Weekly column – Forefront hosting statewide conference

Forefront is gathering nonprofits, grantmakers, and social change agents from across Illinois to collaborate, network, learn, and leverage our collective perspective to improve lives and strengthen all of our communities. We be honored if you’d join us for Brid¬ging the Divide: Building Community in Illinois on October 18-19 in Springfield.

Bridging the Divide is a conference for every kind of changemaker. A conference designed especially for you. With breakout sessions on trending topics, plenty of opportunities for networking, and the chance to learn from national experts, there’s something here for everyone in the social good sector.

Jan Masaoka, CEO of the California Association of Nonprofits, will kick us off as our opening keynote speaker on October 18. With the recent election forcing everyone to get out of our various bubbles, we’ll explore how nonprofit and philanthropic leaders can come together to discover our shared values and a shared vision for our communities. Drawing on her leadership in a state that is more than diverse when it comes to politics, geography, and community values, Jan will share her insights on how to define community in such a contested place, and how to build a bridge that encourages collective action.

We’re delighted to host BMe Network, who will teach participants about a technique called “asset-framing,” an award-winning cognitive frame that engenders understanding, confidence, and inspired constructive action. BMe Network’s interactive session will engage participants with knowledge from national and global authorities on cognition, racial narrative, social innovation, and engagement. This session will enable participants to:• Open more dignifying relationships with staff and communities of color• Make a much more convincing case for ‘equity’ and funding• Surface opportunities where others may only see problems• Learn about actionable assets of the US black community

Beth Kanter, a nationally recognized innovator in networks, learning, and social media joins us as the keynote speaker on Oct 19. Beth will present realistic strategies for leaders looking to optimize organizational achievement while avoiding the common nonprofit burnout based on her book, The Happy, Healthy Nonprofit.

Breakout session topics throughout the day on October 19 will include leadership sustainability, storytelling, digital fundraising, board engagement, program evaluation, collective impact, and more! Session presenters are experts in their fields and are local leaders (just like you) who are making change happen. Sample sessions include:• Having Difficult Conversations, presented by David Schreier Associates• Lead Right Now, presented by Forefront• Developing and Implementing a Strategic Communications Plan, presented by Kerber, Eck & Braeckel LLP• How to Build a Culture of Collaborative Learning, presented by Christopher House and Chicago Youth Centers• Who Leads, Who Follows? The Delicate Dance of Board Chair and CEO, presented by Bold Agenda.
Networking is one of the biggest benefits of attending a conference. At Bridging the Divide, you’ll get the chance to meet, greet, and bond with members of Illinois’ social impact sector. The evening of October 18, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum will host us for a reception. Participants will get exclusive access to the Cubs and Cardinals exhibit. At Bridging the Divide, you’ll acquire the tools you need to do more good, build a bridge to your community, and leverage our sector’s collective impact. You won’t find an event that offers this much content, and this many inspiring speakers anywhere else, and definitely not this close to home. Join us at the Wyndham City Centre in Springfield for Bridging the Divide, October 18-19. Register for one or both days of the conference by visiting MyForefront.org/Conference.

By: Sarah Tapscott, director, statewide partnerships at Forefront.