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

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


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.

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50th Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Andy Goodman

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


This profile is part of an occasional series highlighting speakers at SECF's 50th Annual Meeting! Register by July 1 and save $100!

SECF's 50th Annual Meeting will mark the close of one chapter and the beginning of the next -- part of an ongoing story of philanthropy in the South, its growth and evolution, and its power to transform lives and communities.

Within that large, overarching story are many others, being written every day by foundations and the people who lead them. Yet people and organizations can easily get caught up in the day-to-day, unable to appreciate the powerful, long-running narratives they help write through their work. Too often, these stories go untold.

Andy Goodman, who will take the main stage during the second day of the Annual Meeting, has devoted his career to changing that. As the co-founder and director of The Goodman Center, and author of Storytelling as Best Practice, he argues that stories are integral to organizational success.

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50th Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Phil Buchanan

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


This profile is part of an occasional series highlighting speakers at SECF's 50th Annual Meeting! Register by July 1 and save $100!

SECF has long had a strong relationship with The Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) and its president, Phil Buchanan. Buchanan was a plenary speaker at the 2015 Annual Meeting and facilitated conversations at SECF's CEO Forum, and CEP reports and articles make regular appearances in the weekly Connect newsletter.

That fruitful relationship will continue at this year's Annual Meeting, when Buchanan will speak to alumni of SECF's leadership development programs, including the Hull Fellows Program, at a special reception on the meeting's second day. He's also set to facilitate a session earlier that day on how learning from failure can be a best practice regularly undertaken to benefit a foundation.

Buchanan is in-demand these days, thanks largely to his new book, Giving Done Right: Effective Philanthropy and Making Every Dollar Count. While it follows the release of several books -- David Callahan's The Givers, Anand Giridharadas's Winners Take All, and others -- that have been largely critical, Buchanan's book is rooted in a more optimistic view of the field.

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50th Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Philippe Cousteau Jr.

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Any conversation around the next 50 years of philanthropy -- Southern or otherwise -- would be incomplete without devoting significant time to the threats facing our environment, particularly climate change and its effect on the global ocean that covers 70 percent of the planet.

The health of our planet and its oceans will be on the main stage at SECF's 50th Annual Meeting through a presentation led by Philippe Cousteau Jr., whose family name has become synonymous with ocean exploration and conservation. Philippe, the grandson of the renowned Jacques Cousteau, will use photos and videos during his Friday morning plenary as he explores lessons learned growing up as part of a legendary family and the critical pathways we need to focus on in order to return our oceans to abundance.

"Growing up I was inspired by the work of my grandfather and father," Cousteau said in a recent interview with Australia's Grazia magazine. "[My grandfather] opened the world's eyes to the wonders beneath the waves and the need to protect and restore the health of our oceans. My father Philippe Sr. joined him and was a world-renowned filmmaker and explorer in his own right."

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50th Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Bryan Stevenson

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Few people are better equipped to talk both about the South’s past and its potential than Bryan Stevenson, who will close out SECF’s 50th Annual Meeting.

Stevenson’s work as founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), which is devoted to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment, first brought him to national attention. Originally focused on providing legal representation to death row inmates in Alabama, where it is based, the organization is now a national leader on issues of racial justice.

Following a 2012 TED Talk that has accrued over 5.8 million views and the 2014 publication of his best-selling and award-winning memoir, Just Mercy, Stevenson rose to further prominence. His most visible achievement, however, came last year when The National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the related Legacy Museum opened in Montgomery.

The memorial, dedicated to victims of white supremacy, draws thousands of visitors every day to view the stark, minimalist columns etched with the names of lynching victims from hundreds of counties – most in the South. The Legacy Museum, a short walk away, uses powerful images, audio and artifacts to draw a direct line from the enslavement of Africans that started in the 1600s all the way to today’s mass incarceration of African-American men.

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50th Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Jim Hasson

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


This profile is part of an occasional series highlighting speakers at SECF's 50th Annual Meeting! Register by July 1 and save $100! Look for an expanded version of this profile in the next issue of SECF’s Inspiration, coming out in early July!

SECF’s 50th Annual Meeting is expected to draw more than a few guests who played a key role in the organization’s earliest days. One of them – attorney Jim Hasson – will even lead a session on the meeting’s third day.

Jim’s signature graces SECF’s Articles of Incorporation and between 1974 and 2011, he spoke at literally dozens of Annual Meeting legal update sessions. After a few years away, he’s returning this year to lead a new legal session, Compliance 101, that will provide practical guidance on best practices for some of the most common issues facing trustees and foundation staff, and the latest legal developments impacting foundations.

While SECF was founded in 1969, it didn’t become a legally distinct organization until 1972 – a process that Hasson was charged with completing.

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50th Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Alberto Ibargüen

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Earlier this week the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation announced a major investment in research that will help us better understand how technology is transforming American democracy and the way we receive and engage with information.

