Monday Schedule

Sunday | Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday

Schedule at a Glance

Slides and Resources are listed under their appropriate session.

Inspirational topics presented with a philanthropy lens

Sessions focused on philanthropy's fundamentals 

Sessions designed specifically with seasoned practitioners in mind

Opportunities to celebrate Exponent Philanthropy’s 20th anniversary

Registration Open

7:00 am – 6:30 pm

Exhibit Hall Open

7:00 am – 6:30 pm

Participate in Philanthropy Research

7:00 am - 6:30 pm

Please consider supporting social scientific research on philanthropic decision making. The study is anonymous and takes 2-4 minutes to complete. Receive Chicago's famous Garrett Popcorn as a thank you! Find the Northwestern University researchers in the exhibit hall. 

Morning City Stroll

8:00 am - 9:00 am

Join peers and a volunteer city stroll leader for a morning walk.

Sustaining Partner Convening

8:00 am - 10:00 am

For Exponent Philanthropy’s Sustaining Partners          
Exponent Philanthropy’s Sustaining Partner program creates the opportunity for firms that work closely with foundations and other philanthropists with few or no staff to financially support Exponent Philanthropy’s mission. Our Sustaining Partners have made significant 2-year financial commitments to Exponent Philanthropy, providing support that allows us to maintain our modest dues structure and continue to deliver high-quality programming, content, and services. Learn more about Exponent Philanthropy’s Sustaining Partners.

Funder Huddle: The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading: What's Working? What's Next?

8:00 am – 10:30 am | Preregistration required

Join a conversation on the progress, successes, and challenges of the communities and states working to improve reading proficiency of low-income children. Share and learn about the evolving roles and "more than money" approaches that family foundations, community foundations, and other local funders are inventing to move the needle on reading proficiency and close the gap between low-income children and their more affluent peers. Hear firsthand about the risks and rewards of a leadership and stewardship commitment to community engagement, civic action, advocacy, and systems change. Facilitator: Lise Hoffstein, Campaign for Grade Level Reading, Washington, DC

New Member Orientation 

9:00 am - 9:45 am

New to Exponent Philanthropy? You’re not alone. Meet fellow members and Exponent Philanthropy staff who will help you make the most of all your membership has to offer. Speakers: Na'Denna Colbert, Exponent Philanthropy, Washington, DC; Shirish Dayal, Tarsadia Foundation, Newport Beach, CA; and Marty Fluharty, The American Foundation, Novi, MI 

WI Funders Informational Event

9:45 am - 10:45 am

Wisconsin donors are invited to a peer-led discussion of ideas, priorities, and opportunities for working together. We will review ideas for collaboration, and there will be an opportunity to compare notes on current work, upcoming conference sessions, and how we might continue a dialogue. Join us! Co-conveners are Bea Benidt and Maureen Crowley from the Charles Benidt Foundation and Scott Gelzer, who serves on the board of Exponent Philanthropy.

National Conference Newcomers' Orientation

10:00 am - 10:45 am

First time attending an Exponent Philanthropy National conference? Let us assist with your game plan! This orientation will jump-start your networking and showcase must-see portions of this year’s conference. Speakers: Na'Denna Colbert, Exponent Philanthropy, Washington, DC, and Cynthia Schaal, Exponent Philanthropy, Washington, DC

Exhibit Hall Grand Opening          

10:00 am - 11:00 am

Join us at the Exhibit Hall’s official opening. Chat with exhibitors over coffee before heading into the Opening Plenary Brunch. Music will be provided by members of the Academy at the Music Institute of Chicago. Founded in 1931, the Music Institute has grown to become one of the largest and most respected community music schools in the nation, and the Academy, in its tenth year, is a training center for highly gifted pre-college musicians. 

Members of the Academy at the Music Institute of Chicago

Opening Plenary Brunch   

11:00 am - 12:30 pm

Welcome to Exponent Philanthropy’s biennial National Conference and celebration of our 20th anniversary serving philanthropists with lean operations. As you enjoy brunch before the plenary begins, you will be entertained by members of the Academy at the Music Institute of Chicago (pictured). Vital to the program are significant performance opportunities for developing musicians, and we’re thrilled to hear their talents this morning.

After opening remarks by CEO Henry Berman, we’ll hear from Melissa Bradley, executive director of the American University Center for Innovation in the Capital and adjunct professor at Georgetown University.

