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2023 Annual Conference

In 2023, MCF partnered with the hosts of Countering Hate to create two dynamic days of reflection, peer networking and learning.

Mobilizing Philanthropy, Countering Hate, 2023 Annual Conference, February 8-9 2023

Keynotes & Workshops | Conference Sponsors | Conference Committee & Partners

Keynote Sessions


Mobilizing as One: The Rural - Urban OpportunityA person in a suit smilingDescription automatically generated with low confidence

The urban and rural divide in Minnesota is a topic that draws deep analysis, debate and political posturing. In some ways, the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota are deeply divided; and in other ways the regions are intimately interconnected. Join this session to hear John Simpkins illuminate these realities using research and analysis from the American South, explore the interconnectedness between rural and urban realities, and contemplate ways philanthropy and institutions can promote equitable systems-change across geographic boundaries.

Featuring John Simpkins, President, MDC. Previously, John served as the Vice President of the Aspen Institute Global Leadership Network.

After his remarks, John will be joined by a panel of Minnesota-based philanthropy leaders who will dig deeper into themes of urban and rural interconnections. Panel members will include Morgan Kinross-Wright, Vice President, Community Relations and Executive Director, Land O'Lakes Foundation and Tuleah Palmer, President, Blandin Foundation. The conversation will be facilitated by Bukata Hayes, Vice President & Chief Equity Officer, Racial and Health Equity, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota.

This session is sponsored by: Blandin Foundation


Mobilizing Philanthropy: Evolutions for Today and Tomorrow 


A headshot of Carmen Rojas. She has short brown hair and glasses and is wearing a gray top

Board members; employees; community partners; grantee organizations - philanthropy engages a wide range of people in various roles, all of whom are experiencing the unsettled, polarized country we currently live in. Join Dr. Carmen Rojas for a discussion on the ways that philanthropy is evolving, and being asked to evolve, in this time of social change, economic uncertainty and political division. Dr. Rojas will engage in discussion with MCF President Susie Brown about the challenges and opportunities of engaging philanthropy's varied stakeholder groups as we chart the path forward. 

Featuring Dr. Carmen Rojas (she/her), President & CEO, Marguerite Casey Foundation. Previously, Dr. Rojas was the co-founder and CEO of The Workers Lab, an innovation lab focused on making real the promises of safety, dignity, and mobility to all working people.

This session is sponsored by: Best Buy


Morning KeynoteA person with a beard and mustacheDescription automatically generated with medium confidence

Featuring Dr. Abbas Barzegar, Director, The Horizon Forum 

The partners of Countering Hate have developed a full morning plenary agenda which include a keynote message by Dr. Abbas Barzegar followed by strategic discussions among small groups. For full details, visit the Countering Hate website





Morning Plenary

A conversation about the role of faith in mobilizing philanthropy against white supremacy, facilitated by Nadege Souvenir, Chief Operating Officer, Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation, featuring Tonya Allen, President, McKnight Foundation; Carin Mrotz, Director, Hate is not Charitable, former Executive Director, Jewish Community Action; and Dr. Shariq Siddiqui, Assistant Professor of Philanthropic Studies and Director of the Muslim Philanthropy Initiative, Indiana Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. For full details, visit the Countering Hate website.  


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Workshop Sessions 


Creating Foundation-wide Strategy for DEI
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion work is contextual, developmental, and practical work. Come learn from two DEI leaders responsible for foundation-wide strategy at the Northwest Area Foundation (a private foundation) and the McKnight Foundation (a family foundation); and how they are shifting their culture and practice along their DEI journeys over the last five years. They will share stories at different phases of their journey to be more equitable, inclusive, and diverse organizations. They will share their approach to DEI, practical examples, and lessons learned. Participants will walk away better equipped to take steps to engage their staff and board on issues of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice.
Principles: Equity and Justice; Continuous Learning
Presenters: Margie Jo Eun Joo Andreason, Justice Equity Diversity Inclusion Manager, Northwest Area Foundation; and Karyn Sciortino Johnson, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Manager, McKnight Foundation
This session is sponsored by: Faegre Drinker

Culture of Care
Culture eats strategy for breakfast. This session explores what it takes to co-create organizational culture that embodies community transformation. Nexus Community Partners’ collective care to support their staff to be engaged, to be recognized as leaders, and to have pathways to opportunities is an important part of their work to build strong, equitable and just communities of color. Attending to staff well-being (as individuals and as a whole) is a response to, and a responsibility within, their collective self. Nexus has been on a journey to understand their Culture of Care. In this session, they share stories and examples from their Culture of Care assessment of how their internal care practices influence their work together and in the community.
Principles: Ethical Leadership; Values
Presenters: Sida Ly-Xiong, Director of Learning & Development, Nexus Community Partners; and Chalonne Wilson, Vice President of Operations, Nexus Community Partners



