Independent Sector Convenes 1,000 Charitable Leaders at Conference in Washington, DC

On the heels of an historic election, leaders and changemakers from nonprofits, foundations, and corporations will discuss uniting to improve communities and the natural world, and strengthen democracy

(WASHINGTON, November 15, 2016) – Today, Independent Sector convenes more than 1,000 charitable leaders at the 2016 Independent Sector Conference at the Washington Hilton in Washington, DC.

As the nation moves forward after a historic and often divisive election cycle, leaders from nonprofits, foundations, and corporations unite to discuss how to bridge divides, heal the nation, and continue the work necessary to solve our most difficult social problems.

“It’s fitting that after this election, people from the charitable, government, and business sectors will meet in our nation’s capital to chart a path forward,” said Daniel J. Cardinali, president and CEO of Independent Sector. “This community – the charitable sector and our partners working toward the common good – has always been the catalyst for healing and change. I am sure that the relationships made and strengthened through the Independent Sector Conference will help shape the collaborations between all sectors in the upcoming weeks and months.”

In addition to discussing how the election results will shape the path forward for individuals and organizations in the charitable space, more than 100 speakers at the conference will take on the major issues such as racial and gender diversity, equity, and inclusion; criminal justice; community engagement; utilization of data; and much more.
Conference speakers include Bryan Stevenson, exec

utive director of Equal Justice Initiative and recipient of the 2016 John W. Gardner Leadership Award; Mark Shriver, president of Save the Children Action Network; Patti Solis Doyle, political commentator on CNN; Steve Inskeep, host of NPR’s Morning Edition, and Michael Steel, managing director of Hamilton Place Strategies. Attendees include a wide array of professionals, including nearly 300 chief executives, directors, and founders of nonprofits and foundations. About 40 percent of the attendees will be from the Washington, DC region. See a full list of attendees.

Highlights include:

  • Tuesday, November 15 at 9:00-10:30 am (Pre-conference)
    Making Our Voices Heard in an Election Year and Beyond: Charities all too often sit on the sidelines during public policy conversations at all levels of government. Compelling data gathered through extensive public polling this year indicates that may be a big mistake. Learn what voters think about the contributions we make in our communities, and how to leverage that in our engagement with elected officials. Speakers: Jatrice Martel Gaither, Volunteers of American; Tom Sheridan, The Sheridan Group; Mark Shriver, Save the Children Action Network; Sandra Vargas, president and CEO of The Minneapolis Foundation
  • Tuesday, November 15 at 12:00-1:45 pm (pre-conference)
    Deconstructing the 2016 Election: In November, we’ll elect a new President and Congress – and we’ll know how (and why) various next generation-led political movements succeeded or failed. What lessons can next generation leaders learn from this election cycle? And how can we adjust our strategies to be more influential in the future? Speakers: David David Brancaccio, American Public Media; Deray McKesson, We The Protesters; Carolyn DeWitt, Rock the Vote; and Steven Olikara
  • Tuesday, November 15 at 12:15-1:25 pm (Pre-conference)
    Luncheon Plenary: Continuing the Public Policy Legacy of John Gardner: Join us for lunch to hear Dan Cardinali, new CEO of Independent Sector, as he shares his views on the legacy of John Gardner as well as insights into his vision for the future of public policy work for Independent Sector and the broader nonprofit sector. Speakers: Ron Kagan, Detroit Zoological Society; Marc Freedman,; Janine Lee, Southeastern Council of Foundations; and Dan Cardinali, Independent Sector
  • Tuesday, November 15 at 2:00-3:30 pm (Pre-conference)
    Revitalizing Community Engagement: Engaged citizens are a powerful and necessary force for creating lasting social change. Learn how next generation leaders are blending high-tech and high-touch community engagement strategies to address the nation’s most pressing social challenges. Speakers: Gretchen Susi, The Aspen Institute; Liz Deering, Impact Haven; Elizabeth Reynoso, Living Cities; and Diana Nambatya Nsubuga, Global Health Corps
  • Wednesday, November 16 at 2:00-3:30 pm
    The Great Shared Task (Opening Plenary): John W. Gardner once wrote that charitable sector is “uniquely American” and that those who comprise it demonstrate “an irrepressible commitment to the great shared task of improving our life together.” In the immediate wake of an election season that has raised fundamental questions about our national identity, it is critical that we assess how our shifting political landscape will impact the charitable community’s ability to advance – and even define – the common good. This plenary will occur in three segments. First, experts will carefully analyze the election cycle and its results. Then, political insiders will forecast what the charitable sector and our communities can expect in the first 100 days of the new administration. Finally, we will study the vital role that advocacy must play as we build connections with elected officials. Speakers: Steve Inskeep, NPR; Michael Steel, Hamilton Place Strategies; Neil Nicoll, YMCA of the USA; Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Ellen Alberding, The Joyce Foundation; Patti Solis Doyle, CNN; Sandra Vargas, The Minneapolis Foundation; and Brian Gallagher, United Way Worldwide; Artist: Christylez Bacon
  • Wednesday, November 16 at 6:30-9:00 pm
    Opening Reception at the National Museum of African American History and Culture: We are thrilled to announce that the opening reception of this year’s Independent Sector Conference will be held at the Smithsonian’s brand new National Museum of African American History and Culture. This will be an incredible evening of exploration, art, and entertainment. This event is sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, and American Express. Artists: Mark G. Meadows and Step Afrika!
  • Thursday, November 17 at 8:45-9:30 am
    Community Town Hall (Plenary): One of the oldest and truest expressions of the American democratic spirit is the town hall meeting. This confluence of open minds, new ideas, and determined optimism has been a hallmark of our country’s strongest communities for more than 400 years. At a pivotal moment for both the United States and the charitable community, join Independent Sector President and CEO Dan Cardinali for a spirited and inclusive town hall meeting. Building on the conversations we began across the country with Threads, we will come together to take stock of where we are in this moment in history and explore how a participatory model of listening, analyzing, informing, and dialoging can lead us into a brighter future. Speakers: Robert Lynch, Americans for the Arts; Patrick McCarthy, The Annie E. Casey Foundation; and Dan Cardinali, Independent Sector; Artist: Duke Ellington School of the Arts Show Choir
  • Friday, November 18 at 12:30-2:00 pm
    Leadership Awards Luncheon: Washington, DC is uniquely iconic for the ways in which it celebrates leadership. From the society-changing events that took place on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to the near-mythic presidency that the site itself honors, DC is defined by a legacy of extraordinary leadership. At this plenary, we invite you to celebrate the transformative leadership of Bryan Stevenson, recipient of the 2016 John W. Gardner Leadership Award, and Diana Nambatya Nsubuga, recipient of the 2016 American Express NGen Leadership Award. Marc Freedman, founder and CEO, of will also unveil Generation to Generation, a new campaign to mobilize older adults to devote their time, talent, and experience to improve the lives of young people, reinforcing the deep interdependence that exists between older and younger generations. Speakers: Antony Chiang, Empire Health Foundation; Marc Freedman,; Paul Schmitz, Leading Inside Out; Bryan Stevenson, Equal Justice Initiative; Diana Nambatya Nsubuga, Global Health Corps; Kathy Calvin, United Nations Foundation; Richard Brown, American Express; Artist: MusiCorps Wounded Warrior Band

For the full schedule and more information on the sessions and speakers, visit You may also follow along on social media using #ISCon16. To register as press, please email


Independent Sector is the leadership forum for nonprofits, foundations, and corporations whose member networks collectively represent tens of thousands of organizations locally, nationally, and globally. Learn more at

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