Over 50 funders and advocates from California attended this year’s 2023 TFN Annual Conference held in New Orleans! There were multiple opportunities to learn, connect, strategize and ignite action in support of environmental, racial and economic justice.
With The Big Easy as a backdrop, day one included deep dive learnings into a wide spectrum of interrelated issues and day two gave folks the opportunity to learn from place in dialog with community-based leadership out in local neighborhoods. Our final day provided a space to reflect, synthesize and incorporate learnings into action moving forward. Over 350 funders attended, 160 of whom were attending their first TFN Conference.
Below are a few brief Smart Growth California-related highlights from this year’s conference:
1. We hosted an ad hoc breakfast where funders from California connected, shared, and reflected on learnings from the conference. It was great to meet some new folks and connect with longstanding SGC leaders.
2. Our Statewide Steering Committee Co-Chair, Craig Martinez from The California Endowment, was honored for his eight years of board service to TFN. Kaying Hang of the Sierra Health Foundation, Smart Growth CA’s other Co-Chair, began serving on TFN’s Board last year.
3. TFN Board member and LA resident Shawn Escoffery from the Roy and Patricia Disney Foundation served as one of the Co-Chairs for the conference. His colleague Frida Hatami is also a member of our Los Angeles Funders’ Collaborative.
4. Numerous funders active in Smart Growth California workgroups attended, including Kaying Hang (Sierra Health Foundation), Reyna Villalobos (Sierra Health Foundation), Christiana DeBenedict (San Diego Foundation), Juliet Flores (The California Endowment), Emma-Louise Anderson (Seed Fund), Christine Tien (The California Endowment) and Craig Martinez (The California Endowment). Be sure to ask them about their experience next time you see them.
5. Several funders and advocates from California spoke on panels during the conference, including mark! Lopez (East Yard Communities for a Better Environment), Lupe (Climate Justice Alliance), Allstair Mallilin (Common Counsel Foundation, picture above), Diana Colin (Common Counsel Foundation), Azusena Favela (The James Irvine Foundation), Kaying Hang (Sierra Health Foundation), Rudi Navarra (Emerson Collective).
6. Kerry Hastings, who coordinates Smart Growth California’s San Joaquin Valley Funders’ Collaborative, supported a mobile tour highlighting New Orleans’ water challenges and green infrastructure-related work (Kerry also coordinates TFN’s Urban Water Funders’ workgroup).
7. Ron Milam, Smart Growth California’s Director, supported a bike tour (one of the mobile workshop offerings) and facilitated one of the closing sessions for attendees to reflect on key learnings, share actions and identify ways in which TFN as a network can support them moving forward.
8. TFN’s President and CEO Pat Smith started a line dance during the Ashe Cultural Performance and several folks from California happily joined in the movement! Check out this fun video.
9. The number of TFN’s PLACES Fellows from California continue to grow with Emma-Louise Anderson from the Seed Fund joining CA alumni, including: Craig Martinez (The California Endowment), Mark Tran (The California Endowment), Monae Dale (California Community Foundation), Araceli Campos (The Ralph M. Parsons Foundation), Maria Aquino (The James Irvine Foundation) and Arturo Garcia (The Kresge Foundation).
10. The whole fantastic experience is inspiring our next Smart Growth California Funder Summit, tentatively planned for early 2024…stay tuned!