About The 2018 Funders’ Network Annual Conference

Who Should Attend?

Do you want to learn more about how your funding can create more equitable, sustainable, and prosperous communities? Do you want to increase the impact of your grantmaking? Learn from and connect with a robust network of national and place-based funders?

Then this conference is for you.

Registration is open to staff, directors, and trustees of all grantmaking organizations. Most member organizations of TFN are entitled to two complimentary registrations. This conference is not open to grantseekers except by invitation.

2018 Annual Conference Schedule

Join us March 19-21 for a three-day conference, featuring a full program of learning as well as opportunities to connect and socialize – like our Opening Night Reception and signature Eat Here! event, which features the best of Houston’s local food scene. We’ll be posting frequent updates about our exciting and engaging lineup of plenary speakers, break-out sessions and other highlights.

Check out our TFN 2018 Annual Conference Schedule for a full list of speakers, break-out sessions, mobile workshops and more!

(You can also download our one-page  Schedule At-A-Glance to help you plan your visit.)

Conference Highlights

Sunday Night at the Movies

Hotel Zaza | Sunday, March 18 | 7-9 p.m.
Join us for Sunday Night at the Movies as we kick off TFN’s 2018 Annual Conference in Houston with a special screening of the gripping documentary Come Hell or High Water: The Battle for Turkey Creek. The documentary chronicles the painful but inspiring journey of Derrick Evans, a Boston teacher who moves home to Mississippi when the graves of his ancestors are bulldozed to make way for the sprawling city of Gulfport.

The screening is produced in partnership with the Wyncote Foundation. We’ll be joined after the one-hour film by Leah Mahan, the film’s director, and Christopher Hastings, executive producer and editorial manager of content for WORLD Channel and WORLDChannel.org, for a Q&A session moderated by Laura Isensee of Houston Public Media.

Learn more about Sunday Night at the Movies here.

Resilient People, Resilient Places: Spotlight on Solutions

Pre-Conference Institute | Monday, March 19 | 9 to 11:30 a.m.
From coast to coast, natural disasters have dominated the news this year. What have we learned – and how can philanthropy work to create communities that are stronger, safer and more resilient in the face of climate change? Join our annual Pre-Conference Institute for a forward-looking deep dive that goes beyond the headlines and focuses on solutions.

After Harvey: A Slam Operetta

Opening Plenary | Monday, March 19
HGOco, Houston Grand Opera’s community initiative, and Writers in the Schools present a collaborative performance of After Harvey, an award-winning poem by Houston’s 2017 Youth Poet Laureate Rukmini Kalamangalam.

Since 1983, Writers in the Schools (WITS) has worked hand-in-hand with educators and professional writers to teach students the craft of writing.  In the days after Hurricane Harvey,  Writers in the Schools’ teachers worked with children at a local shelter to help them express their anxiety through writing.

Rukmini, who immigrated to the United States from India when she was 6, was chosen from dozens of applicants competing for the honor of being named the city’s Youth Poet Laureate.

Stephen L. Klineberg, Kinder Institute for Urban Research

Afternoon Keynote | Monday, March 19
Stephen Klineberg is a professor of sociology at Rice University and the founding director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research, a think tank affiliated with the university that focuses on urban issues and challenges facing Houston, the Sun Belt and other major metro areas. In 1982, he and his students initiated the annual Kinder Houston Area Survey, tracking the remarkable changes in the demographic patterns, economic outlooks, experiences and beliefs of Harris County residents.

Co-author of The Present of Things Future: Explorations of Time in Human Experience, Klineberg has written numerous articles and appears frequently on radio, television, print and other media.

Mobile Workshops

Tuesday, March 20

One of our conference’s most popular draws, TFN’s mobile workshops allow funders to truly learn from place. Join us in Houston for one of five concurrent mobile workshops that will let you experience the sights, sounds and stories of the city firsthand.

You’ll have a chance to gain insight about flood resilience on a Bayou Greenways bike tour; learn about fence-line communities along the Houston Ship Channel; explore art and equitable development on a Third Ward walking tour; take a trip up Houston’s METRORail Red Line; or visit the community of Gulfton, a first stop for many immigrants and refugees, often referred to as Houston’s version of Ellis Island.

Mustafa Santiago Ali, Hip Hop Caucus

Closing Keynote | Wednesday, March 21
A nationally renowned speaker and policy maker focusing on social and environmental justice issues, Mustafa Santiago Ali spent more than two decades with the EPA before resigning in March 2017. He is now senior vice president of Climate, Environmental Justice & Community Revitalization at the Hip Hop Caucus, which leverages the impact of cultural influence to empower communities and strengthen social, economic and environmental movements.

