Philanthropy Northwest Annual Conference

Philanthropy Northwest Annual Conference

The biggest opportunity for our network to connect.

Held every autumn, our annual conference is the biggest opportunity for the Philanthropy Northwest network to connect. This year, we are excited to bring you PNW22 Illuminate, a special two-part event which includes a Virtual Summit and an In-Person Member Retreat.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who should go to the Philanthropy Northwest Annual Conference?
All staff, board members or trustees of philanthropies are welcome to join. Participants include corporate giving offices, private and public foundations, community foundations, tribal grantmaking entities, nonprofit grantmaking organizations, government grantmaking offices and impact investors. This is a peer-to-peer learning opportunity for funders.  Please contact  our programs team if you are uncertain of your eligibility.  

What does it mean that Philanthropy Northwest members need to be in good standing to get the member rates? 
We are delighted to offer member rates to current members of Philanthropy Northwest. To be in good standing, your annual membership dues should be up to date at the time of registration. Email our  membership team  for help with dues, membership questions and payment. 

How do I suggest content for the conference?
We strive to build a conference program that has a little something for everyone, and we rely on the knowledge of our network members to suggest what’s most pressing for you and your work! Got an idea for future conference sessions? Share your ideas with JulieAnne Behar, senior manager of programs.  

Looking Back at PNW21

The 2021 annual conference theme, The Future is FORWARD, spoke to the current moment in philanthropy: where funders are moving quickly to support communities in the face of crises, returning to better instead of normal and actualizing a more just future across our region.

In three short days, our speakers, plenary in practice discussions, breakout sessions and art breaks gave us all a much-needed boost. To keep the spirit of PNW21 alive, we’ve picked some quotes from our keynote speakers and more info about the artists. Registered attendees may access recordings of the keynote speakers and main stage artist performances. If you attended PNW21 but did not receive an email to access the conference recordings, please email JulieAnne Behar, senior program manager.  

Plenary Sessions

Planning for What's Possible - Keynote Address with Heather McGhee, moderated by Jesse Beason 

Heather talked about the history of economic inequality in this country and how these historic systems and attitudes are still shaping our economic landscape. 


“Think about when you are asking grantees to solve poverty, homelessness, hunger in their county or town and yet you are giving them $25,000 to do so. You are creating in that grant relationship a 10% time tax around the application, the reporting and all of that, you’re not only just not giving folks the money they need to do the work but you’re also making it really hard for people to dream at scale…to really fix the problem.” – Heather McGhee, Author of New York Times Bestseller “The Sum of Us” 

Organizing Against Today’s Threats with Judith Heilman, Scot Nakagawa, Jacqui Patterson and Nick Tilsen, moderated by Lindsay Hill

This panel of experts and community leaders explored intersections between the impact of wildfires, access to water rights and the rise of white nationalist groups throughout the Northwest.


“We are Black, we are Brown and we are Indigenous. And we are a threat simply because of the color of our skin.” – Judith Heilman, Executive Director of the Montana Racial Equity Project

“The consequence of America falling to an authoritarian government would be a blow to people across the world.” - Scot Nakagawa, Senior Partner at Change Lab

“I implore us to think about multi-solving - intersectionality calls us to think of multi-solving models.” – Jacqui Patterson, Founder and Executive Director of The Chisholm Legacy Project

“We are not here to dismantle white supremacy – the active dismantling of white supremacy in this country is already underway.” – Nick Tilsen, President & CEO of NDN Collective 

Where We're Going - Transforming Our Role as Funders with D’Artagnan Caliman, Christine Reeves Strigaro, Dr. Carmen Rojas and La quen náay Medicine Crow, moderated by Satonya Fair

From moving funds to racial justice and systems change work to redefining grantee partnerships and centering community voice, the closing plenary speakers are philanthropy leaders taking a different approach to their role as funders.


On transforming philanthropy… "Community is not only the root, but the branches of what we're trying to accomplish...It's about our accountability to community." – D’Artagnan Caliman, Director of Justice Oregon for Black Lives, Meyer Memorial Trust 

"For communities to lead is not a question. They already are. We need philanthropy to lead through their guidance...Community, and their ancestors, need to be our steersman." – La quen náay Medicine Crow, President/CEO of First Alaskans Institute

"What other industry is titled with what they do with 5% of their assets? If you're a grantmaker, you tend to think a grant will solve the issues...I want us to be more creative with how we have the backs of our grantee partners." – Christine Reeves Strigaro, Executive Director of Sapelo Foundation    

"Our Answer the Uprising [initiative] was an opportunity to name the gap between how we speak in philanthropy and what we do, how we fund. We have to get better at naming why Black people and Native people are at the center of racial justice work." – Dr. Carmen Rojas, President & CEO of Marguerite Casey Foundation   

Art Breaks

These active breaks and our closing session featured artists from across our region to provide inspiration and fuel for continuing the work.  

  Tristan Agnauraq Morgan is a contemporary Iñupiaq artist practicing in Anchorage, Alaska traditional Dena’ina Athabaskan land. Learn more about Tristan’s art. 
  Aisha Fukushima is a Keynote Performance Lecturer, Justice Strategist, Founder of RAPtivism. Learn more about Aisha and follow her @aishafukushima. 
  M.L. Smoker is Co-Poet Laureate for the State of Montana, 2019-2021. For more information about M.L. Smoker, visit The Poetry Foundation.

PNW21 Planning Committee Members

A special thank you goes out to our PNW21 planning committee. This group of philanthropic leaders from across our network helped ensure that PNW21 had engaging programming, inspiring speakers, skill-building sessions and opportunities for connection. 

Gloria Dixon, BECU, PNW21 planning committee co-chair Cara Nielson, Idaho Community Foundation, PNW21 planning committee co-chair
Roxanne Alvarez, Philanthropy Northwest momentum fellow Sally Gillespie, Spur Foundation
Kelly Bruggeman, First Interstate BancSystem, Philanthropy Northwest board member Linda Tracy, Steele-Reese Foundation
D’Artagnan Caliman, Meyer Memorial Trust Athena Youm, Raikes Foundation

PNW21 by the Numbers

This year we brought over 330 grantmakers, board members, trustees and partners together for our virtual conference! See more information on who joined us below:

331 Attendees

47% were First Time Philanthropy Northwest Conference Goers

20% were from an Organization with 5 or Less Staff


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"I attended my first PNW conference over 10 years ago... The level of conversation now about racial justice, trust-based grantmaking and the roll of philanthropy has deepened to a level that would have been unimaginable then. Great work helping to move the sector!"