#CEP2017 Recap: Day 1

Ethan McCoy

The first day of the 2017 CEP Conference in Boston is in the books, highlighted by a moving and inspiring opening plenary from Equal Justice Initiative Founder and Executive Director Bryan Stevenson. Sharing stories from his life and work, Stevenson discussed issues of racial disparities, inequality, and a broken criminal justice system, outlining four steps necessary for funders — and society more broadly — to move toward a realization of justice: 1) get proximate to the issues we seek to solve, 2) change the narratives that underline and perpetuate injustice and inequality, 3) maintain hope, and 4) turn that hope into action by not being afraid to take on challenges and do what is uncomfortable.

It was an action-packed and powerful start to the conference. Through tweets from attendees using hashtag #CEP2017, here is how Day 1 unfolded:

After CEP President Phil Buchanan kicked off the conference with welcomes and thank yous, Grant Oliphant, president of the Heinz Endowments and chair of the CEP Board of Directors, took the stage to provide context for the importance of foundations in the current moment — and what the current moment demands of foundations.

Following Oliphant’s words, Public Welfare Foundation President Mary McClymont introduced Stevenson, providing background on his and the Equal Justice Initative’s work on issues of justice and mercy, including providing legal support for death row inmates, children prosecuted as adults, and the abused in the criminal justice system, and its work to establish a museum and national lynching memorial. Stevenson then took the stage, where he delivered a memorable and powerful talk about this country’s past, present, and future, and what it will take to achieve a truly just society.


Following Stevenson’s talk and an opening reception, CEP and Media Impact Funders partnered to host an advanced screening of the yet-to-be-released documentary, Sacred Cod. The film tells the story of the cod fishery in the Gulf of Maine and explores the complex interplay between social and environmental issues which resonate across numerous conservation efforts throughout the United States. Following the screening, filmmaker David Abel, Wilburforce Foundation Executive Director Paul Beaudet, and Media Impact Funders Executive Director Vince Stehle discussed the film and the conservation and social issues it brings to light. For those who were unable to make the screening, the film will be aired nationally next Thursday, April 13th, on Discovery Channel at 9 pm EST.

That’s a wrap on a great day one! Remember to follow along tomorrow and Thursday through the hashtag #CEP2017 to make sure you don’t miss a thing.

Ethan McCoy is senior writer – development and communications at CEP.

2017 Conference, CEP conference, leading effective foundations
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