Thinking Differently About Leadership

May 16, 2018

From my perspective, the leadership Philanthropy Northwest encourages and supports is not primarily about our titles or tenure. This network is about learning and growing from and with our peers, wherever we are, whatever our roles. It is about holding ourselves accountable, learning from our mistakes, and putting our communities in the center, always.

I think that all of this, and the particular moment we find ourselves in, makes this year’s conference and the commitment to thinking about bold leadership that much more timely and relevant.

Being bold is not about chasing the next shiny thing or even about implementing brand new systems. Bold leadership is about taking important and critical risks to address the growing disparities in our communities and exemplifying a willingness to wade into and through discomfort. It is about creating space for new chapters and new opportunities. It is about asking ourselves and our peers the tough questions and to always dig deeper to understand ‘the why’ behind our decisions, strategies, and our work broadly.

At our conference this year, we will all have opportunities to think differently about leadership through:

  • Advancing racial equity inside our foundations as well as out
  • Encouraging leadership and skill-building for our emerging practitioners
  • Advancing the capacity and skills of our region’s CEOs in our CEO track
  • Learning to broach challenging conversations with board members and trustees
  • Finding ways to be explicit about where our foundations’ wealth comes from
  • Taking a bold position on impact investing

Ultimately, this year’s conference will also afford us the opportunity to learn and share with one another, and will offer us all many tools to help us lean in to our work even more.

Here’s a little bit of what you can expect to find in Boise, October 2-4:

  • Capacity Building Track: From this year’s conference sessions RFP, we got more proposals about capacity building than anything else. From private and community foundations to nonprofit state associations, folks want more support on how to fund capacity building. Given this level of interest, we decided to partner with the Statewide Capacity Collaborative and offer a track entirely dedicated to exploring this together.
  • Racial Equity and DEI: From making the case for ‘why’ to implementing the ‘how’, we know that many of us are on a journey to bring racial equity to life in our foundations. A theme that has emerged this year is about remembering that racial equity is not possible without centering Native and tribal communities. We will have a bounty of programs for you to deepen your knowledge in this area.
  • Democracy, Policy and Advocacy: There is so much more to advocacy than lobbying, and there is more to policy than your city council. We will span the reaches of how philanthropy can support a more robust democracy, be that as a 501(c)4 or in coalition work.
  • Reflective Practices: We will weave reflective practices throughout the sessions and encourage us to go deeper during the breaks to help us make more meaning and move our work forward.
  • Micro-sessions with The Giving Practice: New this year will be 20-30 minute “micro-sessions” with TGP consultants, each offering one specific tool you can walk away with to use in your work.
  • Special content: We will also be offering a full-day deep dive on impact investing, designed for foundation CFOs, finance committee members, and CEOs.

All of this, plus some truly inspirational keynote speakers, which we will be announcing soon.

I hope you will join me in Boise in October to think deeper about how we lean in for greater racial equity, stronger accountability, a deeper sense of urgency, and, ultimately, for more transformative funding solutions.

And, as some of you may know, I will be stepping aside from my role as CEO of Pride Foundation in September. Despite this, I am honored to be co-chair of Philanthropy Northwest’s annual conference in October, even though I will no longer be formally with Pride Foundation. Because as we know, leadership isn’t just about our titles.