Nonprofit, Business, and Government Changemakers Convene in Detroit for Our Common Future

Local, regional, and national leaders and activists gather to discuss the challenges and opportunities of working to bring about positive changes to our communities

(DETROIT, October 25, 2017) – Independent Sector, the Michigan Nonprofit Association, and the Council of Michigan Foundations will host more than 1,300 changemakers at Our Common Future in Detroit this October 25-27.

Local, regional, and national social good leaders and activists will meet to collaborate and network over the next three days. With more than 140 speakers and 70 sessions, Our Common Future focuses on elevating the work and lessons from Detroit and Michigan for charitable community leaders to accelerate social impact across the country.

“Detroit and Michigan offer such a rich platform for the charitable community to have real conversations about how innovation, grassroots activism, and leadership can make a difference in our communities.” said Daniel J. Cardinali, president and CEO of Independent Sector. “We are grateful to the city and the community for welcoming us to learn, share, and gain insights we can all take back to our own missions.”

“We are thrilled to welcome changemakers from across the country to our home state to discuss our common challenges, opportunities, and spread our spirit of innovation and collaboration to strengthen the sector nationwide,” said Donna Murray-Brown, president and CEO of Michigan Nonprofit Association.”

“This is a great opportunity to highlight the work of Michigan philanthropy but also to share insights with national foundations, nonprofits and partners to maximize impact for the communities we serve,” said Rob Collier, president and CEO of the Council of Michigan Foundations.

Session highlights include:

