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2019 Unity Summit Agenda

The 2019 Unity Summit featured over 60 sessions and workshops that explored how philanthropy can embed equity while addressing power. 

Movement-Building Strategy Sessions took a deep-dive on expert cross­ cutting strategies to shape structural, institutional, equitable practices and policies in philanthropy for a more inclusive and just society. 
  • Accessible DEI - The Importance of Including Disability in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Efforts
  • Ain’t No Power Like the Power of the People: Building Political Power for People of Color
  • An Introduction to the Donors of Color Network
  • As the South Grows: Lessons from the Road
  • Better California: Philanthropy’s Role in Shaping a New Social Contract
  • Cutting Edge Capacity Building to Build Grassroots Power in Black and Latino Communities
  • Disability in Philanthropy and Nonprofits
  • Equity and Antiracism: Transforming Communities with Impact
  • Funding Feminist Futures: A Conversation about the  Radical Possibilities…
  • Imagining and Readying for our Future as the Majority
  • 'me too.' in Philanthropy: How Funders Can Support Grantees & Each Other
  • Moving Resources to Black Liberation Work: A Strategy Session for Black Funders & Organizers
  • Operationalizing Equity: Philanthropic Assessment for Organizational Transformation
  • Organizing Philanthropy to Support Community-Led Systems and Policy Changes
  • Organizing Works - How Do We Show It?: Quantifying Successful Relational Organizing
  • Queer Dollars and Change: The Power — and Potential — of Grassroots Fundraising
  • Queering Southern Movement Money: LGBTQ Southerners Driving Funding for the South
  • Real Political Power - The New Faces of Advocacy
  • Rural Racial and Economic Equity Rising
  • We Have Nothing to Lose but our Chains:  Toward a Racial Justice Framework for Social Justice
  • White Supremacy on a Global Scale
Practitioner Rap Sessions were dialogues and conversations about Summit Key Issue Areas facilitated and led by community experts with shared interest, opportunities, issues, and concerns. 

  • Action Toward Abundance: Economic Justice & Just Transitions
  • Deepening Philanthropic Support for the MASA community
  • Grantmaking at the Intersections: Intersectionality and Philanthropy
  • The Border and Beyond: Supporting the Full Spectrum of LGBTQ Immigration Issues
  • The Revolution Will Not Be 501(c)(3)-led: How Intermediaries can Disrupt Scarcity and Shift Power
Leadership Studios were skill-building sessions designed for learning and connecting with leaders and activists in philanthropy who share professional insights, personal stories, behind-the-scenes perspectives, and transformational leadership tools to build and share knowledge. 

  • 2020 Census – Philanthropy’s Call to Action
  • ABFE’s Intro to Racial Equity 101
  • Building the Power of Everyday People of Faith
  • Community Foundations Innovations For Social Change
  • Conflict Literacy for Transformational Leadership
  • Diversifying and Democratizing Philanthropy through Giving Circles
  • Grassroots Grantmaking as a Tool for Leadership Development and Bottom up Systems Change
  • The GUTC Pledge: Building a New Movement in Philanthropy to Support Trans Communities
Equity Examinations offered deeper consideration of approaches and case studies of integrating equity practices. These workshops engage attendees with interactive practices and real-life applications. 
  • Awake to Woke to Work: Building a Race Equity Culture
  • Breaking Down the Ivory Towers - Lessons Learned About Incorporating Community and Participatory Grantmaking
  • Brown Folks have the Answers to Ending Gun Violence
  • Building Justice Into Future of Donor Advised Funds: Ready Strategies for Centering Racial Justice
  • Busting the Myths of Advancing Racial Equity in Philanthropy
  • Cutting Edge Funding Data and Resources for Native & Latinx Communities
  • Data Justice: Shaping Social Justice Research Beyond the Usual Suspects
  • Directing DEI: Structuring Organizational Change in Foundations
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and the Native Paradox
  • Divest/Invest: From Criminalization to Thriving Communities
  • Education Justice is Racial Justice: Why Philanthropy Must Continue to Invest in the Education
  • Funding the Future:  Fellowships for Formerly Incarcerated People
  • Intersectional Advocacy: Solving Systemic Problems for Women and Girls
  • Moving from Conversation to Action: Implementing Equitable Grantmaking Practices
  • Nourishing Change: Community and Philanthropic Partnerships to Advance Equitable Food Systems Change
  • Rekindling the Dream-Closing the Racial Wealth Gap
  • Solidarity in Building Youth Power for Health and Racial Equity
  • Super Cohorts: Bridging Power Towards Justice by Connecting across Cohorts
  • The Transformation Tool: Identifying Truly Transformational Organizing Campaigns
  • Transforming Society: Higher Education Equity as a Movement for Change
  • When Shift Happens: First-Hand Experiences from Two Health Equity Foundations
  • Young Women's Initiative: Philanthropy at the Intersection of Racial Justice and Gender Equity
Healing and Liberation Practices explored practice-based discussions on holistic efforts and approaches that support healing and liberation cultures and climates. 