Melissa has more than 20 years of experience as a serial entrepreneur, investor, professor, and researcher with expertise in impact investing, technology, financial services, social entrepreneurship, venture capital, social responsibility, and the media. This morning she explores how philanthropy can address the growing inequity in our society and discusses practical ways to leverage human and financial capital to advance an agenda of equity and equality. Speakers: Henry Berman, Exponent Philanthropy, Washington, DC, and Melissa Bradley, McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, Washington, DC

Hall of Outsized Impact & Dessert in Exhibit Hall

12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

Walk the Hall of Outsized Impact, a display of dozens of grantmaking ideas from around the country that showcases grants whose impact are more than a dollar amount. Learn what made these grants outsized, reflect on the transformative work of your peers, ask questions, and get ideas to solve issues in your community.

Exhibit Hall Refreshment Breaks are generously supported by Bernstein, Drexel Morgan Capital Advisers, FluidReview by SurveyMonkey, Fluxx, Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, NGOsource, Northern Trust, PNC Institutional Asset Management, and Strategic Philanthropy, Ltd.,

Early Afternoon Sessions

1:30 pm - 2:45 pm

The 21st Century Foundation OfficeNatCon16-book-icon         

Foundations are increasingly turning to technology and online tools for recordkeeping, financial management, communications, and grant cycles. Learn what it takes to establish and manage a 21st century foundation office, explore how technology can save you time and money, and discover how to protect the foundation in the process. Speakers: Anna Lindgren, The Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment, San Francisco, CA, and Daren Nordhagen, Foundant Technologies, Bozeman, MT

Resources: Resource List | Slides 

A Unique American Story: Public Policy and Private PhilanthropyNatCon16-lightbulb-iconNatCon16-20-icon

Learn about 240 years of American philanthropy in one surprisingly easy sitting. But let’s not stop there: Where are we going next? In our changing landscape, how does our history create where we are today, why does it matter, and how can this inform our current and future giving? In this session, you’ll also have an opportunity to dig into Exponent Philanthropy’s data on developing trends. Speaker: Richard Marker, WISE PHILANTHROPY™ - Marker Goldsmith Philanthropy Advisors, New York, NY

Resources: Resource List | Slides

Beyond Transactional Grantmaking: Developing Trust With GranteesNatCon16-lightbulb-iconNatCon16-gradhat-icon

Although much desired, trust is elusive. When funders and their grantees achieve a degree of trust and engage in honest conversation, they create powerful pathways for impact, such as opportunities to provide general operating support, capacity building, and multiyear grants. Explore the power of trust and ways to take first steps toward nurturing it. Speakers: Andy Carroll, Exponent Philanthropy, Washington, DC, and Colleen O'Keefe, The Sauer Family Foundation, St. Paul, MN


Conflict Management Strategies and ToolsNatCon16-book-icon

Conflict is not, in itself, necessarily good or bad, and, given enough time, it can show up in any working relationship. With conflict management tools in hand, we can create opportunities to see problems from different points of view and work toward solutions. In this session, learn tried-and-true ways to manage conflict and leave ready to apply these strategies and tools to any conflicts in your work. Speaker: Nathaniel James, Exponent Philanthropy, Washington, DC

Resources: Slides

From Good to Great: Moving Your Family Foundation to the Next Level of EffectivenessNatCon16-book-icon

Over time, foundations often make an intentional effort to “up their game” by clarifying their mission and goals, focusing funding on particular areas, delineating giving guidelines, and/or engaging board members in different ways. This change can be instigated by a new generation, growth of the foundation’s assets, or an increased desire to strengthen family ties and have greater social impact. Learn best practices and pitfalls to avoid, and get tips from family foundation leaders who spearheaded a move from “good to great.” Speakers: Paul Connolly, Bessemer Trust, San Francisco, CA; Celeste Rice Donovan, Dianne T. and Charles E. Rice Family Foundation, Jacksonville, FL; Caroline Hodkinson, Bessemer Trust, New York, NY; and Katie Belk Morris, The Belk Foundation, Charlotte, NC. 

