A month later, and my head is still swimming from this year’s BoardSource Leadership Forum (BLF) in San Francisco. It was an exhilarating experience…if you were there, I hope you agree; if not…here are some of my thoughts as I’ve returned to “real life” at my desk in Washington.
As I wrote in my last entry, I wish I could have been in at least three places at once during most of the two days to absorb the nonstop energy, enthusiasm, and exchange of ideas. Thank you to all our presenters for sharing your knowledge and expertise with us. I also wish I could write a transcript of the whole conference here, but I’ll content myself with some highlights from our keynote speakers.
Carol Larson, president and CEO of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, kicked us off with the five things nonprofits must have to succeed: a relentless focus on mission; an embrace of a culture of inquiry and learning; openness to innovative solutions all the time; willingness to take risks; and willingness to engage in new levels of collaboration. Our luncheon keynote speaker, Angela Glover Blackwell, founder and CEO of PolicyLink, exhorted us with a simple message that had enormous weight and impact, as simple messages often do: lead with equity. No matter what our function in the sector, no matter our mission, no social change will ever truly be accomplished unless we put equity first and commit to imbuing all our planning and programs with that focus. Our final keynote speaker, Patrick Corvington, CEO of theCorporation for National and Community Service, spoke passionately about the role of volunteerism in civil life and echoed Angela’s call for equity. He said volunteers should come from all ethnic groups and backgrounds, the same clarion call we’ve been sounding for the boardroom. The room was rapt as he shared a childhood story of watching his father confront blatant racism, an early motivator for Patrick’s career path.
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