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The New Normal: Capacity Building During a Time of Disruption

Tuesday, September 25, 2018 -
10:00am to 12:00pm PDT
Northern California Grantmakers
160 Spear Street, Suite 360 | San Francisco, CA 94105
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 (This program will be delivered on November 1 at the Packard Foundation on the Peninsula, with the same frame, and different speakers. We encourage you to attend that program as well, or in place of this one. Check back for the program description, which will be posted soon. )

“We believe this is a moment of reckoning in our sector—a moment of both crisis and opportunity. If this moment of disruption has a silver lining, it’s that we’ve effectively broken the old social-change model and now have an opportunity to invent a new one.” – Heather McLeod Grant, Adene Sacks, and Kate Wilkinson, Authors of The New Normal

How are capacity building needs in the social sector changing in the current political and economic environment? How are funders responding to these changing needs? And how can both funders and nonprofits be more effective in their work? 

These are the big questions addressed in the report, The New Normal: Capacity Building During a Time of Disruption. Funded by The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and informed by interviews with 21 nonprofit and foundation leaders, the report takes a closer look at how the 2016 U.S. election and its aftermath have introduced a different set of challenges to the sector, which must now contend with the “new normal” of building capacity for social change. 

The report argues that this new normal requires social-change actors—leaders and funders—to embrace a “both/and” mindset. They must simultaneously juggle building internal organizational and external system capacities; be responsive and strategic; plan for the short and long-term; and think systemically. Join author Heather McLeod Grant and panelists David Beckman, John Esterle, and Crystal Hayling as they candidly discuss ways foundations can rethink what’s possible. 

Join Us To:

  • Learn about the current political and economic climate is changing the capacity needs of nonprofits and movements 
  • Learn how funders have shifted their capacity funding to support movement building and collective efforts
  • Explore how you and your organization might shift your practices to better support nonprofits and movements


David Beckman, President, The Pisces Foundation

David Beckman is President of the Pisces Foundation, an environmental philanthropy that supports innovators who are doing what’s necessary to have clean and abundant water, a safe climate, and kids with the environmental know-how to create a sustainable world. David is responsible for the Foundation’s strategic direction, operation, and administration. Previously, David was director of the national water program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, one the nation’s largest environmental advocacy organizations, where he was also a senior attorney. David co-founded and managed the launch of the water program in 2008. Over seventeen years at NRDC David litigated precedent-setting water quality cases; drafted legislation that led to implementation of groundwater monitoring and water qualityJohn programs in California; and researched and wrote reports on a variety of environmental policy matters. For five years he served also as a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at California State University, teaching environmental policy and law. David is a 1988 graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, and a 1991 graduate of Harvard Law School.

John Esterle, Co-Executive Director, The Whitman Institute

Prior to his current role as Trustee and Co-Executive Director, John began working at The Whitman Institute in 1988 as a Research Associate. In 1999, he became TWI's Executive Director. In 2004, following the death of TWI’s Founder, Fred Whitman, John led TWI’s transition from an operating to a grantmaking foundation. John serves on the boards of Images and Voices of Hope (IVOH) and the Germanacos Foundation. He serves on a number of advisory boards. Through 2001-2002, John was the PTA president of Rooftop Alternative K-8 Elementary School in San Francisco. Prior to joining TWI, John directed Crime and the News Media, a pilot project that featured a series of dialogues between Bay Area journalists and proponents of alternatives to incarceration. He received his B.A. in Liberal Arts from the Hutchins School of Interdisciplinary Studies at Sonoma State University and his M.A. in Broadcast Communication Arts from San Francisco State University.

Crystal Hayling, Executive Director, The Libra Foundation

Crystal brings to The Libra Foundation a wealth of domestic and international experience across a broad spectrum of equity-focused issues. For six years, Crystal lived in Singapore where she built bridges between civil society and emerging donors in Southeast Asia to address income inequality and climate change. As managing directorof the Aspen Institute’s Environmental Fellowship, Crystal designed a global leadershipprogram focused on the food system’s impact on the environment. Feeding her interest in equitable health care, Crystal was CEO of the Blue Shield of California Foundation where she spearheaded work to achieve universal health coverage. She was also part of the founding team at The California Wellness Foundation where she led a groundbreaking initiative to shift youth violence prevention from a criminal justice issue to a public health effort. She has served on the boards of the Center for Effective Philanthropy, Northern California Grantmakers, Asian Venture Philanthropy Network, and Grantmakers in Health. Most recently Crystal was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown to serve on the California State Board of Food and Agriculture. She has also lived and worked in China and Mexico. Born and raised in Florida, Crystal is a graduate of Yale University and Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. She and her husband live in the Bay Area with their two teenage sons.

Heather McLeod Grant, Co-Founder, Open Impact

Heather is the co-founder of Open Impact and a social entrepreneur, author, and consultant with 25 years of experience in social change. She is coauthor of the bestselling Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits, named a Top Ten Book of the Year by The Economist, and numerous case studies, articles and other publications. Previously she was the principal of McLeod-Grant Advisors. Heather helped lead the nonprofit practice at Monitor Institute and served as a McKinsey & Company consultant. She began her career as an Echoing Green Fellow when she cofounded Who Cares, a national magazine for young social entrepreneurs published from 1993 to 1999. She is a Venture Partner with Draper-Richards-Kaplan and has served on numerous local, national, and global nonprofit boards. She holds an MBA from Stanford University and an AB from Harvard University.

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