Resources: Handout

Getting Out Into the Community: Identifying Gaps and Leverage Points for Change  NatCon16-gradhat-icon

Developing deep knowledge about a community or issue empowers funders to discover priority needs and leverage points for change. Funders are uniquely positioned and have the ability to cultivate knowledge. Learn about ways to listen and scan that fit your time, budget, and operating style. Discover the power of knowledge—the crucial pathway to impact and change. Speakers: Jen Bokoff, GrantCraft, New York, NY; Carol Gallo, The Y. C. Ho/Helen and Michael Chiang Foundation, New York, NY; and Jenna Wachtmann, Ball Brothers Foundation, Muncie, IN


Impact Investing StrategiesNatCon16-gradhat-icon

Impact investments, often called mission or social investments, are made by funders of all types and sizes, across all asset classes, and along the entire spectrum of risk and return, from below-market to market-rate investments. Learn about the diverse impact investing strategies that small-staffed foundations are putting to use. Speakers: Travis Allen, Bernstein Private Wealth Management, Washington, DC; Kassie Davis, CME Group Foundation, Chicago, IL; and Linda Giuliano, AB, New York, NY


Many Ways to Give NatCon16-book-icon

Do you make the most of your giving? Join us for an opportunity to explore your personal values and passions. Learn about various giving vehicles and strategies, be inspired by stories, and leave ready to draft a statement to guide your giving. Speakers: Ellen Fishbein, Sterling Foundation Management, Herndon, VA; Wendy Jaffe, Trio Foundation of St. Louis, St. Louis, MO; Harvey L. Miller, The Harvey L. Miller Family Foundation, Buffalo Grove, IL; and Elizabeth Versten, The Harvey L. Miller Family Foundation, Buffalo Grove, IL

Resources: Comparison Chart | Resources | Worksheet 

What You Should Know About Government's Crucial Role In the Social SectorNatCon16-book-icon

Explore how government plays a major role in funding the organizations you support, the impact of public cuts to social services agencies, and ways that foundations are contributing to the conversation about government’s role. Learn how small funders are partnering with national, state, and local governments to help public agencies be more efficient and effective. Speaker: Doug Bauer, The Clark Foundation, New York, NY

Resources: Funding and Engaging in Advocacy


Site Visit: Partnerships

1:30 pm - 4:30 pm

Space to Grow is an innovative partnership led by Healthy Schools Campaign and Openlands to transform Chicago schoolyards into vibrant outdoor spaces that benefit students, community members, and the environment. Schoolyard renovations prioritize physical activity, outdoor learning, exploration, and community engagement. The green schoolyards also incorporate landscape features that capture a significant amount of rainfall, helping to keep the city’s water resources clean and resulting in less neighborhood flooding.

Join us as we visit a schoolyard to learn about Space to Grow’s unique partnership model that brings together capital funds and leadership from Chicago Public Schools, the Chicago Department of Water Management, and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago.  Speakers: Rochelle Davis, Healthy Schools Campaign, Chicago, IL; and Jennifer Van Valkenburg, Openlands, Chicago, IL

Coffee Break in the Exhibit Hall

2:45 pm - 3:15 pm

Stroll the Exhibit Hall and meet with the many trusted companies that work with philanthropists in industries such as financial management and grantmaking software, and our colleague organizations.

Exhibit Hall Refreshment Breaks are generously supported by Bernstein, Drexel Morgan Capital Advisers, FluidReview by SurveyMonkey, Fluxx, Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, NGOsource, Northern Trust, PNC Institutional Asset Management, and Strategic Philanthropy, Ltd.

Late Afternoon Sessions

3:15 pm - 4:30 pm

The Role of Alternative Investments in Foundation InvestingNatCon16-book-icon

In Exponent Philanthropy’s 2016 Foundation Operations and Management Report, only 10% of respondents report investing in “alternative” strategies. These investments include commodities, real estate, hedge funds, and private equity, and they are increasingly seen as a way to mitigate the volatility of stocks and bonds. Learn what these asset classes represent, why and how to include them in your investment strategy, and key factors to evaluate when considering alternatives.  Speakers: John Church, Glenmede, Philadelphia, PA; Kenneth Trippe, Glenmede, Philadelphia, PA

