Changemakers To Convene in Los Angeles for Upswell

Local, regional, and national leaders and activists gather to discuss the challenges and opportunities of collaborating to achieve positive community change

(LOS ANGELES, November 14, 2018) – Independent Sector will host more than 1,200 changemakers at Upswell, our annual gathering of national civil society leaders and activists, in Los Angeles November 14-16, 2018.

Upswell reimagines past annual meetings of Independent Sector, the only national membership organization for nonprofits, foundations, and corporate giving programs. Through an action-oriented and immersive experience, Upswell participants will forge new partnerships, address big challenges, exchange lessons learned, and explore best practices to advance their missions and accelerate positive community change.

This year, Upswell participants include nonprofit professionals and social entrepreneurs, community leaders, and corporate citizens. Nearly 150 thought leaders will be speaking, including Tarana Burke, founder of the ‘me too.’ Movement; David Brooks, columnist for the New York Times; Mayors Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles, G.T. Bynum of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Sam Liccardo of San Jose, California; Angela Glover Blackwell, founder of PolicyLink; and Eric Wahl, artist and author.

“We are thrilled to showcase a truly different community gathering this year in Los Angeles and this is just the beginning,” said Daniel J. Cardinali, president and CEO of Independent Sector. “This inaugural Upswell will showcase the best of local and national community and leadership coming together to make meaning of our national trends, build networks and knowledge, and forge deep relationships that will allow us to work together to improve lives and the natural world.”

“It has been an honor to serve as the co-chair of the first Upswell,” said Robert K. Ross, president and CEO of The California Endowment, and co-chair of Upswell LA. “What we’ve created is truly a unique experience. From our work on the California Equity Accord to the immersive and unique experiences in the Public Square to community dinners that allow participants to truly experience all that this region has to offer, we are thrilled to welcome the larger charitable community to our home for this event.”

“We love to say that California is ahead of the country’s trends, so we are thrilled to host the first Upswell,” said Antonia Hernandez, president and CEO of the California Community Foundation and co-chair of Upswell LA. “We know this gathering will energize participants, give them new ideas and relationships to move their important work forward, and inspire us as leaders and organizations to revolutionize the way we do good in the world.”

Here are some of the highlights of the program over the next three days:

Wednesday – Friday, November 14-16
The Main Stage
: Through 20-minute quick talks, the nation’s top thought leaders and doers will inspire and motivate participants to think about their work and missions differently. The line-up includes Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles; Tarana Burke of the ‘me too.’ Movement; David Brooks of The New York Times; Robert Egger of LA Kitchen; Kevin Washington of YMCA of the USA; Angela Glover Blackwell of PolicyLink; Artist and Author Erik Wahl; Dan Cardinali of Independent Sector; Sarah Kastelic of the National Indian Child Welfare Association; and Ann Mei Chang of Lean Impact. (Details at

Wednesday – Friday, November 14-16
The Public Square
: Upswell’s Public Square is the intersection of ideas, action, and opportunity. It’s where we’ll build community, test ideas, and prototype change. It’s where creativity, innovation, science, spirituality, and strategy collide in fantastic ways. The Public Square will highlight arts, food, solutions, networking, science/tech, health and wellness, and much more. (Details at

Wednesday – Friday, November 14-16
Immersive Arcade
: Through twelve carefully curated extended reality experiences—drawn from a range of mission areas including environment, health, poverty, and human rights—participants will experience some of our world’s biggest challenges firsthand. Or at least their brains will think so. Extended reality convinces people’s brains to believe that they’ve walking in another’s shoes. And nothing creates empathy like a shared experience. (Details at:

Wednesday, November 14 at 11 am – Noon
Independent Sector Annual Meeting of Members
: Independent Sector has undergone a deep transformation over the last two years, moving from a traditional infrastructure organization to one that serves as a platform where changemakers come together to develop and improve ways to make our society more equitable, healthy, supportive, and just. Independent Sector leaders will share their plans with members and get their thoughts and perspectives as we seek to strengthen the charitable sector during this crucial time in our country. The agenda will also include the election of new board members. (Speakers: Dan Cardinali of Independent Sector and Jeff Bradach of The Bridgespan Group)

Thursday, November 15 at 11:30 am – 1:00 pm
A Decade Review of Philanthropy and Equity in California
: Ten years ago, the philanthropy community in California banded together to defeat regulation from the state to mandate that they fund communities of color—opting to instead, self-regulate. How did that go? Did nonprofits run by people of color, serving communities of color, get the money they would have if government had mandated it? Which nonprofits benefited from “self-regulation” and which are still left out of the process? In this session, participants will explore the opportunities and challenges with self regulating equity and how successes can be replicated elsewhere. (Speakers: Orson Aguilar of The Greenlining Institute; Judy Belk of The California Wellness Foundation; Fred Blackwell of The San Francisco Foundation; Shane Goldsmith of Liberty Hill Foundation; Alberto Retana of Community Coalition; and Sean Thomas-Breitfeld of the Building Movement Project)

Thursday, November 15 at 4:00 – 5:30 pm
How Changemaking Mayors Are Building Trust and Community:
Across the country, mayors are shaking up the relationship between government and community by reframing conversations toward on-the-ground solutions and working directly with residents to build trust. Hear from changemaking mayors who are tackling issues such as income inequality, health disparities, and public safety by bringing positive change to scale and making a real difference for communities often left behind. (Speakers: Myung Lee of Cities of Service and Mayors G.T. Bynum of Tulsa, Oklahoma and Sam Liccardo of San Jose)

Thursday, November 15 at 7:30 – 9:30 pm
Upswell Leadership Awards Dinner
: You can’t be in LA and not have an awards show! This banquet will celebrate the work of transformative leaders, including Angela Glover Blackwell, the recipient of the John W. Gardner Leadership Award, and winners of the American Express NGen Leadership Award and Innovate for Good Challenge, who will be named at the dinner.

Friday, November 16 at 9:30 – 11:00 am
Advocacy Without Fear: Public sentiment reflects support for nonprofits taking on a larger role in public policy and advocacy—but often the funding doesn’t follow. In this interactive discussion, participants will learn to leverage available advocacy tools to gain donor support for advocacy efforts. Participants will walk away with an actionable framework they can use to discuss their organization’s advocacy ambitions with their donors. (Speakers: Jennifer Erickson of the Obama White House, Darren Isom of the Memphis Music Initiative, and Susan Wolf Ditkoff of The Bridgespan Group)

Friday, November 16 at 1:00 – 3:00 pm
Upswell Surge: The Upswell Surge is the culmination of all the energy, creativity, and community that we’ve built together over three days. Participants will bring Upswell to a close with a celebration with Ozomatli, a Los Angeles-based Latin rock group.

For the full schedule and more information on the sessions and speakers, visit You may also follow along on social media using #upswell2018.


Independent Sector is the only national membership organization that brings together a diverse set of nonprofits, foundations, and corporations to advance the common good. Learn more at


Kristina Gawrgy Campbell

Types: Press Release
Global Topics: Civil Society, IS Member, Upswell