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Together is a Gift: Reflections on the 2024 Annual Conference



What a day.

When the team conceptualized the theme for the 2024 Annual Conference, Imagine & Act, we knew there was potential for it to be a momentous gathering. The conference experience began to fall into place with plans to inspire action, stretch the thinking, and sharpen the practices of attendees. What we couldn’t predict when we built this space, is how it would be filled by all of you.

Not to worry. Participants came ready to do work, and it showed in what was perhaps the best NCG gathering to date. It was a day that provoked, inspired, and motivated, leaning deeply into the impetus to imagine bigger and better for all of us. Each aspect of the day challenged us to recognize our potential, interrogate our power, reaffirm our commitment, and be clear-eyed about the work ahead. You came ready to meet those challenges and we’re incredibly grateful you did.

the great debate intro

The opening meditation by the sensational local artist RyanNicole grounded each of us to hear the profound message of Malkia Devich Cyril, which acknowledged the collective grief we are experiencing and showed us how to unpack that grief to liberate our movement work.

Our Great Debate tradition returned, with four of our own challenging us to rethink philanthropy’s role in supporting the multiracial democracy this nation has yet to achieve. Maurice Mitchell demonstrated that deep investments in movements can yield tangible dividends if we partner in thoughtful ways with those leading transformation. Robust breakout sessions offered deeper analysis on the intersections of the issues impacting our region the most – democracy, housing, and climate. An afternoon plenary grounded all of the work in the art and culture that is essential to effective movement work, complemented by a conference space adorned with the incredible artistic expression of the region’s youth. And Aimee Allison and Michael Tubbs brought it all home in a brilliant conversation providing cogent lessons on specific ways to move forward.

Michael, Dwayne, and Allison sitting on stage

It was an incredible day that would not have been possible without the considerable efforts of the NCG staff, our planning partners Girl Friday, the Marriott team, the speakers, generous sponsors, and the 420 people who participated. And for those who missed it, worry not, you can check out some highlights here (but next time, please join). More importantly, the day served as an important roadmap for the work moving forward so its DNA will be deeply infused in upcoming NCG programming and activities.

I asked two questions worth noting during the day. At its opening, I asked who was satisfied that they were doing enough. Nary a hand was raised, a sentiment we fully understand in these demanding times. At its close, I asked who learned something tangible that they thought they would apply in their work. Most hands were raised. Ready to act.

Let’s do something with the gift of our time together. Onwards.

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