Who will be taking center stage at TFN’s 2022 Annual Conference: Seize the Moment in San Diego?

Our line-up of thought-provoking and inspiring Plenary Presenters and Flash Talk speakers will share their insights on community organizing, collaboration, belonging and movement-building — and how funders can support critical efforts to move our communities toward racial, environmental and economic justice.

We’ll learn how youth activist Nalleli Cobo of STAND-L.A. played a central role in fighting an oil company dangerously polluting her South Central L.A. neighborhood, and what we can learn from the coalition of community groups she helped bring together.

We’ll hear from Norma Chávez-Peterson, executive director of the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties, about 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.

Our Tuesday Plenary will focus on community organizing ⁠and the ways philanthropy often fails those on the frontlines of changemaking, with a frank conversation with Crystal Hayling of the Libra FoundationNikkita Oliver of Creative Justice and Diane Takvorian of the Environmental Health Coaliton, moderated by Dr. Carmen Rojas of the Marguerite Casey Foundation.

In our Closing Plenary, we will hear from Jacqueline Martinez Garcel, CEO of the Latino Community Foundation, about people-centered leadership in these complex and uncertain times — and what it takes to fully support the Black, brown and Indigenous leaders pushing for justice on critical issues.

And that’s not all: We’ll also share in an interactive plenary session to learn actionable takeaways that will help grantmakers support belonging, forge connections, and build community across differences, courtesy of Marnita’s Table. And we’ll experience the power of storytelling to explore the issues of climate change, economic opportunity and racial equity with a special presentation by San Diego’s own Playwrights Project

Read on for full descriptions of our Plenary & Flash Talk presenters, and be sure to check out our TFN2022 website for the full agenda and conference highlights.


Plenary & Flash Talks

Opening Plenary

Photo Credit: Playwrights Project

Playwrights Project — Where Stories Take the Stage | Monday, March 14 | 12 p.m.

We’ll officially kick off TFN2022 with a special Opening Plenary presentation by lifting up the voices of San Diego-based performers.

Playwrights Project, which focuses on the power of theater to connect to universal themes, will explore the issues of climate change, economic opportunity and racial equity.

The group’s mission is to empower people of all ages and backgrounds to voice stories through theater, inspiring individual growth and creating meaningful community connections. Playwrights Project programs reach 10,000 people annually, connecting with youth in San Diego schools and underserved populations of all ages.

Monday Afternoon Plenary

Photo by Carina Lofgren Photography

Trust-making: Building Equity, Belonging & Community| Monday, March 14 | 4 p.m.

What’s the difference between “all are welcome here” and “this space was created with you in mind?” How can we build equity and bridge division?

Join us for an interactive, peer-to-peer experience crafted by Marnita’s Table, a mission-driven nonprofit that brings people together to find common ground on important public policy issues.  This session will provide practical tools for you to build sustainable community engagement, leadership and collaboration across race, class, culture and other means of self-identity.

We’ll also explore two projects involving collaboration between Marnita’s Table and TFN members that lifted up and leveraged the insights and wisdom of collective community voices: “Healing from Trauma” (with the Catalyst Initiative of The Minneapolis Foundation) and “Foresight for the Future of Health” (with 17 regional and national health foundations, including the Kansas Health Foundation and the Minneapolis Foundation.)

Tuesday Plenary

Community Organizing: How Philanthropy Falls Short & How we Can Do Better | Tuesday, March 15 | 9 a.m.

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.


Nikkita Oliver, Executive Director, Creative Justice

Crystal Hayling, Executive Director, The Libra Foundation

Diane Takvorian, Executive Director, Environmental Health Coalition

Carmen Rojas, President & CEO, Marguerite Casey Foundation (moderator)

Closing Plenary

Jacqueline Martinez Garcel 
Leadership in this Moment: What it Takes & What it Looks Like | Wednesday, March 16 | 11 a.m.

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 of the Latino Community Foundation to better understand the many ways philanthropy must step up, shift norms and actively invest in leaders who are fighting for racial justice, energy democracy, immigration reform, voting rights and other critical issues.

Flash Talks

Nalleli Cobo
Campaign Organizer, STAND-L.A.; Co-founder, South Los Angeles Youth Leadership Coalition | Monday, March 14, 3:45 p.m.

When a community in South Central L.A. began their fight against an oil company polluting their neighborhood, a young Latina girl played a central role: Nalleli Cobo, who was 9 years old when she started suffering from mysterious body spasms, asthma, headaches and nosebleeds so severe she had to sleep sitting up so she wouldn’t choke on her own blood.

She and her neighbors in this predominately Black and Latinx neighborhood launched a battle against an active oil well site located in front of her house. But Nalleli didn’t stop there: She was part of a group of young activists and local organizations that successfully sued the city to demand more regulations in oil extraction.

Join us to hear from this passionate youth organizer, who is now a campaign organizer for STAND-L.A. and co-founder of the South Los Angeles Youth Leadership Coalition, about how community groups are coming together to protect the health and safety of Angelenos on the front lines of urban oil extraction.

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

BONUS READ: Learn more about Nalleli’s activism in this BBC News story.


Norma Chávez-Peterson

Executive Director, ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties | Wednesday, March 16, 0:50 a.m.

Norma Chávez-Peterson is the executive director of the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties (ACLU SDIC), a prominent force for the protection and expansion of fundamental rights in the region.

An integral member of San Diego’s civil rights community — with nearly two decades of leadership, organizing and advocacy experience in California’s second-most populous county and southern borderlands — she was instrumental in creating the ACLU SDIC’s integrated advocacy campaign to advance priority issues such as criminal justice reform, police accountability and immigrant rights.

Norma  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.