#CEP2017 Recap: Day 3

Ethan McCoy

And just like that, the 2017 CEP Conference has come and gone. From Tuesday evening’s powerful opening plenary from Bryan Stevenson to yesterday’s closing talk on leadership in turbulent times from Harvard Business School Professor Nancy Koehn, Leading Effective Foundations was chock-full of inspiring stories, thought-provoking data and insights, and sharp discussion of issues that are central to foundations’ ability to maximize their impact. Thank you to all our speakers, sponsors, and attendees (and tweeters!) for joining us and making a memorable three days in Boston.

Through tweets from attendees using hashtag #CEP2017, here is how Day 3 unfolded:

The third and final day of the conference began with a presentation of powerful and sobering data on inequality from Stanford economist and MacArthur Fellow Raj Chetty. Chetty explored how the notion of the “American Dream” actually stacks up against the data, sharing findings from recent studies on economic mobility and discussing how developments in big data are creating opportunities to reverse debilitating trends in inequality. He then joined a panel of foundation leaders, including Risa Lavizzo-Mourey of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Hilary Pennington of Ford Foundation, and Kyle Peterson of the Walton Family Foundation, and moderated by BELL CEO Tiffany Cooper Gueye, to discuss what foundations can do to be effective in their work to combat inequality.


Following the panel discussion, attendees dispersed for the third and final series of breakout sessions. Topics covered included supporting nonprofit sustainability, governance, strategy, and foundations’ role in influencing policy, to name a few. Here’s a sample of tweets from across these discussions:

After the breakouts, attendees reconvened in the grand ballroom for the day’s second plenary panel, this time on different perspectives on philanthropy’s power and influence. Including voices from the nonprofit (Vu Le of Nonprofit with Balls), journalist (Sacha Pfeiffer of The Boston Globe), academic (sociologist Linsey McGoey of the University of Essex, U.K.), and funder perspective (Grant Oliphant of The Heinz Endowments), Barr Foundation President Jim Canales moderated a fascinating and candid discussion that spanned topics from navigating the power dynamic between funders and grantees to foundation transparency.



After lunch, Harvard Business School Professor Nancy Koehn closed the conference by telling the fascinating stories of Ernest Shackleton and Rachel Carson and drawing from them important lessons of leadership and courage when times are tough.

Much to digest, and we look forward to continuing the conversation.

For a recap of Day 2, see here.

For a recap of Day 1, see here.

To read Grant Oliphant’s welcoming remarks in their entirety, see here.

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

2017 Conference, CEP conference, leading effective foundations
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