Day Two of #GPF18

During day two of the 2018 Global Philanthropy Forum, speakers dove into the details of effective strategies. It’s critical to understand issues from the perspectives of those who experience injustices and amplify their voices. Lasting success often involves changing the underlying cultures and systems that enable abuses to occur in the first place.

Strategy is a planned set of actions that enable you to achieve your goals. However, many organizations in the social sector have strategies that lack focus and spread their resources too thin. Kim Starkey Jonker, president and CEO of King Philanthropies, sat down with Valerie Dabady, manager of the Resource Mobilization and Partnerships Department at the African Development Bank and Dikembe Mutombo, chairman and president of the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation, to discuss how philanthropists can effectively identify or build organizations with strong, targeted strategies. A former NBA player, Mutombo emphasized the importance of collaboration as a central part of strategy. “Anything you want to do in life, you have to understand you need to work as a team,” he said. Building on this, Dabady pointed out that knowing who to work with, and making the right partnerships for your organization is critical.

Dikembe and Valerie

“We’re living in a difficult time for human rights,” said Iain Levine, program director at Human Rights Watch. He sat down with Muhammad Musa, executive director of BRAC, Aerlyn Pfeil, board member of Médecins Sans Frontières and Nirmala Rao, vice chancellor at the Asian University for Women, to discuss one of the most pressing humanitarian crises today, the campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya by Myanmar’s military. The speakers talked about some of the most challenging aspects of the crisis, such as providing for the 40,000 pregnant Rohingya women in refugee camps, many the result of rape. The speakers agreed on the importance of supporting the refugees emotionally, hearing their stories and affording them dignity.


Increasingly, the divide between humanitarian and development aid is shrinking. Leading this shift are large NGOs like CARE International which operate on the humanitarian development nexus. Amy Rao, CEO of Integrated Archive Systems sat down with Michelle Nunn, CEO of CARE USA to talk about the way CARE, commonly considered a humanitarian organization, takes the long-term approach in its response work. Nunn spoke about how the role of civil society can be re-imagined to meet the needs of the world’s poorest. With this in mind, she highlighted CARE’s Scale X Design Challenge which is successfully bridging the gap between innovation and impact by using private sector approaches to rapidly design and scale innovative new ideas.


Human rights are the foundations of a healthy society. However, across the world broken systems allow human rights violations to occur. From corrupt governments, to agricultural supply chains that turn a blind eye to abuse, to human trafficking networks that operate with the aid of the financial industry. These were the issues that human rights defenders Matthew Smith, co-founder and CEO of Fortify Rights, Nancy McGuire Choi, COO of Polaris, Greg Asbed, co-founder of the Fair Food Program and Oren Yakobovich, co-founder and CEO of Videre est Credere talked about with Amitabh Desai, foreign policy adviser at the Clinton Foundation. Speakers shared their experiences documenting human rights abuses and using data-driven approaches to disrupt entrenched systems of power that allow it to happen in the first place. They expressed the need for systems-change thinking and encouraged the audience to consider the downstream impacts of their own behaviors.


“Power is, at its core, the ability to self-actualize,” said Chris Hughes, co-chair of the Economic Security Project. Hughes told his story of growing up middle-class in a small American town, co-creating a social media website in college and suddenly finding himself with half a billion dollars. That website was Facebook. His story, Hughes said, reinforces an illusion of economic opportunity in the United States when in fact, he says, he was just extraordinarily lucky. In reality, poor and middle-class Americans are losing more and more power every year. Hughes believes that a guaranteed income to those in need is the most effective and powerful tool to combat economic inequality and consequently, re-energize the American dream.


The day concluded with a moving conversation and a message of hope. Ray Suarez, visiting professor at Amherst College and co-host of WorldAffairs, sat down with Nicole Hockley, founder and managing director at Sandy Hook Promise and Parkland student leader David Hogg. Hockley spoke about the learning curve that came with starting Sandy Hook Promise in the wake of losing her son five years ago in the shooting. Early on she realized that a top-down policy focused-approach was ineffective and change needed to happen at the behavioral level. Hogg, who joined via video, echoed her sentiments and emphasized the need for the next generation to be politically active and, most importantly, to vote. He shared his belief that, “the important thing to realize for these politicians is that we’re the next generation and we’ll write our own history.”


The 2018 Global Philanthropy Forum Conference, May 2 to 4, 2018 in Redwood City, CA, brings together cross-sector leaders to explore the theme of “No Bystanders.” Learn more about the conference and see all videos by visiting All photos by Ken Cedeno. 

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