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Who's Taking the Main Stage at SECF's 50th Annual Meeting?



For five decades, SECF’s Annual Meeting has brought together not only the best of Southern Philanthropy, but also experts and thought leaders from across the country to connect, engage and inspire one another in ways that propel transformative change in our region, enrich its communities and improve the lives of its people. This year in Atlanta, at our 50th Annual Meeting, we will honor our past, look back on what we’ve learned and assess where the South is today.

SECF’s 50th Annual Meeting: Writing Our Next Chapter is not a culmination or conclusion – it is the close of one chapter and the beginning of the next! We’re starting our next 50 years in a big way, with a collection of keynote and plenary speakers who collectively will look at some of the biggest issues facing our region, country and planet today and offer insights on what role philanthropy will have, and the tools it can use, in the years and decades ahead.




The 50th Annual Meeting will kick off November 13, 2019, with an opening keynote from Isabel Wilkerson, author of the best-selling and award-winning 2010 book The Warmth of Other Suns, which studies the Great Migration of African Americans from the Southeast to other parts of the country during the 20th century. Wilkerson, the first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize, will discuss these population shifts while also looking toward the future to offer her perspective on what she thinks emigration and immigration will look like in the South over the next 50 years.

The following day, a panel conversation will focus on a critical question: Can Philanthropy Preserve the Pillars of Democracy? Featuring Knight Foundation President Alberto Ibargüen, Knight’s Vice President for Journalism Jennifer Preston, Texas Tribune co-founder John Thornton and others, this discussion will explore how pioneering communities, and foundations in them, are experimenting with nonprofit journalism to combat the decline of the for-profit press.

Later that day, Andy Goodman will take the stage. Goodman, co-founder and director of The Goodman Center and author of Storytelling as Best Practice, will explain why storytelling remains the single most powerful communication tool foundations possess and will offer specific ways your organization can use stories to advance your mission.

The 50th Annual Meeting’s final day begins with a powerful reminder of the problems facing our planet – and why it’s worth saving. Exploring ocean conservation and the solutions for building a thriving water planet,  Philippe Cousteau Jr. will explore lessons learned growing up as part of the legendary Cousteau family and the critical pathways we need to focus on in order to return our oceans to abundance. Using photos and videos he will explore the evolution of ocean conservation and storytelling and provide a sneak-peek into what's on the horizon.

Finally, our closing keynote comes from one of the region’s – and the country’s – most powerful voices on issues of racial justice, Bryan Stevenson. Stevenson’s work as founder of the Equal Justice Initiative has helped eliminate excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerate innocent death row prisoners, confront abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill and aid children prosecuted as adults. Stevenson’s efforts eventually inspired him to spearhead the creation of The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, which commemorates the victims of lynching in the United States, and The Legacy Museum, which details the history of systemic racism in America by drawing a clear line from colonial-era slavery to present-day mass-incarceration. Bryan will talk about his journey, the realities of justice – and injustice – in America today, and our collective responsibility to help right the wrongs of the past. 

These keynote and plenary sessions are only one part of an Annual Meeting that will bring together hundreds of foundation executives, staff and trustees for three days of education, connection and inspiration. More details about our 50th Annual Meeting agenda will be revealed soon!

Registration for the 50th Annual Meeting opens Wednesday, May 15, at SECF.org. Join us as we confront the challenges that still face our region today and explore the trends, new ideas and new faces that will lead our work over the next 50 years.

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Southeastern Council of Foundations
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Mission: The Southeastern Council of Foundations serves, connects, strengthens and champions philanthropy and philanthropic infrastructure in the South.