2015 CEP Conference: Wednesday Recap

A whirlwind Day 1 of the 2015 CEP Conference has come to a close out here in San Francisco! A full day of programming and connecting saw colleagues catching up and sharing ideas, while four riveting plenaries discussed topics ranging from impact investing and beneficiary voice, to the leadership industry, to education and immigration reform funding, to issues of criminal justice reform, equal opportunity, and building a green economy.

Attendees and speakers have been busy weighing in on the day’s happenings on Twitter using the hashtag #CEP2015. Here are some highlights from Wednesday:

After welcoming remarks, CEP’s Phil Buchanan, Ellie Buteau, and Kevin Bolduc took to the stage to kick off the conference by sharing data and findings CEP has collected recently on several key topics for foundation leaders: aligning investment practices with missions, listening to and understanding the ultimate beneficiaries, and the ways in which workplace climate and staff experiences at foundations can ripple out of the organization walls and influence grantees’ experiences in meaningful ways.

Phil began the plenary by sharing new findings from CEP on impact investing and negative screening practices at large, private foundations. Results of this research were released Wednesday morning in a brand new CEP research report, Investing and Social Impact: Practices of Private Foundations.

Next, Ellie Buteau took to the podium to share CEP research findings on listening to feedback from beneficiaries and nonprofit performance assessment.

Kevin Bolduc then shared new findings on the alignments between staff and grantee perceptions.

Phil then returned to touch upon the importance of foundation effectiveness, answering the question: “Effectiveness for what?”

Next, Harvard Kennedy School Professor Barbara Kellerman delivered an impassioned and engaging talk critiquing the leadership industry and stressing the importance of understanding followership and context.


Next up, conference-goers attended one of seven breakouts, ranging from combating inequality to foundation board governance. We wish we could have been in seven places at once, but thanks to our Tweeters for sharing the wisdom and ideas exchanged.

After the breakout sessions, attendees reconvened in the Grand Ballroom for a conversation between Laurene Powell Jobs, Emerson Collective founder, and Fay Twersky,  Director of the Effective Philanthropy Group at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Board member of CEP. Powell Jobs discussed her philanthropic work, focusing on the issues of college access and immigration reform.

And bringing Wednesday to a close, CNN host and Dream Corps President and Founder Van Jones captivated the audience with a passionate talk laying out three priorities in his work: to close prison doors, open doors of opportunity, and open those doors into a green economy.

Thanks to all our speakers and attendees for making this a wonderfully engaging day! We look forward to seeing what tomorrow will bring!


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