Opening Plenary

Join Dr. Robert K. Ross and a stellar panel probing the power of narrative as a tool for both harm and healing. Consider whether philanthropy has a role in shifting and advancing compelling narratives that support progress and drive policies. Dr. Ross asserts, “Well-constructed narratives have power, and the power of such narratives shape culture, and drive policies. And the policy environment shapes how systems and practices touch the lives of real people in real communities.”

Devin Katayama, KQED Reporter, will moderate a conversation with leading experts on how their work is changing the popular narrative advancing social progress and the communities they serve. 


  • Mia Birdsong, Family Story
  • Dr. Robert K. Ross, The California Endowment
  • Cristina Jiménez, United We Dream
  • Sana Saeed, AJ+


Dhaya Lakshminarayanan is our conference Master of Ceremonies. A storyteller and comedian, she will lead us through the day and remind us of the ways we're doing more together than we could alone. 


An Oakland Native, Chinaka Hodge is a poet, educator, playwright and screenwriter. To kick off the day, Hodge will set the stage with a new and custom performance for our NCG community. 

Policy Briefs

We're one hundred days into the new administration: what significant policy changes are we facing and what's on the horizon?

Choose from a high-powered constellation of experts on pressing national and state issues facing the region. Speakers will address key threats and opportunities in sessions custom-designed for philanthropy’s role within the larger social sector. Special consideration is being given to the ways in which these and other issues interconnect and the ways our responses must as well.



  • Jim Hickman, Better Health East Bay
  • Larry Levitt, Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation
  • Chris Perrone, The California Healthcare Foundation
  • Patricia Tanquary, Contra Costa Health Plan


  • Roger Kim, Democracy Alliance
  • Juliet Christian-Smith, Union of Concerned Scientists
  • Drew Caputo, Earth Justice
  • Caitrin Chappelle, Public Policy Institute of California
  • Jen Sokolove, The Compton Foundation


  • Kavitha Sreeharsha, Emerson Collective
  • Aryah Somers Landsberger, Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees
  • Sally Kinoshita, Immigrant Legal Resource Center
  • Julia Wilson, OneJustice


  • Kris Hayashi, Transgender Law Center
  • Kate Kendall, National Center for Lesbian Rights
  • Roger Doughty, Horizons Foundation
  • Matt Foreman, Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund


  • Surina Khan, Women’s Foundation of California
  • Noreen Farrell, Equal Rights Advocates
  • Vanessa Daniel, Groundswell Fund

Lunch Plenary

As you enjoy lunch with peers, Jeff Malloy, NCG Board Chair, will lead us through NCG's annual business meeting. They you'll hear from our Lunch Keynote Speaker, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee who will be in conversation about the current political climate with our President and CEO, Ellen LaPointe


Dig deep together and workshop points of engagement with democracy. Bigger, bolder and stronger all come together in these topical sessions. We’ll get our arms around take-home tactics and big ideas about how to leverage the strength of our combined resources to rise to the moment.


As the policy landscape changes daily, funders explore new options for supporting equity and social justice. Despite our uncertainty, philanthropy can seize this opportunity to seek bigger community impact. Supporting advocacy can strengthen your foundation and its mission during this critical time. A veteran advocacy grantmaker, a leader who is forging a bolder path to invest in advocacy,, a legendary advocacy practitioner, and an attorney specializing in funding advocacy will offer inspiration and practical tips for bold, yet wise, advocacy investment.


  • Allison Magee, Zellerbach Family Foundation
  • Sara Matlin, Alliance for Justice
  • Pastor Michael McBride, PICO National Network
  • Liz Posey, Marguerite Casey Foundation


Equity is a buzzword in philanthropy today. It can broadly be defined as equal access to opportunity, institutions, and resources for all people. Likewise, social justice is a hot topic, and can be defined as systematic fair treatment that ensures equal economic, political and social rights. But what does that all really mean? In this workshop, we’ll take a look “under the hood” at foundations that are making equity and/or social justice grants and gain a deeper understanding of why philanthropy has made this shift. Issues that we plan to tackle include intersectionality, social movements, racial justice, and whether equity means something different in today’s environment. 


  • Dimple Abichandani, General Service Foundation
  • Ed Center, Tipping Point
  • Charles Fields, The James Irvine Foundation
  • James Head, The East Bay Community Foundation
  • Joe Scantlebury, W.K. Kellogg Foundation


Dr. Kendall-Taylor will present a theory-to-practice session that will explore framing concepts and research, and provide opportunities for participants to begin to apply recommendations to their own communications practice. The presentation will be engaging and participatory, moving quickly from structured presentation to interactive group activities. Participants will become conversant with framing theory and practice, recognize problematic and optimal framing strategies, get practice in deconstructing and reconstructing communications, and explore the potential of Strategic Frame Analysis in building issue coalitions.


  • Richard Tate, The California Wellness Foundation
  • Nat Kendall-Taylor, FrameWorks Institute

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK: Philanthropy's Response in This Tumultuous Time

Philanthropy is ablaze with how to respond to the current state of affairs. Do we set up a rapid response fund? Do we double down? Do we expand multi-year general operating support? Do we set aside dollars in the event of a crisis that needs support? Five philanthropic leaders, from different vantage points in the field, will explore what their organizations are doing in response to the political climate, and what they are seeing as trends and questions as the field grapples with how to respond. 


  • Judith Bell, The San Francisco Foundation
  • Pam David, The Walter & Elise Haas Fund
  • Leah Hunt Hendrix, Solidaire
  • Fay Twersky, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
  • Roy Steiner, Omidyar Network


What dangers do current efforts to delegitimize and silence the media pose for our democracy? What can be done to resist this?


  • Joaquin Alvarado, Center for Investigative Journalism
  • Brian Eule, The Heising-Simons Foundation
  • Ethan Lindsey, KQED
  • Holly Potter, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

Closing Plenary | The Great Debate

For the closing plenary, we are putting some of the region's top influencers up against each other for The Great Debate. Marisa Lagos, a California Politics and Government Reporter for KQED will direct the two teams. Whose side are you taking?

Two sides will debate the following: How will history judge philanthropy's response to President Trump’s first 100 days?


History will recognize this as a watershed moment in which we assumed bold leadership, raised our voices and adapted our practices to rise to the challenge.

  • Cathy Cha, Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund
  • Aaron Dorfman, President and CEO, National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy


History will record that we failed to break free of traditional ways of doing business and missed a critical opportunity to protect policies, programs and services that scaffold our communities. 

  • Jacqueline Martinez Garcel, CEO, Latino Community Foundation
  • Lateefah Simon, President, Akonadi Foundation