Reflections From PNW18: Perspectives From a First-time Attendee

Reflections From PNW18: Perspectives From a First-time Attendee

Kendra Witt-Doyle, Guest Contributor

The Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health was proud to be a sponsor of the annual Philanthropy Northwest Conference that was held in Boise, Idaho. Boise is my hometown and I was honored that we were selected as the location for PNW18. I hope you had a wonderful experience!

As a new member, this was also my first time attending the annual conference. I had many takeaways and met many fantastic leaders who are undertaking work that is inspiring and transformational in their communities.

It took me a few days to “digest” everything I experienced at PNW18 – keynote speakers, information from the sessions I attended and conversations I had during the conference with fellow colleagues.

Some of my top takeaways and reflections include:

Power of the Philanthropy Northwest network

Conferences allow us to break down silos and connect with each other, learn from each other; while also sharing experiences, ideas and tools. I appreciated getting to meet and learn about my colleagues’ work throughout the Northwest. I also valued the many diverse opinions and perspectives on various issues. There is power in creating an inclusive network like Philanthropy Northwest.


This year’s conference opened the door to some difficult conversations about philanthropy that was at times both reaffirming and disheartening. These difficult, thought-provoking conversations push our field into new realms and will allow us to more effectively make a transformational impact in our communities.

Leading Social Change and Innovation

Philanthropy has an important role in addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion. We can be a leader in social change and innovation. Some of the themes I observed throughout the conference included:

  • Be bold leaders: We need to challenge the status quo and don’t be afraid to drive needed change.
  • Catalyze change: As funders, we have the ability to create a spark that can catalyze change.
  • Hear and incorporate community voice: We need to create space for those most underserved in our communities. We need to more effectively hear and reflect the community voice in our work.
  • Trusted relationships: Change can only happen when trust has been established. Powerful changes can come from building trusted and collaborative relationships with grantees and partners.

I’m looking forward to applying these takeaways to my work and continuing to think about philanthropy in new ways, as well as furthering the many the conversations from PNW18 and continuing to connect with new friends made in Boise.

Kendra Witt-Doyle is the Executive Director of the of the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health, Idaho’s leading health-focused charitable foundation.