FORUM 2019: Breaking Patterns

Event Recap

On Tuesday, May 14th, we hosted FORUM 2019: Breaking Patterns!

The FORUM is Charities Review Council’s gathering for engaged and passionate civic-minded leaders. Building on what we heard from our community and previous event attendees, we landed on the theme “Breaking Patterns.” Why Breaking Patterns you might ask? Well, when we reflected on learnings from previous FORUMS and how we can move ideas into action, we knew we needed to explore power and patterns of behavior.

Keynote Speaker

This year, we welcomed keynote speaker, Uvinie Lubecki Founder and CEO of Leading Through Connection. Uvinie grounded our conversation in how sector leaders are incorporating mindfulness and compassion to bring fundamentally new patterns of connection into their work.

Local Leadership Showcase

We also heard from local leaders who are reframing connections, power, and patterns right here in Minnesota. Moderated by Damon Shoholm of the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, the Local Leadership Showcase included:

Maria De La Cruz

Representing a funder perspective, Maria highlighted her work at Headwaters Foundation for Justice. At Headwaters, they’re democratizing philanthropy, trusting community leaders and smaller organizations, giving power to those who have historically been oppressed. One of the ways they accomplish their work is through The Giving Project, an innovative model that funds social change, builds community, and develops leaders. This project brings multiracial, cross-class groups of people together to participate in Headwaters community-centered grantmaking process, grounded in the idea that “Everyone has something to learn and everyone has something to offer.”

Tuleah Palmer

Up next was nonprofit leader, Tuleah, who shared her experience leading the Northwest Indian Community Development Center, a native-controlled nonprofit that delivers training and education opportunities to American Indian and low-income families. Tuleah and her organization are breaking patterns by remaining true to their values, whether that’s in interactions with funders, partner organizations, or their community served.

Kris Kewitsch

Charities Review Council’s Executive Director, Kris, highlighted important trends facing the nonprofit sector, including changes in donor-nonprofit relationships, giving and philanthropy. She also touched on exciting Council updates, including our new Accountability Standards®, Strategic Framework, and journey through the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Toolkit.

Our moderator, Damon, brought it all together with an intimate panel discussion on how we can continue to bring real application to the thoughts, ideas, and themes discussed at this year’s event.

Check out the conversation on Twitter by searching #BreakingPatterns.

Attendee Feedback & Takeaways

Thank you to those who provided feedback on FORUM 2019: Breaking Patterns. We value your thoughtful responses and highlighted a few of our key learnings below.

General Event Feedback

83% of survey respondents indicated that they were “Very Likely” to attend a future Charities Review Council event. 17% indicated they were “Somewhat Likely.” Here’s what attendees had to say:

  • “The theme was so rich and full of application!”
  • “I thought there was a wonderful balance of presentation and opportunity to interact around the topics via exercises and ample networking time.”
  • “I’d like to see more funders at the event. It was great to see some there. I think the nonprofit leaders in the room definitely were inspired to think and feel differently. Would like to see funders engaged simultaneously.”
  • “The morning went so fast. For such a long event, I was engaged deeply in each segment (which offered a good balance of sitting, talking, and listening).”
  • “This was my first FORUM and I really liked it!”


We had an amazing line-up of speakers, and attendees agreed! 89% of survey respondents indicated that the event and topic sparked meaningful discussion and thoughts. Here’s what attendees had to say:

97% of attendees indicated that the keynote speaker was excellent or good.

  • “There were a number of learnings that impacted me, but the one that resonated the most was compassionate leadership and how different that looks from traditional leadership models.”
  • “I really liked the portion on empathy and compassion. It was a good life lesson that I plan on applying at work and in life, in general.”

94% of attendees indicated that the local leaders were excellent or good.

  • “It was refreshing to hear powerful women speak so honestly about some of the more challenging parts of working in nonprofits.”
  • “All the speakers were so inspiring! Continue to bring such insightful people and voices that aren’t often heard.”

Deep Connection Lunches

The Deep Connection Lunch was a new offering this year, with 40% of attendees choosing to opt-in! Of those who participated, 50% indicated that the experience was excellent and 36% said it was good. Here’s what attendees had to say:

  • “We liked it. Never made it to the conversation cards, but they were nice to have in the event that we needed them.”
  • “I wished that more had attended. I thought it was a great idea and worth trying again- thanks for the effort!”

Next Steps

We heard from many of you that you wanted to experience this event more frequently, so we’re talking with board, staff, and funders about what that could look like going forward. If you have ideas, shoot us an email at We’d love to hear from you!

We also heard that you want to see more funders at the table, and we totally agree! We’ll continue to deepen our network of donors and funders for this event and invite you to do the same, knowing that better outcomes come from stronger donor-nonprofit relationships.

Stay Connected Between FORUMS

FORUM 2019: Breaking Patterns was refreshing and inspiring, and we can’t wait to do it all again with you soon! In the meantime, stay connected with Charities Review Council between events. Click the links below to follow and subscribe.

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