By Ted Donley, The Donley Foundation
At the recent ASF 2012 National Conference in San Francisco, I was captivated and inspired by several speakers and sessions in particular. I would like to share with you my favorites and what I learned from them.
Favorite Session: Funding Advocacy, Mobilizing Partners, Catalyzing Change
The amazing ASF member Doug Bauer of The Clark Foundation moderated this session where I learned that small foundations can be a force for change with advocacy and collaboration, in addition to their grantmaking. Nayantara Mehta from Alliance for Justice opened my eyes to the legalities of a foundation granting money for use in lobbying. Then, ASF member Billie Hall from the Sunflower Foundation told her foundation’s story of supporting a grassroots campaign to promote smoke-free public places.
My biggest inspiration of the conference came from Brian Rogers of the Rogers Family Foundation and the nonprofit Great Oakland Public Schools. Brian has worked tirelessly in the Oakland, California community through his family foundation and this nonprofit to catalyze change in public schools.
Favorite Speaker: Sal Khan
Sal Khan is breaking the mold of educational practices here in the United States and throughout the world. The Khan Academy is challenging the system where students are grouped together based on age and progress (or lack of progress) through school. Instead, with online educational tools students can progress at their own rate from home or in a classroom.
In schools where this strategy has been implemented, there is more time for student-to-student and teacher-to-student collaboration because less lecturing is needed. The Khan Academy is now on a mission to extend these incredible educational tools to every corner of the world.
Favorite Session Presenter: Andrew Schulz
Andrew Schulz from Foundation Source kept every attendee attentive and uplifted in the session on “Self-Dealing and Conflicts of Interest.” I learned some of the important laws behind situations such as foundation-to-member reimbursements and grantee-to-foundation gifts. I appreciated Schulz’s incredible database of knowledge, burst-out-laughing sense of humor, and ability to answer EVERY question.
Favorite Extracurricular Activity: AIDS Memorial Grove Service Project
The ASF National Conference provided a lot of “extracurricular” activities: The Next Generation Retreat, Learning Labs, various networking events, and more. All of them provided me with lessons that I do not think I could have learned elsewhere.
I especially felt a change inside of me upon returning from The National AIDS Memorial Grove Service Project in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. A little more than 20 volunteers created a garden in the middle of the grove, while also learning of the sacred nature of the ground on which we stood. We learned about the devastation of the disease (especially in San Francisco), and we worked alongside some of those dedicated to preserving the memory of anyone affected by AIDS, both living and deceased.
ASF member Ted Donley is associate director of The Donley Foundation in Atlanta, GA. He is a member of the ASF Next Generation Advisory Committee.