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Voices. Values. Choices.
March 15-16, 2018

Radisson Blu Minneapolis
35 South Seventh Street, Minneapolis, MN 55402

We are navigating in troubling times with people and issues we care about under siege. It is time to align our values with our choices and speak up for positive change.
At VOICES. VALUES. CHOICES. you will get the ideas you need to put your resources to work and empower your community partners to advance the vision of a more just, equitable and prosperous Minnesota for all.

The 2018 MCF Conference will feature:

Confirmed Conference Speakers

Ari Berman

Ari Berman is a 2017 Izzy Award winner for outstanding achievement in independent media, a senior reporter at Mother Jones and a reporting fellow at The Nation Institute. He is author of Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America and Herding Donkeys: The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics. (First 100 registrants receive a copy of Give Us the Ballot.) 

In 2012 Minnesota voters overwhelmingly rejected a voter photo ID constitutional amendment. However, similar voter suppression efforts succeeded in other states, and Minnesota lawmakers are laying plans to renew the push for photo ID. Between 2012 and 2016, states that enacted strict voter ID laws saw a drop in voter participation, particularly in communities of color. Berman draws a direct line between efforts to weaken the 1965 Voting Rights Act beginning the day after it was enacted to today’s voter suppression efforts. What happens to the vision of creating prosperity for all Minnesotans though equity and inclusion if voting practices are changed  in ways that  make it harder for certain communities to vote?

Shanelle Matthews

Shanelle Matthews is an award-winning political communications strategist with a decade of experience in journalism, legislative, litigation, rapid response, and campaign communications. She is the former Director of Communications for the Black Lives Matter Global Network, which organizes to end state-sanctioned violence against Black people by building power and winning immediate improvements in our lives. 

She previously served as the Deputy Communications Director for the Sierra Club, where she led communications strategy for their flagship campaign, Beyond Coal. Before that, she worked as a strategist for the ACLU of Northern California on reproductive freedom and LGBTQ rights. 

In 2016, Shanelle developed Channel Black, an immersive training program that prepares the next generation of Black millennial spokespeople to make critical, real-time interventions on racism in the United States through the media. She is also the founder of the Radical Communicators Network (RadComms), an online and offline community of people working within social change and public interest communications who are committed to taking a radical approach to winning.

Shanelle is The New School's inaugural Activist-in-Residence; here, she works alongside faculty and students to research and develop strategies that significantly reduce anti-Black bias. She holds a degree in Journalism and New and Online Media from the Manship School of Mass Communications at Louisiana State University. She lives and plays in Brooklyn.

Kelly Ryan

Kelly Ryan (@kryan_incourage) is President and CEO of Incourage (@incouragecf), an innovative community foundation in rural Central Wisconsin that has been in the vanguard of place-based philanthropy for over two decades. Under Kelly’s leadership, Incourage has advanced initiatives to build a diverse and sustainable local economy, expand community information and resident engagement, and increase access to opportunity. Named one of the “most influential leaders in the nonprofit sector” by the NonProfit Times, Kelly is widely regarded for her expertise in rural community development. She serves on the Aspen Institute’s Rural Development Innovation Group and the National Fund for Workforce Solutions Partners’ Council. At our conference, hear Kelly’s stories from rural community and economic development and her groundbreaking leadership moving the foundation’s investments to 100% aligned with mission.


State of Philanthropy Roundtable

Imagine "The View" but with five of MCF's members. The State of Philanthropy Roundtable will be a live recording of the MCF podcast Fast Forward, hosted by Levi Weinhagen

The MCF members will include:

  • Diana Anderson, Southwest Initiative Foundation
  • Anil Hurkadli, Thrivent Financial Foundation
  • Lulete Mola, Women’s Foundation of Minnesota 
  • Dana Nelson, Super Bowl Legacy Fund
  • Manisha Bharti, GHR Foundation
  • Trista Harris, Minnesota Council on Foundations

(Photo from the 2017 MCF Conference)


Speaker Carousel:

An MCF conference tradition now in its fourth year! During the carousel you will gather with peers in breakout rooms and then wait for a thought-provoking parade of speakers to come to you. Speakers include:

  • Trista Harris, president of MCF
  • Samuel L. Myers, Jr, democracy and racism, Humphrey School, Roy Wilkins Professor of Human Relations and Social Justice
  • Beth Zemsky, intercultural organizational development and owner of Zemsky & Associates

Breakout Sessions Presented by MCF Working Groups:

Democracy Funders Working Group
"What grantmakers can do to ensure an inclusive 2020 census"

Minnesota is Better when Everyone Counts. A fully-inclusive and accurate census count in 2020 will set the course for Minnesota’s future for the coming decade and beyond. Results from census and American Community Survey effect how we create a more prosperous Minnesota through inclusion and equity. Preparations for the 2020 count are well-underway. Now is the time for Minnesota grantmakers to  gear-up.


  • Susan Brower, State Demographer, Minnesota State Demographic Center

  • Huda Ahmed, Senior Strategist, Grassroots Solutions

  • Joan Naymark, Director, MACS 2020 (Minnesotans for the American Community Survey)

  • Sandy Vargas, Senior Executive Leadership Fellow. Humphrey School of Public Affairs

MN Disaster Philanthropy Working Group
Lessons From Minnesota’s philanthropic community response to Hurricane Maria"

This session will explore Minnesota’s community and philanthropic responses to Hurricane Maria. Through the use of case examples, we’ll learn about the important role corporate philanthropy can play in disaster response work, discuss how philanthropy can support grassroots community response efforts, and explore the linkage between community connectedness and resiliency.


  • Nancy Beers, Center for Disaster Philanthropy

  • Annastacia Belladonna-Carrera, Common Cause Minnesota & Minnesota Alliance of Communities for Puerto Rico

  • Tiffany Calderon,  Best Buy Foundation

LGBTQ Funders Working Group
"How to bring an LGBTQ-inclusive lens to your work"

This session is an issue briefing on the recently published report from the Better OUTcomes initiative called Fairness in Philanthropy: Leveling the Playing Field for Our LGBTQ Neighbors. This briefing will focus on providing participants with tangible tools and ideas for how people at all levels of an organization can work toward more LGBTQ-inclusive grantmaking practices.


  • Anil Hurkadli, Thrivent Financial Foundation

  • Maggi Adamek, Terra Soma LLC

Rural Funders Working Group
"Bright Rural Futures: Tailoring Initiatives to the Community"

This session will feature case stories on community engagement and creative problem solving initiatives in a rural context. The session will inspire funders to think about how to tailor funding and initiatives to meet the unique needs and interests of the rural communities they serve.


  • Karla Miller, Northwest Area Foundation
  • Nancy Fasching, Southwest Initiative Foundation
  • Jeffrey Vetsch, Southwest Initiative Foundation
  • Wade Fauth, Blandin Foundation

Don’t miss this opportunity to connect with thought leaders and colleagues at Minnesota’s largest gathering for the field of philanthropy.

Register for the conference today!


On March 14-15, 2018 in conjunction with Minnesota Council on Foundation’s Conference, ConnectUP! MN will bring together socially responsible entrepreneurs, investors, CDFIs, banks, incubators, wealth advisors, government, academia and key community players in the entrepreneur ecosystem in a supportive, inclusive community. Through interactive sessions attendees can connect, learn, share, partner and catalyze investments to actively create a more inclusive Minnesota economy.