Developmental Evaluation: Why, How and Making Better Decisions
The Minneapolis Foundation launched the OneMPLS Fund in 2019 as a collective giving fund designed to be responsive to emerging community needs. The Fund was seeded with a $1M contribution from the Foundation with the goal of sustaining it with ongoing support from the community. The first round of grants in 2019 focused on Housing. Because of its structure as a responsive fund, however, the team pivoted in 2020 and 2021 to support Pandemic Relief, Rebuilding in the areas impacted by social unrest and Nonprofit Capacity Building. They partnered with TerraLuna Collaborative to engage in a developmental evaluation of the fund and their efforts during the pandemic. Traditional approaches to evaluation examine cost, benefits, best practices, replicability, and other quantitative data that is often extracted from nonprofits. In contrast, developmental evaluation is grounded in systems thinking and supports innovation amidst complexity by collecting real-time feedback and data in ways that lead to more informed ongoing decision-making. Join them at this session to hear what they learned during this developmental evaluation and how their staff will apply these learnings to future grantmaking. This session will appeal to grantmakers focused on greater transparency and continuous learning and improvement.
Principles: Continuous Learning; Transparency & Accountability
Presenters: Andrea Cummings, Senior Director of Philanthropic Services, Minneapolis Foundation; Henriet Hendricks, Senior Director of Evaluation and Learning, Minneapolis Foundation; Jenny Johnson, Philanthropy Services Officer, Old National Bank; Brad Luckhardt, Consultant, TerraLuna Collaborative; and Patrice Relerford, Senior Director of Impact and Collective Giving, Minneapolis Foundation
This session is sponsored by: The Minneapolis Foundation



Giving Beyond the Checkbook to Partner with Nonprofits
The Mankato Area Foundation (MAF) views nonprofits as partners in solving the community’s most pressing challenges and is supporting their work in more ways than writing a check. This session highlights strategies the Foundation is piloting to build stronger, more trusting relationships with local nonprofits and how together, their efforts are benefiting the community. Presenters will share how the pandemic accelerated a creative process that was already underway to better partner with and support local nonprofits. This session is appropriate for all MCF members.
Principles: Community Engagement; Continuous Learning
Presenters: Kim Snyder, Principal, Excelsior Bay Group & Consultant in Residence, Mankato Area Foundation; and Nancy Zallek, President & CEO, Mankato Area Foundation 



Greater Minnesota Philanthropy: A Landscape of Opportunity
Greater Minnesota accounts for 45 percent of the state’s population, yet just 15 percent of Minnesota-based foundation giving in 2021 occurred outside the seven-county Twin Cities metropolitan area. The findings, derived from a multi-year analysis of the Minnesota Council on Foundation’s Giving in Minnesota Report, represent an opportunity for funders to increase their influence on racial equity, climate, and a host of community and economic issues.
Principles: Equity and Justice; Public Voice
Presenters: Eunice Adjei, Advisory Board Chair, Jugaad Leadership Program; Kara Inae Carlisle, Vice President of Programs, McKnight Foundation; Erin Schutte Wadzinski, Immigration Attorney and Owner, Kivu Immigration Law Worthington; and Matt Varilek, President, Initiative Foundation
This session is sponsored by: The Minnesota Initiative Foundations



Leveraging Impact Insights to Inform Future Organizational Strategies and Goals
3M worked with Ecotone Analytics to create a Strategy Map across 3M’s philanthropic investment portfolio to establish key metrics, map outcomes in a logic model format from suggestive of causation to well-established causal linkages and to ultimately create a Social Return on Investment (SROI) calculation. For those interested in mapping their portfolio of investments, better understanding and communicating the impact of their funds, 3M and Ecotone will discuss key learnings from the project, and insights into how funders can determine key metrics and map their own philanthropic portfolios based upon organizational goals.
Principles: Continuous Learning; Transparency & Accountability
Presenters: Jacqueline Berry, Manager of Education Initiatives, 3M; Imee Cambronero, Social Impact Supervisor, 3M; Matt Ladhoff, Vice President of Customer Relationships, Ecotone Analytics; and Stephanie Shekels, Vice President of Research, Ecotone Analytics



