Join us for the opening and closing ceremonies of Excelerator!

The Excelerator experience will kick off by exploring the current global reality of operating in a pandemic while simultaneously confronting systemic and structural racism. As the weeks progress, however, participants begin to prepare for the future—gaining clarity on what it takes to thrive, as an organization and as a person in the future. Closing ceremonies will be a culmination of our future-focused perspective, addressing what is on the public policy and philanthropic landscapes. 

Recordings of all sessions will be available to registrants for on-demand viewing through Dec. 22, 2020.

Three-Day Opening Ceremony

Grounded in our shared goals to advance equity, the Excelerator’s three-day opening ceremony will feature national speakers focused on the state of equity around the nation. 

Tuesday, Oct. 20 from Noon-1 p.m. CT

Sponsored by Mutual of America Financial Group

Cornel West
Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy
Harvard University

Professor Emeritus
Princeton University

Cornel West is professor of the practice of public philosophy at Harvard University and professor emeritus at Princeton University. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in three years and obtained his master’s and doctorate in philosophy at Princeton.

West has written 20 books and has edited 13. He is best known for his classics, Race Matters and Democracy Matters, and for his memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud. His most recent book, Black Prophetic Fire, offers an unflinching look at 19th- and 20th-century African American leaders and their visionary legacies.

West co-hosts The Tight Rope podcast with Tricia Rose, which navigates the balance between uncertainty and hope. Each week they welcome listeners and guests as thought collaborators on topics ranging from pop culture, art, and music, to the contours of systemic racism, philosophy, the power of Socratic self-examination, and the possibilities of a peaceful and just world. 

West is a frequent guest on the Bill Maher Show, CNN, C-Span and Democracy Now. He has a passion to communicate to a vast variety of publics to keep alive the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.—a legacy of telling the truth and bearing witness to love and justice. 

Wednesday, Oct. 21 Noon-1 p.m. CT

Sponsored by Casey Family Programs

Bakari Sellers

Political Analyst

Former South Carolina Representative

Bakari Sellers made history in 2006 when, at just 22 years old, he defeated a 26-year incumbent state representative to become the youngest member of the South Carolina state legislature and the youngest African American elected official in the nation. In 2014, he was the Democratic nominee for South Carolina’s Lt. Governor.

Earning his undergraduate degree from Morehouse College, where he served as student body president, and his law degree from the University of South Carolina, Sellers has followed in the footsteps of his father, civil rights leader Cleveland Sellers, in his tireless commitment to service taking championing progressive policies to address issues ranging from education and poverty to preventing domestic violence and childhood obesity.

In addition to having served on President Barack Obama's South Carolina steering committee during the 2008 election, Sellers is widely considered to be a rising star within the Democratic Party and leading voice for his generation. That, coupled with his uncommon ability to reach across the aisle and get things done, has led to numerous accolades including being named to TIME Magazine’s 40 Under 40 in 2010 as well as The Root 100 list of the nation’s most influential African-Americans in 2014 and 20015.

He has served as a featured speaker at events for the National Education Association, College Democrats of America National Convention, and the 2008 and 2016 Democratic National Convention.

Sellers practices law with the Strom Law Firm LLC in Columbia, South Carolina and is a political commentator at CNN.

Thursday, Oct. 22 from Noon-1 p.m. CT

Sponsored by Boys Town

A Time for Boldness: How Nonprofits and Philanthropy Can Stop Being the White Moderate Sector and Unlock Their Full Power

While the twin pandemic of COVID-19 and white supremacy bear down on our communities, our sector has been playing a pivotal role. However, the current crises also reveal many of our weaknesses including our own inclinations to maintain the status quo through many of our philosophies and practices. We allow mostly white donors to avoid taxes. We are terrified of advocacy and systems change. We engage in toxic intellectualization and perpetuate the "Nonprofit Hunger Games.” All of us must examine how we are individually and collectively complicit in maintaining racist, inequitable systems. Change is coming. We need to embrace it. It is time for us to envision a socially and economically just society, and to be bold in realizing it.

Vu Le
Nonprofit AF

Vu Le (“voo lay”) is a writer, speaker, vegan, Pisces, and the former executive director of RVC, a nonprofit in Seattle that promotes social justice by developing leaders of color, strengthening organizations led by communities of color, and fostering collaboration between diverse communities.

Le’s passion to make the world better, combined with a low score on the Law School Admission Test, drove him into the field of nonprofit work, where he learned that we should take the work seriously, but not ourselves. There’s tons of humor in the nonprofit world, and someone needs to document it. He is going to do that, with the hope that one day, a TV producer will see how cool and interesting our field is and make a show about nonprofit work, featuring attractive actors attending strategic planning meetings and filing 990 tax forms. 

Known for his no-BS approach, irreverent sense of humor, and love of unicorns, Vu has been featured in dozens, if not hundreds, of his own blog posts at Listen to his episode, Let’s Stop the Nonprofit Hunger Games, on the More than Health Care podcast, which is produced through a partnership between the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities, Ascentria Care Alliance, Beech Acres Parenting Center, and KVC Health Systems.

