Conference Breakout Sessions

Having Difficult Conversations

Topic: Leadership Sustainability

Thursday, October 19 

As leaders, nonprofit executives and board members are often faced with the need to have difficult conversations. As humans, there can be a tendency for us to avoid these conversations because of difficult emotions that we are afraid may arise – anxiety, fear, embarrassment, worry about hurting the other person’s feelings or concern that we will anger them and create an adversarial environment. Learning to have such difficult conversations by practicing openness, precision, and gentleness can create an environment of trust where both parties can walk away feeling respected, seen, and heard.

Speaker:

David Schreier, President, David Schreier Associates

 

Lead Right Now

Topic: Adaptive Leadership

Thursday, October 19

We believe leadership is an activity, not a position. We believe anyone can lead, anytime, anywhere. We believe that more people exercising leadership is not only possible, but that it’s necessary if we are to make progress on the challenges we face in our communities. Based on practices developed at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and the Kansas Leadership Center, participants will explore the principles of Adaptive Leadership and lay the groundwork for you to transform the way you lead. 

Speaker:

Lisa May Simpson, Director, Education, Forefront

 

Understanding and Changing Your Business Model

Topic: Organizational Sustainability

Too often program goals are discussed separately from financial means, although we all know that both must be discussed together. Jan Masaoka will present the methodology for doing so from the book she recently co-authored, Nonprofit Sustainability: Making Strategic Decisions for Financial Viability. The result is a fresh look at choosing the mix of programs, earned income, and donations that will be sustainable for your organization. 
 
Speaker:
Jan Masaoka, CEO, California Association of Nonprofits

 

The Great Disappearing Act

Topic: Communications

Thursday, October 19 

It seems like every day, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram change their algorithms, making it less and less likely that your donors and prospects will see your amazing content. It can be enough to make you want to give up on social media altogether – or never get started in the first place. Thankfully, there’s a secret solution – a tool that is prioritized by every social media platform and growing by the minute, and the one that is easy for even the smallest nonprofit to manage? Ephemeral content, more commonly known as stories.

Stories allow you to:

  1. Connect personally with your donor base
  2. Manage a less-curated, less-labor intensive platform that requires less effort and fewer resources...resulting in more impact
  3. Get your donors to see your content thanks to prioritization of story content by social media platforms

Hear how Opportunity International was successful using stories and leave the session equipped with all the knowledge and tools you need to get started on your own organization’s story right away.

Speakers:

Allison Kooser, Chief Storyteller, Swell + Good

Ian Haisley, VP of Marketing, Opportunity International

 

Win BIG with #ILGive for #GivingTuesday – A Digital Day of Giving

Topic: Digital Fundraising, Giving Tuesday

Thursday, October 19

Join us to learn more about #ILGive for Giving Tuesday, one of the most successful giving day campaigns in the country! Digital giving on Giving Tuesday has grown in Illinois over the last three years by 275% and is an excellent tool for connecting with new donors. This session will review the successes, (and lessons learned) from #ILGive for Giving Tuesday 2016 and will introduce new resources and opportunities for our 2017 campaign. Examples of creative and successful campaigns from across the country will be included for your inspiration. We hope to see you there!

Speaker:

Suzy Lee, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Forefront

 

Developing and Implementing a Strategic Communications Plan

Topic: Communications

Thursday, October 19 

Strategically communicating on behalf of your organization should be a proactive, not a reactive, activity. A communications plan should provide a roadmap but still ensure flexibility as circumstances change. In this session, you’ll learn how to ask questions before developing a communications plan, learn about the value of targeted communications to diverse audiences, and discuss the reality of implementing a communications plan, either as part of a specific project or as part of a broader strategic plan.

Speakers:

Bethany Jaeger, Senior Manager, Kerber, Eck & Braeckel LLP

Kristi Jones, Management Consultant, Kerber, Eck & Braeckel LLP

Julie Armstrong, Executive Director, Illinois Nutrient Research and Education Council (NREC)

 

How to Build a Culture of Collaborative Learning

Topic: Data, Program Evaluation, Collective Impact

Thursday, October 19 

Research shows that a collective impact approach is more effective than nonprofits using an isolated approach to collecting and using data to improve programs. Benchmark data is not available for many social service organizations, creating a need for nonprofits to organize themselves to collect and share data for learning and improvement. This session will provide a “how-to” guide for nonprofits wanting to engage in collaborative data sharing. This session is also useful to funders wanting to standardize data collection from grantees, and/or convene grantees to share data for learning and improvement.

Speakers:

Lori Baas, CEO, Christopher House

Sarah Collentine, Associate Director of Early Childhood, Christopher House

Scott Merrow, Chief Operating Officer, Chicago Youth Centers

Christopher House is one of several partner organizations in the Chicago Benchmarking Collaboration (CBC), which began collaborating in 2009 to track a set of common outcomes around early childhood, after school, workforce development, and adult education.

 

Who Leads? Who Follows? The Delicate Dance of the Board Chair and CEO

Topic: Board Engagement

Thursday, October 19

If the CEO reports to the Board, when should the CEO exert his or her leadership on key issues? When should the Board Chair lead, step back, or partner with the CEO on organizational issues? How does the board Chair/CEO relationship move from a tug of war to a graceful waltz?

In this session, Rena Henderson Mason will provide a framework for thinking about the Board Chair CEO partnership and teach you how to have crucial conversations about sharing power. Attendees will learn about the behaviors, activities, and patterns between the Board Chair and CEO that generate the highest level of trust, communication, and impact for an organization so they can lead in a fluid fashion without stepping on each other’s toes.

