Conference Overview

“Toward Real Change: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion”

While issues of diversity, inclusion, and equity have existed for decades (if not centuries), they have taken on a new urgency today in the worlds of business, politics, and—yes—even the nonprofit sector. Nonprofits, foundations, and social enterprises are hardly immune from challenges that include the lack of representation of people of color among boards and leadership teams, gender-biased wage gaps, hostility towards religious or sexual minorities, or sexual harassment, to name only a few.

The social sector faces problems with how our organizations are run, as well as how we work with the communities we serve. If we want to fully realize our goals as agents of social innovation, we need to address these issues head-on. And while we realize this change will not happen overnight, long-term solutions need to begin now if they are ever to be realized.

With this commitment in mind (and recognizing that we are just as guilty of not doing enough to address these issues in our own organization), Stanford Social Innovation Review announces the theme of the 2018 Nonprofit Management Institute: “Towards Real Change: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.”

Over the course of three days—September 12, 13, and 14, 2018—SSIR will bring together respected scholars exploring the latest research and thinking on the root causes and most promising solutions to issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion; notable leaders of organizations working to make progress against these issues, and prominent voices elevating the dialog on these topics. But we aren’t satisfied to merely raise awareness of these issues. Our goal is to probe the complex layers of these challenges, to create a greater understanding of the mechanisms that cause them, and to outline steps we can all take to address them.

In the spirit of co-creation, we encourage you to work with us to make this goal a reality by helping us craft this year’s program. Please use the apply using this link:, or visit our “Schedule” tab to submit speakers and session topics that you feel should be represented at the 2018 Nonprofit Management Institute.

For more information please click here.


Keynote: Rashad Robinson

Rashad Robinson

Rashad Robinson is the president of Color of Change, the nation’s largest online racial justice organization. Driven by more than 1.4 million members building political and cultural power for Black communities, Color of Change is creating a more human and less hostile world for all people in America. Robinson has led the organization in developing cutting-edge strategies to accelerate reform in the criminal justice system and win justice for its victims, increase electoral participation, cut off corporate support for right-wing organizations and causes, and change the representation of Black people and social issues in news and entertainment media. Under Robinson’s leadership, Color of Change has grown by a million members and dozens of staff, expanded to four offices across the country, and exponentially increased pathways for people to pursue racial justice, including cultural influencers and industry insiders. He previously served as the senior director of media programs at GLAAD, leading all of the organization’s advocacy, strategic research, messaging, and large-scale media campaigns, successfully paving the way for broad acceptance and justice for LGBTQ people. Robinson was recognized by Crain’s New York Business on their 2018 “40 under 40” list of people to watch. He is the proud recipient of awards from organizations as varied as ADCOLOR, the United Church of Christ, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Foundation. He serves on the boards of Demos and the Hazen Foundation.

Getting Local: Collaborating with Communities of Color

Darnell Moore, Coya White Hat-Artichoker, Mauricio Lim Miller, Fresco Steez

There is no one-size-fits-all model for nonprofits serving disadvantaged communities. More often than not, any universal method applied to a community results in failure and frustration—good intentions often translate into colonial tendencies that overlook or, worse, erase a community’s politics and cultural vibrancy. How can nonprofit organizations offer programs and services that both meet the needs of and empower people living in disadvantaged communities—specifically, communities of color—with an ethical sensibility that respects those communities? How can nonprofits work with community leaders, rather than manage them? Through the stories of community activists across the nation, this panel will host a discussion of the experiences, ideas, and lessons learned that can help nonprofits better serve the communities they are trying to help. This plenary panel will be moderated by Darnell Moore, a nationally-renowned community activist and public intellectual, who is the head of strategy and programs for Breakthrough TV, the former editor-at-large at CASSIUS, co-managing editor at The Feminist Wire, and author of No Ashes in the Fire. Moore will be in discussion with Coya White Hat Artichoker, founder of the First Nations Two Spirits Collective, who also serves on the board of directors at the PFund Foundation. They will be joined by Mauricio Lim Miller, founder of Family Independence Initiative and 2012 MacArthur “genius” grant winner, as well as Fresco Steez, the Minister of Training and Culture at Black Youth Project 100.

