More than 20 breakout sessions for the upcoming Philanthropy Northwest Conference in Vancouver, Washington have begun to take shape after a record response to our request for proposals. With presenters ranging from leaders at Social Justice Fund and Pride Foundation to the Murdock Trust, we're finalizing the details of conversations that are sure to add value to the work of philanthropists from across the region.
The conference's theme is "Now is the Time to Lead Through Change," and a number of the panels focus on philanthropy's role in advocacy: from making grants to groups engaged in grantmaking, to directly advocating for policy change that benefits our sector or grantees, to full-on democratic reform including campaign finance reform, ballot referenda, and legislative redistricting. New this year is a session on the role of journalism in our democracy — and how funders can help support the local free press during these historic times. Past conference attendees will appreciate that our Learning Tours are back. This year, we'll see firsthand how the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington is working collaboratively with a convenience store, a local credit union and others to build assets among the working poor, and explore what it takes to build a cross-racial coalition in order to shift the health policy conversation in Oregon. We'll also explore traditional indigenous organizing principles, the arts, and what both can teach us about community-based democratic engagement in the Northwest.
New to this year's Annual Conference is an "unconference" element, sometimes referred to as "open space" sessions. Slated for the final day of the conference, October 5, these sessions will combine curated smaller-group conversations led by experts with opportunities to deepen conversations that emerge from the preceding days' breakout sessions. This is one year you won't want to leave early, so keep that in mind as you book your travel. In keeping with our theme, many sessions (though not all!) will be policy-focused on topics such as: health policy, tax reform, housing and homelessness, Indian Country, child welfare, civil/legal issues, and the rule of law in America. We'll be circulating a list of potential topics soon and we encourage you to add your own thoughts about topics you hope will come alive in Vancouver this fall.