Snow did not keep us from having our biggest IMPACT Forum ever, with 250 attendees filling Beth El Hebrew Congregation to capacity. Now in its 12th year, IMPACT convenes board, business, City, community, nonprofit, and philanthropic leaders to discuss innovations in philanthropy and strategies for building the capacity of nonprofit organizations and individuals to make a lasting impact in the community. This year’s selected theme was racial equity and featured keynote speaker Ben Hecht, President and CEO of Living Cities, a collaborative that works to improve the economic well-being of low-income people.
Given the breadth of learning opportunities surrounding racial equity, this year’s forum extended beyond breakout sessions and included 15-minute, short-talks. John Taylor Chapman discussed Alexandria’s racial history and Debra Collins and Chief Michael Brown shared how the City of Alexandria is addressing racial equity. The breakout sessions, focused on equipping attendees to get started in the work, included operationalizing racial equity and inclusion, creating meaningful community partnerships, and becoming an ally.
The lunchtime discussions provided time for attendees to share their learnings, self-reflection and valuable feedback about what ACT could do to help organizations take their next steps. We received comments in five main areas:
- Training – people want to know more, access more resources, and get their board trained
- Resources – providing a racial equity toolkit, audit, self-assessment
- Convening – continuing to bring people together in a safe space to have conversations, attendees enjoyed learning from one another and with others
- Developing Leaders – creating a pipeline of people to serve on boards and commissions, to diversify leadership and share power
- Funding – grants to help with coaching and board training
We are currently in discussions about next steps and look forward to sharing them with you. Be sure to check out the ACT IMPACT Forum website for a list of resources and announcements about our future plans.
Realizing the importance of examining our internal operations, ACT for Alexandria is starting its own racial equity journey with self-reflection. We are discussing an article, podcast or video in our weekly staff meetings. The first was a blog post by breakout session speaker Whitney Parnell, To Our White Friends, Empathy is Not Enough. We plan to continue our journey with discussion articles identified and scheduled throughout the year. We hope you will continue to join us on this learning journey.