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As TFN’s 2022 Annual Conference: Seize the Moment is fast approaching, we wanted to lift up a few events that may be of interest.

Below are some agenda highlights that we hope connect to your work  — many of which feature funders and organizations that are connected to to Smart Growth California, an initiative of The Funders Network.

TFN2022 sessions are meant to be intersectional and cross-cutting. Our San Diego conference, which takes place March 14 to 16, will give funders an opportunity to address interrelated challenges that impact people and communities, such as climate mitigation, community resilience and infrastructure.

Be sure to join us for Smart Growth California’s Funder Dinner on Monday, March 14 at 7:00 PM PT, along with a dinner for funders active in the San Diego Region on Tuesday, March 15th at 7:00 PM PT.

We’re also excited to share that this year’s TFN Conference Co-Chairs are all California-based funders. You can read this welcome message from Christiana DeBenedict of The San Diego Foundation, Craig Martinez of The California Endowment and Marisa Aurora Quiroz of the International Community Foundation.

Take a look at our preliminary TFN2022 Conference Agenda to see what else we’ll be learning in San Diego!

Day 1 | Monday, March 14

*Concurrent Breakout Sessions*

Why Are All of the Black Funders Sitting Together at the Conference? | 2:00 PM PT

Taking a page from Beverly Daniel Tatum’s book Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations about Race, we’ll create a space for honest conversation about and reflections on the specific experiences of Black funders working in philanthropy.

Alumni of TFN’s 2020 PLACES Fellowship will deliver a Black Girl Magic experience designed to unpack Blackness in a white context. During this interactive session, attendees will join in on a point/counterpoint discussion examining the question: Why Are All of the Black Funders Sitting Together at the Conference?

Joining us in conversation (pictured above from left):

Alexis BivensProgram Director, Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation2020 PLACES Fellow

Rayana Grace, Program Officer, Island Foundation2020 PLACES Fellow

Rebalancing Power & Profit in Rural America’s Communities of Color | 2:00 PM PT

Rural America, especially communities of color, face the highest rates of poverty and disinvestment in the U.S. Eighty-five percent of “persistent poverty counties” — defined as having a population of 20 percent or more living at or below the poverty line for at least 30 years — are rural. One in four children in rural America lives in poverty. But these communities receive minimal investment from federal sources and receive less than 8 percent of philanthropic giving. We’ll hear from community developers and Community Development Financial Institutions working in rural areas, with a focus not only on the challenges facing these regions — but the innovations needed to truly support rural communities of color.

Featured Speakers: 

Lakota VogelExecutive Director, Four Bands Community Fund 

Jackie PataPresident/CEO, Tlingit and Haida Regional Housing Authority 

Susan AndersonSenior Director, Enterprise Community Partners (Moderator).
(Enterprise is active in Smart Growth California’s Statewide Steering Committee & Los Angeles Funders’ Collaborative.)

Dismantling Housing Segregation: A Land-use Policy Roadmap for Systemic Change | 2:00 PM PT

This interactive session will explore the role of state and local land-use policies in creating and maintaining racial segregation. We’ll also examine how coordinated legal advocacy, organizing and public education can create structural change that enables Black, Latinx and other people of color to equitably access historically exclusionary communities and retain equity in gentrifying neighborhoods.

Joining us in conversation (pictured above from left):

Adam GordonExecutive Director, Fair Share Housing Center 

Cashauna HillExecutive Director, Louisiana Fair Housing Action Center

Samuel Tepperman-GelfantManaging Attorney, Public Advocates 

Jennifer Martinez, Director of Advocacy for Housing Affordability at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, (Moderator)
(Both Public Advocates and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative are based in California.)

Demanding Equity & Justice in Federal/State Water Investments | 2:00 PM PT

Water infrastructure is an environmental justice issue: For years, community and justice leaders have warned about the woefully dangerous state of our water infrastructure. The impacts of these broken and failing systems fall especially hard on BIPOC and low-income communities.

This session will feature leaders from the Water Equity and Climate Resilience Caucus, co-chaired by PolicyLink and the Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy, who will share how they have built strategy, peer power, policy momentum and equitable change for their communities. They’ll share how this work is influencing key federal policy opportunities — and how philanthropy is partnering with them to level up these efforts.

Featured Speakers: 

Monica Lewis-Patrick, President & CEO, We the People 

Nayyirah Shariff, Director, Flint Rising

Mariana Del Valle Prieto Cervantes, Water Equity and Ocean Program Director, Green Latinos 

Alesandra Nájera, Program Officer, Water Foundation, (Moderator), (The Water Foundation is active in Smart Growth California’s Statewide Steering CommitteeSan Joaquin Valley Funders’ Collaborative and the Los Angeles Funders Collaborative)

Flash Talk | 3:45 PM PT

Nalleli Cobo, Campaign Organizer, STAND-L.A.

Join us to hear from this passionate youth organizer, who is now a campaign organizer for STAND-L.A., an environmental justice coalition of community groups that seeks to end neighborhood drilling to protect the health and safety of Angelenos on the front lines of urban oil extraction.

We’ll hear her firsthand account of inspired and motivated her to take action at an early age  — and why philanthropy needs to listen to the voices of this next generation.




Day 2 | Tuesday, March 15

Morning Plenary | 9:00 AM PT 

Community organizers work tirelessly to bring about change in the communities they serve. Each win is a step toward building a broader movement for justice, self-determination and transformational change. While foundations increasingly recognize that change starts with community organizing and shifting power, and many share the goals of frontline leaders, the ways that foundations have supported organizing often have caused more harm than good. Join us for an honest conversation with community organizers and funders as they pull back the curtain on how philanthropic investments have come up short, and share wisdom on how funders can support community organizing differently to much greater effect and impact.