Resources: Slides

Unlock the Power of Questions and Deep ListeningNatCon16-lightbulb-icon

Leadership in philanthropy begins with the humblest of acts: listening deeply and asking questions. These two skills can enable funders to build strong relationships, gain clarity on complex issues, empower others, and move toward action. Learn how to truly tune in during your conversations and discover how a simple shift in mindset can allow you to help fellow board members, staff, and grantees in new and profound ways. Speakers: Stephen Alexander, Exponent Philanthropy, Washington, DC; Jen Lachman, Lachman Consulting, Alexandria, VA

Resources: Resource List | Worksheets | Slides

Up Close and Personal: The Art of Site VisitsNatCon16-book-icon

Site visits can provide philanthropists with valuable information about their grantees and the causes they support, and can cultivate positive relationships between funders and nonprofits. This session explores the best ways to approach a site visit, including when to conduct them, how to determine who to send, and what to keep in mind during visits so they are efficient and productive. Speakers: Kerry McHugh, The Helen J. Serini Foundation, Frederick, MD; Sasha Rabsey, HOW Fund, Orinda, CA

Resources: Handout | Resource List

Youth Philanthropy: Making a DifferenceNatCon16-book-iconNatCon16-lightbulb-icon

Engaging youth in philanthropy is a hot topic, as many philanthropic entities—from foundations to giving circles to giving families—realize the value and impact of involving young people. Together with our partners at Youth Philanthropy Connect, Exponent Philanthropy created seven teen-oriented readers in a “Teen Philanthropy Café” series designed to educate and engage teens and young adults, and the adults that guide the way. In this session, we’ll use the readers to explore with field experts and teen philanthropists how foundations and other givers can and are engagingyoung people best. This session is generously supported by the Frieda C. Fox Family Foundation, the home of Youth Philanthropy Connect. Speakers: Annie Hernandez, Frieda C. Fox Family Foundation, Studio City, CA; Sammie Holzwarth, Foundant Technologies, Bozeman, MT; Michael Mitchell, DeKalb County Community Foundation, Sycamore, IL; Mike Tracy, Tracy Family Foundation, Quincy, IL; and Katherine Westlund Scott, Youth Philanthropy Connect, Washington, DC

Resource: Resource List

Peer Exchanges

In these dynamic, participant-driven sessions, the topics, questions, and experiences you bring will form the program. Expect deep peer-to-peer conversation, facilitated small-group coaching, and tailored learning activities geared to the issues at front of mind for you and your peers. Choose the peer exchange most aligned to your niche.

Peer Exchange: Community Foundations
For staff members and trustees of community foundations. Facilitator: Jeanne Metzger, Exponent Philanthropy, Washington, DC

Peer Exchange: Donors
For individuals who started a foundation or a donor-advised fund, or who give individually through another vehicle. Facilitator: Henry Berman, Exponent Philanthropy, Washington, DC

Peer Exchange: Giving Internationally
For those currently engaged or interested in global philanthropy. Facilitator: Ruth Masterson, Exponent Philanthropy, Washington, DC

Peer Exchange: Next Gen
For those roughly 18–35 years old who are involved in all types of giving Facilitator: Sapphira Goradia, The Goradia Foundation, Arlington, VA

Peer Exchange: Experienced Executive Directors
Experienced Executive Director track
For those who have been executive director of a foundation for 10 or more years.  Facilitator: Nathaniel James, Exponent Philanthropy, Washington, DC

Peer Exchange: Very Small Funders
For funders with less than $5 million in assets and one or no paid staff.  Facilitator: Andy Carroll, Exponent Philanthropy, Washington, DC

Opening Night Reception with Exhibiting Partners

4:30 pm - 6:30 pm

Chat with exhibitors and colleagues over hors d’oeuvres and drinks. The Opening Night Reception is generously supported by Foundation Source.


6:30 pm

Gather with fellow conference participants for informal learning and great conversation around a specific topic or theme. Participants have the choice of hosted or pay-your-own-way dine-arounds. Peruse current list of dine-arounds. 

Next Gen Convening

6:30 pm – 9:30 pm

For staff, trustees, and others ages 18–35 (give or take) involved in giving.

Preregister as you register for the conference. Non-conference participants can register here

Young people engaged in philanthropy bring unique perspectives, gifts, and challenges to the table. Join with your peers in this next generation-only space at a local restaurant for a great dinner, thoughtful activities, and dialogue with others who understand. Come away energized, inspired, and connected. Hosted by Exponent Philanthropy’s Next Gen Fellows.