Watch Vu Le's entertaining closing keynote address from the 2019 Alliance National Conference.

Three-Day Closing Ceremony

Our three-day closing ceremony will focus on thriving in an uncertain future. Featuring Bob Johansen of the Institute for the Future in Silicon Valley, learn what skills you will need to lead your organization successfully. 

Tuesday, Nov. 17 from Noon-1:30 p.m. CT

Sponsored by Beech Acres Parenting Center

Post-Election Town Hall: 2021 Policy Forecast

This engaging session will bring together a panel of experts to discuss the results of the federal and state elections and their expected impact on the policy issues that are important to the human services ecosystem. Among the topics to be discussed are:

  • The overall policy and political forecast for 2021
  • Policy priorities for the next administration and Congress
  • Prospects of future COVID-19 legislative relief packages
  • Perspectives on next year’s budget and appropriations process
  • Policy changes impacting the nonprofit sector
  • Potential advocacy opportunities for the sector in the areas of health, education, child well-being, economic opportunity, tax policy, and more


  • Ilana Levinson, senior director of government relations, Alliance for Strong Families and Communities

Expert Panel:

  • Joel Payne, managing director of communications, Hub Project and democratic strategist; has been featured on MSNBC, CNN, CBS News
  • Scott Klug, former U.S. representative (R-Wis.) and current director of public affairs, Foley and Lardner LLP
  • Brian Gallagher, president and CEO, United Way Worldwide 
  • Tracy Wareing Evans, president and CEO, American Public Human Services Association

Wednesday, Nov. 18 from Noon-1 p.m. CT

Sponsored by Children's Home Society of Florida

Think Like a Futurist: Identifying Better Solutions by Understanding the Bigger Picture

During the second day of the Excelerator Closing Ceremonies, Bob Johansen, distinguished fellow and futurist with the Institute for the Future in Silicon Valley will share the concept of full-spectrum thinking—seeking patterns and clarity outside, across, beyond, or maybe even without any boxes or categories, and resisting false certainty and simplistic binary choices.

As the future becomes more complex, we can no longer think categorically, which constrains people and organizations into neatly defined boxes that often are inaccurate or obsolete and moves us away from the bigger picture and more expansive thinking. Instead, we must enhance our mindset with a worldview approach.

To help us translate theory into action, Johansen will lead this session as a fireside chat with two executives from the Alliance network, Andry Sweet, president and CEO, Children’s Home Society of Florida and Charles Montorio-Archer, president & CEO, One Hope United. Together, they’ll give context to full-spectrum thinking in human services and help you understand how you can use it to prepare for future success.

Bob Johansen 
Distinguished Fellow 
Institute for the Future 

Bob Johansen is a distinguished fellow with the Institute for the Future in Silicon Valley. For more than 30 years, he has helped organizations around the world prepare for and shape the future including corporations such as P&G, Walmart, United Rentals, and GlaxoSmithKline, as well as a range of major universities and nonprofits. 

The author or co-author of twelve books, including the best-selling Get There Early: Sensing the Future to Compete in the Present, Leaders Make the Future, and The New Leadership Literacies: Thriving in a Future of Extreme Disruption and Distributed Everything. He is currently writing a new book that will be out in early 2020 called Full-Spectrum Thinking: Escaping the Boxes in a Post-Categorical Future. Johansen’s books are used widely in corporations, universities, nonprofits, and at the Army War College. 

Johansen holds a bachelor’s from the University of Illinois, which he attended on a basketball scholarship and a doctorate from Northwestern University, as well as a master’s that focused on world religions. 

Thursday, Nov. 19 from Noon-2:15 p.m. CT

Shifting the Power: Philanthropy and the Social Sector 

Sponsored by Independent Sector

Noon-1 p.m. CT

Jeffrey L. Bradach, co-founder of The Bridgespan Group, and several leading philanthropists will engage in a timely discussion on ending the ‘starvation cycle’ of community-based organizations, lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic that shift power back to social sector organizations and the communities they serve, and how philanthropy and our sector are responding to our nation’s rallying cry for racial justice.  


  • Jeff Bradach, chair, Independent Sector Board of Directors; and co-founder, The Bridgespan Group


Alliance and COA: Complementary Strengths for an Impactful Future

Sponsored by Brown & Brown of Lehigh Valley

1:15-2:15 p.m. CT

For this special visioning session, Susan Dreyfus, president and CEO of the Alliance, and Jody Levison-Johnson, president and CEO of the Council on Accreditation (COA), will discuss what the future holds for the human services sector and community-based organizations. Moderated by Annette Rodriguez, president and CEO of The Children’s Shelter and vice-president of the Alliance Board, this session will explore the complementary strengths of the Alliance and COA as well as the many opportunities the chief executives see for us in the future.

We are here to help you.

Contact our Excelerator support team via email or by calling 800-221-3726, option 3 or 414-359-6578. Our hours of operation are 9 a.m.-4 p.m. CT.