Featured Speakers: 

Carmen Rojas, President & CEO, Marguerite Casey Foundation 

Nikkita Oliver, Executive Director, Creative Justice

Crystal Haling, Executive Director, The Libra Foundation

Diane Takvorian, Executive Director, Environmental Health Coalition

*Concurrent Breakout Sessions*

The Future of Climate Action is Latinx | 10:30 AM PT

Join us for an intergenerational conversation led by Latinx youth leaders at the forefront of the climate movement, in dialogue with more veteran members of the Latinx community, on the future of climate action.

Featured Speakers: 

Paloma Aguirre, City of Imperial Beach Councilwoman and Senior Program Officer for International Community Foundation 

Mary Skelton Roberts, Senior VP for Programs, Energy Foundation, 2011 PLACES Fellow
(The Energy Foundation is based in California)

Denisce Sarai Palacios, Jolt Action (Moderator) 

People, Parks & Power: Movement Building for Park & Green Space Equity | 10:30 AM PT

This session features advocates and public agency leaders at the vanguard of the park equity movement who are working to ensure that disinvested, park deficient communities are fair, just, and green. We’ll learn how funders can support park equity work, including a look at a new, joint national funding initiative of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, “People, Parks, and Power.”

Featured Speakers: 

Sean WattsOwner, SM Watts Consulting 

Sandra Celedon, President and CEO, Fresno Building Healthy Communities 

Clement Lau, Departmental Facilities Planner, Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation & Los Angeles County Regional Parks and Open Space District 

Elva Yanez, Director of Health Equity, Prevention Institute (Moderator)

(All three speakers are based in California)

Mobile Workshops 

Our Mobile Workshops offer a chance to learn from the places and people of our host city, with an emphasis on community power-building and community-led solutions. New to this year’s Mobile Workshop lineup: an opportunity to get your hands dirty volunteering at Olivewood Gardens and Learning Center, an urban farm and community gathering space working to overcome barriers to food access.

Learn more here

San Diego Funders’ Collaborative Dinner | 7:00 PM PT

The San Diego Foundation, International Community Foundation, The California Endowment, Catalyst of San Diego and Imperial Counties and Smart Growth California (an initiative of TFN) invite you to attend a dinner to informally launch the San Diego Funders’ Collaborative, a space that facilitates learning, relationship building, alignment and collaboration across a broad set of issues related to cultivating healthy, equitable and sustainable communities. If you are a funder that is based in and/or funds in the San Diego Region (or are considering funding in the region), and you’re interested in joining this emerging funder collaborative table, then we invite you to join us in person for some good food, drinks and conversation.

Day 3 | Wednesday, March 16

Agroecology in California’s San Joaquin Valley | 9:00 AM PT

In this session, we’ll learn about the collaborative movement for solutions in the San Joaquin Valley, California’s most industrially farmed region, and discuss the political and ecological movement for ecology in rural California at large. We will learn about the history of the global movement for agroecology and talk through why this movement can serve as a bridge between people living in rural California and the global struggle against corporate capitalist farming. Join this session as we walk through the steps of designing an agroecology project in your community, and discuss the strategies for collaboration across race, ethnicity and class.

Featured Speakers: 

Darlene Franco, Chairperson, Wukchumni Tribe

Nicole Celaya, Co-Executive Director, FoodLink for Tulare County

Jeannette Acosta, Founding Member, Gratitude Company (Moderator)

(Smart Growth California’s San Joaquin Valley Funders Collaborative has supported this work.)

Equity Investments Go National: What We Can Learn from California’s Bold Experiment | 9:00 AM PT

The session will explore lessons from California’s bold experiment as this climate justice greenlining approach goes national. Funders will hear from several community-grounded experts involved in the California program. We’ll also hear a national perspective on a similar initiative proposed by the Biden Administration: “Justice40,” which aims to deliver 40 percent of benefits from relevant federal investments to disadvantaged communities, using the EPA’s data screen. The session will update funders on how this initiative is redirecting billions of federal dollars into climate, health and equity work. (Please note the title of this session was updated Feb. 10.)

Featured Speakers: 

Joining us in conversation (pictured above from left):

Hana G. Creger, Senior Program Manager, Climate Equity, Greenlining Institute 

Diane Takvorian, Executive Director, Environmental Health Coalition 

Ben Russak, Director of Public Partnerships, Liberty Hill Foundation, (Moderator)
(The Liberty Hill Foundation is a Smart Growth California Funder
, and active in the Los Angeles Funders Collaborative)

Flash Talk | 10:50 AM PT

Norma Chávez-PetersonACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, will join us for a Flash Talk sharing her insights on the ongoing fight for civil liberties and justice for marginalized people — and why funders need to step up and “seize the moment” in this pivotal and fragile moment in American democracy.







Leadership in this Moment: What it Takes & What it Looks Like | 11:00 AM PT

In frontline communities across the country, Black, brown and Indigenous leaders are fiercely taking risks and pushing radical shifts, working across silos and sectors, and nurturing the next generation of community changemakers.

They are the first to provide mutual aid and support, to stand up to cascading injustices, to build political power, and to demand change. To meet the needs of the communities they serve, they are helping build movements and modeling new leadership formations.

Yet the painful truth is that these leaders are managing multiple crises with extremely limited resources.

In our closing plenary, we will hear from Jacqueline Martinez Garcel, CEO at the Latino Community Foundation about what people-centered leadership looks like in these complex and uncertain times — and what it takes to fully support these leaders.

Join us to better understand the many ways that philanthropy must step up, shift norms and actively invest in leaders who are building power to demand racial justice, energy democracy, immigration reform, voting rights and other critical issues.


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