Leading Together 2021 | A Virtual Experience

June 14-17

Pushing the Policy Envelope: Foundations Acting in a Pivotal Time

June 14 | 12:00-3:00 p.m. ET

We are in a pivotal time for public policy action in our nation. Throughout 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic, economic downturn, and racial justice crisis magnified the deep-rooted systemic barriers that prevent many Americans — especially Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, and other marginalized communities — from building a better future. As communities and the nation begin the process of recovery, how can philanthropy support a more equitable, inclusive future through civic engagement and advocacy? Join this Leading Together 2021 preconference session to hear from thought leaders, foundation executives, and advocates who are working at the forefront of social change and challenging existing policies that maintain the status quo.

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12:00-12:05 p.m. ET - Welcome

Speaker: Megan Thomas, President & CEO, Catalyst of San Diego & Imperial Counties

12:05-1:15 p.m. ET – Exploration #1 - Demystifying Philanthropy for Policymakers: The First Step to Systems Change

If philanthropy wants to achieve systemic change on multiple fronts during this pivotal time nationally, public policymakers are key. Philanthropic organizations need to understand that legislators look for trusted partners and voices as they pursue policies that come up against the status quo. The trust factor is critical in the equation of public policy change. Does the philanthropy sector have the benefit of trust by public policymakers? Is there a growing distrust and if so, why? What are the perceptions of the motives of philanthropy in this time of increasing wealth inequality and disparity? Is philanthropy seen as part of the problem or part of the solution?

We will explore what the proposals to regulate philanthropic vehicles (DAFs and payouts), donor transparency, and potential caps on the charitable deduction signal for the institution of philanthropy. It begs the question of whether policy makers understand contemporary philanthropy and its role in supporting civil society? Does philanthropy need to do a better job—and faster—of telling the story of the work (not the assets!) and the community impacts?

This exploration will unpack the issues of trust of philanthropy by policymakers and the “hot issues” driving perception. Speakers will provide provocative food for thought to guide breakout group discussions among attendees about how they build trust with their policymakers.

Speakers: Kristin Anne Goss, Professor of Public Policy and Political Science, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University; Arshi Siddiqui, Partner, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP

1:15-1:30 p.m. ET – Congressional Update

Jenn Holcomb, Director of Government Affairs, will provide a brief update on our work to engage members of Congress and their staff on issues important to the sector.

Speaker: Jenn Holcomb, Director of Government Affairs, Council on Foundations

Special Appearance: Jackie Walorski, United States House of Representatives, Indiana

1:30-2:45 p.m. ET – Exploration #2 – Pursuing an Inclusive Economy through Systemic Change Policies that Center Gender Equity

It feels challenging to envision a post-COVID world, one that can begin the hard work to chart an equitable national recovery. This exploration will address what opportunities can be created if philanthropy prioritizes strategies and grantmaking that focus on promoting new public policies to eliminate the systemic barriers impacting communities of color and economically marginalized populations, including the record number of women who have been forced out of the labor market during the pandemic. How can foundations work together to achieve these results? How must philanthropy change its operations, practices, and advocacy - both to ensure systemic change and marginalized groups gain political plus economic power in response to that systemic change? What are the missed opportunities because philanthropy is not investing in systemic policy change today?

Speakers and attendees will have the opportunity to discuss their vision of philanthropy’s future and the actions and investments needed today to realize an equitable and truly inclusive future. Small group breakouts will share ideas and strategies with each other.

Moderator: Megan Thomas, President & CEO, Catalyst of San Diego & Imperial Counties

Speakers: Surina Khan, CEO, Women's Foundation California; Deidre Lind, President & CEO, Mayor's Fund for Los Angeles

2:45-3:00 p.m. ET – Closing