Post-Keynote Conversations with Dr. Carmen Rojas
Join this workshop to continue conversations on evolution for today and tomorrow. Attendees will have the opportunity to engage Dr. Rojas with questions that were raised from the Mobilizing Philanthropy keynote session. 
Presenters: Susie Brown, President, Minnesota Council on Foundations; and Dr. Carmen Rojas, President & CEO, Marguerite Casey Foundation
Post-Keynote Conversations with John Simpkins
Join this workshop to continue conversations on rural and urban opportunities. Attendees will have the opportunity to engage John with questions that were raised from the Mobilizing as One keynote session. 
Presenters: Bukata Hayes, Vice President of Racial and Health Equity & Chief Equity Officer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota; and John Simpkins, President, MDC
Preparing for Tough Conversations on Racial Equity
As organizations take bolder stances (and make deeper investments) toward racial equity, those leading conversations with partners, media, donors and other stakeholders may receive challenging questions at any time. Greater Twin Cities United Way's advancement team will share how they leveraged input from community partners, DEI experts, board members, and donors to develop a racial equity conversation tool as part of a broader racial equity toolkit. Colleagues using the tool will share how they are growing confidence in answering questions across the spectrum — from those with blatantly white supremacist viewpoints, to minimizers, to those who challenge us to do more to advance racial equity. Participants will leave with one example framework and kick-off questions to develop their organization’s own racial equity conversation tool. Target participants are crafting communications or leading conversations in support of bold racial equity investments.
Principles: Equity and Justice; Transparency & Accountability
Presenters: Tony Carr, Senior Donor Advisor, Greater Twin Cities United Way; Cody Flaherty, Donor Advisor, Greater Twin Cities United Way; Clarissa James, Director of Leadership Giving, Greater Twin Cities United Way; and Morgon Mae Schultz, Senior Manager of Advancement Services, Greater Twin Cities United Way.
This session is sponsored by: Lathrop GPM


Public Policy and Philanthropy
Join us for a conversation with Matthew L. Evans, Senior Policy Director of Public Policy for United Philanthropy Forum, to learn about national philanthropy policy and what to expect in 2023. Matthew will give an overview of federal policy efforts impacting the sector including: the Accelerating Charitable Efforts (ACE) Act, the Nonprofit Sector Strength and Partnership Act, the Universal Charitable Giving Deduction, and more. Matthew will also share the importance of federal advocacy, ways your foundation can be involved, and connecting the work back to the communities we serve. 
Principles: Public Voice; Transparency & Accountability; Ethical Leadership 
Presenters: Matthew L. Evans, Senior Policy Director of Public Policy, United Philanthropy Forum

Successful Leadership Transitions
Foundations have been working hard to change the landscape and create a more diverse and inclusive environment. But how can this be done in a way that sets up incoming leaders for success? Learn about how two foundations committed to sustainable and supportive leadership transitions, set up the organization and its new leadership with the necessary tools, skills, and environment to support the organizations continued growth and success.
Principles: Ethical Leadership; Equity and Justice
Presenters: Ambar Cristina Hanson, Executive Director, Mortenson Family Foundation; Donna Dalton, former Executive Director, Mortenson Family Foundation; Marcus Pope, President, Youthprise; and Wokie Weah, President Emeritus, Youthprise
This session is sponsored by: Thrivent


The New Thing in Philanthropy? Cash.
What are different ways to give away funds directly? What does the research say? What are the challenges, pitfalls, caveats, and considerations for cash transfers? How can funders most effectively listen to and center individuals receiving funds? What narratives exist around direct cash transfers and how can these impact policy decisions? Conference attendees will hear from funders and service providers who are experimenting with different cash transfer strategies as a means to meet peoples' needs more effectively. Join them for a short panel and roundtable discussion, facilitated by the Graves Foundation, where they will examine cash transfers through the lens of ethical leadership, equity and justice, and continuous learning.
Principles: Ethical Leadershop; Equity and Justice; Continuous Learning 
Presenters: Kyrra Rankine, Vice President of Organizing & Policy, The Graves Foundation; Erik Torch, Director of Grantmaking, Northland Foundation; and Kasey Wiedrich, Financial Capability Manager, City of Saint Paul's Office of Financial Empowerment
We're All Disaster Funders Now
During the COVID-19 pandemic, most MCF members became disaster funders, in one form or another. Crises and disasters create tremendous challenges and disparities, and they often also offer unexpected opportunities for learning and experimentation. The need for funders to step up in times of disaster and crisis will likely grow – as the climate changes, political polarization continues, and racial inequities persist, MCF members need to be prepared to stay in the ‘disaster funder’ lane. Let’s learn and share how MCF members engaged in various pandemic and disaster funding efforts over the past three years and incorporated a DEI lens into their work. This session is for any MCF member that has engaged, or considered engaging, in pandemic or disaster-related activities to support community relief and recovery. Join your peers in exploring how to bring a DEI lens into the work and bring lessons learned forward into future philanthropic efforts to support community relief and recovery.
Principles: Equity and Justice; Stewardship
Presenters: Sara Carlson, Executive Director, Willmar Area Community Foundation; Cari Cullen, Director, Midwest Early Recovery Fund, Center for Disaster Philanthropy; Nancy Fasching, Vice President of Community Impact, Southwest Initiative Foundation; and Don Hickman, Vice President for Community & Workforce Development, Initiative Foundation.