GEO 2023 Learning Conference: Session Proposal Frequently Asked Questions

  • By Sammi Santini, October 11, 2022

GEO’s Learning Conferences are designed to expose participants to cutting-edge practices in equity-informed, community-driven grantmaking, while giving them the knowledge and tools needed to apply learning in all aspects of their work. Through a mix of session formats, participants explore ways to design and implement evaluation and learning approaches that generate shifts in philanthropic culture and practice.

We are now seeking session proposals for our 2023 Learning Conference: Courageous Unlearning, which will take place in Washington, DC from May 22 to May 23. All GEO members, evaluators and other philanthropic practitioners are invited to submit session proposals that provide our community with the knowledge and resources needed to improve learning and evaluation practices.

As an additional resource, we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions to support those interested in submitting session ideas. If you have additional questions, please reach out to the GEO team at

What are the formats that GEO is looking for in session proposals?

  • Framework or Resource Presentation: A short, 30-minute session, typically led by one presenter, to share a specific resource, framework, model, template or some other practical tool to implement ideas.
  • Emergent Space: 60-minute sessions that fully engage participants through Salon Conversations, games or other community building activities. In this format type, presenters will be fully immersed with attendees in these highly participatory sessions.
  • Breakout Session: A traditional 60- to 75-minute session that can include workshops, presentations or panel discussions led by 3 or fewer presenters.

What is the conference committee looking for during session review?

The conference committee is looking for sessions that highlight and collaborate with the perspectives of nonprofit leaders and community members. In alignment with GEO’s value of collaboration, sessions should aim to incorporate the lived experiences of our nonprofit partners and those in the communities we seek to serve.

In addition, session proposals should speak to the various intersections of racial and ethnic, gender and sexual identities – as well as language, socioeconomic status, national origin and disability – and the impact of equitable grantmaking on the communities that sit as these intersections. At GEO, we believe it is critical to infuse inclusion into session content, as well as in the speakers presenting and the organizations that they represent.

As such, session submitters are asked to commit to designing sessions that feature at least two-thirds Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) speakers and/or presenters. Other session design considerations include:

  • Attention to inclusivity during session design. This includes the accessibility of the session format as well as presenting content applicable to a diverse community of grantmakers.
  • A focus on applying ideas to grantmakers’ work and demonstrating results. Adults learn through a process that moves from description (what happened here?) to analysis (why is this happening?) to application (if I tried this in my community, what might happen?) to implementation (what can I do to make this happen or improve how I think it might happen in my community?)
  • Creative session design. We encourage interactivity and thinking outside the “panel” box. How can this session stand out from the other programming?

I have an idea for a session, but not sure if it fits the theme of courageous unlearning.

(Un)learning happens in many forms! Your session idea may fit an emerging space or could spark inspiration for future GEO programming or publications. Feel free to reach out to if you have questions.

Sammi Santini

Program Manager, Content Delivery

Contact Sammi with questions about our peer learning, community building, and other programming.

As a Program Manager at GEO, Sammi works with the Program Team to increase community connection and to support the planning, development, and facilitation of peer learning opportunities.

Previously, Sammi worked in mental health programming at Wounded Warrior Project (WWP). While there, she designed and facilitated multi-day mental health workshops providing coaching and psychoeducation to participants who have experienced trauma in their lifetime. Throughout her 5+ years at WWP, Sammi worked closely with local and national stakeholders to create dedicated community forums to address and highlight mental health challenges facing traditionally underserved populations – specifically survivors of military sexual trauma, the LGBTQ+ community, women, and/or homeless veterans, service members, and their families. Sammi is a passionate advocate for increased representation of BIPOC and LGBTQ+ women voices in the veteran space. Prior to WWP, Sammi worked primarily in non-profit communities, most notably in the arts & theatre world. She spent time working at Fremont Abbey Arts Center, a venue dedicated to curating “welcoming arts & cultural experiences where people of all ages and incomes can explore creativity, enjoy beauty, grow empathy and increase awareness.” She also spent time work at a non-profit camp & conference center as a chef while traveling in Australia.

Sammi attended Virginia Tech where she earned degrees in both Psychology and Theatre Arts & Cinema. Sammi feels passionately about learning and creating; she is an avid artist in many meanings of the word and likes to create time and space for people to explore and grow in their authenticity.