The $50 million initiative will support cross-disciplinary research at 11 universities and research institutions. This will include $5 million for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Institute for Data, Democracy, and Politics to help the public, journalists, and policymakers understand digital media’s influence on national dialogue and opinion, and to develop sound solutions to disinformation. 

Spearheading this work is the Knight Foundation’s president, Alberto Ibargüen, who will also kick off a plenary discussion at the 50th Annual Meeting that asks a crucial question: Can Philanthropy Preserve the Pillars of Democracy?

For Ibargüen, the answer to that question is an emphatic “yes.”

“We’re living the most profound change in how we communicate with each other since Gutenberg invented the printing press,” Ibargüen said in announcing Knight’s latest initiative. “The internet has changed our lives and is changing our democracy. We have to take a step back and a step forward. To understand what is actually happening, we need independent research and insights based on data, not emotion and invective. To go forward, citizens must be engaged, and including university communities in the debate is a step in that direction.”

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50th Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Dr. Geoffrey Nagle

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Conventional wisdom is often unkind to the education system in the United States – it holds that schools aren’t doing a good job in general, or that a quality K-12 education is harder to come by for students of color or those from low-income households. In total, it results in a system that leaves students unprepared for a competitive global economy.

Dr. Geoffrey Nagle, president and CEO of the Erikson Institute, agrees that more needs to be done to ensure students are prepared for college and beyond once they finish high school. But he doesn’t place the blame on K-12 education – he believes many students are at a disadvantage before they even set foot in kindergarten.

“The story we’ve heard about our schools may not be the real story,” he said in an interview with WBEZ radio in Chicago. “Schools are doing a lot better than we think they are doing, but they are struggling to overcome the deficits students have when coming into the schools. School failure isn’t really about the schools -- it’s about how we prepare students for school. And we also have to understand the adversity children face and how that impacts them.”

Nagle encourages parents, educators and government to place more focus on the 0-3 years of a child’s life – what he calls “the first 1,100 days.” During this time, many children receive no formal education at all, and often go all the way to age 5 without entering a classroom.

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50th Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Rhonda Broussard

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


While many foundations these days have made equity a greater priority, not all of them are starting from the same place. Some are still in a learning phase, others are ready to act, and others have already done equity-based work, but are looking to expand further.

At this year’s Annual Meeting, attendees will have the opportunity to hear about the equity journeys of their peers and, no matter where their organization is starting from, explore how to increase its “equity footprint.”

Helping lead this conversation will be Rhonda Broussard, the founder and CEO of Beloved Community in New Orleans. The organization, which focuses on policy advocacy and capacity-building, states plainly in its motto that “equity is our only hope.” Broussard leads the organization in its work to promote equity in schools, in workplaces and in the home.

“What will it take to make appreciable, sustainable change on the equity front? Beloved Community was born out of that question and the recognition that education alone can’t solve for society’s inequities,” Broussard said in a recent interview with LaPiana Consulting. “I believe that we can build our communities differently than we have been -- encompassing social justice, business/nonprofit, and government perspectives. These groups may have different reasons for being on the train, but if we design right we can get going in the same direction.”

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50th Annual Meeting Speaker Highlight: Daranee Petsod

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


Just as the treatment of immigrants, asylum-seekers and other refugees has emerged as a regular topic in the news, in the halls of Congress and in the race for president, it has also risen as an area of concern for philanthropy in the Southeast and beyond.

Fortunately, foundations seeking to support these populations, or deepen their existing work, have a go-to resource available to them: Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, led by Daranee Petsod, the organization’s president. 

At this year’s Annual Meeting, attendees will be able to hear from Petsod in person. “How Did We Get Here on Immigration?”, a session set for the meeting’s first day, will help participants understand the history of immigration in the United States and how it shapes and informs current-day practices.

In a recent letter addressing several recent news stories focused on immigrants – ICE raids in Mississippi, the ongoing detention crisis at the Southern border, and mass shootings in Gilroy, Calif., and El Paso, Texas, that targeted Latinx people – Petsod urged foundations to make support for immigrant families an ongoing part of their regular grantmaking.

“Add funding for rapid response to your overall annual grantmaking budget,” she wrote. “Having readily available funds for this purpose will allow you to make grants quickly when these events occur, particularly outside of your geographic area, issue focus, or grantee pool.”

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Southeastern Council of Foundations
100 Peachtree Street NW, Suite 2080
Atlanta, GA 30303

Visiting SECF:
All staff are working remotely at this time but can still be reached via email and by calling (404) 524-0911.

Monday-Thursday from 9:00am–6:00pm (ET)
Friday from 9:00am–12:00pm (ET)

Phone: (404) 524-0911
Fax: (404) 523-5116

Mission: SECF strengthens Southern philanthropy, welcoming our members to listen, learn and collaborate on ideas and actions to help build an equitable, prosperous South.