  • Advancing Racial Equity through Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation
  • Fierce Self Radical Love for Leaders
  • Healing Justice: Building Power, Transforming Movements
  • How to Re-Humanize Equity Work Through Employee Resource Groups
  • Liberation Practice: For "Colored" Folks Who Consider Our Mutual Liberation is Enough
  • Power UP Communities of Color through Out-of-the-Box Philanthropy
  • Returning to the Work: Self-Care & Compassion for Change Makers
  • So You Wanna Build a Movement? Supporting Conflict Transformation
  • Storytelling, Healing, Imagination, Freedom and Transformation: A Co-liberation Model for Equity
  • Transforming the Philanthropic Sector  through Building Solidarity and Accountability

Learning From Movement Ecosystems:
Nuances and Tensions in Movements

For years movement leaders have explained the complexity and uniqueness of movement ecosystems and strategies, which often run counter to the culture and practice of institutional philanthropy. The habits and tactics in philanthropy, coupled with the power of funding, can hinder movements. Philanthropic funding can create demand that overemphasizes certain strategies, make movements less radical, or create unnecessary competitionThis plenary explored the unique and effective qualities of social justice movements, the challenges, and opportunities of philanthropic involvement in movements, and how actors in institutional philanthropy can emulate movements’ habits to shift our sector.

Moderator: Jeanne Lewis, National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy

Speakers: Judith LeBlanc, Native Organizers Alliance; Jennifer Epps Addision, Center for Popular Democracy; Lorella Praeli, Community Change Action; Glenn Harris, Race Forward

Women of Color: Movement Leaders, Power Brokers,
Game Changers


Women of color are building mass power for large-scale social change. They are leading the way for all of us in ending gender-based violence, establishing a more representative democracy, fighting for native rights and the lives of Black trans women.  This plenary gave attendees the opportunity to hear from some of the most visionary leaders of today’s movements for justice.

Moderator: Kiyomi Fujikawa, Third Wave Fund

Speakers: Sarah Echohawk, American Indian Science and Engineering Society;  Aimee Wilson, She the People; Nekessa Julia Opoti, Black LGBTQ Migrant Project; Kayla Gore, Transgender Law Center; Dalissa Vargas, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

Power Building for Migrant Justice:
Moving Beyond Established Frameworks
to Grow Our Movement

Migrant justice is impacted by a history of systemic oppression of people of color, women, LGBTQI and indigenous folks. The basic presence of brown and black folks in the US has been both delegitimized and made illegal for centuries. Pro-migrant, pro-refugee, pro-asylum movements offer a foundational lens for all of our work. And while anti-immigrant, white supremacist and Islamophobic hatred dominates the headlines today, this work far pre-dates 2016 and must continue no matter who occupies the House, Senate or Oval Office in 2020.  ​In this plenary, grassroots organizers graciously offered their expertise, and attendees explored what it means for anyone in philanthropy to strengthen their respective place in this movement ecosystem, from grants and assets to funders’ public voice and power.

Moderator: Shireen Zaman, Proteus Fund 

Speakers: Ola Osaze, Black LGBTQ+ Migrant Project;  Monica Hernandez, Southeast Immigrant Rights Network; Viri Hernandez, Poder in Action; Maru Mora-Villalpando 


Fight Back the Surge: Supporting Movements Against Hate,
White Nationalism, and Authoritarianism

An alarming surge in organized bigotry has posed major impediments to those working at in progressive racial and social justice movements and has been effective in terrorizing our communities and furthering anti-democratic practices that threaten us all.  Hateful rhetoric has been weaponized and deployed by Far Right groups and their media outlets, as well as those at the highest levels of our government, to delegitimize, disenfranchise, and discriminate against our communities in tragic and deadly ways. Activists working to advance racial justice, LGBTQ justice, Indigenous rights, immigrant and refugee rights, or to counter Islamophobia, anti-Black racism, or anti-Semitism shared what they are seeing as most critical for resistance, coalition-building, cultural/narrative/political shifts, and importantly, longer term structural transformation that supports a truly inclusive and pluralistic democracy. This plenary  lifted up ways funders can most effectively support the efforts to combat rising hate, White Nationalism, White Supremacy and authoritarianism as defined by and led-by those most impacted.

Moderator: Lori Villarosa, Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity

Speakers: Shelby Chestnut, Transgender Law Center;  Scot Nakagawa, ChangeLab; Jerónimo Saldaña, Latino Justice; Linda Sarsour, MPower Change

Making CHANGE Happen: Why Organizational Culture Matters & How To Shift It

Whether in philanthropy or in the corporate sector, multiple studies have found that strategic plans, benchmarks, and logic models all fail to yield results if organizational culture is not addressed. Yet recent research from CHANGE partners shows that philanthropic institutions are still struggling to build organizational cultures that advance equity and social justice. Our closing plenary equipped attendees with concrete data, tools, and real-life case studies for catalyzing change at their institutions to advance diversity, equity, and social justice. CHANGE partners shared recent research on trends in diversity and analysis of organizational culture challenges in the sector. A panel of philanthropic leaders--from program officers to chief executives--shared stories of the obstacles, opportunities, and successes they encountered in catalyzing change at their institutions. From fellowships and trainings to establishing equity-focused funding initiatives, this plenary explored with nuance which strategies work in which unique contexts for making institutional change a reality.  