Trust Black Women: Lessons from Navigating Double Jepoardy

Makiyah Moody, Crystal German, Tyra Mariani, Ifeyinwa Offor Walker

Black women have been able to succeed despite double jeopardy—the reality of being black and female. Panelists who have worked with others to create more inclusive environments for black women and others will discuss survival strategies that enable them to reclaim their time, protect their souls, and accelerate their momentum towards greatness. With varied backgrounds as leaders in education, health care, philanthropy, and community activism, panelists will reflect on their experiences as leaders, and offer insights for the social sector to become more inclusive, diverse, and equitable. This plenary panel will be led by Makiyah Moody, senior consultant at La Piana Consulting. Joining her will be Tyra Mariani, executive vice president at New America, Crystal German, principal of Prosperity Labs, and Ifeyinwa Walker, founder and chief talent matchmaker of Offor Walker Group.

Building a Communication Strategy for Diversity and Inclusion

Ann Christiano, Annie Neimand

Ensuring that your organization is taking a diverse and inclusive approach to your work will require a careful examination of your communication strategy. This session will offer a framework that will help ensure you’re making a difference, by using systems thinking and insights from social, behavioral, and cognitive science to focus your communications effort where it can make the biggest difference. Through hands-on exercises, we will learn from the examples of several successful organizations, and help you apply the framework to your own challenges. This plenary presentation will be led by Ann Christiano and Annie Neimand, coauthors of two recent Stanford Social Innovation Review feature articles on communication strategy: “Stop Raising Awareness Already” (Spring 2017); and “The Science of What Makes People Care” (Fall 2018). Ann Christiano holds the Frank Karel Chair in Public Interest Communications at University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. Annie Neimand is research director for the Center for Public Interest Communications at University of Florida College of Journalism and Communication.

Dismantling Invisible Barriers to Capital

Kathleen Kelly Janus, Robert Ross, Pia Infante, Cheryl Dorsey

Research shows that when talented individuals lack “invisible capital”—the right pedigree, the right passport, the right skin color, the right gender—the attention and investment needed to truly effect change can remain elusive. How can leaders in philanthropy work to dismantle inequity in access to capital to enable breakthroughs that may be hiding in plain sight? What tools do nonprofit leaders need in order to scale invisible barriers to access the capital they require to create impact? Award-winning social entrepreneur, author, and lecturer at Stanford University Kathleen Kelly Janus moderates this discussion with Cheryl Dorsey, President of Echoing Green, Pia Infante, Co-Executive Director of The Whitman Institute, and Dr. Robert K. Ross, President & CEO of the California Endowment, around the ways both philanthropic and nonprofit leaders can work together to overcome these invisible barriers to capital.

Keynote: Ana Marie Argilagos

Ana Marie Argilagos

Ana Marie Argilagos serves as president of Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP). She is guiding HIP with a bold vision: to usher in a new generation of philanthropy that is for, by, and about the Latino community. Previously Argilagos was a senior advisor at the Ford Foundation as part of the Equitable Development team, where her work focused on urban development strategies to reduce poverty, expand economic opportunity, and advance sustainability in cities and regions across the world. Before becoming a senior adviser at the foundation in 2014, she served as deputy chief of staff and deputy assistant secretary at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). While there, she created the Office for International and Philanthropic Innovation (IPI) to deepen and scale collaboration between public and philanthropic sectors. The IPI model of sourcing innovation and leveraging partnerships from broad global networks is now being successfully replicated at other federal cabinet agencies and in cities across the US. Prior to joining HUD, she spent eight years as a senior program officer at the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore, where she spearheaded the foundation’s work in rural areas, indigenous communities, and the US-Mexico border region. Until recently, Argilagos was an adjunct professor of international urban planning at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service. She has a successful track record working within both the public and the nonprofit sectors in a range of capacities—from educational programs manager at the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, to director of the New Workplace for Women Project at the National Council of La Raza, to deputy director of Ayuda, a community-based legal clinic serving immigrants in Washington, DC—and has proved herself to be an entrepreneurial thinker bridging diverse agendas to achieve results. Argilagos received her master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University and her bachelor’s degree in international relations from American University.

