SDG Annual Conference

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2019 Annual Conference

Tuesday, June 4, 2019
8:00am - 6:00pm PDT
University of San Diego, Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice
5998 Alcalá Park, San Diego, CA 92110
$250.00 - Members $350.00 - Non-Member Funders
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***Stay tuned for an announcement on our 2020 Conference, coming your way this November! In the meantime, please feel free to browse content from last year's conference here:




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The Power in Philanthropy - San Diego Grantmakers Annual Conference


Our ability to change the world begins with the power we wield every day, in our work, in our relationships, through the resources we command and our organizational partnerships. Understanding that power – whether it is formal or informal, individual or collective, real or perceived - is key to unleashing it for the greatest possible benefit for our region and the world.

Join San Diego Grantmakers on a day-long journey to examine and re-envision the Power in Philanthropy. Learn about the evolving nature of power, the sources of your individual power, and ultimately how our organizations and sector can, grow it, share it and more effectively harness power for more impactful philanthropy and a better future for San Diego.

This interactive day will challenge us to confront the ways unconscious bias and practices of exclusion result in our leaving power and influence on the table; how a lack of awareness of power dynamics may result in harm to the communities we aim to serve; the unique ways power ‘shows up’ within an organization and depending on the seat you occupy; and the responsibility we bear - as individuals, organizations and collective philanthropy - to use power to tackle our most pressing challenges.


$250 for members | $350 for non-members

*This conference is designed for staff, trustees, and donors of philanthropic organizations, individual philanthropists, investors, and other invited guests as appropriate. All event registrations are reviewed to determine eligibility. We respectfully request that attendees refrain from engaging in fundraising and other development activities at all SDG events.

If you have any questions about registration, please contact Melissa Leon at [email protected].

Thank you to our sponsors














Capdevilla Gillespie Foundation

The Oak Tree

Philanthropic Foundation


Sponsorship Opportunities

Contact Justin Schaberg at justin[at] or 858-875-3333.

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8:00 AM - Registration and Networking Breakfast

8:45 AM - Powering Up – Welcome and Opening Remarks
Let’s set the stage for why we have gathered. SDG leadership, including members of our Board of Directors and our new President & CEO Debbie McKeon share where we have come from, where we are, and the vision for our time together today. Kicking it all off will be a rousing performance by artists bkSOUL, who will stoke your energy for the day ahead!

  • Steve Eldred, Board Chair, San Diego Grantmakers and Senior Program Manager, The California Endowment
  • Debbie McKeon, President & CEO, San Diego Grantmakers
  • Dr. Jesse Mills, Board Member, San Diego Grantmakers and Associate Professor, University of San Diego

9:30 AM - The Power in Philanthropy
Imagine what philanthropy could really accomplish by better activating our collective power. How do we seize on - not shrink from - the evolving nature of power? How do we use our influence and command of resources to grow and share power, in new and transformational ways, across people and places?

This plenary session will launch our day-long examination of power - naming the difficult contradictions of philanthropy’s source of economic might with the goal of re-envisioning power.

  • Aaron Dorfman, President & CEO, National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy
  • James Head, President & CEO, East Bay Community Foundation
  • Jackie VanderBrug, Head of Sustainable and Impact Investment Strategy, Bank of America
  • Host: Dr. Nelli Garton, Co-founder and Chief Impact Officer, Tablecloth and Board Member, San Diego Grantmakers

10:45 AM - Transition

11:00 AM - Real-Time Consulting
We’ve examined power, now it’s time to put our thoughts into action! Real-Time Consulting is a structured dialogue that helps colleagues and friends practice the art of workshopping together to solve problems and seize opportunities for impact. Broken out by tables in to specific cases (for which you’ve registered or been pre-assigned, as noted by the numbered and colored sticker on your name badge), you will join a highly participatory guided discussion aimed at generating ideas, questions, debate and real solutions for the challenges you face every day.

12:00 PM - Lunch and Conversation

12:30 PM - The Power in Philanthropy: Lessons Learned from Walking the Walk
Leaders are recognizing that now, more than ever, we need to be bold with strategies that utilize our full breadth of power to achieve the social impact we, as a sector, seek. Yet demonstrating your power and leverage as a leader often is not without consequence. Hear from two renowned trailblazers as they share an honest look at the trials, tribulations and triumphs of their personal pathways to harnessing their power for good.

  • Tonya Allen, President & CEO, The Skillman Foundation
  • john a. powell, Director, Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, UC Berkeley
  • Host: Debbie McKeon, President & CEO, San Diego Grantmakers


#1 Diving into Power Moves Workshop on the Assessment and Toolkit
Power Moves is a self-assessment toolkit to determine how well you are utilizing power. In this session, identify practical tools and actionable s teps toward transforming your programs and oper ations for lasting, equitable impact.

  • Aaron Dorfman, President & CEO, National Committee For Responsive Philanthropy

#2 Wielding, Building, and Sharing Power: San Diego Case Studies
Local philanthropy leaders are leveraging their power for transformational change and greater equity in San Diego communities. Hear creative examples related to youth development immigrant and migrant rights, and collaborative funding.

  • Anne McEnany, President & CEO, International Community F oundation
  • Matt D’Arrigo, Director, Creative Youth Development Initiative, Clare Rose Foundation
  • Paul Khalid Alexander, Founder, Pillars of the Community and Committee member, Social Equity Collaborative Fund

#3 Impact Investing Track 
While San Diego is a hot spot for business, social, and financial innovation, not all San Diegans have the same access to resources to launch and grow businesses. For example, at our current rate of progress it will take 100 years for American women to reach equal representation in corporate leadership. In this session, a powerhouse trio of impact lenders look at lending - specifically gender lens investing - as a social change strategy, including a highlight of SDG’s new Women’s Empowerment Loan Fund.

  • Valery Belloso, Chief Strategy Officer, Accion
  • Catherine Berman, Co-founder & CEO, CNote
  • Shreya Shah Sasaki, Chief Operating Officer, Mission Driven Finance and Board Member, San Diego Grantmakers

#4 Vision for a Better California
Philanthropy is grounded in the belief that a better life is possible - for our people, our environment, and our institutions. When we come together, we bring the seemingly impossible within reach. Join this session to contribute your ideas to a framework initiated by our colleagues at Northern California Grantmakers to get the conversation started around statewide shared values that will shape a vision for a better California.

  • Steve Barton, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, Northern California Grantmakers
  • Carolyn Laub, Strategy Consultant, Public Equity Group
  • John Newsome, Founder, Public Equity Group

3:00 PM - Break

3:15 PM - New Power in Philanthropy 
Young, dynamic, and diverse talent is the future. Our day ends with the inspiring stories of San Diego’s rising generation of leadership, a good dose of hope for the future, and a dash of truth to power. A new generation of leadership across political, volunteer, nonprofit, philanthropy, and impact investing spaces share their personal stories, unique insights, and best advice for philanthropy.

  • Paloma Aguirre, Coastal and Marine Director, WILDCOAST 
  • Cait Kelly, Program Manager, Connect w/San Diego Venture Group
  • Armand King, Co-founder & Chief Operating Officer, Paving Great Futures
  • Adriana Loson-Ceballos, Director of Network Resources, Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy
  • Dominique Navarro, Co-chair, Latina Giving Circle of San Diego
  • Samuel Tsoi, Lead Organizer, Welcoming San Diego
  • Host: Sid Voorakkara, Principal, Ten Page Memo

4:30 PM - Performance by bkSOUL and Closing Remarks

The arts are core to our humanity, and they inspire our creative minds. We opened this morning with bkSOUL to get our creativity flowing for all we would hear and learn. Thanks to bkSoul for closing our gathering to inspire continued creativity as we can take what we experience today and put it into practice tomorrow.

  • Closing Remarks: Warren Ruis, Board Chair Elect, San Diego Grantmakers and Director, Regional Public Affairs, Sempra Energy

5:00 PM - Reception | Come out and end the day by celebrating the power of the network!

Paloma Aguirre


Paul Khalid Alexander

Pillars of the Community

Tonya Allen

The Skillman Foundation

Catherine Berman


Matt D’Arrigo

Clare Rose Foundation

Aaron Dorfman

National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy

Nelli Garton


James Head

East Bay Community Foundation

Cait Kelly

Connect w/ San Diego Venture Group

Armand King

Paving Great Futures

Adriana Loson-Ceballos

Emerging Practitioners in Philanthropy

Anne McEnany

International Community Foundation

Debbie McKeon

San Diego Grantmakers

Dominique Navarro

Latina Giving Circle of San Diego

john a. powell

Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, UC Berkeley

Shreya Sasaki

Mission Driven Finance

Elizabeth Schott


Samuel Tsoi

Welcoming San Diego

Jackie VanderBrug

Bank of America

Sid Voorakkara

Ten Page Memo

Monday, June 3, 2019
4:00pm - 6:00pm
Bay City Brewing Co
3760 Hancock St, San Diego, CA 92110
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Back by popular demand, we're kicking off our Annual Conference with a fun reception! Join us at Bay City Brewing - a well-loved local brewery that blends "friendly coastal vibes" with a wide range of flavors and profiles to please every hops aficionado. Enjoy an evening of drinks, tasty bites, and the dynamic company of your fellow members, grantees and infrastructure partners.

One of the greatest benefits of attending the pre-reception is building your personal and professional network. Stop by to meet some of our conference speakers and network with the change-makers you need to know before the big day. You will also be among the first to welcome Debbie McKeon, San Diego Grantmakers’ new President and CEO, to the community!

This is a time for you, our SDG members, and your nonprofit partners to mix and mingle without an agenda and to strengthen relationships in our sector. We encourage members to invite guests from nonprofits that would benefit from the exposure to the broader field of philanthropy.

We respectfully request that participants refrain from engaging in fundraising and other development activities.

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