Last week, more than 500 leaders came together in Asheville, North Carolina, and online to not only attend the 2021 Annual Meeting, but also commit themselves to a new day and a new way defined by courageous leadership.
One big news item coming out of this year’s meeting: Our members overwhelmingly approved a new name, Philanthropy Southeast, that represents the organization we are today – an inclusive and courageous community of leaders working together for change. Stay tuned for more details about this exciting change!
This year’s Annual Meeting was the first hybrid event in our history and our first in-person event since March 2020. With strong health and safety protocols in place, as well as a virtual conference that allowed people to view sessions from their home or office, attendees were able to focus on the things that have made the Annual Meeting the region’s top philanthropic event: insightful sessions, powerful speakers and an unparalleled opportunity to connect with colleagues and experts from the Southeast and beyond.
Our opening keynote speaker, Wes Moore, got the event off to an inspiring start with remarks focused on what philanthropy – and those who lead it – need to emphasize in their work. “Our job in philanthropy is not to make ourselves bigger, it is to make the problems we are trying to solve smaller,” he told attendees. “If our revenue increased and we doubled the amount we granted but poverty increased, we failed.”
Several leaders from across the region took the stage the following morning for a panel discussion, Leading the Change, featuring Jason Baisden of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, Christopher Cuevas of the Laughing Gull Foundation, Marsha Davis of the Tzedek Social Justice Fund and Mari Kuraishi of the Jessie Ball duPont Fund. In a conversation moderated by William Buster of the Dogwood Health Trust, each brought a unique perspective, but all called for the field to embrace many of the changes – from relationships with nonprofit partners to grantmaking priorities – they have made over the past 19 months.
The facts on the ground making such changes necessary were brought into sharp relief by Dr. Raj Chetty, who demonstrated the impact of race, place – even down to the block – and other factors on socioeconomic mobility in the United States. The data also emphasized the importance of early interventions on future outcomes: the earlier a child is exposed to good surroundings, the better their career and income prosects are later.
While Dr. Chetty was focused on the big picture, the next day’s morning plenary speaker, Michelle Rozen, explored how leaders can make changes within to propel themselves, their organizations and their communities to greater success. Rozen’s interactive presentation even brought a few of our members on stage to publicly share their own goals for change in their lives.
The Annual Meeting concluded with powerful remarks from Heather McGhee, who shared stories from the journey she took across America while researching her bestselling book, The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together. She contrasted “drained pool politics” – a national divestment in public goods and services following the Civil Rights Movement – with the possibility of a “solidarity dividend” that would develop if we stop allowing racial divisions to stand in the way of policies that benefit all people.
Our members will soon be able to experience this year’s Annual Meeting again – or for the first time. Session videos and materials will soon be posted on our Program Archive page. We will also share photos from this year’s meeting in the days ahead.
Thank you to all the attendees, speakers and sponsors who made this year’s Annual Meeting an incredible success! We look forward to engaging with you throughout the coming year – and at the Philanthropy Southeast 2022 Annual Meeting in Amelia Island, Florida!