Council on Foundations Kicks off 2017 Annual Conference in Dallas, Texas

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Council on Foundations opened its Annual Conference in Dallas, Texas, this week with a special address from President George W. Bush. He talked about the current work of the George W. Bush Institute and its Military Service Initiative, which ensures post-9/11 veterans and their families make successful transitions to civilian life with a focus on gaining meaningful employment and overcoming the invisible wounds of war.

President Bush also highlighted the work of the Institute’s Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon initiative, a program that leads coordinated action to save women's lives from cancer, and discussed the critical role that philanthropy plays in building thriving communities.

“A distinguishing factor about our great country is that generous people are willing to give to causes that help address the problems of our nation,” said President Bush. “To me it’s one of the most unique and best things about our society – supporting communities and giving to those in need – and so I want to thank you for being part of the fabric of a great nation.”

Speaking after President Bush, Council President and CEO Vikki Spruill spoke on the importance of open dialogue in communities. “Building bridges is the hardest work there is, but philanthropy is up to the task,” she said. Her speech can be read and viewed here.

Acclaimed writer, producer, director, and filmmaker Ava DuVernay also took the stage for riveting dialogue with Darren Walker, President and CEO of the Ford Foundation, on the power of truthful storytelling and its influence on social change and philanthropy and about her career, which has been devoted to “magnifying the magnificence of people who've been marginalized.”

Conference attendees enjoyed concurrent sessions on a range of topics from tax reform in the 115th Congress to new data on international giving, funding for the arts, and impact investing. Two of the most prominent sports philanthropists, Charlotte Jones Anderson, Executive Vice President and Chief Brand Officer, The Dallas Cowboys, and Dikembe Mutombo, Chairman and President of the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation, shared how they set and pursue their philanthropic visions in a conversation with Christal Jackson, Founder, Head and Heart Philanthropy.

Other highlights from the conference included a celebration of the Reasons for Hope initiative, where Broadway musical director and philanthropist Mary-Mitchell Campbell, Founder and Executive Director of Artists Striving to End Poverty (ASTEP), debuted her original song "Reasons for Hope."

The conference ends Wednesday. To learn more, visit or follow along with the hashtag #COFAnnual.



About the Council on Foundations

An active philanthropic network, the Council on Foundations (, founded in 1949, is a nonprofit leadership association of grantmaking foundations and corporations. It provides the opportunity, leadership, and tools needed by philanthropic organizations to expand, enhance and sustain their ability to advance the common good. With members from all foundation types and sizes, the Council empowers professionals in philanthropy to meet today’s toughest challenges and advances a culture of charitable giving in the U.S. and globally.