Friday, May 01, 2009

Innovation and Legacy - Focusing on Soft-Skills - Plus Lots of other Goodies!

This weekend EPIP will hold two days of intensive skills-training for the next generation before the COF Annual Conference. Putting on programs and increasing the visibility of the next generation at this particular conference has been an important part of our annual work since 2001. This post offers some highlights of our event, and some context for why we are focused on "soft-skills." 

Several people will be live-blogging and tweeting from the EPIP Pre-Conference - including Rosetta Thurman from Perspectives from the Pipeline, Trista Harris from New Voices of Philanthropy, and Kevin Lasokowski from Capital Epiphanies! I hope they will be cross-posting to this blog, and that you will find their reporting useful!

Instead of "bringing the next generation to the conference" and putting on workshops within the conference, we will hold our own cohesive mini-conference during the weekend before. This will be an intimate retreat emphasizing training in the soft-skills needed for philanthropic effectiveness. 

While most trainings for foundation staffers focus on the hard-skills and practical procedures of grantmaking and measurement, EPIP believes that the soft underbelly of the "effectiveness" discourse in the field is also the silent ghost in the machine: the incredibly challenging power dynamics, politics and ethics of philanthropy, money and identity. That is why the workshops at our event take on thorny issues like role, race, intuition, listening, and justice.  

One exciting workshop: James Allen Smith, Vice President at Rockefeller Archives Center, an amazing collection of historic records from various foundations and nonprofits, has created a special session just for EPIP using primary source films, documents and music from the Archives. This workshop will look at the dynamics of Northern private (and mostly white) philanthropy active in relations while funding education in the South in the early 20th Century. This workshop fits well with the themes and issues raised at this Atlanta conference.

We named our event "Innovation and Legacy: The Place of the Next Generation in Philanthropy." Although I don't think the title is grammatically correct (neither innovation or legacy is a place per se), it is a meaningful and relevant statement about our event (unlike the many conference theme statements that ring hollow).  With an inter-generational cast of presenters, participants will both seek to understand recent history to inform their effortsat  cutting-edge change.

We invited the premiere "grantmaker educators" (such as GrantCraft, The Grantmaking School) and our next generation partner groups (like Resource Generation and 21/64) to  put on their own workshops. And we added our own Philanthropology workshop on social justice philanthropy, featuring EPIP trainer Kalpana Krishnamurthy.

Then we added a bunch of goodies! 
  • Like providing a significant number of scholarships to empower diverse emerging leaders to actually attend our training and, to a lesser extent, to attend the COF conference. 
  • Like bringing four senior leaders to dialogue with emerging leaders through a set of Emerging Leader Salons and a panel discussion.
  • Like one-on-one career consultancies  with leaders from and Commongood Careers.
  • Like releasing "Wit and Wisdom: Unleashing the Philanthropic Imagination", the new book from EPIP by Mark D. Constantine, which features interviews with senior foundation leaders - many who are people of color - discussing race, equity and philanthropy. The book is being distributed to our Pre-Conference and Annual Conference participants. And it is available for free download on EPIP's website here.
  • Like inviting the top leadership from COF to come speak with next generation leaders, in a sense bringing the conference to the next generation.
This is our follow-up from our work leading in the creation of a "Generational Leadership" track at the 2008 Leadership Summit, which was ranked one of the top three most popular tracks at that meeting. At the 2007 conference in Seattle, EPIP partnered with the Council to create "Emerging Leader Salons"-- semi-formal sessions each featuring frank and open dialogue with one senior leader.  From 2001-2006, each year EPIP presented a concurrent session on our issues, and hold what became the annual Next Generation Reception. From that history, you can see that our work in this arena has been both continuous and also that it has evolved in exciting ways! I can't wait to see what we do in 2010!

No comments: