Sessions at Embark

With dozens of thought-provoking sessions featuring more than 100 speakers, you’ll leave the conference with a stimulated mind and a fresh perspective.

Here is a preview of some of the sessions that are being planned for Embark. Some session topics or titles could change – and many more will be added – so check back here for the latest updates.

Achieving social justice through strategic communications

When it comes to changing the world, a passion for social justice isn’t enough. To build momentum, gain allies, and get noticed by public overwhelmed by the demands of competing causes, a movement needs to be equipped with a strategic communications plan. By aligning your messages across traditional media, advertising, thought leadership, social media grassroots efforts, and other emerging media, you can build a movement that amplifies its own voice and gets heard. Learn from experts who will discuss successful campaigns and provide guidance on how to improve your own communications.

NGen Experience Session

Anatomy of the immigration movement

Movements can be juggernauts of social change, uniting disparate organizations and individuals around a shared vision. The difference between success and failure begins with a realization that movements don’t happen by accident. They are intentionally built, with success relying not only upon information and resources sharing, but also on a democratic negotiation of different views, values, and approaches. This session will be a study of the immigration movement, where leaders from across the political spectrum, business, law enforcement, nonprofits, and philanthropy will share lessons learned and actionable strategies for success.

And the pursuit of happiness?

We are in the midst of a national identity crisis, where the sacred American Dream is being warped from a hopeful promise for all into an elusive privilege for an elite few. It’s time to reclaim the uniquely American vision of democratic opportunity. To do so, our sector must comprehensively address the root causes of issues like intergenerational economic immobility, gender inequity, racial wealth gaps, and health disparities. What’s being done to move us closer to our goal and what more can we do?

Beyond Revenue: Sustainability and the intersection of model, innovation and insight

What is your sustainability plan? This is a question that perplexes many seasoned nonprofit professionals. We are often not equipped to answer this because we are anchored to business models that are either stale, were never conceived to be sustainable, or they’re entirely ill-suited to be sustainable. Further, the term is used in so many contexts that its meaning has become ‘a water sandwich’. This session will explore options for considering sustainability as a concept and it will explore how leaders can forge a greater understanding about how the intentional choice of model, comfort with innovation, and attention to analytics, are the true drivers of financial stability and ultimately sustainable impact.

Presented by Georgia Center for Nonprofits

Building Strong Management Teams

If your organization doesn’t have a strong management team, you aren’t going to be successful. But building a strong team is no easy task. Do you grow leadership from within or recruit from the outside? Does your team have the kind of diversity that will inspire creativity and promote a culture of fairness? What are the pros and cons of mixing communications styles, personalities, leadership preferences, and background experience? Management experts will discuss the nuts and bolts of building a strong management team and provide practical tips to take back to your organization.

C-Suite Session

Building stronger relationships with your board

Across the sector, CEOs are spreading the responsibility for managing board relationships across the C-Suite. There’s no simple handbook to tell you how to interact with your board members. Nonetheless, there are plenty of unwritten rules and expectations. This session will be a creative skills building workshop where you’ll learn best practices for building strong relationships with your board members. Board members from a variety of organization types will provide practical tips and key insights into what, exactly, they expect from C-Suiters.

C-Suite Session

Changing the scope of social entrepreneurship

There’s a common lamentation – or, perhaps, a myth – in the charitable sector about young talent. It says that the best and brightest often forsake their passions for social change in favor of the financial stability of the private sector. If that was ever true, Next generation leaders have found a way to have their cake and eat it too: social entrepreneurship. By using business principles and practices, including profit generation, young innovators are solving highly specific community challenges. What remains is a key question. Can social entrepreneurship be scaled up to solve systemic problems?

NGen Experience Session

Civic Tech Lab

In December 2013, the Knight Foundation published a report that heralded “The Emergence of Civic Tech.” As the world’s data volume and technological capacities grow exponentially in tandem, incredible new opportunities for the social sector are beginning to develop. During this hands-on session, tech experts will discuss new approaches around open government, community action, civic engagement, and big data, and showcase how targeted technology is helping us connect with our communities like never before.

Connecting with the right kind of network

Broadly defined, a network is a series of connections. It can be comprised of people, skills, resources, knowledge, and much more. We’re most familiar with formal networks like associations, committees, or congregations. But an emergent phenomenon is the swarm – groups of individuals that gather quickly around a cause and disperse just as fast when a goal has been accomplished. Learn how different types of networks have solved social issues. You’ll leave equipped with practical ideas about how to connect to the right network to amplify you impact.

Do you want to be the next CEO?

Your CEO is leaving. Soon you start fielding the same question everywhere from the hallway to the board room. “Do you want the job?”

For many senior executives, the answer would be an immediate, “yes.” But for others, the duties of a chief executive don’t align with career and leadership goals. During this engaging conversation, learn about the pros and cons of both paths and how, regardless of your choice, you can help facilitate a smooth leadership transition that keeps your organization operating at its best.

C-Suite Session

Emerging and seasoned leaders: Finding common ground among the generations

When talking about generations in the workplace, we hear the negative stereotypes: the Silents are fossilized, the Boomers are narcissistic, the Gen Xers are slackers, and the Gen Yers are even more narcissistic than the Boomers, and then there are the Millennials. Research demonstrates that there is plenty of common ground among the generations. The focus of this session will be to explore findings that support how to use common ground to effectively work with, work for, attract, manage, retain, and develop employees of all generations.

Presented by Center for Creative Leadership

Equity through art

The potential for the arts is as varied as the imagination itself. The arts can act as community anchors, connecting people to places. It can act as communications tools, offering creative new methods for bridging gaps. It can generate dynamic new forms of social commentary that can’t be ignored. And, it can be a nexus where all of these things come together. Hear success stories about how community art projects are strengthening communities and building important alliances.

The Future of Fundraising

Fundraising is not going to get easier. With a proliferation of worthy causes, rapidly shifting donor demographics, and decreased public trust of the sector, the future of fundraising is going to be demanding. But there’s good news, too. The future will present incredible opportunities for better – and more successful – fundraising. Learn how major advances in software and big data can help you know your donors like never before. During this interactive session, you’ll have a chance to workshop your own fundraising challenges with a team of experts.

Presented by AFP

Innovation Strengths Preference Indicator Workshop

Innovation doesn’t happen on its own. And, it doesn’t happen often enough. That’s because few leaders actually take the time to assess their own capacities. During this workshop, you’ll take an Innovation Strengths Preference Indicator (ISPI™) assessment that will help you understand how you prefer to work with others, how you deal with issues of control, and what affects your motivation, passion, and decision-making. All of these things directly influence innovation. You’ll have the chance to talk with fellow leaders about what these preferences mean as you lead your organization.

Leadership Lessons: Leveraging Power and Influence Dynamics Between Funders and Grantees

The three sources of power leaders believe will be most important to leverage in the next five years are the power of relationships, the power of information and the power to reward others. As foundations move towards more collaborative relationships with NGO’s/nonprofits, the sharing of power and the acknowledgement of influence as vehicles for gaining commitment and ensuring results are gaining more traction. During this interactive session participants will learn tactics for sharing power, promoting the use of influencing skills, and leveraging what research says is the most important source of power – the power of relationships.

Presented by Center for Creative Leadership

Let the arts paint the way to a better looking future

Most people look at abandoned warehouses and see neglect. In Miami and around the country, artists look at these areas and see something else: potential. We’ll visit one of these areas in Miami and hear from the innovative minds that are leading the Creative Placemaking charge in their communities. They’ll discuss the unique ability of the arts to nurture communities and drive economies.

Melting skepticism instead of ice caps

Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right. – Environmentalist (and Grateful Dead leader) Jerry Garcia

Climate change, though measured with hard science, has become so ideologically divisive that environmental advocates found themselves against a wall. How could progress be made if skeptics wouldn’t even listen? The solution, it turns out, might be as simple as reframing the conversation. Hear from experts who are using fresh communications tactics to discuss the future of the planet – and, in doing so, building consensus with unlikely new allies.

Paying what it takes to get results

Everyone is getting wise to the symptoms of insufficient overhead, a syndrome we call the Nonprofit Starvation Cycle, but for some reason funding patterns have not changed. What’s holding us back? The cause is simple but profound: the failure to understand the economic diversity of nonprofits and what costs drive value. Nonprofits have different missions and hence very different cost structures. A lab aiming to cure cancer needs expensive lab facilities; a global NGO network has core support costs that include knowledge sharing, complex financial ledgers and global travel. Join us as we explore the ways in which understanding these differences can serve as the beginning of understanding how to break the starvation cycle.

Presented by The Bridgespan Group

Philanthropic Big Bets for Social Change

Philanthropic “Big Bets” (commitments of $10M or greater) represent a powerful way to unleash progress on inequities. Yet, compared to nonprofits that serve the wealthy, nonprofits that serve the disadvantaged are not accessing their share of this wealth.

Presented by The Bridgespan Group

Plugging into pro bono support

Take a moment and think of a gap in your organization. A place where, if you had the right expert in place, you could really get ahead. Filling that gap without extra resources could be as simple as making the right connection. From public relations to legal guidance, IT help to management training, financial guidance to creative design, and everything in between, there are corporations in every industry standing at the ready to partner with the sector through pro bono help. Learn what’s available and how your organization can connect.

Post Racial America. Really?

In December 2014, Gallup recorded an alarming and sudden shift in public opinion. After two decades barely registering in polls about major U.S. problems, “race relations” and “racism” surged to a level not seen since the 1992 L.A. riots. It only takes a glance at a newspaper or television to understand why. How can we leverage our resources, experience, and brainpower to get past simply talking about race to find real solutions? Together, we can solve for equality. But time is of the essence.

Preparing to be hacked

You are a gatekeeper of digital information. Whether it’s email addresses in your network, financial data from your own organization, or credit card numbers of your donors, chances are that you have information that hackers want. Are you a trustworthy gatekeeper? Experts will discuss the most effective ways to strike the balance between tough security and the transparency that your work demands. You’ll also learn how to prepare for the worst so that if you’re hacked – and there’s an ever-increasing chance you will be – you’re ready to respond the right way.

Presented by TechSoup Global

Pursuing social justice through public office

In the House of Representatives, the average age of a member is 57, even though the minimum age of election is only 25. In the Senate, the average is 61 with a minimum elected age of just 30. Elected office – whether local, state, or national – is one of the most powerful positions for affecting social change. So, why aren’t there more young policymakers? Take an in-depth look at the barriers to entry into politics and how they can be broken down to usher in a new wave of passionate young political leaders.

NGen Experience Session

Ready or not, a new America is coming

Last year, the Pew Research Center published a landmark look at what it calls “The Next America.” It projected how massive demographic shifts in age, race, immigration, technology access, religion, and politics will fundamentally and rapidly recompose our country. For the charitable sector to prepare for the next America, we have to precisely understand the demographic shifts. What are the rising challenges and their implications for our work? How can we attract new partners? And how do we ensure that our staffs and boards reflect the diversity of the communities we serve?

Redefining leadership for a new world

One upshot to our country’s rapidly changing demographics is that the next generation of charitable sector leaders will guide the most diverse workforce in American history. This brings with it incredible opportunities to leverage unique perspectives and learn from varied life experiences. It also presents the challenge of building consensus among dissimilar parties. As we look to create a future of stronger social justice, is it time to reconsider traditional models of leadership? Learn about new possibilities that are being tested and how they might be employed to shape diversity into common purpose.

NGen Experience Session

Structuring Your Organization for Impact: For-Purpose vs. Nonprofit

Mission-driven social entrepreneurs today have a choice on how they can structure their organizations to deliver the greatest impact. Some are choosing to forego 501c3 legal status in pursuit of more sustainable business models. Hear about the advantages, trade-offs, and pitfalls these organizations considered as they aligned structure with their mission.

Presented by CatchAFire

Systemic change through evolving leadership behaviors

Should we be satisfied with what foundations and nonprofits have accomplished? If we stick with the status quo, we’ll continue to achieve some victories. But if our sector is to really step to the challenges that the future promises and make the lasting difference that we claim we can, we’re going to have to take a critical look at traditional leadership behaviors. In this session, we will explore newly evolving leadership behaviors and how creating direction, forging alignment, and gaining commitment in service of clearer visions can lead to systemic change.

CEO Session

Using real-time, big data platforms to solve social challenges

The ability to link otherwise disconnected islands of data helps Netflix to offer personalized movie choices. It helps Amazon to recommend books for customers to buy. It can also help social sector organizations to develop carefully designed solutions for underserved populations. . By incorporating big data platforms, collective impact initiatives can achieve real, measurable impact.

Presented by OneStar Foundation