  • Wednesday, October 25 at 2:00 – 3:30 pm
    Main Stage – Day 1: From his hard-hitting journalism on CBS Sunday Morning to his sharp satire on The Daily Show to his hilarious commentary on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, you know Mo Rocca will get Our Common Future off to an uncommonly entertaining (and inquisitive) start. Following an introduction from The Henry Ford’s Patricia Mooradian, Rocca will bring his trademark wit and insight to a moderated conversation with three of Detroit’s most innovative social entrepreneurs: Amy Peterson (Rebel Nell), Gary Wozniak (RecoveryPark), and Devita Davison (FoodLab Detroit). Then, La June Montgomery Tabron, president & CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, will offer her reflections on how innovation and creativity can enable a more inclusive economy. The talented musicians of Sphinx — fresh off an appearance at the Kennedy Center — will also demonstrate the transformative power of diversity in the arts.
  • Wednesday, October 25 at 4:00 – 5:15 pm
    Why Philanthropy & Secular Organizations Must Engage Faith Communities: Faith communities have had an important role in many of the major social movements in American history. Participants will explore how faith has been leveraged as a motivating tool for social transformation, and consider how philanthropy and secular organizations can partner with the faith community in scaling social justice movement to effect change. (Speakers: Rufujio Rodriguez, W.K. Kellogg Foundation; Sheilah Clay, Neighborhood Service Organization; and Jim Wallis, Sojourners)
  • Thursday, October 26 at 8:30 – 10:00 am
    Sustaining Your Impact in Uncertain Times: With the uncertainty of the new administration and rise of political activism across the country, leaders are called upon to be agile, to test out new strategies and approaches, and to engage stakeholders in new ways. Using a fishbowl format, three to four leaders from both nonprofits and foundations will share their personal journeys in this moment and invite audience members to sit alongside them and share theirs. By being vulnerable, all participants will walk away with a sense of how their peers are adapting to change with short-term agility and long-term sustainability in mind. (Speakers: Dahnesh Medora, Meyer Memorial Trust; Paul Weech, formerly with NeighborWorks America; Laura Meyers, Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington; Sara Brenner, Community Wealth Partners)
  • Thursday, October 26 at 12:00 – 1:30 pm
    Main Stage – Day 2: A cynic might say that society-level problems will be around forever. This is the event to prove cynics wrong. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson will moderate a powerful conversation with Rosanne Haggerty (Community Solutions) and Sarah Eagle Heart (Native Americans in Philanthropy) about leadership in our sector and beyond. They’ll be joined by Rip Rapson (The Kresge Foundation) and some of the incredibly talented Kresge Artist Fellows.
  • Thursday, October 26 at 3:15 – 4:45 pm
    The Real Deal in Racial Equity – Detroit and Beyond: In the struggle for civil rights, changes in beliefs are a prerequisite to changing social institutions. You’re invited to look through the lens of structural racism at the interaction between belief systems and institutions – and how their lack of alignment leads to inequality. During this session, facilitated by the Detroit Equity Action Lab (DEAL), we’ll enter an environment of reflection and support, allowing us to challenge our perceptions, build a shared sense of history, and create a common framework for understanding racial equity. By exploring media strategies, message positioning, and storytelling for social change, you’ll learn how to turn lessons in action. (Speakers: Amina Kirk, Detroit People’s Platform; Jeanette Lee, Allied Media Projects; Kaitlin Popielarz, Wayne State University’s College of Education; eliza perez-ollin, Detroit Equity Action Lab; and Peter Hammer, Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at Wayne State University Law School)
  • Friday, October 27 at 8:30 – 10:00 am
    Impact Investing – From Concept to Closing: Using real deals from different impact sectors, this interactive session will take you on the journey from concept to closing of two impact investments. Hear the perspectives of the various stakeholders as they share what worked well and what they will do differently in the next deal. Then, break out into smaller groups to take a deeper dive into an element of the work that most interests you to synthesize learnings, and discuss particular questions. (Speakers: Joshua Elling, Jefferson East, Inc.; Cynthia Muller, W.K. Kellogg Foundation; Dan Horan, Five Acre Farms; Carolyn Cassin, Michigan Women’s Foundation; Aaron Seybert, The Kresge Foundation; Brenda Hunt, Battle Creek Community Foundation; Oran Hesterman, Fair Food Network; David Contorer, Hebrew Free Loan; Angela Barbash, Revalue; and Amy Peterson, Rebel Nell)
  • Friday, October 27 at 12:15 – 2:00 pm
    Main Stage – Day 3: Nobody has ever looked toward the future and proclaimed, “We need smaller ideas!” The future favors creative thinking, bold leadership, and grand vision. On Friday, we’ll bring together some of the nation’s brightest minds to explore and test our beliefs about the concept of community. Darren Walker (The Ford Foundation), one of America’s most innovative and outspoken philanthropic leaders, will kick off the afternoon with a thought-provoking conversation with Dan Gilbert (Quicken Loans and Rock Ventures), a Detroit native who is challenging the boundaries of how we approach the revitalization of our cities and communities. As a Peabody Award-winning broadcaster and a New York Times bestselling author, Krista Tippett has earned her reputation as one of America’s most acute observers of the human spirit. After sharing personal insights, she’ll join Darren Walker and Dr. Robert Ross (The California Endowment) for a lively and inspirational exchange. Plus, with Jason Paulateer (PNC), Robert Thornton (Skillman Foundation), and a powerhouse performance from Thornetta Davis, there won’t even be time for a dull moment!

For the full schedule and more information on the sessions and speakers, visit You may also follow along on social media using #CommonFuture17.


About Independent Sector
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

About Michigan Nonprofit Association
Incorporated in 1990, Michigan Nonprofit Association (MNA) is a statewide membership organization dedicated to serving the diverse nonprofit sector through advocacy, training, and resources. MNA manages multiple programs and affiliates and is a sponsoring organization for AmeriCorps VISTA. Visit us at

About the Council of Michigan Foundations
The Council of Michigan Foundations is a community of philanthropists committed to improving outcomes for Michigan, and beyond. Through investing in the state’s charitable organizations, convening business, government and nonprofit leaders, collaborating on critical issues, seeking innovative solutions, sharing knowledge and advocating, we leverage our collective voice to increase the impact of Michigan philanthropy. Learn more at


Kristina Gawrgy Campbell

Types: Press Release
Global Topics: Arts, Culture, and Humanities, Civil Rights, Conference, Health and Human Services, IS Board, IS Member, Nonprofit Capital, Public Policy, Race, Equity, and Inclusion, Religion