Moderator: Ben Francisco Maulbeck, Funders for LGBTQ Issues

Speakers: Manuela Arciniegas, Andrus Family Fund; Liz Posey, Marguerite Casey Foundation; Stephen Chan, The Boston Foundation; Gabriel Foster, Trans Justice Funding Project


A first for the Unity Summit, this special track of sessions was designed exclusively for foundation CEOs seeking to develop advanced tools and strategies for the challenging long-term work of integrating the values of diversity and social justice in all aspects of their institutions. 
Managing Internal & External Resistance To Advancing
Intersectional Racial Equity and Justice

This opening session of the CEO track identified some key points of internal and external resistance that foundation CEOs must manage from the inception and throughout the process of advancing racial and social justice grantmaking focus. From trustees, donors, staff, long-standing grantees or broader community, attendees explored effective ways different leaders have tackled and overcome expected and unexpected, overt or more implicit obstacles along the path. Discussion leaders ranged from local to national foundations, private, public, with very different institutional starting points and history with racial justice approaches. CEOs will left this session with shared strategies to build momentum, embed racial equity and explore alignment of racial justice internally and externally.
​Facilitators: Lori Villarosa, Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity and Cynthia Nimmo, Women's Funding Network 

Discussion Leaders: Don Chen, Surdna Foundation, Teresa Younger, Ms Foundation, Nicky Goren, Meyer Foundation, James Head, East Bay Community Foundation

Covering & Authenticity: Fostering Organizational Cultures Where Everyone Can Bring Their Full Selves To Work

Kenji Yoshino’s book Covering suggests that nearly all people feel pressure to cover aspects of their identity in the workplace. Too often people of color are encouraged to conform to white cultural norms; parents feel pressure to downplay parental obligations; LGBTQ people often feel they have to hide same-sex relationships or conform their gender expression; and people of faith may downplay religious practices ranging from fasting to prayer. Following a brief presentation on covering, three CEOs shared their own experiences of both challenges and potential strategies for fostering a workplace where all staff are able to bring their full selves to work. CEO’s then took a deep dive into how leadership impacts organizational culture. 

​Facilitators: Patricia Eng, Asian Americans Pacific Islander in Philanthropy & Ben Francisco Maulbeck, Funders for LGBTQ Issues

Discussion Leaders: Daniel Lee, Levi-Strauss Foundation; Nicky McIntyre, Foundation for a Just Society; Ryan Easterly, WITH FoundationHow Diverse Leaders Survive, Thrive, and Be Accountable While Advancing Social Justice

How Diverse Leaders Survive, Thrive, and Be Accountable While Advancing Social Justice

Recent years have brought us more foundation presidents from diverse racial, ethnic and LGBTQ communities than we have ever had in the field  of philanthropy. But with that increase in privileged positions, but beyond their boards, are there ways these leaders seek to be accountable to the communities they reflect and allies? Are they held to different standards - and by whom? And is this also true for White CEOs who seek to be visible leaders on racial and social justice?   This session began with dialogue among a racially and gender-diverse set of CEOs to explore these questions, then allowed space for deeper peer exploration of how to build a culture of accountability at the top. CEOs left this session with insights and suggested practices for stepping into courageous leadership and how to ask for and give support to your colleagues and challenge one another. 
​Facilitators: Ana Marie  Argilagos, Hispanics in Philanthropy & Susan Taylor-Batten, ABFE, A Philanthropic Partnership for Black Communities

​Discussion Leaders: Bob Ross, California Endowment; Luz Vega Marquis, Marguerite Casey Foundation; Dimple Abichandani, General Service Foundation

Leveraging Power, Yielding Power, and Sharing Power:      The Complexities of Executive
Authority and Leadership

The CEO plays a critical role in an organization’s success and is often looked to as the champion of the organization's internal culture and external practices. But are the tenets of executive leadership suited to support a more equitable philanthropic practice? How might present-day CEOs re-imagine their executive leadership? We hear best practices about taking a stand and funding grassroots organizations. Others leverage their voices to support leaders who may not have the same level of access or authority. Some CEOs ensure that they welcome and invite others who do not share privileged identities to lead their boards. But all best practices are more effective when we account for a CEO’s power. CEOs  left this session with ideas for how to leverage executive authority in new ways. 

Facilitators:  Storme Gray, Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy & Aaron Dorfman, National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy

Discussion Leaders: Karen McNeil Miller, Colorado Health Foundation; Amanda Cloud, The Simmons Foundation; Michael Roberts, First Nations Development Institute

View more 2019 Unity Summit
Highlights and Reflections 
Copyright © 2020 CHANGE Philanthropy, All rights reserved.

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