Leading Together Conference | Miami, Florida | April 29-May 1, 2019

Bridging Divides Concurrent Sessions

Philanthropy is an important bridge within societies. In today’s world of growing nationalism and division, it has an even more critical role to play. We see funders of all types and sizes working across divides to drive social change, from strengthening democracy and civic engagement in increasingly partisan societies to facilitating interfaith dialogue amidst growing multiculturalism. Within our sector, we also see new types of funders challenging long-held conventions of philanthropy and working in new ways to drive change. How best can foundations continue serving as a critical bridge across these divides? Together, we explore how foundations can leverage a variety of assets, whether its financial, intellectual, or the power to convene, to facilitate conversation, to develop unlikely collaborations, or to ask the difficult questions that bring people together across perspectives and positions.


All Politics is Local

Tuesday, April 30 — 10:30 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.

Local journalism plays a key role in our democracy by helping ensure that communities are informed and civically engaged. Amid the bad news about growing news deserts, Knight Foundation's Alberto Ibarguen and leaders in non-profit journalism share promising solutions on how together we might  build a future for local news.

ModeratorAlberto Ibargüen, CEO, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Speakers: Liza Gross, Vice President, Newsroom Practice Change, Solutions Journalism Network; Newsroom; Scott Lewis, CEO/Editor in Chief, Voice of San Diego; Mariam Noland, President, Community foundation for Southeast Michigan; John Thornton, Founder, American Journalism Project


Prioritize 2020 Census - An Urgent Opportunity to Protect Communities

Tuesday, April 30 — 10:30 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.

There is concern that the upcoming 2020 Census may be under-resourced and over-politicized, which can lead to low response rates and the undercounting of residents of some of the most at-risk communities. All funders and communities stand to lose in this scenario, losing everything from data for planning local needs, services and hiring decisions; federal funding for programs; and representation in Washington, as well as decreasing the economic viability of rural and small-town America. While significant challenges remain to achieving a fair and accurate count in 2020, philanthropic leaders, together with grantees and other partners, are responding. This was a discussion on the opportunities funders still have to address this need, and ensure that these crucial numbers are accurate.

Speakers: Debbie McKeon, President & CEO, San Diego Grantmakers; Arturo Vargas, Chief Executive Officer, NALEO Educational Fund; Carrie L. Davis, Democracy Program Director, The Joyce Foundation 


Bridging Faiths in Divided America: How Foundations Rebuild Religious Pluralism Today

Tuesday, April 30 — 3:15 p.m. - 4:15 p.m.

Today, America is fractured across many divisions. Religion can continue to be a barrier of division, or it can be engaged as a bridge of cooperation for all communities. As conveners and leaders within civil society, foundations have a critical role to play in protecting America’s long tradition of religious pluralism and rebuilding the civic fabric of our nation. The intersectionality of religion with race and ethnicity is also an important consideration for philanthropy. Hear from a suite of leaders about concrete ways that foundations can strengthen American pluralism by building connections within and across communities to better understand the ways that faith impact democracy and diversity in America today.

Speakers: Lucas Johnson, Executive Director, Civil Conversations Project, OnBeing; Farhan Latif, President, El-Hibri Foundation; Sheryl Olitzky, Executive Director, Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom;  Eboo Patel, Founder and President, Interfaith Youth Core
ModeratorPeter Laugharn, President and CEO, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation


Town Hall: Philanthropy Bridging Divides

Wednesday, May 1 — 10:15 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.

No matter our political persuasion, most of us can agree that America is a divided nation. Elected officials, political parties and the media often fan the flames of division, leaving our nation more angry and our citizens more isolated from each other. What is the role of our sector during these contentious, difficult times? How might philanthropy help our nation heal divides and find common ground? Janine Lee, President and CEO of the Southeastern Council of Foundations, and Stuart Comstock-Gay, President and CEO of the Delaware Community Foundation, shared their perspectives on these questions, attendees also shared their own thoughts in this open, participatory town hall setting.

Speakers: Janine Lee, President and CEO, Southeastern Council of Foundations; Stuart Comstock-Gay, President and CEO, Delaware Community Foundation
Moderator: Chris Gates, Co-Director, Philanthropy Bridging Divides


Funding A Level Set on Racism: How Philanthropic Organizations are Addressing Structural Racism and Bias in their Communities

Wednesday, May 1 — 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.

How can philanthropic organizations unite to tackle serious, and often uncomfortable, social issues to move communities forward? This session showcased cross-organizational and cross-sector efforts to confront attitudes and practices that divide communities along racial and ethnic lines. The session focused on collaborations happening in Cleveland, OH, and other communities to address racism and bias in social systems.

Moderator: Courtenay Barton, Program Manager, Arts & Culture, Cleveland Foundation
SpeakersMelissa DeShields, CEO & Partner, Frontline Solutions; Joel Ratner, President & CEO, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress; Mary Sobecki, Executive Director, Needmor Fund