 He joined the EPA as a student and became a founding member of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ). He served multiple roles in his 24 years at the agency,  including as senior advisor for Environmental Justice and Community Revitalization. Ali also led the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice (EJIWG), which was comprised of 17 federal agencies and White House offices focused on implementing holistic strategies to address the issues facing vulnerable communities.

PLACES Alumni Gathering

Alumni of TFN’s PLACES Fellowship will come together March 18-19 for the Fourth Annual PLACES Alumni Gathering. Current and former fellows are invited to join in learning, networking and sharing at this two-day event, which immediately precedes the TFN 2018 Annual Conference.

Fourth Annual PLACES Alumni Gathering, March 18-19: Schedule of Events

And don’t miss out on the PLACES Read Between the Wines Book Club: Join fellow PLACES alumni at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, March 20, for a glass of wine to discuss this year’s book club selection, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America. 


Funders’ Network member organizations receive two FREE registrations. If you are unsure which members of your foundation have registered, please contact Lesmarie Nicholson.

Please note that there is a $100  discount available for members of Philanthropy Southwest and Texas Environmental Grantmakers.

Register here!

Early Bird Rate – By Feb. 16:

  • Additional Member: $495
  • Non-Member: $750
  • Day Rate – March 19: $225
  • Day Rate – March 20: $350
  • Day Rate – March 21: $225

Regular Rate:

  • Additional Member: $595
  • Non-Member: $850
  • Day Rate – March 19: $250
  • Day Rate – March 20: $375
  • Day Rate – March 21: $250

Cancellation Policy

If you need to cancel your registration, please notify Lesmarie Nicholson before March 2. We will reimburse your registration fee minus a $25.00 processing fee.


Hotel Information

TFN’s 2018 Annual Conference will be held at the Hotel ZaZa in Houston’s Museum District.

Hotel ZaZa Houston Museum District
5701 Main Street
Houston, Texas 77005
Phone: 713.526.1991
Toll-Free Reservations: 888.880.3244
Fax: 713.639.4545
Email: houstonmuseumdistrict@hotelzaza.com

PLEASE NOTE: Our room block at the Hotel ZaZa has completely sold out! Rooms may still be available, but not at the reduced TFN rate.

We suggest these nearby hotels should you still need to book lodging:

Houston Marriott Medical Center/Museum District, 6580 Fannin Street, Houston, TX 77030, 713-796-0080
Hilton Houston Plaza/Medical Center, 6633 Travis Street, Houston, TX 77030, 713-313-4000


From Our 2018 Annual Conference Co-Chairs

We are thrilled that the 2018 Annual Conference of the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities (TFN) takes place March 19-21 in Houston.

TFN’s annual conferences provide an exciting opportunity to join funders from across North America to explore the strategies and stories that are creating more equitable, sustainable and resilient places to live.

The conference’s lineup of sessions and speakers will let us hear from diverse and thought-provoking voices on issues such as protecting our natural resources, building inclusive economies and incorporating equitable practices into our work.

We are so proud that TFN’s 2018 Annual Conference will take place in our beloved city of Houston, which continues to rebuild and recover following Hurricane Harvey.

This year’s devastating hurricane season — which affected many communities in the Gulf Coast and South Florida, as well as Puerto Rico and islands across the Caribbean — along with recent earthquakes and fires underline the urgency to address the critical issue of climate change and to build stronger and more resilient communities that can withstand and recover from extreme weather events. It also reinforces the need to approach preparation, relief and recovery in a way that is fair and just, especially for the most vulnerable. Houston is an ideal place for these types of conversations, and we look forward to hearing and sharing our respective experiences, insights and lessons learned to help create more resilient communities.

Beyond discussions of resilience, TFN’s 2018 Annual Conference will connect you to other leaders in philanthropy as well as local leaders and key partners to explore a range of issues associated with environmental sustainability, social equity and economic prosperity. The three-day program also features mobile workshops that will give you a first-hand look at Houston’s vibrant neighborhoods and unique approaches to tackling complex challenges, an Eat Here! reception that highlights the best of our local cuisine, and so much more!

We hope you’ll join us to learn, share, and be inspired. For more information, be sure to visit the TFN website at fundersnetwork.org.

We look forward to seeing you in Houston!


TFN 2018 Conference Co-chairs

Marilu Hastings
Vice President, Sustainability Programs
The Cynthia & George Mitchell Foundation



Elizabeth Love
Senior Program Officer
Houston Endowment



Things to Do in Houston

Want to learn more about things to do and see in the City of Houston?