Tracy Mack Parker | The Philanthropy Workshop | 29 March 2018
“Be the change you seek.” We know Gandhi’s call to action to be true. We as individuals, and even more so as a global network, have the agency to make a difference—we are the change agents. So how do we actually spur change?
On March 16 to 18, 2018, over 75 TPW members and invited guests gently descended upon Miami's South Beach for our version of spring break—the annual TPW Global Network Retreat. The topic of this year’s Retreat centered on systems change. We delved into the theory of systemic change, we heard from systems entrepreneurs, and we looked inwardly and honestly to explore the challenges one faces when trying to be transformative—to be the change.
Alongside systems change evangelist Jeff Walker, we heard from a wide range of global practitioners using a systems change model to rethink and redesign social change. Among those global leaders included David Simas, CEO of the Obama Foundation; Ellen Agler of the End Fund; Doug Balfour of Geneva Global; Sasha Chanoff of Refuge Point; Greg Asbed of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers; Amanda Nickson of Pew Charitable Trusts; and many others.
These thought leaders helped us dive deep into systems change and how to make true impact with our philanthropy. Here are top takeaways from the weekend:
From Lisa Wolverton, TPW's incoming Board Chair:
If we want to make a difference in people’s lives, we need to “widen our aperture” to see the full picture of problems and solutions instead of viewing problems through a narrow lens.
From Jeff Walker, former VC of JPMorganChase and Board Chair, New Profit:
Changemakers come in three forms: agitators, innovators, and orchestrators. An agitator brings the grievances of specific individuals or groups to the forefront of public awareness. An innovator, i.e., a social entrepreneur, is an individual person or organization pursuing a singular new and different solution to the problem—a silver bullet approach. And an orchestrator, or 'systems entrepreneur,' takes a 'silver buckshot' approach and sees large-scale problems as requiring close collaborations across sectors—including governments, nonprofits, and businesses—to scale the proposed solution.
Our members best summed up the essence of the TPW Retreat as providing the opportunity for:
Accessing true insiders and experts who are the 'best' in their field,
receiving unstructured feedback from trusted individuals, and
seeing old friends and meeting new ones.
As for TPW’s continued growth and evolution, Renee Kaplan, TPW's new CEO, left us with these words:
The time to be bold is now.
All in all, it was a rich and jam-packed weekend fill with world-class speakers exploring topics of systems change and philanthropy, connecting with new and long-time members, basking in beautiful sunny weather, and even a bit of salsa dancing! We left Miami feeling inspired and energized to keep making the changes we want to see in the world.
Mark your calendars for April 5 to 7, 2019 for next year’s TPW Global Network Retreat.
Tracy Mack Parker is Senior Advisor for The Philanthropy Workshop and is based in New York City.