Equity Through the Arts

Nayantara Sen, Timothy Seelig, Judith Smith, Sherri Young

Art challenges our perceptions about the world in which we live. At its best it provides audiences with new perspectives in a visceral and emotional way, prompting questions about our world and what it could be. This can be particularly powerful when addressing questions of inclusion and diversity. What is art, and who can be an artist? In this panel discussion moderated by Nayantara Sen of Race Forward, including leaders of several Bay Area performing arts groups—including Judith Smith, founder of Axis Dance Company, and Tim Seelig, artistic director of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, and Sherri Young, executive director and founder of the African-American Shakespeare Company—will engage in a discussion of their work and how the lessons they’ve learned can be applied to other nonprofits facing challenges around issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The Power of Feedback

Fay Twersky, Kelley Gulley, Christine Kidd, Shannon Revels

Sometimes, the simple act of listening can be transformative. This session will examine the important role that beneficiary feedback plays in helping funders and nonprofits better understand the needs and desires of the people and communities that they are seeking to serve, and how that feedback can help funders and nonprofits create more inclusive and effective programs and services. Attendees will leave with both the inspiration and the tools to improve feedback loops in their own work. Fay Twersky, director of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation’s Effective Philanthropy Group, will moderate this plenary panel. She will be joined by Kelley Gulley, senior program officer at The James Irvine Foundation, who will talk about the community listening sessions the foundation has organized across California, as well as the funding feedback mechanisms at the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO). Christine Kidd, director of innovation at CEO, will share what the organization has learned and improved on thanks to feedback from participants. And former program participant Shannon Revels will share how being listened and responded to empowered him to self-advocate in his new job at Community Housing Partnership.

Who Decides? The Internal Politics of Human Rights and Social Justice Movements

Clayborne Carson

The African-American freedom struggles of the 1950s and 1960s offers many insights about why poor and powerless people often stay that way. This session will explore key social change issues and contemporary social justice movements, and the historical and structural reasons behind them. This plenary session will be led by Clayborne Carson, author, historian, and founding director of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute at Stanford University. Selected in 1985 by Mrs. Coretta Scott King to edit and publish the papers of her late husband. Carson, the Centennial Professor of History at Stanford, has devoted most of his professional life to the study of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the movements King inspired.

Leveraging Design Thinking to Foster Greater DEI

Nadia Roumani, Chris Rudd

Designing for social change is complex work. It requires considering the many stakeholders and factors that could affect outcomes, having deep understanding of people while seeing the bigger picture, gaining clarity and conviction despite incomplete information, and discovering and choosing interventions that have impact, in the multitude of possibilities. In this workshop – led by Nadia Roumani, Senior Designer, Designing for Social Systems Program at Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (, and Chris Rudd, Founder of ChiByDesign and former fellow – we will explore the intersection of design thinking, equity and inclusion. Using a human-centered design approach, you will have a chance to explore ways to create greater inclusion within your organizations, whether to foster a more inclusive leadership team, apply an equity mindset to your programs, or increase diversity in your grantmaking. We will have a chance to unleash our collective wisdom and creativity to co-design more just and fair societies, starting with our own organizations.

Creating Inclusive Workplaces

Lori Nishiura Mackenzie

Organizations engage in conversations about talent and performance at many stages of employees’ careers, from hiring to promotions. While the goal is a fair and equal assessment of each individual, bias can creep into the process. Participants will leave the session with research-based tools that are applicable across various dimensions of diversity, and that can help their organization more effectively identify, retain and promote top talent. This plenary presentation will be led by Lori Nishiura Mackenzie, executive director of Stanford University’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research, and co-founder of the Stanford VMware Women’s Leadership Innovation Lab. The Clayman Institute has conducted a wide range of research on gender discrimination and on effective ways of overcoming that discrimination, particularly in the workplace. Mackenzie has led workshops and given speeches on gender discrimination in the workplace for groups around the world.

KeynoteL Angela Glover Blackwell; Civil Society in a Diverse Nation

Angela Glover Blackwell

Discourse and dialogue have always been the hallmarks of civil society; but when the power of government is used systematically to divide and exclude, it is the stinging conversations and actions at the leading edge of civil society that will reestablish the democratic ideals of an equitable democracy. Can the actions of millions of people—activists of color, youth, and women especially—taking multi-pronged action to defend civil rights, democratic values, and norms of decency help usher in an authentic, modern-day civil society that redefines the public good and creates a 21st-century social compact? In her closing keynote remarks, Angela Glover Blackwell, CEO of Policylink, will explore how these actions–fueled by the radical imagination of contemporary civil society stewards–are modeling what society must do: authentically engaging diverse communities to articulate problems, determine priorities and solutions, and create a just, inclusive America that shows the world what equitable democracy looks like.