Philanthropy Northwest Conference

Philanthropy Northwest Conference

PNW24 is Back!

After a year-long pause with a listening tour and time for intentional and strategic thinking about how we can most meaningfully gather as a network, our conference is back! 

PNW24 is returning in person on October 21 - 23, 2024 in Missoula, Montana.  


Be Part of Something Special: Sponsor PNW24

Philanthropy Northwest invites you to be part of bringing together philanthropic leaders from across the Northwest by sponsoring the PNW24 conference. Learn more about the variety of sponsorship levels and special opportunities available to our sponsors.

Learn About PNW24 Sponsorships


PNW24 Conference Session Proposals

During our conference pause and listening tour in 2023, we heard that our members and partners value opportunities to connect and learn from each other. To support this at our PNW24 conference in Missoula, Montana this year, we are seeking proposals for breakout sessions that align with one of these three priority topics: equity-centered philanthropic practices, moving resources, organizational culture and operations. 

We asked our network to join us in this opportunity to showcase your work, promote learning and spur action at PNW24. You can learn more about the opportunity in the PNW24 Request for Session Proposals Guide. The deadline for proposals has passed.


Announcing Our Venue: University of Montana

PNW24 will be at the University of Montana conference center. Based on input from our network, we prioritized a venue that has a strong connection to the host city, natural light and access to nature, and one that moves Philanthropy Northwest resources to a mission-aligned venue. 

The University of Montana conference center is on the top floor of the University Center, the hub of student life on campus, with a beautiful atrium and indoor garden, art gallery, coffee shop and more. It is also only minutes away from accessible parking, trailhead to the M and the Payne Family Native American Center.

In the spirit of Philanthropy Northwest’s commitment to perpetual learning and advancing equity in Northwest communities, we look forward to hosting our conference at this institution committed to equity and public education. 

A Change in Cadence and a Celebration of Our Region

Our conference is moving from annual to every other year. We are also forgoing a conference theme and instead highlighting the host city of Missoula. Philanthropy Northwest is a regional organization proud of our communities and this is a chance to further celebrate our connection to place.    

Learn more about the new direction for the conference on our blog.


Looking Back at PNW22 Illuminate


The theme for our 2022 gathering – Illuminate – focused on the role of storytelling and truth-telling to activate change. Throughout the Virtual Summit and the In-Person Member Retreat, we learned about the power of narrative change to bring forth new truths and perspectives, and we left revitalized for the important work ahead. To help you bring PNW22 learnings into your work, we created a high-level recap of our time together below. 

Virtual Summit registrants may access recordings of the plenary, opening and closing sessions, and our art-in-action break from the summit. Member Retreat registrants may access a more detailed overview of the learnings and materials from the retreat. If you attended PNW22 but did not receive an email to access the Virtual Summit recordings or Member Retreat learnings, please email JulieAnne Behar, senior program manager.  

Virtual Summit

Plenary: What We’ve Been Told – The Power of Story

During our Virtual Summit plenary, we heard from groundbreaking speakers who shared their thoughts on what philanthropy needs to unlearn, how challenging dominant narratives has shifted their thinking and next steps funders can take to pursue untold truths.

"Narratives eat policy for breakfast. Narratives are the drivers of all of our decision-making. They are our worldview. It's how we see the world." – Anne Price, President of the Insight Center for Community Economic Development

"Philanthropy, how do you use data after you collect it? How does it influence your decisions about what direction you're going in? The actual impact we're going for is much longer-term and much more qualitative than the data you are collecting." – Jihan Gearon, Artist and Organizer at Jihan Gearon Consulting

"The lesson is really simple. The narrative of history depends on who's telling it. Start to build the muscle of questioning, whose perspectives are being centered?" – Ayyu Qassataq, Vice President at First Alaskans Institute

“Philanthropy in general needs to unlearn the notion that they know more about the nature and solution to the issues in our communities than we do. Because they don't.” – Jeffery Robinson, Founder and CEO of The Who We Are Project

Art in Action with Lehuauakea


Māhū mixed-Native Hawaiian interdisciplinary artist and kapa maker Lehuauakea shared their art with us and how it serves as a means of exploring cultural and biological ecologies, Indigenous identity and contemporary environmental degradation.

Closing Session with Jill Nishi and Jason Graham (MOsley WOtta)


We came together as a network to close out the Virtual Summit with inspiring words from our CEO Jill Nishi and energizing stories from Northwest artist MOsley WOtta, also known as Jason Graham.

“Let’s challenge ourselves to think about how a fuller story of what has been and what is, can catalyze aspirations for what might be.” – Jill Nishi, CEO of Philanthropy Northwest

  “In thinking about illumination, I kept coming back to the heart because it is something that is in the dark that lights our way, but it does not do away with the dark or the darkness. The heart is radically inclusive.” – Jason Graham, Artist at Wake Creative

Member Retreat

Workshops with Storytellers for Change


Luis Ortega from Storytellers for Change led us through a set of workshops designed to interrogate what we believe to know as true, and the narratives that often limit a holistic understanding of who we are and our ability to recognize our shared humanity. We learned about identifying dominant narratives, asset-based storytelling, concealed and resistance stories, and transforming stories.

“What are the stories we can tell where we can speak the truth, so that we can heal and be in just relationships with each other?” – Luis Ortega, Director of Storytellers for Change


Art in Action, the Indigenous Walking Tour and a Tour of Racial History of the Northwest


During our art break, local storyteller, playwright, singer and songwriter Mirabai Kukathas, represented by Totem Star, performed her music for us, sharing her own stories from her life through song.


Owen Oliver led us on the Indigenous Walking Tour, highlighting the Indigenous presence around the University of Washington. Owen showed us the Indigenous knowledge systems rooted in the natural landscape and explained the connections to language and sacred history.


Sankofa Impact took us on a virtual tour of the often untold racial history in the Northwest. From Mukilteo, Washington to Coos Bay, Oregon to Minidoka, Idaho, they shared how the racial history of the Northwest that has been told often overlooks communities, obscures narratives and keeps heritage cloaked in fog.


PNW22 Planning Committee Members

We want to give a special thank you to our member engagement committee who served as the planning body for PNW22 Illuminate. We could not have done this without their help. Thank you to this group of philanthropic leaders from across our network:

Huong Vu, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation** Cat Martin, Vulcan Philanthropy**
Liahann Bannerman, United Way of King County Amber Fowler, The Dental Foundation of Oregon
Shona Carter, Black Future Co-op Fund Ayyu Qassataq, First Alaskans Institute
Mark Dederer, Hohimer Wealth Management Ernie Rasmussen, Bigfoot TeleCommunications of the Colville Tribes
Michelle DeWitt, Bethel Community Services Foundation **Committee Co-Chairs


PNW22 By the Numbers

This year, the PNW22 Illuminate Virtual Summit and In-Person Member Retreat brought together folks from across our region, spanning a wide variety of roles including board members, CEOs, staff working across programs, communications, finance and more! See more information on who joined us below:

PNW22 Attendees By Experience in Philanthropy

22% 30% 48%
Less than 3 Years 3-10 Years More than 10 Years


PNW22 Attendees By Organization Type​​​​​​

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"I really enjoyed the content, frequent opportunities to share ideas and perspectives with fellow attendees, the variety of approaches to understanding how racism manifests itself and the opportunity to explore it at greater depth than is usually possible in a conference setting. There was clearly a sense that we were all learning together and all learning from each other."