Speakers:

Rena Henderson Mason, Founder and CEO, Bold Agenda

 

Building Your Fundraising Committee

Topic: Board Engagement

Thursday, October 19 

Given the current economic and political climate in Illinois, nonprofits rely more heavily on their board and volunteers to support their revenue growth and to build a base of donors. It is now more critical than ever that nonprofits across Illinois create effective volunteer fundraising teams and establish fundraising as a key priority of their board of directors.

Through this interactive session, we’ll cover what you need to know about identifying the characteristics of a powerful fundraising committee, training your leadership and empowering them to become strong relationship managers for your organization.

Speakers:

Amy Schiffman, Co-Founder and Principal, Giving Tree Associates

Marna Goldwin, Director of Advancement, Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School

 

Building a Case: Thoughtful Strategies for Board Engagement

Topic: Board Engagement

Thursday, October 19

As nonprofits work to improve performance, it is crucial to have engaged boards. Increasing Board engagement is an ongoing process and requires new and innovative strategies to address short and long-term organizational concerns. In this session, attendees will learn to identify the dynamic Boards face in a high-performing organization, gain exposure to strategies and solutions that have been effective in similar organizations, and acquire concrete tools and knowledge that can be deployed immediately to energize your Board of Directors.

Speakers:

Suzanne Griffith, Managing Principal, VEGA Partners, LLC

Malik Nevels, Executive Project Manager, Safer Foundation

 

Impact Through Collaboration

Topic: Advocacy

Thursday, October 19 

Collaboration is an asset for organizations with common goals and causes. Working together is an effective, efficient way to advocate for issues that impact many. In this session, Chicago Literacy Alliance will share specific case studies of their members who have collaborated on advocacy initiatives as well as examples of how collaborative work has impacted literacy in Chicago. Session attendees will strategize ways to utilize their networks and work with others to advocate for their organizations’ causes.

Speakers:

Alison Hanold, Program Director, Chicago Literacy Alliance

Dena Giacometti, Program Manager, Chicago Citywide Literacy Coalition

 

Leadership Through Collective Impact

Topic: Collective Impact

Thursday, October 19 

In Chicago, efforts to end homelessness are driven by the city’s second Plan to End Homelessness – Plan 2.0. This session will provide insight on how Chicago is using strategic leadership and collaborations in conjunction with this plan, leading to significant system-wide change. In 2016, homelessness in Chicago had decreased 13% from the previous year. Dr. Brennan will provide concrete examples of how leaders have identified opportunities and developed strategies to address homelessness

 Attendees will learn the 5 elements of collective impact and how these can be applied to drive system-side change. They will learn to identify critical partnerships and build those relationships to ensure long-term success. Lastly the session will incorporate methods for engaging stakeholders and making sure all voices are part of community decisions.

Speaker:

Nonie Brennan, CEO, All Chicago Making Homelessness History

 

On Telling the Full Participant Story: How to Report on Participant Outcomes in the Wild World of Nonprofit Data

Topic: Communications, Data, Evaluation

Thursday, October 19

Participant-centered data collection is not as straightforward as it may seem. There are a variety of limitations that come into play when working towards a more robust participant outcomes data process, such as: funder-mandated external databases, staff capacity, participant confidentiality and more. Additionally, there is a fine line between collecting data in alignment with a human rights framework and honoring participant voice and experience. In this session attendees will: 1) walk through the steps of developing a Theory of Change and Results Framework linked to organization outcomes; 2) discuss best practices of collecting participant-centered outcomes data; and 3) become more knowledgeable about the ways in which collecting, analyzing, and reporting on participant data is a multi-faceted process with a variety of potential benefits.

Speakers:

Alexis Carella, Ph.D. Senior Research Associate, Social IMPACT Research Center at Heartland Alliance

David Sinski, Executive Director, Heartland Human Care Services at Heartland Alliance

 

Advocacy Tips and Tricks for Ongoing Work

Topic: Advocacy

Thursday, October 19

Come hear how Illinois passed effective and efficient environmental policy this past legislative session as well as the Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) bill. Presenters, Jen Walling of the Illinois Environmental Council, Abe Scarr of IL PIRG, and Andy Kang, of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, who is also a leader in the Just Democracy Coalition will share best practices for how to build strong coalitions and provide advice for advocates on how to keep pushing their issues forward amidst tough political climates. Engage in a question and answer period with the presenters, after their remarks, which will be moderated by Forefront’s Policy Director, Anita Banerji.

Speakers:

Anita Banerji, Director, Public Policy, Forefront

Andy Kang, Asian Americans Advancing Justice

Abe Scarr, Illinois PIRG

Jen Walling, Illinois Environmental Council

 

Census 2020: Ensuring a Fair and Accurate Count

Topic: Civic Engagement, Advocacy, Census 2020

Presenters from the Regional U.S. Census Bureau for the Midwest will provide information and an update on the Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) operation, as well as discuss the importance of outreach and partnership in determining a fair and accurate count of the Census 2020 in Illinois. Federal dollars are at stake, not to mention our Congressional representation in national government in Washington, D.C. We will also have our State Data Coordinator, who was instrumental in Illinois’ Census 2010 work, available at this breakout session to address the State’s role in the upcoming Census work.

Speakers:

The Regional U.S. Census Bureau for the Midwest