By Martha Cecilia Ovadia, Senior Program Associate, Equity and Communications

The Funders’ Network is thrilled to announce our plenary speakers and presenters for TFN’s 20th Anniversary Conference!

Our plenary lineup offers thought-provoking speakers who will delve into some of the thorniest issues we face in increasingly challenging times.

How are we grappling with the stark realities of climate change and other environmental threats to our communities and health? How are we confronting systemic inequities and structural racism? And how can leaders in philanthropy help people and places to thrive, regardless of zip code?

Join us in Miami to hear from these compelling voices, and be sure to check out our TFN 20th Anniversary Conference website for additional conference highlights, updates, and registration!

Michael McAfee

President and CEO, PolicyLink

Closing Plenary | Wednesday, March 20

Michael McAfee leads PolicyLink, a national research and action institute focused on advancing racial and economic equity. He brings more than 20 years of experience as a leader who has partnered with organizations across the public, philanthropic, and private sectors to realize this vision. Prior to his role as PolicyLink president and CEO, he served as the founding director of the Promise Neighborhoods Institute at PolicyLink. Under his leadership, PolicyLink emerged as a national leader in building cradle-to-career systems that ensure children and youth in our nation’s most distressed communities have a pathway into the middle class.

 In Conversation: Power of Philanthropy

Don Chen, President,
Surdna Foundation

Javier Alberto Soto, President & CEO,
The Miami Foundation

Afternoon Plenary | Monday, March 18

Join us in conversation with these two visionary leaders as we explore the power of philanthropy to transform communities, build opportunity and address inequities — and what leaders in the sector need to know to guide their organizations through challenging times.

Javier Alberto Soto is president and CEO of The Miami Foundation, a community foundation using civic leadership, community investment and philanthropy to improve quality of life in Greater Miami. Under his leadership, the foundation has homed in on three critical issues: parks and public spaces, transportation and urban mobility, and adapting to sea-level rise. He also serves as chair of the Council on Foundations’ Board of Directors.

Don Chen is the president of the Surdna Foundation, where he leads the 100-year old foundation’s efforts to strengthen and further leverage its commitment to social justice. Don is the former director of the Cities & States program at the Ford Foundation, where his work supported equitable urban development initiatives and the strengthening of social justice organizations and networks.

Climate and Community:
On the Front Lines

Chris Castro, Director of Sustainability,
City of Orlando

Roger Kim, Executive Director,
Climate and Clean Energy Equity Fund

Andrea Mercado, Executive Director,
New Florida Majority

Morning Plenary | Tuesday, March 19

Communities are on the front lines of climate change, meaning they must grapple with increasingly common natural disasters and other environmental threats. These impacts pose a hazard to physical, social and economic well-being of — and disproportionately affect communities of color, low-income communities and other vulnerable populations. Hear from our three compelling speakers about how activists, advocates and funders are working to find solutions to the challenges of climate change to create communities that are not only sustainable and resilient, but equitable and just.

Poetry, Prison and the
Power of Voice

Sam Gill, Vice President/Communities and Impact,
Knight Foundation

Melody Santiago Cummings, Managing Director, O, Miami

P. Scott Cunningham, Founder/Executive Director, O, Miami

Opening Plenary | Monday, March 18

Join us as we open TFN’s 20th Anniversary Conference: Power Forward, with an interactive presentation by O, Miami, a non-profit poetry organization that seeks to democratize access to literature and re-think the role of the literary arts in American society — including collaborative work that highlights and subverts the way prison populations are systematically isolated and effectively silenced by institutional policies.

Funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, O, Miami’s efforts include a publishing imprint, a poetry-in-schools and prisons program, and a writer’s residency, as well as a hallmark poetry festival that aims to bring a poem to every person in Miami during the month of April — residents of correctional institutions included.