Meet Our 2017 Annual Conference Committee

June 29, 2017

Philanthropy Northwest is pleased to announce some of the brightest minds in the sector who are generously offering their time and talent in planning this year’s annual conference in Vancouver, Washington.

We are thankful to have enlisted the talents of three co-chairs, Shona Carter, MBA, a senior program officer at the Community Foundation of Southwest Washington; Nichole June Maher, President and CEO of the Northwest Health Foundation, which is based in Portland. Rounding out the co-chairs is the CEO of the MJ Murdock Charitable Trust, Steve Moore, which is based in Vancouver and awards grants in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. Nichole and Steve also serve on the Philanthropy Northwest’s Board of Directors.

Shona has been in at the Community Foundation of Southwest Washington since 2015 and has 13 years of experience in program evaluation and philanthropic advising for corporate, education and community foundations. She’s passionate about effective partnerships and channeling resources to achieve greater social impact.

Under Nichole’s leadership, Northwest Health Foundation has become a national leader in the conversation about equity in healthcare philanthropy. She’s a champion of supporting communities as they build power through advocacy and collaboration. Northwest Health Foundation seeks to advance, support and promote health in Oregon and Southwest Washington.

Steve is the chief executive officer of the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust where he oversees grantmaking to improve the quality of life in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. The Trust is dedicated to strengthening the region’s educational, spiritual and cultural base in creative and sustainable ways.

The other six members of the planning committee include:

  • T. Lulani Arquette, President and CEO of Native Arts and Cultures Foundation based in Vancouver. A Native Hawaiian, her leadership of this nonprofit supports the diversity of artistic expression in American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities.

  • Karen Bilowith is the President and CEO at the Idaho Community Foundation, which offers grant opportunities in all 44 Idaho counties. She previously served as as President and CEO of the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region in Albany, NY. She’s also a board member at the Idaho Nonprofit Center.

  • Carol Dahl is the Executive Director of the Lemelson Foundation in Portland. With a background in discovery sciences, innovation programs, and global health and development, Dr. Dahl leads the Foundation’s work to use the power of invention to improve lives, promoting economic growth in the U.S., and helping solve social and economic problems for the poorest populations in developing countries.

  • Solynn McCurdy is the Senior Manager for Community Relations at Premera Blue Cross in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.  Premera serves two million people—from individuals and families to Fortune 100 employer groups as the largest health plan in the Pacific Northwest. Premera is changing up its company giving programs, renaming them: Premera Social Impact. Through corporate giving, volunteering, and community engagement, the program will promote new partnerships and solutions to help make healthcare work better.

  • Harvey Stewart is the President of the Foundation for Community Vitality in Billings, Montana.  A private foundation, FCV invests in Indian Country in Montana. Harvey most recently co-authored a set of guiding values and principles for foundations wishing to invest in Indian Country that has been shared widely in conversations in peer-to-peer learning forums about investing in Native-led nonprofits. Retired after a career First Interstate Bank, Harvey has also been a pastor for nearly 30 years.  

  • Tim Thompson, public affairs manager at Alaska Airlines, works closely with Alaskan communities to advance their causes. Over the past five years Alaska Airlines has invested $45 million in cash or in-kind donations in areas where its employees live and work. Employees also give back through matching gifts, volunteer time and food drives, to the tune of $700,000 annually.

Last but not least, planning the annual conference wouldn’t be possible without Philanthropy Northwest’s staff team. Special thanks to the following women who have kept the volunteer committee engaged, inspired and on track: Gloris Estrella, program manager; Maya Thornell-Sandifor, Director of Learning Strategies, and Lyn Hunter, senior program manager.

Conference registration remains open until September 25. The programmatic elements this year will center around the theme: "Now is the Time to Lead Through Change.” We’ll announce specifics on the thought provoking plenaries, keynotes, breakout sessions, learning tours and networking opportunities soon, but expect to be challenged and inspired.

For a sense of what you can expect in Vancouver at #PNW17, check out this blog about last year’s conference in Missoula. We promise to deliver another authentic conference experience rooted in a deep sense of place that also conveys the urgency of the times in which we are living. For more on what we think makes a great conference, read this, and then tweet us @philanthropynw to join the conversation.