Disruption to Transformation: Speakers


& Downloads


We are pleased to announce that our opening panel will include:

  • Jen Ford Reedy, President, Bush Foundation
  • MayKao Y. Hang, President & CEO, Amherst H. Wilder Foundation
  • Matt Varilek , President, Initiative Foundation
  • Suzanne Koepplinger, Catalyst Initiative Director, Minneapolis Foundation

For the past several years the MCF annual conference has featured an opening plenary panel discussion. This year we want to engage members in a compelling conversation featuring four leaders in our field; Suzanne Koepplinger, MayKao Hang, Matt Varilek, and Jen Ford Reedy. Moderated by MCF Program Manager, Levi Weinhagen, our panel members will engage in a robust dialogue about disruption, transformation and maintaining resilience through times of struggle and change.

Photo taken at the 2018 MCF Conference.

Plenary speakers include:

Pakou Hang
Pakou will share her ways of working towards the building of new economies, the role of entrepreneurship in farming, how nonprofits partner with funders, and why resilience is vital to success.

Pakou Hang is the executive director and co-founder of the Hmong American Farmers Association, a social justice organization that was created to build community wealth among Hmong American farmers and their families. In 2014, she was appointed by the Mayor to the Minneapolis Food Council and is a former member of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Citizens Board. Pakou completed her master’s in political science from the University of Minnesota and her bachelor of arts from Yale University. She is a recipient of the Hubert H. Humphrey Public Leadership Award, the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, and the Bush Fellowship from the Bush Foundation.

Art Reyes III
Art Reyes will discuss how investing in the democratic process of community organizing can help create long-term, sustainable strategies for solving our big and wicked problems. He’ll then sit down with a panel of organizers working on early childhood, the census and faith-based civic engagement to explore how Minnesota grantmakers can partner with communities to navigate disruptions and create change.

Art Reyes III is the founding executive director of We The People. He was born and raised in Flint, MI and comes from several generations of United Auto Workers Union members. Reyes was formerly the training director at the Center for Popular Democracy, he spent much of 2016 working in Flint responding to the water crisis and helped launch Flint Rising. He has a BA from Michigan and a MPP from Harvard, where he has taught.

Dr. Alandra Washington

Dr. Alandra Washington, VP of Quality & Organizational Development at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation will utilize their own journey as a case study in order to provide insight on how a foundation can identify, leverage and transform internal and external disruption into resilience for their work in philanthropy and the communities we serve.

Dr. Washington brings extensive experience and knowledge in organizing communities for comprehensive change initiatives that include improving economic security of low-income families, community economic development, educational outcomes and capacity building and strategy development for nonprofit organizations.

She has provided thought leadership and research in the areas of parental involvement in education, philanthropic engagement and place-based change initiatives. Major contributions in these areas include published research, a national study of parental involvement including trends, status and effects on school success. In addition she has coauthored a book chapter, “Resilience and opportunity: Lessons from the U.S. gulf coast after Katrina and Rita,” and a foundation review research article, “Strategies for impacting change in communities of color.”

Carousel Presenters

Reclaiming Native Truth

The Reclaiming Native Truth project conducted an unprecedented research campaign designed to increase our understanding of the dominant narrative about Native peoples in the United States. Crystal Echo Hawk, of Echohawk Consulting and Wayne Ducheneaux, executive director of the Native Governance Center, will share with conference attendees what’s been learned from the research so far and how philanthropy can play a role in this work moving forward.

Crystal Echo Hawk is president and CEO of Echo Hawk Consulting, an organization that works to create new platforms, narratives, strategies and investment that can help catalyze transformational change for and by Native Americans.

Wayne Ducheneaux is the executive director of the Native Governance Center, a Native American-led nonprofit that assists Tribal nations in strengthening their governance systems and capacity to exercise sovereignty through leadership development and Tribal governance support.



Lunch Response Panel

Doran Schrants, Executive director of ISAIAH

Huda Ahmed, Senior Strategist at Grassroots Solutions

Bob Tracy, Director of Public Policy at MCF