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The Leading Change Conference 2017

Held in partnership with Grantmakers of Western Pennsylvania, the Leading Change Conference 2017 was an opportunity for participants to become stronger advocates for and leaders of change.

Event Details

We all want to support nonprofits in the best possible way. But being a productive partner with nonprofits—and giving them the support they need most—often requires some type of change in how our organizations operate. Although change efforts can be difficult or even seem insurmountable, we know that grantmakers can harness their personal agency and affect change, no matter their role or position in the organization. Participants connected at the Leading Change Conference 2017 to explore their roles and immediate spheres of control, and learn skills to increase their own capacity to address organizational beliefs or behaviors. They returned home equipped with tools, frameworks and a peer community to help them lead their desired change.

Start: Monday, November 13, 8:00 AM Eastern

End: Tuesday, November 14, 2:30 PM Eastern

Westin Convention Center Pittsburgh

1000 Penn Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Program Highlights

Honing “Self” as an Instrument of Change

Participants began their conference experience by reflecting on their roles and what they bring to their organization. We heard stories of individual grantmakers who are leading change from various roles through having courageous conversations, deepening engagement with stakeholders, strengthening the quality of their relationships and mobilizing others behind their vision. The opening session also featured the first of three Home Team Meetups to allow grantmakers to connect with and hear from peers and explore together how identity intersects with a person’s ability to lead change. After leaving the opening session, participants selected from breakout sessions covering topics such as navigating change, leading change on racial equity and self-care.

Leading Mission-Driven Organizational and Team Change

After having a greater understanding of their personal agency, participants chose one of five afternoon breakout sessions to learn skills such as: moving faster and acting bolder, optimizing ways to introduce change in a complex environment and applying the lens of adaptive leadership. They then engaged peers in Home Team discussions and activities designed to examine how organizational history shapes current perceptions and affects how internal change happens in organizations.

The Role of Grantmaking Organizations in Leading Change

The second day of the Leading Change Conference began by exploring how risk factors into organizational action and change efforts in the final Home Team Meetup. In the final round of breakout sessions, participants learned how their organizations can be a field wide supporter of change by engaging in collective leadership, intentionally pursuing trust-based philanthropy and cultivating organizational patience. We ended the conference experience with a plenary that explored the ways grantmakers can provide the best support to systems change work.

Scroll down to see conference session titles, descriptions and resources listed in chronological order or click here to view the full print program.

Session Videos

Watch what happened

GEO recorded a number of the sessions from the Leading Change Conference 2017, including Home Team Meetups and full-length plenary sessions. Watch to get a taste of the conference and, especially if you were a participant, please share these videos with your colleagues.

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Spark a conversation about organizational change!

Whether you were able to attend the conference or not, these discussion guides were created to help you spark a conversation at your organization and in your community.

The Westin Pittsburgh, site of the Leading Change Conference 2017


Check out these images from the Leading Change Conference 2017.

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Conference participants talking

Participant Roster

See who attended the Leading Change Conference 2017

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Grantmakers of Western Pennsylvania

Our Regional Partner

Grantmakers of Western Pennsylvania is where grantmakers come together to exchange, learn, debate and collaborate - all to make the most positive impact in its region.

Learn more about Grantmakers of Western Pennsylvania
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Conference Planning Committee

  • Philip Li, Robert Sterling Clark Foundation (co-chair)
  • Brenda Solorzano, Blue Shield of California Foundation (co-chair)
  • John Brothers, T. Rowe Price Foundation
  • Annie Hernandez, Frieda C. Fox Foundation
  • Pia Infante, Whitman Institute
  • Sindhu Knotz, Philanthropy Northwest
  • Barbara Leonard, Maine Health Access Foundation
  • Jenny Nielsen, Grantmakers of Western Pennsylvania
  • Anita Patel, Bush Foundation
  • Elissa Perry, Management Assistance Group
  • Candy Solovjovs, Meyer Memorial Trust
  • Amanda Standerfer, Lumpkin Family Foundation

Conference Host Committee

  • Gregg Behr, The Grable Foundation (co-chair)
  • Grant Oliphant, The Heinz Endowments (co-chair)
  • Susan Brownlee, The Fine Foundation
  • Kathy Buechel, The Benter Foundation
  • Diana Bucco, The Buhl Foundation
  • Kate Dewey, The Forbes Funds
  • Sylvia Fields, Eden Hall Foundation
  • Cathy Lewis Long, The Sprout Fund
  • Yvonne Maher, The Pittsburgh Foundation
  • Sally McCrady, PNC Foundation
  • Mary Phan-Gruber, Jefferson Regional Foundation
  • Sam Reiman, Richard King Mellon Foundation
  • Joni Schwager, Staunton Farm Foundation
  • Barbara Sieck Taylor, Grantmakers of Western Pennsylvania
  • Kristy Trautmann, FISA Foundation


Major Supporters

Additional Supporters

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