired attendees to think differently and expansively.
The second day of the conference opened with the annual meeting, in which Philanthropy Ohio President and CEO Suzanne T. Allen, Ph.D. announced a new organizational mission, vision, values statements and strategies. This past January, the Board of Trustees launched a strategic planning process that enabled us to design a framework that uses our strengths to amplify our abilities to best serve our members. View our new strategic framework and statements.
During the meeting, members elected new board members: Su Lok, director, corporate and community partnerships at ScottsMiracle-Gro Company, and Steven Moore, director of donor services & development at The Columbus Foundation. Then, plenary speakers engaged participants in thinking differently about poverty and what it will take philanthropy to help move people out of poverty.
The definition of #poverty in the US is financial when in fact it is a lack of resources: emotional, physical, spiritual, mey, relationships... How many programs are maintaining people instead of helping them build these resources. #PhilFWD18 #Philanthropy #bridges pic.twitter.com/dsJNxP9Ct5— Rachel Goodspeed (@rachelgoodspeed) October 23, 2018
Lawrence Funderburke, author of SociopsychonomicsTM: How Social Classes Think, Act and Behave Financially in the Twenty-First Century joined the stage with Philip E. DeVol and Eugene K. Krebs, authors of Bridges Across Every Divide: Policies and Practices to Reduce Poverty and Build Communities. In addition, Barbara Fant presented two spoken word performances of poems from Bridges Across Every Divide.
#Poverty is caused by political & socioeconomic factors, exploitation, human & social capital, AND individual factors. It’s too complex to just address one of these. -@PhilDeVol #PhilFWD18 pic.twitter.com/MjuGuinwm3— Philanthropy Ohio (@PhilanthropyOH) October 23, 2018
At the conference we also honored the 2018 Philanthropy Award winners, first-off presenting The Innovation in Philanthropy Award that recognizes a philanthropic catalyst: someone who has moved philanthropy forward from an original idea through implementation to results. This year’s winner is Gary Cates, the chief philanthropy officer for ProMedica Health System in Toledo, the country’s 15th largest health care system. The innovative approach to philanthropy and health care is evidenced by their focus on a comprehensive approach to addressing the social determinants of health together with a focus on community leadership and partnerships.
Edgar Villanueva, from The Schott Foundation for Public Education, and the author of Decolonizing Wealth, gave his plenary address about coming to terms with colonization in this country and how to move forward from it. He said that in order to heal, we must repair, relate, listen, grieve, apologize, represent and invest.
#Equity is a journey. We have a history of colonization we need to come to terms with. It’s a virus that has affected us all, but we cannot overcome the trauma unless we listen, have hard+uncomfortable conversations. Let’s think of funding as medicine. #PhilFWD18 #philanthropy pic.twitter.com/jAKnL2Sn3d— Rachel Goodspeed (@rachelgoodspeed) October 23, 2018
Another infusion of the arts, Central Ohio youth dance group Momentum, performed a dance routine based on the Harlem Renaissance at lunch. Following the performance, Donna and Larry James accepted the Michael G. Shinn Award for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Philanthropy. A stellar example of their work – and just one of many such examples – is their creation and guidance of the African American Leadership Academy, a community-based leadership development program with an eight-month curriculum to build strength, efficacy, leadership agility and civic involvement.
Attendees had 23 sessions to choose from on Tuesday before the Aly Sterling Philanthropy Cocktail Reception, dine-arounds and city experiences rounded out the evening.
On the final day of Philanthropy Forward ’18 – following chicken and waffles for breakfast – Karen Hough from ImprovEdge and author of Go With It: Embrace the Unexpected to Drive Change got everyone moving with her improvisation session. Karen brought volunteers on stage to practice improv techniques that resulted in laughs for everybody. She shared how to pivot gracefully because, as she said, everyone likes innovation but no one likes to change.
We announced our Emerging Philanthropist Award winner after breakfast, honoring Dan Cohn, whose nominators described him as a thoughtful, compassionate and informed grantmaker who in three short years at the Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation has become a community leader in advancing philanthropy, engaging in the broader community and strengthening creative, strategic grantmaking. Dan recently received a promotion from program officer to the vice president of strategy at the foundation – in itself an acknowledgement of his leadership in the field. Here at Philanthropy Ohio, Dan has served on the Health Initiative Steering Committee and recently joined the Public Policy Committee as well.
The conference wrapped up with our final keynote speaker, Kim Starkey Jonker of King Philanthropies and co-author, Engine of Impact: Essentials of Strategic Leadership in the Nonprofit Sector. Kim shared that with strong and focused mission, strategy, impact evaluation, insight and courage, nonprofits can run an efficient, effective Impact Engine, and importantly, the fuel to scale it is funding, talent and board governance.
The best #nonprofits are able to master 7 essential elements, and success depends on each of these components functioning well at the same time: mission, strategy, impact evaluation, insight & courage, talent, funding & board governance. @KimJonker #PhilFWD18 pic.twitter.com/YuzZPZ5BkG— Philanthropy Ohio (@PhilanthropyOH) October 24, 2018
The fourth and final philanthropy award is the lifetime achievement award in philanthropy, the Ohio Philanthropy Award, which we presented to Richard W. Pogue, senior advisor at Jones Day and board chair of the Kulas Foundation. Richard Pogue has dedicated his life to civic leadership, philanthropic engagement and the advancement and betterment of his beloved community – Cleveland. He has served on numerous philanthropic and professional boards, including The Cleveland Foundation, The City Club, Business Volunteers Unlimited, Case Western Reserve University and Philanthropy Ohio. With his wife, Patricia, he established the Richard W. and Patricia R. Pogue Fund that supports nonprofits in the Cleveland area.
To escort attendees out on an uplifting note, the Harmony Project Women’s Reformatory Choir performed live at the finale of Philanthropy Forward ’18. The ladies of the Inside/Out program, which is a collaboration among Tapestry, the Ohio Reformatory for women and Harmony Project, sang a powerful song with the message that where they are does not define who they are.
We’re so grateful for all the great experiences at Philanthropy Forward ’18, the generous sponsors, powerful speakers, creative artists, amazing volunteers and members who made it possible. We have the privilege of witnessing firsthand the incredible energy and innovation generated when our diverse members connect with and learn from each other and we can’t wait for Philanthropy Forward ’19 in Cincinnati, September 25 – 27. Be sure to check out the conference photos and resources and save the date!
Manager, Communications & Membership