#CEP2019 Recap: Day 2

Sarah Martin

It’s been a whirlwind so far, but Day 2 of the CEP 2019 Conference is over, having brought thoughtful debate, new data to digest, and plenty of opportunities for conversation and reflection about navigating the challenges philanthropy faces in the current moment.

The morning kicked off with welcoming remarks and local funder acknowledgments from CEP President Phil Buchanan and Susie Brown, president of the Minnesota Council on Foundations. From the nexus of philanthropy and public policy, to racial equity in civic life, to overcoming political divisiveness, the day’s agenda was chock full of thoughtful conversation and insight on crucial topics. Attendees took part in the first rounds of nearly 25 breakout sessions, which included deeper dives into topics such as funder collaborations, evaluation of social change, and diversity in the philanthropic and nonprofit spaces, to name a few. Here is a sampling of the conversation from Day 2:

Following the kick off, in Day 2’s first plenary, CEP Vice President, Research, Ellie Buteau shared never-before-released CEP research that explores how funders approach influencing public policy at the national, local, and regional levels. As the nearly 500 attendees in the room digested the data, CEP Vice President of Assessment and Advisory Services Kevin Bolduc then facilitated a panel discussion among philanthropic leaders including Paul Beaudet, executive director of Wilburforce Foundation and CEP board member; Carmen Rojas, co-founder and CEO of the Workers Lab and Marguerite Casey Foundation board member; and Lorie Slutsky, president of the New York Community Trust. The discussion dug into the challenges and reluctance that often affect funder engagement in efforts to shape and influence public policy. What should be the guiding principles for funders as they consider the role of public policy in their strategies? What have been the most effective examples of public policy influence in philanthropy? These are some of the questions that both the panelists and attendees, during table discussions in small groups, explored.

After lunch, the plenary stage turned to the topic of philanthropy’s role in moving beyond political divisions. John Inazu, Sally D. Danforth Distinguished Professor of Law and Religion at Washington University in St. Louis, shared his thoughts on “confident pluralism” and how we can work to not paper over differences or immediately dismiss those with beliefs different than our own, but rather acknowledge those differences through patience, humility, and tolerance. Following Inazu’s remarks, Fay Twersky of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation moderated a thoughtful discussion with Inazu, Candice Jones of the Public Welfare Foundation, and Adam Meyerson of Philanthropy Roundtable. The discussion covered the importance of nuance, getting out of echo chambers, and not allowing high-level differences to get in the way of getting necessary work done when it is needed most.

https://twitter.com/gsgalaich/status/1126187287195344896

Later, in back-to-back breakout sessions, attendees then came together in smaller settings for conversations focused on various topics including intermediaries in philanthropy, cybersecurity, beneficiary feedback loops, evaluation, and impact investing. Since no one could be in seven different sessions at once, we’re grateful for those who tweeted highlights and key takeaways from various sessions throughout the day:

An action-packed Day 2 concluded with an incisive and hilarious dinner plenary featuring actress and CBS Sunday Morning commentator Nancy Giles. After a thoughtful introduction by President and CEO of the Saint Paul and Minnesota Foundations, Dr. Eric Jolly, Giles shared illuminating stories about her “black experience.” Giles used her unique blend of sharp commentary and wit to illustrate the ways in which we, as a nation, struggle deeply to talk about race — and how that tension informs the work of funders serving grantees and communities of color. Ending the day with both humor and thoughtfulness on tough challenges left the room with much to digest as the day concluded.

Though it’s hard to believe, tomorrow is already the final day of the 2019 CEP Conference! And there’s lots more thought-provoking conversation to come. Be sure to follow along throughout the day using the hashtag #CEP2019. Several plenary sessions, including those with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Matthew Desmond and CEP President Phil Buchanan, will be livestreamed. You can see the livestream schedule here.

Sarah Martin is writer, development and communications, at CEP.

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