2014 Topics & Panelists: Scroll down for summaries

  • Session 1:
    Building Blocks: An Introduction
    featuring Fay Twersky, Tess Reynolds,
    and Kathy Reich
  • Session 2:
    The Importance of Business Plans and Models
    featuring Jehan Velji, Sam Cobbs,
    and Kenji Treanor
  • Session 3:
    Deepening Your Case for Support
    featuring Jen Ratay, Lance Fors,
    Irene Wong, and Mara Low
  • Session 4:
    Strategic Conversations that
    Accelerate Change

    featuring Lisa Kay Solomon and Diana Scearce
  • Session 5:
    Leadership and Culture
    featuring Heather McLeod Grant, Erin Ganju,
    and Vincent Pan

Join us!

Session 3: Business Models for Sustainability and Scale
Framework and Case Studies


Tickets $20 | Click here to register through EventBrite


Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Sobrato Center for Nonprofits: Redwood Shores

350 Twin Dolphin Drive, Redwood City, CA 94065 Map

Craig Reigel,
Chief Financial Officer, Nonprofit Finance Fund
Janet Gless, President, New Teacher Center
moderated by
Alexa Cortes Culwell,
Managing Director, Philanthropy Futures
Co-sponsored by Palo Alto Community Fund

9:00 am – 9:30 am Networking & Continental Breakfast

9:30 am – 11:15 am Program


Most nonprofits do a good job at developing their strategy and telling their story with words, but fail to build a numbers-based plan and compelling narrative about their financial story. Developing and communicating a strong business model is critical to any nonprofit’s success as it seeks to sustain itself and grow and attract the right mix of revenue.


In this session, Craig Reigel, CFO of Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF), will share a simple but groundbreaking framework that helps nonprofits clarify their business model and communicate clearly about the kinds of revenue they require to sustain and scale their program impact—while also paying for essentials such as infrastructure, R&D, and administrative costs. He will also highlight findings from NFF’s State of the Sector survey on nonprofit financial health, providing insight into how local nonprofits are faring compared to peers nationally.


Janet Gless, President of New Teacher Center (NTC), will present a case study of how the New Teacher Center developed its business model to scale its impact and strengthen its organization. She will share how NTC tells its story both through a compelling program impact model and a business model that has positioned NTC to double its revenue to $60M by 2018 in order to serve more than 60,000 teachers through its district-embedded and on-line models.


Alexa Cortes Culwell, visiting practitioner at Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society and managing director of Philanthropy Futures, will moderate this session. Presentations will be followed by discussion and Q&A with the audience.


Session 3 Speakers


Craig Reigel began his career at Nonprofit Finance Fund in 2006 as a consultant in their growth capitalization practice. He now serves as their CFO. NFF is a national nonprofit and financial intermediary that unlocks the potential of mission-driven organizations through tailored investment, strategic advice, and transformational ideas. Craig brings with him a long history of solving the problems of growth in a diverse environment, as an entrepreneur, with Bain & Company (a consultancy), and as an investor. The core of his work with NFF has been serving nonprofit clients to help them attract and deploying philanthropic equity, substantially enhancing both program delivery and financial durability.


Janet Gless is President of New Teacher Center, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to improving student learning by accelerating the effectiveness of new teachers and school leaders. A co-founder of NTC, Janet has overseen the organization’s business growth and program dissemination. Her contributions include curriculum design, professional development and delivery, capacity building, business modeling, and strategic planning. Previously, Janet worked as an academic coordinator at the University of California, Santa Cruz; as a visiting educator administering a statewide mentoring initiative at the California Department of Education; and as an induction program coordinator, staff developer, and high school foreign language and ESL teacher in an urban district in the SF Bay Area.


Alexa Cortes Culwell, managing director of Philanthropy Futures, advises philanthropic leaders on the most challenging problems they face in creating positive social change. Her work focuses on strategic advising and planning, meeting design and facilitation, leadership coaching and teaching/speaking. Alexa is also a visiting practitioner at Stanford University’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society. For nearly two decades, Alexa built and managed foundations and philanthropic initiatives for successful entrepreneurs in the SF Bay Area.


2015 Sessions 1 & 2: Summaries and Links


Session 1: Performance Management:
Creating data driven cultures focused on continuous improvement and high performance


Our 2015 Speaker Series kicked off on February 24 with a conversation between Sobrato Family Foundation CEO Rick Williams, and nonprofit leader and expert on evaluation and measurement Tiffany Cooper Gueye, Ph.D., CEO of BELL / Building Educated Leaders for Life. Dr. Gueye shared her insights, as well as examples of tools and best practices she employs to build a culture of performance management and continuous improvement. She described how performance management systems, based on clearly-defined metrics, have driven organizational alignment and clarity for both staff and board members. She relayed how these systems have deepened BELL’s impact on the students it serves, and positioned it for national growth and scale. And, she walked attendees through examples of dashboards BELL uses to measure and track program and operational performance.


The two-part video of Session 1 is now posted on our YouTube page. For a list of useful resources on Performance Measurement / Evaluation, visit our Resource Guide. A subset of Session 1-specific resources is highlighted on our “Recently-Added” page. And if you’re interested in a pdf copy of Session 1′s presentation deck, click here.



Session 2: Collective Impact for Driving Systems Change
Framework and Case Studies


On Tuesday, April 28th, Jeff Edmondson, Managing Director of StriveTogether based in Ohio, relayed how communities across the country are using an ecosystem approach to solve overlapping social issues—breaking down traditional silos between organizations to develop common goals, success indicators, and methods to track progress community-wide. He was joined by Ann Matheison of Marin Promise Partnership and Joe Herrity of Opportunity Youth Partnership who shared insights from their own experiences applying the collective impact framework in the Bay Area.


The two-part video of Session 2 is posted on our YouTube page. For useful resources on Collective Impact, see the “Theory of Change / Strategy” section in our Resource Guide. (Particular resources suggested by our speakers are also highlighted on our “Recently-Added” page.) Click here if you’re interested in a pdf handout of Session 2′s presentation deck, and here for a copy of the handout Session 2 attendees received.


2014 Sessions 1-5: Summaries and Links


We thank our generous and gifted panelists, along with the 305 participants from 154 local organizations who helped make 2014′s inaugural speaker series a success!


Our goal was to provide an opportunity for local leaders to come together and explore ways to strengthen programs and services to best address the complex challenges facing this Silicon Valley region. Series content focused on the building blocks key to creating impact, including theories of change and logic models, aligned performance metrics, and business models that support sustainability and scale. The Foundation believes furthering the development of these tools is not only important to our own success, but that of our region’s nonprofits, and critical to attracting more philanthropic resources to address local needs.


Please visit our YouTube page for videos of Sessions 1, 2, 3, and 5, and scroll down for summaries, links to presentation decks and speaker-suggested resources for each of 2014′s five sessions.


Session 1:
Building Blocks for Creating Greater Impact: An Introduction


Our series kicked off February 19th with a panel featuring Fay Twersky and Tess Reynolds, moderated by Kathy Reich. They discussed the key building blocks for creating impact, including the importance of theories of change and logic models, aligned performance metrics, and business models focused on sustainability and scale. The panel provided an overview of what these terms really mean, why they are vital for driving social change, and illustrated practical examples of implementation — addressing some of the misapprehensions leaders may face.


Click here for a pdf copy of the resource list shared at the event. (All of these resources and more are incorporated in our new Resource Guide.) You may also access a two-part recording of the session posted on the Sobrato Family Foundation’s YouTube channel.


Session 2:
The Importance of Business Plans and Models


This March 19 event began with an interactive discussion among participants, followed by a conversation with featured panelists—Jehan Velji, Portfolio Manager, Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, and Sam Cobbs, CEO, First Place for Youth— moderated by Kenji Treanor, Senior Program Officer for Education here at the Sobrato Family Foundation. The panel discussed how nonprofits can create business plans and models focused on sustainability and scale. They demystified these terms and outlined why they are vital to building higher impact nonprofits.


Click here for a list of our speakers’ suggested resources (also found in our Resource Guide) and here for a pdf copy of the session’s slide deck. You may also view a two-part recording of the session posted on the Sobrato Family Foundation’s YouTube channel.


Session 3:
Deepening Your Case for Support


This highly-interactive April 29th event was moderated by Jen Ratay, Executive Director, SV2, in conversation with Lance Fors, Community Leader & Board Chair of Reading Partners, New Teachers Center & SVP,  Mara Low, Program Director here at the Sobrato Family Foundation, and Irene Wong, Director of Local Grantmaking, David & Lucile Packard Foundation. This panel of seasoned foundation grantmakers and nonprofit leaders explored how the building blocks for creating greater impact are essential to helping nonprofits “make the case” and tell a compelling story about their work and impact. They demystified the process they go through to make decisions, and reflected on both the common mistakes and best practices they see when they evaluate proposals from nonprofits.


Click here for a list of our speakers’ suggested resources (also found in our Resource Guide) and here for a pdf copy of the session’s slide deck. The two-part session recording is posted on the Sobrato Family Foundation’s YouTube channel.


Session 4:
Creating Strategic Conversations that Accelerate Change


In our fourth session, held at SCNP-San Jose on May 20, Lisa Kay Solomon and Diana Scearce explored how to design strategic conversations to help leaders engage diverse groups to accelerate change—bringing the best design thinking approaches from the for-profit sector to our nonprofit leaders. The session provided practical tools to support organizations’ ability to convene stakeholders, staff, and their boards in meaningful strategy sessions to confront the adaptive challenges they face in their work. Lisa Kay Solomon is the author of the recent Wall Street Journal best seller, Moments of Impact, a book that offers a simple creative process to help leaders and teams tackle their most challenging issues. Diana Scearce is the Evaluation and Learning Director at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and a former director at the social change consulting firm Monitor Institute, where she led a range of initiatives helping foundations, nonprofits and multi-stakeholder groups grow their impact.


Session 4 was a workshop format and was not filmed, but a pdf of the session’s slide deck is available here. (Key resources on this topic can also be found in our Resource Guide.)


Session 5:
Leadership and Culture


Our fifth and final event in the series took place on Wednesday, June 11 in Redwood Shores. It featured Heather McLeod Grant, author of Forces for Good, the Six Practices of High Impact Nonprofits, in conversation with Erin Ganju, Co-Founder/CEO, Room to Read, and Vincent Pan, Executive Director, Chinese for Affirmative Action.


Effective leaders and strong cultures create life-giving oxygen, instilling purpose and energy in organizations to drive great performance; the building blocks for achieving greater impact, (such as theories of change, performance metrics and sustainable business plans) are critical but insufficient without them. Good leadership and strong culture bring good plans to life.


This session explored what effective leadership looks like in a rapidly changing world, where traditional organizational models are being transformed by new models based on networks and movement building. It also tackled the elusive topic of culture and why defining and building strong organizational culture is critical to building sustainable organizations that can scale. Panelists explored the latest research and best practices, and also candidly shared their experiences.


Click these links to view the set of our speakers’ suggested resources (which are also found in our Resource Guide) and the Session 5 slide deck. The three-part session recording is posted on the Sobrato Family Foundation’s YouTube channel.